Saturday, July 12, 2008

Past Blaster

Saturday night.

We finally found the Porridge King in Daly City that we've been intending to visit for the better part of a year. Peking Duck, or duck in any form, tends to exert a magnetic pull on me. Porridge exerts a similar pull on Junko. Tonight's surprise was how much I liked the porridge, which reminds me of southern grits, another of my cullinary favorites. (Oh, I wish I had some boiled peanuts tonight.)

The porridge we ordered had some shredded duck and also pieces of black duck eggs. Yummy.

I was only one of two white people in the place, as Junko gleefully noted. An Asian treasure this place. Our dinner bill (with three entrees) was $22.85.

Back home, when I turned on my TV what popped up was a classic baseball channel, and the game being played was a Giants-Padres game in 1987. Suddenly there was number 22, Will Clark, my older kids' hero and the player who made me a Giants' fan. Clark had the sweetest swing of anybody of his era.

Peter was only six and hadn't yet started his own little league career. Two years later, Clark led the Giants into the only Bay Bridge Classic ever played -- a World Series between the A's and the Giants.

The Loma Prieta earthquake interrupted that series and rendered it irrelevant, as we collectively recovered from a massive case of shock. But tonight, all of that was still in the future. It was Will's second season, and his play helped his team clinch the NL West (there were but two divisions then.)

What shocked me was what a simple world it was 21 years back. No ads behind home plate. No fancy camera angles. Skinny bodies on the players; clearly not yet any steroids in the mix.

Pure talent mattered. A good eye, a fantastic swing, an aggressive attitude really mattered. To all of us, Will Clark mattered.

Thanks, Will the Thrill.


Eagle's Donuts

The heat wave has passed, for those of us living on the coast, but inland California continues to sizzle. Hundreds of wildfires continue to raze south to north all the way up into Washington.

Here the sky is white by day (foggy) and black by night. There have been three or four shootings, some fatal, a few blocks from here at a gang boundary line. My homeless buddy, Gonzo, was harassed by a rookie cop from a different part of town. He knows all the Mission Station cops, and they protect him.

The kids and I stopped by the best donut shop around -- Eagle's on Mission near Bernal -- to buy our breakfast. The friendly lady behind the counter knows the kids well, and also their preferences.

It's Saturday. After a week of long hours commuting and working, I'm looking for a way to wind down today. Maybe I'll go back to bed, find a New Yorker I've not yet finished, and save my second cup of coffee for later this morning...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Sad End of John McCain

In our nation's dodgy past, historians tell us, ignorant mobs cheered the burning of innocent women deemed by the powers of the day to be "witches." Other mobs of ignorants cheered the lynching of humans assessed as three-fifths human in our Constitution, simply due to the color of their skin.

More recently, prominent men espoused a virulent Anti-Semitism and urged our government to side with Adolf Hitler in WW2. During my own lifetime, especially in the early years in Michigan, I heard countless slurs issued by friends and family against all of these groups -- women, blacks, Jews.

Being a black Jewish woman (in disguise), of course I stayed silent, but their slurs ripped bloody stripes across my body that, upon close examination, are visible to this day.

In the back alleys and underground tunnels of WASP culture, these three biases still exist, though it is no longer socially acceptable to say anything that might be overheard.

Against this entrenched culture of hatred and mistrust comes the 2008 Presidential election. As I consume each day's flow of political news as only a news junkie can appreciate, I'm struck by how many old sores are being reopened on the other side of the WASP piece of America.

* Women voters, so energized by Hillary Clinton's candidacy, exhibit bitterness that their candidate fell short of attracting enough support to be the Democratic Party nominee.

* Black elders, like Jesse Jackson, denigrate the first realistic Presidential candidate their party will ever have nominated, come late August.

* American Jews maintain skepticism about supporting Obama. Is he really pro-Israel enough?

Honestly, I find all of these debates laughable. History, when you are in the middle of it, has a way of blinding people just as much as San Francisco's summer fogs prevent those of us who live here from seeing much further than our own navels.

If I was in a McCain-bashing mood tonight, which I am not, I would lift from YouTube the video of his embarrassing inability to answer a question about whether allowing insurance companies to pay men to obtain Viagra is fair when we don't allow women to get coverage for abortion. (When Obama needs to gain the trust of women voters.)

Or, the video of his idiot adviser, Phil Graham, denouncing working-class Americans as "whiners" for faking their pain during the present recession. (When Obama needs to gain the trust of white working class voters.)

But, you know what? I don't have the heart to do that to this old man. My own sense is he might be in serious health trouble, given the way he kept covering his face today. That left cheek of his is swollen again, which I find scary.

The political fact is that McCain just seems sadly out of touch. He says he doesn't really know how to use a computer! That is why my prediction a long time ago, here, that Obama would be our next President, seems pretty safe tonight.

That, dear reader, is an understatement.

Finally, close readers should ask, what was I really referring to regarding group #3, you know, the Jews? Well, all that happened is that archeologists and historians have been able to decode the writing on a stone tablet from Jordan that appears to confirm that at least some Jewish sects had the reincarnation myth (die on Friday, get resurrected on Sunday) firmly in place before Jesus ever showed up. In fact, it is starting to look like a guy called Simon was the main character in this ancient myth.

Now, none of this has anything to do with politics, but it is interesting evidence that the religion so many Americans and Europeans consider to be central in their lives apparently is nothing more than one more sect of a far older religion -- Judaism.

That is our punchline: We are all Jews! Don't even bring up Mohammed, his Jewishness has long since been confirmed, not to mention the fact that it was other Jews who saved him from the early Jihadists who chased him around as if he were Salmon Rushdie!

Good old Salmon Rushdie. Not one to let a fatwa prevent him from writing many more books and living to a ripe old age, he's back on the book tour circuit once again.

It all just goes to show that any publicity is good publicity in this over-mediated world we live in. Plus this: Thank God, whoever she may turn out to be, for writers!


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

1,001 and counting

Upon reflection, we've decided to keep this blog going. Can't promise you we'll make it to 2,000 posts, but there are still too many stories to tell and retell for us to close down the shop.

For instance, those of us who grew up in and around Motown know all too well how badly the U.S. auto industry misread the future for their vehicles, over and over and over.

Still, it is shocking that GM is presently losing one billion dollars a month. Here in Silicon Valley, we could fund 2400 new startups a year just from GM's burn! In fact, they could all be tasked with creating the ultimate fuel-efficient, non-polluting car, and I betcha we'd have a hell of a better chance getting the innovation so badly needed than allowing GM to continue to throw good money down a bad drain.

I think there should be a shareholder's revolt to accomplish just what I've proposed. It won't be led by me, however; I have no GM stock and don't want any, even at today's paltry price of ten bucks a share. There's a fairly good chance the company is headed for bankruptcy and delisting from the stock exchange, anyway.

What makes me sad is not the waste so much, as this is an old story, but the cold hard fact that GM will be shedding some great brand names soon. Remember the Oldsmobile? Well, what will go next -- Pontiac, Buick, Saab, GM Truck, Saturn? They're all rumored to be clinging to life support as major GM brands.

I'm gathering up old photos of GM cars, 'cause I figure by the time my younger kids are driving, none of the old models will exist anymore outside of some museum in Flint, Michigan...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Number 1,000 (finally)

12-year-old Uncle Dylan with his nephew James.

There are so many more things to say than can ever be said.

Any blog is like a plant pushing up through loose, moist soil. Who knows if it will make it or not? Some sprouts do; others don't. (When it comes to my gardening skills, almost all don't!)

This particular blog has proved to be both a success and a failure. For a long time, I've thought about retiring it when we reached this milestone, our 1,000th post, if only because it is likely we've served whatever purpose we possibly could have served.

It all started with a broken heart, at my oldest daughter's urging. It's evolved into an online journal of sorts, blending my personal life with my political and professional lives into a strange sort of unspicy gumbo, I fear.

Should I go on? Or is it time for this blog to wither away, as in Lenin's idealistic version of the Communist state, albeit never followed by the evil Stalin...

I will rely on you, dear readers, to decide. Please post your comments, anonymously, if you wish, below, and your vote will govern my decision. Part of me thinks that one thousand heartfelt posts may have been enough. I do not know if anyone really wants this blog to go on.

I am old, tired, unhealthy, and doubting whether this blog is serving any useful purpose any longer. Please let me know what YOU think.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Celebrating Our Lives

(When we both were much younger.)

This, the 7th day of the 7th month, will always be a special date to me, the day my first son was born, way back in the dark ages when Reagan was President. Peter was a scrappy little character from the beginning. Once, with a driving rain drenching us while he was still a baby, he slipped right out of his car seat in the backseat of my 1966 Volvo, where it was parked downtown, and slid straight out of the car into the gutter, where he sank, briefly, under water.

I of course grabbed him and held him aloft, fearful that I'd just committed one of the cardinal sins of parenting, i.e., exposing your child to unnecessary danger.

Not to worry. My little boy was laughing!

Later, we shared those magic years when a son discovers some of the same passions his Dad had, decades earlier -- sports, collecting, BB guns, books, cars, and imaginary games.

I re-experienced all of those with him, from working on his baseball skills (he was a truly talented hitter and fielder); to collections (he helped me organize our baseball cards, old coins, and stamp collections); to our BB guns (we assembled an arsenol); to books; to cars (I taught him to drive a stick shift by age 9); to imaginary worlds only the two of us could ever understand, let alone communicate to others.

Happy Birthday, Peter! You've always been your father's hero, no less so now than ever before. I love you and am so proud to be able to say I am your Dad.

(Peter is working at Wood's Hole on Cape Cod this week as part of his summer work in the midst of gaining a PhD at Cal Tech in neuroscience.)