Saturday, February 23, 2013

Some parts of "back then" were really good

When I was a child, growing up in Chelsea, Massachusetts, I lived next door to the YM/YWHA, the Young Men's/Young Women's Hebrew Association: in other words the local Jewish community center.  My life revolved around the activities held in this building.

My mom worked there, as an Executive Secretary.  I went to their summer day camp,  Camp Menorah, for many years, right through high school.  And during the school year, the center ran after-school clubs: music, arts and crafts, dance, games.  Those who led the clubs were college students who came in from area colleges, mostly though, from Boston University.  And so, when I became a college student at Salem State College, I, too, became a club leader.  I also was a Camp Menorah counselor during my college years. The other counselors who worked with me came from all over the country and so I made friends with people from New York, Chicago, St. Louis and Los Angeles.

During the school year, the"Y" as it was known, ran evening programs for kids. On Monday and Thursday evenings, from 7-10 p.m. juniors and seniors in high school had the place to themselves where they enjoyed music and dancing, could play pool, ping pong, basketball or just hang around and socialize with each other.  On Tuesday evenings the sophomores in high school invaded the place for the same kind of activities and on Wednesday evenings, the junior high kids from grades 7 through 9 came in.  All these programs were run by two very capable Jewish educators.

On Sunday mornings, the "Y" hosted two Jewish boys and girls organizations:  the AZA boys and the BBG girls.  A Sunday school class of Jewish history was also held for youngsters, ages six to ten.  And at all times when the building was open, adults took advantage of the sauna and steam rooms, the basketball court and attended organizational meetings.

Now don't think that Saturday nights were left out.  This was a Jewish community center serving hundreds of kids every week.  So, we had what could be termed as Shabbatons, a study/social weekend event and invited kids from other Jewish community centers around Massachusetts and Rhode Island to come and spend Saturday afternoon at the "Y" with us singing and learning. Then we enjoyed a dance in the evening and the out-of-towners slept over at kids' houses till Sunday, then back at the "Y" for a last bit of socializing until it was time to go back home.  We had kids come from Springfield in Western Massachusetts, from Marblehead on the North Shore of Massachusetts, from Quincy on the South Shore, from Cape Cod and from Providence, Rhode Island. And, of course, the kids from Chelsea visited these cities for the same purpose.  It was a wonderful way to meet new Jewish friends from out of our area.  The experience was priceless.  When these weekends were not held, dances for the local kids were planned.  Kids came in from the surrounding towns and we rocked and rolled till 10:30.

We even put on variety shows which were performed for our parents.  Tables were set up in the gym making it look like a night club.  Our performances took place in the middle of the floor.  I remember dancing with my partner, Stephen Witten, doing the cha-cha and the mambo.

Then something extraordinary happened.  The powers that be decided to bring in a semi-professional variety show producer and dance instructor from Boston to produce a variety show with the talents of most of the members of the "Y", adults and teenagers.  What a surprise to learn that so many people I knew had gorgeous voices, could really dance and deliver jokes like professionals.  The second year we put on the play, "Pajama Game."  Both shows were hits and were so much fun.  Perhaps that experience was the unwitting impetus when I went with a friend who was going to try out for the college play, "The Tender Trap."  I was asked to read and was selected for a part.

The point of all this 'history' is that my childhood memories bring me so much happiness, a time when things were safer, calmer, more innocent, not so alarming, maybe more fun, filled with interesting and fun activities.  Many things back then were really good.......... really good......... really good.

Monday, February 18, 2013


I can tell you as a former teacher I would do anything to protect the pupils in my care. But if I was a teacher now and was expected to protect them with a gun, you'd have to pay me, at the very least, the salary of a police officer in addition to my teacher's salary. If I had to be someone who works two professions, I better be paid that way!  And of course the multimillion dollar NRA would never put up the money to pay for all the security they're proposing for schools.

Given my background regarding how I feel about guns, (see my previous post of January 22nd) never in a million years would I take up a gun thinking that I would really be able to shoot the damn thing straight enough to take the bad guy out.  So, arming teachers, most of whom don't want to be armed, is the answer?

And then after we arm teachers, what's the next place to be armed and who?  How about arming the ticket takers, ushers and concessionaires at theaters, the cabana people at resorts, waitresses and waiters in all restaurants, all members of sports teams (they'd have to be extra careful not to bump into each other while they carry) T.V. news camera operators while they're filming reporters doing their jobs on scene, cashiers and stock people at grocery stores, all the seniors who walk the halls of the local mall, every medical person in hospitals and clinics, every student in high school and college, everyone in all office buildings from janitors to secretaries to the business people, : in other words, let's make EVERY SINGLE PERSON living in the country carry a gun.  Will the F***** gun manufacturers and their parasitic NRA be happy then?????

In light of all the guns then being carried by literally everyone, how many tourists would want to come here?  How many scientists, exchange students, business people?  When the thought of everyone you pass on the street or in buildings in the United States is carrying and given the huge amount of nut jobs, gang members and generally pissed off assholes who think (and I use that term loosely) the "guvmint" is coming for their guns and stamping on their "rights" roaming the streets who are also carrying (because the NRA is against background checks and closing the gun show loopholes), why would anyone come here?  There are other countries to visit that are just as beautiful.  There are other ways to do business without actually stepping foot on US soil.  There are other universities in other countries just as good as what we have to offer here.  There is nothing here in the United States that is not offered by other countries.

And please don't start yelling that we have a democracy..... and freedom..... and rights..... That's a bunch of bullshit.  With the crap dished out by the Republican/Tea Party, women's freedom and rights are going down the toilet, along with voting rights, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  What we have is a desperate war for the very soul of this country and it's being stolen by the rich who don't give a rat's ass for those who are not in their sphere of society.  Those bastards must be stopped but given the bazillion dollars being poured into Republican coffers it's an uphill battle.  If we have any students left in the coming years who haven't been blown away and haven't been infected by the dumbing down of all things taught in those schools which disdain math, science and critical thinking, maybe, just maybe the future can be saved for the good, the intelligent, the caring, the  people who have hearts and souls.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Marco Rubio isn't the one

Marco Rubio looks nice, speaks well but still tells the lies the GOP has been spouting for years. He doesn't offer much by way of original thought.  He relies on GOP sound bites and marches to the GOP handbook, despite its not being relevant to the 21st century. The GOP position is to damn everything President Obama, Democrats and non-Christians say and their narrow-minded, backward thinking will sink them.

Repeating lies long enough doesn't make them true. Bashing the middle class constantly doesn't endear you to them.  Trying to pass laws that hurt the middle class, the elderly, the infirm, children, women and generally most of the citizens in this country won't convince them you're looking out for their best interests. Up is not down and right is not left.  Right is not even right, in this instance.  How can one party be so 'against' everything that helps the majority of Americans?

The tragedy of the Republican Party is that it has become the party of rabid Christian, bible-thumping white men who pick and choose the parts of their bible which they think authenticates their perverse, misogynistic view of the world.  Those GOP women who agree with them are from a different era when women still "had their place."

The Republicans are not even a whole party anymore.  They are populated by so many Tea Party members, people who are hell bent on destroying the government, people who believe that most, if not all, of government is useless and has no place in a free society. 

The Republicans/Tea Party are not interested in what's good for the country.  Marco Rubio, no matter how he is packaged, can't salvage the savage attacks on President Obama, immigrants, women, the old, the young, the middle class.  He just can't make it all go away, regardless of how well he speaks Spanish or tries to appear as if he cares.  It's just too obvious the he and the rest of his party care only for their billionaire handlers, big corporations and getting the rest of us to pay their way.

Marco Rubio isn't the great hope for the GOP in 2016.  They are just wrong for America.