will brady's ruminations
Christo's Gates in New York City's Central Park
is now under construction
| 30 years in the planning, Bruce and I will be there next Saturday for the unfurling of the vinyl curtains, scheduled to be opened this coming Saturday |
People react quite differently when you mention Christo | Milan scoffed opening questioning why "...would anyone want to see what that crazy Bulgarian is doing...
" | Others express envy about going the first day of the exhibition | Christo pays for each installation himself, funding his projects by selling sketches
~ such as the one on the right of this text ~ of the proposals | Quite a radical assumption in the world of subsidized art [be it government funded or through being pimped via advertsiting dollars]
What does the artist hope to accomplish by creating ~ then dismantling this display? Jok Church, one of those working on the project, explains it thusly:
"...there will be no changes in Central Park wrought by The Gates. The changes happen in us. We'll see things differently and will for the rest of our lives. And it'll happen to everyone. And shouldn't art change us?
Can't hardly wait | Watch the day-to-day progress
MORAL ISSUES ~ WARNING ~ EXPLICT PICTURES
The Death Penalty
| Thanks to the slated execution date of convicted mass murderer Michael Ross, the Connecticut Legislature has been holding hearings on the death penalty, and it's use in that state | Many have spoken eloquently about how, by executing Ross, the families of his victims could finally have "closure" | Now, if by "closure" we're talking about replacing the emptiness in one's heart due to the loss of that loved one ~ it never actually comes to pass | Personally, I'm skeptical about the whole concept of "closure" preferring to believe that survivors of traumatic events [including the murder of a loved one] need to come to some personal point of resolution and go on with their lives | The dead can never be replaced | The debate of what to do with Michael Ross on behalf of the victims'
families continues |
But that debate is not
about any individual convicted killer, such as Michael Ross | The debate is about Society's tolerance of taking the life of another and the belief that execution can be used as a means of setting an example to others who might kill their fellow citizens | And it is an important matter to weigh carefully |
I listened to the debates, via Connecticut Network
and found them compelling | While most of the speakers asked to abolish the death penalty, those few who spoke in favor were dispassionate and seemed rational about their conclusions | Some had arcane ~ even twisted beliefs; like that of the pastor of the Fairfield [CT] United Methodist Church who was insistent in stating he thought it would
be acceptable [if not preferable] to subject someone to total solitary confinement while in restraints instead of having them executed | His rationale was that the killer might eventually experience "redemption" and ought be allowed to live for that day to come | The good Pastor might want to review what is recognized as contemporary forms of torture before positing such an absurd notion | Then again, maybe he considers torture "quaint" |
My own opinion on the death penalty has long been fluid | Although I go to work every day and interact with some incarcerated folks I know to be unrepentant killers, I've never been rigid in my thinking on the subject ~ pro or con | Since I work with folks deemed "insane," some of those who have killed that I've gotten to know seem truly remorseful, even tormented inside | Others ~ the real killers ~ remain indifferent ~ even offended ~ that Society has locked them up | Some of this latter group spend much of their free time trying to determine how they can convice the Courts to make ruling in their favor and issue a habeus motion release, however convoluted the motion's legal logic might be |
I have to be honest and say my opinions of the killers' seems to vary depending on where each of them falls within these different stances | For those who are tormented I have more compassion ~ even if they aren't ever going to be released | But for the reptilian cold-blooded ones, I end up wondering whether we aren't wasting the cash to keep them alive a quarter century or more |
I believe that putting someone in solitary confinement for years on end is cruel + unusual punishment, no matter how henious the crime they committed | We ought not be committing crimes ourselves to punish known criminals | Actually, the practice that some cultures have, of requiring those who kill to literally replace the role the victims had in society, has, for some cases, some appeal to me | Society ought to make use of whatever skills and abilities of those life-sentenced killers to in some way [however small] repay their social debts | Locking them up 24-7 in near total isolation does not accomplish this |
There is one other matter | This is that the killer is not the only one "sentenced" for his [or her] crime | The arguements on both sides of capital punishment have not, thus far, attempted to speak to this, much less address it | The impact and effect upon those assigned to being one of the watchers
of those sentenced must also be taken into account | For once a murderer starts doing time, those most directly affected are we who stand guard with those killers | Watching and working with unrepentant murderers has profound moral/social/ethical/psychic/spiritual overtones | I say this as one of those more closely so connected | Yet that's not on the discussion table at all | And it needs to be | Because I can tell you, being one of the watchers can be a pretty frikking weird experience | And Society has a huge
moral debt to those whom the rest of you have assigned these onorous duties |
Stefan P. Kruszewski
, in a letter to British Medical Journal
, weighs in on research ethics and of the importance of accurate reporting of that research to the rest of the world |
Read the rest of the letter
"Research science can be corrupted at any step of the research process. It is the very reason behind the passion that drives the arguments for full disclosure and transparency. Since this is not a theoretical exercise, but one from which human lives are held in the balance, the stages of the process are worth reiterating: If basic science is corrupted, clinical protocols can not accurately proceed. If the results of an early clinical trial are misreported, the basis for larger trials is skewed. If negative data or adverse effects are hidden, the risk -benefit questions cannot be addressed. If the positive conclusions are embellished, the marketing and advertisement are at risk. If the regulatory bodies do not perform their tasks in an independent and unbiased manner, the approval process is corrupted"
HISTORY | NOTABLES
Sculpture: Harriett Tubman by Jane DeDecker
Many Americans know nothing about true suffering
"Children, if you are tired, keep going. If you are hungry, keep going. If you are scared, keep going. If you want to taste of freedom, keep going.
| They know not what is would be like to be brutally beaten as a child for running off when scared | Or what it is like to live in virtual slavery, even to the point of be at risk of their spouse agreeing to sell them off |
Many Americans know nothing about true determination
| We don't knbw what it's like to flee for their lives only to then spend the rest of their life helping other gain freedom |
This kind of reality is, for most of us, consigned to something we watch vicariously in movies or as theatre | Not so for Harriet Tubman | Her life
was one of dedicated work
to gaining and ensuring human rights protections
for all |
Some may read about Ms. Tubman's life solely based upon her ethnic background | True, she was of African-American descent | Most [though not all] people born into slavery in Antebellum USA were African-American | But her story and her part in American history ~ indeed ~ world history. belongs to us all | We could all benefit from following her example |
PIC CREDITS: All images from a Google search on the internet | Images may be copyrighted |
At the cemetery office I go to visit my friend who works there. "Can't be busy there" I think. Wrong!
In comes a man asking for the birth date from the tombstone, of a woman and her brother who died "...oh, sometime back in 1950 or '52, around about that time." He was certain of this.
He was followed by a very brisk, officious Funeral Director who just wanted some papers processed and get out of there. He had another funeral to do at two and he needed to get back to his office fast!
Then the phone rang. Could a welfare grave have a "temporary" marker?
This was followed quickly by another, wanting to know why the flowers left last month at Uncle Loved One's resting place had been taken to a different resting place of their own. Why?!?
From the side of the counter diving the office space, the first man came back. "Their last name was Schermer, or Schulmer or Schul... something like that..."
Then the Director, "Well, just mail me back the pink copy, I can see you're busy."
The phone again: "Was LaTourelle buried near the Chapel or near the Young Saint's Shrine?", prompting the first man to stand back and say to my friend, "No hurry on my request. I can wait."
Another Director "...and a Monument Dealer..." dressed like a priest with a football jersey and stonemason's arms, comes in offering to help research the plots he's looking for on his own. He waits a long time and ends up sort of unofficially standing guard at the door against even more intrusions into the morning.
The Welfare family calls again to ask if they can put artificial flowers and a different kind of marker taht didn't cost too awfully much. Could we do that? Then?
Then in walks a gravedigger come to tell that the plot down by the streambed keeps filling in, but the plot in the Cedar Grove was ready for "...that Baby Funeral..." that was about to come in.
All the while this is going on, my friend she's pulling out files, looking old interrment orders up... "I have a Schumacher here, in 1950, was the first name Fritz?" | No, he didn't think so | "Was there a Madaline or Geraldine?." Ah! I think Geraldina! A hurried smile. A lead! At last.
"She was born in Austria but I don't know the birthdate..."
Stonemason Priest grimly grinned and muttered softly "...or maybe Hungary or Bellorussia, I'm certain of it..."
Then a man coming in looking for employement, arrives in a three-piece suit for a digger's job, and with a resume to boot! "Could you take care of this?" and just as quickly out again, the resume left for her boss. And the phone rings again.
"Meadowlark Cemetary, can I help you?" It's a call for how much do plots cost and if a stone was required to be installed right away?
I'mCertain, at the counter, then says that the sister might be buried in her maiden name and not her married name; at any rate the last name was not the same. Were there any Schumachers buried on anybody else's burial plots?"
The baby Funeral Directpr pops in, puffing and sweating as if it were August, all ready to make small talk and "...may I help myself to coffee?" he asks as he walks over to the coffeemaker and pours himself a cup. My it's hot! he calls out to no one in particular and if it's about the temperature of the weather or the coffee we're not entirely sure.
Then enters a couple askiing where their mother was interred last autumn. They had been out to the area and sister could remember a tree nearby but then... there was this other tree that looked like that one...
I'mCertain chimes in again "...there was a Porringer in the family. That could be the name! I'm pretty sure of it!"
The phone again. Did the Cemetery know that at the Turner Family plot, when old Fred died back in '68, he should have been buried deeper so his wife could go with him now?
My friend pulls out a book from under the counter containing a series of maps. To the older couple, "Now... what part of the cemetary did you roam around in? You're not married are you?"
"Oh no! We're brother and sister!" They look faintly aghast at the possibility of their being guessed as spouses. "We're having a marker added in April, but we just don't know where it goes..." then they walk over to the corner where some sample bronze generic plaques lie propped against the wall.
The flushed funeral Director suddeny says, "I'll never understand why infant funerals seem so... macabre! I mean, even though they're young, everybody's got to go sometime!!"
Stonemason Priest rolls his eyes, looking quickly at the elderly siblings, then changes the subject, "Can I see one of those maps?"
Looking up from the cards, "Uh, I have something here, a Podgurney plot with a Geraldine Schulty, she died in June of 1952..." I'mCertain's face beams out as he says, "Yes! That's the one! I'd recognize it anywhere!" then hesitates before asking "...how old?"
"About 57 years and a young Fritz Podgurney, aged 49."
"But what's the date of birth? That's her but I don't think that's her brother!"
Stonemason Priest interjects, about the sister's age, "...it's probably a guess anyway. Nobody could be certain but the Funeral Director who interred her (back in '52) would have all those records anyway."
Old Sister, wearing a bright yellow touque and a worn plaid flannel jacket, now illuminated by a sunburst through the window amking the toque look like a halo. " Is this what the lettering would look like?" and "My what elaborate scrollwork! Is it hand carved?" she asks while pointing toward the cast plate on the floor in the middle of a row of five such markers.
My friend: "Yes! No! No ...that's the way it comes."
"Really!" I'mCertain chimes in, with a new query, "You mean I've come to the wrong place?"
Stomemason fields that one: "Well, not exactly. Now you've got one of the two at least."
Old Sister: "...and will it be this stone? or another one?"
But back to the maps. there's a large general map, then a book of smaller sectional maps lined in countoured grids, colored in according to what they cost and choiceness of the site. Those plots with panoramic views at the top of the hill, a group near the Chapel, and those in the Cedar Grove cost more. "More aesthetically attractive" the Boss chimes in, having entered the office only moments ago. He pours a coffee, a few words with the red-chinned Funeral Director [now grabbing a jelly croissant, biting into it only to have a squirt of filling ooze out the front, almost dropping but caught by a deft finger] then he leaves the room to make a phone call.
The old couple look over the colored map, "I thought she was buried closer to the cross on the hill. Those trees look so much alike."
By now the counter is covered with note cards and files pulled out to answer questions and it's a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to put them all back where they belong. Through the window the visitors from the infant's funeral drive past the gates and head toward the Cedar Grove.
Red-Faced Director: "Oh darn! They're already there! I can't wait to get this over with" sets his coffee down and waddles out he door | "Back in 15..." he says, in case anybody's listening.
Although he was one of the first
to die for the young nation known as the United States the African born former slave Crispus Atticus
never got depicted in Paul Revere's
famous engraving of the Boston Massacre of 1774 | Atticus was among the twelve martyrs of the revolution, and his grave is the site of a historic monument today | Interred in the Granary Burying Grounds
in Boston, Atticus' headstone is shared with the names of five other people, and set back somewhat from the more prominent stone of John Adams |
Given the ambivalent response that American Leadership has, over time, given to race and the history of different races in the nation
this ought to be no surprise | Disappointing, to say the least, but changing this attitude won't go away by ignoring it | So it seems fitting, perhaps, to open the month of February [African-American History Month
] with a brief tribute to one of the nation's first martyrs |
African American History, that is, the history of North America, would not be complete without at least some mention of the Canadian Experience | Black Loyalists is a helpful starting point |
PIX CREDITS: left~ US Fish + Wildlife Service | right~ CT DEP / P. Fusco
Connecticut Audubon Society
sponsors its annual Eagle Festival weekend the 19th + 20th of February | Held in the ower Connecticut River Valley from East Haddam to Essex, the Festival brings together several river's
edge communities to celebrate the roosting of the American Bald Eagle
Many of the activities [lectures, boat tours, museum + art exhibits] take place in Essex
, but other activities, including a Chowder Cook-Off ["...join us for lunch and help select the "People's Choice" winner
"], take place in my own home town of East Haddam
New this year is an ecoforum lecture to be held 7:30 p.m. / 19th February at the Ivorytown Playhouse, with Dr. Edward O. Wilson
discussing The Future of Life
Report your eagle sightings
| While it's nice to take part in watching the eagles soar above the waters, don't forget that eagles are solitary creatures, so don't try getting too close | That caution in mind, come join the festivities |
El Graduado ~ on Psychiatrists
CLICK ON IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE + BETTER READABILITY
This strip is done by a student at the University of British Columbia | Published in the November 2004 edition of The Graduate
[pdf file], a rather well done student newspaper | Give it a look
HABITATSForestiere Underground Gardens
| In the early part of the 20th Century, Baldasare Forestiere left his home in Sicily and came to the United States, moving to Fresno, California | At the beginning he just wanted a cellar to escape the 115-120 degree heat of summer |
Using only hand tools, a wheelbarrow, and horse and a mule, over the course of 40 years he created a complex labyrinthine underground shelter |
At some point, when people asked what he was doing he would tell them he planned to pen up a restaurant, but this never happened |
He said the visions in his mind almost overwhelmed him | He did not know that after he died architects, engineers, and scientists from around the world would call him an architect and engineering genius in his own right |
Ron Gilbert has posted a walk-through tour
of this amazing underground structure |
Forestiere Underground Gardens
is open in the summer months for public viewing |
The supposed counterpoint to urban culture
would be that of the nomads, the so-called primitives, who relied on much less than an aquisitive culture could ever understand being able so to do | We have much to learn and so little time to absorb it all | Nevertheless, the aquistive culture has to start unlearning its own baggage somewhere | Here's three such portals to start from:
The Society of Primitive Technology
| Here you can read about vast lie the cultural divide between aquisitive, materialistic Anglo-Europeans and | true hunter gatherers who take pleasure in collecting nothing
| First stumbled across via Tom Brown's Tracker School
, the site sets forth prinicipals and values important to take note of when questioning the prevaling "wisdom" of consumer/acquisitive cultures |
| About knowing the tools from whence we came and how to use them | Site blurb: "...the learning and practice of ancestral skills can help us all get in touch with our own roots -- no matter what our particular heritage may be (American Indian, European, African, Asian, etc.). Here in North America, we look to Native Americans and the ancestors of these people to teach us skills that are "native" to this place. Yet, if we go back far enough into our own pasts, we discover that we are all aboriginal peoples at some time, in some place. The "stone age" is the great common denominator of humanness. "Primitive" ("first") skills are our shared inheritance.
Two great exploration sites Modern Ruins
[where the pix on the left is from] and Zone Tour
, where urban exploration is defined as "... a way of seeing the city by its hidden and often functional side | Technical galleries, attics, construction places, roofs, all those "No Entry" places form a sort of parallel deserted town... or nearly deserted, because the design this silent world can attract many kind of inhabitant of the "other town" (the one where people live, work and consume) and swing them over to the backside of the setting
" | The second image, one of my own, from an abandonded mental hospital |