Archive for the ‘PSA’ Category
I found out today via Richard Barone and Sally Timms that Ivan Julian, founding member of the Voidoids, contributor to both The Clash’s original Sandinista! and my Sandinista! Project, is being treated for cancer and has pretty much the health insurance you’d expect. There are two benefits shows scheduled in New York with the usual downtown luminaries (one’s not sold out yet). If you’re not in NYC, you can still donate. I just did; you should, too.
I usually find something to laugh at on the front page of The Brookline Tab (a typical recent piece heralded the arrival of new burrito shops to our town), but “Brookline Teachers Cut Extra Work” hit me. Teachers are so committed to what they do for the children and the community that their idea of a work slowdown is to stop doing some of the extra things that they’re not even paid for. Just a quick reminder of how much dedication people bring to that job.
Earlier tonight, right after dinner, in an attempt to delay having to clean the kitchen, I took the dog for a walk. One of the places we stopped was a convenience store across the main street, a place where the employees are reasonably friendly to me and exceedingly friendly to the dog.
At the convenience store, I saw that the clerk was having trouble communicating with a young woman who was unable to explain to him what she wanted to buy from the store’s small drugstore section. She spoke only Spanish; the clerk spoke only English. I handed her my smartphone, thinking she might type what she wanted into the search box. Then, maybe, the phone could translate and we humans could figure it out together.
She took the phone, and typed, without hesitation or error, “pastillas para el periodo menstrual,” I directed her to Midol, used the smartphone to translate the words on the box into Spanish, and she was soon on her way.
That young woman was remarkably poised for someone who was in menstrual pain and likely not enjoying talking, or trying to talk, to two strange men about it. I didn’t consider it at the time, but now I realize how impressive she was in the moment.
Because she spoke only Spanish in a place where no one else did, it was quite a lot of work for her to advocate for herself and get what she needed. I hope it ended well, but if it did there was some luck involved.
That got me to thinking about some of the unluckiest people at the edge of our country right now, the many thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America desperate to get away from the violence in their home countries and into the U.S. One of their biggest problems right now is that they don’t know how to communicate in English, the language of power, making it much harder for them to advocate for themselves.
When I hear the anger and outrage so many express against these children, I want those who people who feel that anger and outrage to imagine what life might be like for them, only partway through a long and tortuous journey, having trouble describing their most basic and personal needs. And then I want them to think about how they might want to be treated in such circumstances if they faced similarly bad luck.
There are 22 stories on the front page of NYTimes.com right now (Sunday night, March 13, 2011, 815pm). None of them are about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
There are 64 links on the front page of NYTimes.com right now, not counting navigational tools or administrivia. None of them lead to stories about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
On Friday night, Jane, Grace, and I went to a party to celebrate the return of our friend Scott from a year in Kuwait and Iraq. Rita, Scott’s wife, asked us to bring some toiletries and entertainment that they would send on to those remaining in the war zones. So we bought some soap and contributed some music.
It was fun trying to think of music that could appeal to different groups of people. The Beastie Boys might please the kids, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss might delight the olds, and, really, who doesn’t love The Sandinista Project? I had doubles of some solid recent records that I included as well; I expect they’ll all find good homes.
As I was assembling the discs late Friday afternoon, it hit me that, with one exception — a piece about the return of Moktada al-Sadr to Iraqi politics that floated across my news feed that morning — I hadn’t thought about Iraq or Afghanistan, where hundreds of thousands of American troops are at risk, all day. I pride myself on being “informed,” but it was another day in America when there was a war going on (hello, two wars going on) and, except for the sliver of people in this country whose lives are directly affected because they have friends and family in the game, we don’t have to confront evidence of what is happening in our name around the world. I hate these wars, and I will be happy when the day comes when the reason we’re not thinking of the wars is because everyone we’ve sent to them, like Scott, is home and safe. Sending excess CDs and sparing a thought for them feels insufficient, but complaining about the wars a few times a year on one’s blog is insufficient, too.
The high point of the party (aside from seeing Scott back and not having to make dinner) was dancing. We couldn’t get Grace interested, but Jane and I danced for a while, something we don’t do enough. I am not a particularly good dancer but no matter how self-conscious you are (and by “you are,” I mean “I am”), you’ve got to drop it and give in to the music if you’re going to be a good partner. Dancing, especially to a song you’ve moved to for decades (“Love Shack,” some Motown stand-bys), can trick you into thinking that everything is OK for a while. But here’s the thing: it’s not a trick. While the music is on, everything is good. Maybe if we keep dancing, everything will stay OK.
When the kids were younger and more easily refocused when they were unhappy, I used to call everyone into the same room for a dance party that would, in short time, cheer them up, turn them around. I would look ridiculous when I started, but eventually the others would join in. DJ, heal thyself. Turn it up! Don’t stop! Where’s the iPod?
I recognize that no one visits this humble blog for political advice, but I urge readers of Jewels and Binoculars who are residents of Brookline to join me and Vote Yes for Brookline on May 6. This Proposition 2-1/2 override will help maintain some crucial services, particularly those in the schools, that are in danger of being cut due to decrease in state aid. Go here to learn more about the campaign — and go here if you haven’t yet registered to vote.