With the daily reports of the horrors inflicted on Gaza and
airplanes falling out of the sky, there is the question of what can one
do?Social media has been a
godsend.Although Russia still dupes its
citizens, we learned almost immediately that the Ukrainian separatists armed by
Russia shot down Malaysian flight MH 17. At least we did in the international
media; the US media took much longer.If
you stick to reporting that isn’t the standard US newscasts, you can find out
what is happening in Gaza and let others know.That might help change the impressions of a public that has always been
fed one point of view.Here’s a moving
article by a Jewish writer living in Canada:
At the same time there were a series of rapes in what are among
the most gentrified neighborhoods in the city.I’ve heard nothing more except for the arrest of one of the
website CrimeReports.com, which tracks crime statistics, lists even more sexual
assaults in the City since late last month:
•07/07/2014 | 300 Block FOX ST
•07/07/2014 | 1100 Block MAIN
•07/06/2014 | 1 Block KINGSLEY ST
•07/05/2014 | 300 Block BRECKENRIDGE ST...
•07/05/2014 | ELMWOOD AV & ALLEN ST
•07/02/2014 | 400 Block DELAWARE AV
•06/29/2014 | 200 Block ALLEN ST
•06/29/2014 | 1 Block FAY ST
•06/29/2014 | UNKNOWN & NIAGARA
•06/29/2014 | 300 Block W FERRY ST
•06/28/2014 | 100 Block HIGH ST.
And unfortunately more.
Yesterday I found out about 3 violent assaults in the same
neighborhood as the one where some of the rapes took place.Thanks to the neighborhood association which
has put out this information.Otherwise,
I don’t think many of us would even know what is going on at night. Has it
always been this way?Or is social media
making us more aware and able to take more precautions?Is the violence a backlash in the 4th
poorest city in the US?Is it some sort
of gang initiation?The property crimes
can be connected to poverty but the rapes?There are more questions than answers here.Fortunately, there are women who organize
free self-defense classes and marches at night but how many women are afraid
now and how is that limiting our lives?
Here's a poem that I usually open my poetry readings with and will probably continue to do so:
2 years later and I'm moving again. Here's a repost from then-not much has changed.
I am sitting in a room that’s in the process of being dismantled, bit by bit, box by box. Where does moving fit on the scale of life’s most stressful events? Somewhere up there, after death and divorce. My many moves are bookended by long periods spent in the same place. 17 years in the farmhouse in Varysburg, the small town where I grew up, and then 15 years in the atico flat in Barcelona with its terraces and views of the sea as a distant blue line and Montjuic, the city’s hill off the port.
Since my American adventure, I’ve lived in three places- my sister’s home in Atlanta, a sublet in Buffalo, and my present apartment where I’ve been for, hard to believe but four years now. Four years of living alone. Surprisingly except for one brief stint here when I was in college, I have never lived alone. Now that I’ve done it, it seems easy. Solitude doesn’t weigh but there is that occasional need to find a witness for the daily details of life.
So now, encumbered by a lot more stuff, I’m preparing for move 4. I left Barcelona after twenty years with three suitcases and a few boxes of my papers which I sent. How is it possible that I have amassed more stuff in four years here than in all that time abroad?
My first trip away from home to Paris for my junior year abroad only required one suitcase and a small carry on. With every subsequent voyage I’ve been weighted down with more stuff. I have my books (heavy, aren’t they?), DVD’s, papers (way too many), CD’s, and more clothes than I could ever wear. What do I really need? Comfort is a way of life in America and every object is designed for that finality. How much can I shed? As I look around the chaos that is now my pre-move life, I’m going to find that out.
When I lived in Spain, I loved watching the Tour in July- a hot, lazy month and the stages of the Tour were perfect for relaxing on the sofa. Here's a short piece I wrote for a bicycle magazine.
July- it’s the middle
of summer in Barcelona and it couldn’t be hotter.July means my teaching schedule is split in
the middle and I get home at the hottest time of the day.That also means that I am stuck in my
sweltering top floor atico apartment.During the rest of the year, the terrace is a delightful luxury but in
the dead of summer even with the awning stretching out over the top, it’s too
hot to venture out in midday.
No air conditioning, no escape.Even my gym has an air conditioning system
that barely generates a light chill.I
get home after teaching two English classes at a multinational insurance
company.The students are what you could
picture in such a class.There are four
of them who study risk or numbers or god knows what.But it is easy enough and it pays the rent.
I stop on my way home trudging up the hill to my
flat, stopping to pick up lettuce and prepared gazpacho which I drink by the
liters, providing liquid and salt in equal measure.After I eat, I lie down on the sofa, remote
in hand.News comes on and then, the
Tour de France.Nothing could be more
suitable for the summer than the peloton making its way through the pretty
green French countryside.The droning
voices of the two announcers, one a former cyclist himself, never fail to put
At some point during the broadcast, my two kids get
home from their colonias, which is a kind of school camp.Mostly it serves to let the adults keep
working and give the kids who don’t have doting grandparents a place to
be.My wife, Lina herds them away.“Daddy’s watching the Tour.”
“Daddy’s sleeping.”Paul the older child
announces.Undeterred, Lina says “ssssh”
and takes them into the kitchen to feed them the kind of snack I was never
allowed, a piece of baguette with nutella.It seems to do them no harm.They
have boundless energy and no cavities.The voices have penetrated my consciousness and I shift away from the TV
screen, having given up all pretense of watching.
Big days are mountain stages and time trials but
those are interspersed with these slow days where the overall standings never
change and I can fall into that delicious drowsiness without worrying anything
can happen.I usually wake just in time
to see the stage winner kissed by young women dressed in the color of the
winning jersey.The yellow jersey and
the small stuffed animal are handed out to the leader of the tour at the end of
“And there’s been a fall!A rider is down!”the announcer’s voice reaches a high pitch.Immediately I turn back to the screen and I
watch the replay of the unlucky rider get his wheel caught in the rider in
front of him.That one miscalculation
and Joseba Beloki, a rider I’d been following attentively like the rest of
Spain, is on the ground.Minutes later
he’s taken away in an ambulance.
“Damn.”Beloki had been the Spanish heir
to Indurain.Having been in Spain long
enough to watch Indurain ride to five victories, I’d pinned my hopes on Beloki.I rubbed the sleepiness from my eyes.
I get up, stretch, and head into the kitchen to join
the boys for a bit of that bread.