Life is change, and change is life

firstOr something like that.

I am backing away from Hot Dogma! my home for the past two years, with a heavy heart. Though the product doesn’t always look like it, I’ve spent at least two hours every day new stuff appeared on this blog, finding appropriate (and sometimes inappropriate) topics, stealing art, and trying to keep the conversation going. I have on occasion done heroic (and silly) things to get an internet connection so that I can keep an unending flow of…blog, served hot and fresh daily, to you.

But whatever. No one asked me to do that and I realize full well your life would have gone on fine without me, but I’m not sure the same can be said about myself. It has been, in a word, a blast. It’s also been frustrating, maddening, and awesome, and sometimes all those things on the same day.

Here’s the deal: I am working on a book that is starting to take up a lot of time. I also think I’ve shared every opinion I’ve ever had up to now, so maybe it’s time to go off and create some new opinions. I’ll consider whether those are worth sharing down the road. I do tend to start new blogs eventually. Maybe it’s like a rash I can’t shake.

I want to thank you for being such a faithful reader. Some of you have gone from Dating Jesus to Fear, Itself to Still Small Voice to here. That is just so incredibly awesome, and I appreciate it. I can hardly imagine not reading your snarky, thoughtful, funny, painful comments every day, but I’m going to try to bear up, at least for now.

In the meantime, please don’t be a stranger. Please.

 

So a white guy tries to break into a car…

Followed by a black guy trying to break into a car, with predictable results.

What does it mean to be “no angel?”

140825-michael-brown-casket-845a_eaedefd66fccfe09ef12e2723575a6bcThe New York Times was taken to task for its characterization of police-shooting victim Michael Brown — who was buried yesterday — for calling the 18-year old unarmed man “no angel.”

Here’s who else (thanks, Vanity Fair) the Times has called “no angel.” And here’s the Times’ public editor’s take on things.

To all the women we’ve loved before

suffragette-photThis is for the women and girls who fought for the right to vote, but never actually got to cast a legal vote (though Susan B. Anthony certainly tried). This is for the women and girls who had their morals questioned, their sexuality, their ability to raise children, and their ability to think for themselves — all because they wanted to commit the radical act of voting.

This is for the women who suffered public shaming and worse — all because they wanted to commit the radical act of voting. This is for the smart, strong women who were quickly dismissed by the diminutive “suffragettes.” They were not -ettes. They were committed activists willing to give all for full enfranchisement as citizens.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I hope all those women who were banned from the booth (Isabella Beecher Hooker, Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and countless others who shouldn’t be nameless but are) are off somewhere sharing a drink, and congratulating themselves on a job well done. You did it. We’re voting.

So Happy Women’s Equality Day. On this day in 1920, the 19th Amendment became a part of the Constitution. Come the next election, don’t you think you owe it to these women to be a good citizen, and haul your carcass to the polls and vote?

States with “stand your ground” laws see an increase in homicides

stand your ground lawsA recent study from a national task force of the American Bar Association found that

  • States with stand your ground laws saw an increase in homicides
  • Multiple states with stand your ground laws have sought to repeal those laws
  • Stand your ground laws provided no more discernible protection than didn’t exist before their passage

You can read the report here.

Black males and guns

ChildGunDeaths4_1You can read more here.

The poor are us

xfood-bank-photo.jpg.pagespeed.ic.ckFsD0AzR9Read Melissa Boteach’s piece at Center for American Progress. Boteach writes:

…Census data show nearly one in three Americans—31.6 percent of us—experienced a spell of poverty of at least two months between 2009 and 2011, but only 3.5 percent of the population was in poverty for all three of those years. To be sure, factors such as race, gender, disability, education level, family structure, or being born into a poor family can increase the odds that one will face such hardship. But the odds do not look too great for any of us…

How many times did British police officers fire their guns last year?

HT_michael_brown_sk_140813_16x9_992Three.

And no one died. Even adjusting for Great Britain’s smaller population:

British citizens are around 100 times less likely to be shot by a police officer than Americans.

You can read more here, at The Economist.

Thanks, Cynical, for the link. Today, his family is burying Michael Brown, an 18-year old who was shot and killed by a police officer on Aug. 9. Here. Read the New York Times’ latest, “Timeline For a Body.”

It’s been a weird week

This weekend, should you need rescuing, may it come from an unexpected source that will make for a good story later.

Onward.

Hospitals reconsider free health care to people who could be insured

black-doctor-400_400x295_57Hospitals that in times past would provide free health care for people who couldn’t afford it are revisiting that practice, since under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), those people could be covered.

What do you think? If people had the opportunity to apply for health insurance, and didn’t, should they then be covered by charity from the hospitals?

And thanks, DickG., for the link.

Reparations for Ferguson

cimage_8f491ae5bc-thumbcTa-Nehisi Coates wrote an awesome article for “The Atlantic” recently on the possibility of reparations for African Americans (and you should read it here) and now he’s weighing in on Ferguson:

A few weeks ago I received an anxious text from my wife informing me that a group of young men were fighting outside of our apartment building. We’ve spent most of our adult lives in New York, and most of that time in New York living in Harlem. I love Harlem for the same reason I love all the hoods I have lived in. I walk outside in my same uniform, which is to say my same jeans, my same fitted, my same hoodie, and feel myself washing away, disappearing into the boulevard, into the black and (presently) the brown, and becoming human.

There have been young people fighting outside my window for as long as I can remember. I was no older than five sitting on the steps of my parents’ home on Woodbrook Avenue watching the older boys knock shoulders in the street—”bucking” as we called it then—daring each other to fire off. From that point on I knew that among my people fisticuffs had their own ritual and script. The script was in effect that evening: show cause (some niggas jumped me in the park), mouth off (I ain’t no punk), escalate (wait right her son, I’m bout to get my shit). 

My wife wanted to know what she should do. She was not worried about her own safety—boys like this are primarily a threat to each other. What my wife wanted was someone who could save them young men from themselves, some power which would disperse the boys in a fashion that would not escalate things, some power. No such power exists. I told my wife to stay inside and do nothing. I did not tell her to call the police. If you have watched the events of this past week, you may have some idea why.

(Do read more at the link above. And thanks, Leftover, for the link.)

Planet Hip Hop at Wesleyan University

The Sept. 20th Planet Hip Hop Festival at Wesleyan University features international Muslim women in hip hop; there will be afternoon workshops and evening performances by London’s spoken-word duo Poetic Pilgrimage.

Add to that the U.S. debut of Montreal-based Algerian singer-songwriter and rapper Meryem Saci as a solo artist, and Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter, poet, and emcee Maimouna Youssef a.k.a. Mumu Fresh.

The evening concert will also feature the Nomadic Wax Collective, a live band with a DJ.

Read more here.

And thanks, Cynical, for the link.

Would you give toothpaste to a hungry man?

photo (11)Because that’s what I did, this morning.

I invite anyone who wants to cut services (like the city of Hartford! And Marshall House! To the tune of $100k!) to our most vulnerable to go out with the Hartford Homeless Outreach Team, look a man in the eye who’s just asked for food, and say, “Sorry, man. We just handed out the last lunch.”

And then let them, as I did, frantically reach into a bag of toiletries and hand the man a fistful of razors and travel-size toothpaste tubes, because if he can’t have a full belly, he can at least have a clean-shaven face and clean teeth.

I handed a hungry man toiletries because we quickly ran through the 25 lunches that had been packed for this morning’s weekly homeless outreach, led by Dave Vega, of South Park Inn. These are, for the most part, the people who’ve washed up on the shores. Let’s be honest. They haven’t even made it to the shore yet.

By the Department of Housing and Urban Development‘s definition, a person who is chronically homeless

 is someone who has experienced homelessness for a year or longer, or who has experienced at least four episodes of homelessness in the last three years and has a disability. A family with an adult member who meets this description would also be considered chronically homeless.

photo (12)This morning, that cohort included four women, among them a gorgeous young woman with lavender eyes, who stood watching as a man shaved by a port-a-potty mirror. You walk by them in the day because they’re invisible. At twilight, they slip under the bridges to live in what at first glance looks like hovels, but on second examination looks like people making do. Here are the pots. There are the pans. Here’s the stained mattress in the sleeping area behind a hanging tapestry. There’s a rosary. Goddamit, there a Bible, and a scented candle — and sometimes, a prescription bottle, for amoxicillin.

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So police arrested a 90-year old Holocaust survivor

965282-4d01db9c-279a-11e4-8345-5834e4b1ef5cHedy Epstein was protesting at Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s office and she was arretsed.

Ferguson police also allegedly pointed a gun at a journalist. They’ve arrested and tear gassed the press.

This is not an outcry at the shoddy treatment of journalists and older women, but the question must be asked: If authorities will act like that in broad daylight against people with a modicum of power in the news, how are they treating people who aren’t carrying notebooks and cameras, who don’t have name recognition?

Want to help Ferguson?

140812-ferguson-brown-family-1420_555de8c86164c7c759ad44268ecb9112Huffington Post offers some ways. The city has been strafed by protests since the shooting of the unarmed 18-year old, Michael Brown, on Aug. 9. A grand jury will listen to evidence, probably through October.

I’m off with the Hartford Homeless Outreach Team tomorrow

photo(5)They start at the crack o’ dawn, and we’ll be handing out toothpaste, disposable razors, and a third item I hope I remember soon because I promised to bring in a quantity of three things and can’t remember the third. Socks? Shampoo?

All I remember is it’s something common, something that helps a person feel human.

I only tag along occasionally with the team. Team members — led by that irascible Dave Vega — go out every Thursday at 6 a.m. (Dave? You loser? Look up “irascible.”) I took this photo on one recent trip. It’s from the open door of a tractor trailer, abandoned on a street in Hartford. By a rough count, there were 5-6 people living in this truck. The last time we went, it was gone, and so were the residents.

Of course the best case scenario would be to get all these people housed, the people who are chronically homeless, the people with mental illnesses, the people who’ve fallen through the cracks. That’s optimal.

In the meanwhile, though, people need toothpaste. They need razors. They need…socks and shampoo? Lord, I hope I remember in time.