Queens Gal Remembers JFK Assassination

Queens Gal Remembers JFK Assassination

On Friday, November 22nd, 1963, disbelief coursed through my body, as did shock, confusion, and a deep well of sorrow. I was a kid who, until this moment, knew nothing scarier than Abbott and Costello meets Frankenstein or the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz, whose freakishly-painted flesh made my own skin crawl.

I was of a generation raised by parents whose wartime experiences were still fresh, and who now craved better lives for their children. Entering an era of peace and prosperity, we were raised on Madison Avenue icons like Tony the Tiger and Elsie the Cow. Salisbury Steak TV Dinners were our go-to meal and Saturday matinees included a cartoon and a double feature. Jerry Lewis and Doris Day films were the best and all day long, AM radio played songs like, “Shake, Rattle and Roll” and Continue reading

Random thoughts from a Crazed Woman

I have too much going on, and too many thoughts spinning around my head. How does that old adage go? Oh, yeah. I remember.

So much to do, so little time. Here’s a glimpse of my weekend:

Zumba, zumba, zumba:  I love Zumba. I love to dance, so it’s the perfect exercise. The music’s lively and loud, the Zumba instructors dance with verve and the class is, well, fun.  My only complaint is that I wish I had more time in the day, so I could go more often. Say, three times a week, instead of two.

Saturday Night Gala:  If it’s Saturday night, chances are there’s a gala somewhere in town. This past Saturday was no exception. It’s actually part of my job to get all dressed up, drive downtown, and attend a gala for a worthy cause. This particular one was a fundraiser for The Center, a non-profit that provides resources and support to San Diego’s LGBT community. Great band, large dance floor. Which meant, after networking and presentations were done, I had to dance to the music at least once.

Atlantic Meets Pacific:  Yesterday, I attended a conference called “Atlantic Meets Pacific,” in which editors of the Atlantic Monthly magazine, in partnership with the University of California at San Diego, host two and a half days of lively, provocative topics covering everything from media and politics to energy and health. Fascinating stuff, if you ask me.

Happy Birthday, Regina! (That’s me, standing directly behind my sister.)

So, I took along my son, who is an avid Atlantic Monthly reader/subscriber, and we headed for the opening talk, which was just up my alley: a discussion on the 2012 Presidential Election Politics.

You should know that I am a political newshound, and that’s an understatement.  I won’t regale you with all the details, but know that I tweeted a lot about the political banter, and picked up nine new followers as a result. Which means, if I can get one more follower, I’ll have an even 600!

Best line I heard was from Republican strategist, Steve Schmidt.  When asked, why he though President Obama wasn’t up to par at the debates last week, Schmidt responded:

“The seven P’s:  Prior proper planning prevents piss poor performance.”

Of course, the audience burst out in laughter when he said that. But you know, there just may be something to it.

Race 2012 Blogging Project:  There are 20 bloggers contributing their personal stories and sharing their perspectives. And, I am coordinating their participation. I love my bloggers, but, honey, it ain’t easy keeping track of the coordination part.  This is sure to keep me busy through the elections.  Which brings me to…

…The Elections: OMG, I LOVE LOVE the elections! I cannot stop watching the news shows, listening to the radio and reading all about it online. I need my fix of politics—and I need it NOW! Can I tell you? This morning, going through presidential debate withdrawal, I turned on the radio and got to hear a pre-recorded debate between Senator Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia, and his  opponent, Wayne Powell.  Let me tell you, this Wayne Powell is a real dynamo!  He is a veteran, having served 30 years in the military, and he has a law degree. As I listened to Powell, I was reminded of the film with James Stewart, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. For, I found Powell to be compassionate, stating his case assertively and to the point. He’d certainly be a much-needed breath of fresh air in Congress.

Henry:  Boy, if I had a dollar for every time my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel wanted to go for a walk. Why doesn’t driving him around in my car, while I do errands count? Darn, if that dog doesn’t keep insisting on his “constitutionals.”

My Son:  With my son over yesterday, so that we could go to the conference together, I just had to bake a chocolate chip pumpkin bread for him. And then we had to watch the first episode of the new season of Homeland, and it didn’t disappoint. No wonder it’s our favorite show.

Isn’t my sister a cutie patootie?

TV:  Now I know what you’re thinking. “Monica, if you’re so busy, why watch TV?” Simple. Because I LOVE it! I have too many favorite shows and I know I would get the DT’s to give any of them up.  I already mentioned Homeland. And, Sunday nights are the worst now that the fall is here and the shows have returned.  And, by worst, I mean, all the shows I watch seem to fall on Sunday night! Maybe in another post, I’ll confess more of my addiction.

My Sister: My sister is the youngest among my siblings, trailing me, the next youngest, by eight years. Well, today is her birthday, and I’m so very proud of her and all that she’s accomplished. For starters, she’s a journalist for a major daily newspaper, and she’s doing what she loves. So, Happy Birthday, Regina!  Oh, and by the way, if you ever run into her while she’s covering a story, ask her this question:

“Who the heck is Lois Nettleton??”

She’ll know the answer or my name is mud.

So, tell me. What did you do this weekend?

The Race 2012 Blogging Project Begins

Race was an issue during the Civil Rights era. Is it still an issue today?

If you ask me, with 40 days left to the election, the best reality show around just kicked it up a notch.

I’m talking, of course, about the 2012 run for the presidency. I mean, just think about it. There’s enough drama here—machinations,  angst, he said/he said accusations, secret tapes, backstabbing, blunders, greed, politicos being thrown under the bus, backroom meetings, not to mention out-and-out brawls—to spice up at least a dozen reality shows.

And, while everyone’s wondering who’ll end up with the rose, or be thrown off the island–there can only be one president, after all–the real question to consider, is:

Is race a factor in this year’s election?

On the surface, this may seem like a yes or no question, but, really, it’s one that begs an explanation. Closer examination, if you will. And the answer, no doubt, will be influenced by your race, your religion or lack thereof, your class, and other key markers that make you, well, you.

For, these factors form the prism through which you see the world, including politics. And, there is no one way to answer this question. There are countless ways.

I have voted in nine presidential elections. This upcoming one will be my tenth. And, while the question of race didn’t really occur to me the first eight times I voted, I started thinking about it in the 2008 election when, for the first time, we had an African-American presidential candidate running for office. And, it’s an issue that continues to pervade my thoughts today.

Which is why, I’m pleased to launch the Race 2012 blogging project.  From now through the election season, Race 2012 bloggers will be posting about this very subject. And, all the views conveyed in their posts are, most definitely and unequivocally, their own. But, they’ll be speaking from the heart and sharing their personal feelings about race and the election.

Some of the bloggers have already posted, and I am including links to their posts on the new Race 2012 page, which I’ve set up right here on this site.  Please visit the page and keep coming back to check for updates.  I encourage you to read these posts and then add your own comment, for we want you to be part of the  conversation.

If you’re interested in blogging with our team, just let me know and I’ll send you some information.

The Race 2012 blogging project is conducted in conjunction with a new PBS documentary, Race 2012: A Conversation About Race & Politics in America. This one-hour election special, which airs Tuesday, October 16 (please check your local listings), uses the presidential election as a lens through which to examine America’s increasingly complex racial landscape.

Race 2012 navigates the high-stakes world of racial pollsters, strategists, spin doctors and candidates as they compete for voters of many ethnic and racial groups. The election will serve as an important indicator of the role race will play in our nation’s political future. How will today’s immigrants shape our electoral landscape? What effect will the economic differences have on America’s political future? Race 2012 offers a fresh view of the shifts that are transforming our nation.

I, for one, am looking forward to having a thought-provoking exchange of ideas and beliefs. And, who knows? Maybe, together, we can get to the bottom of this, and thus solve all our economic and social problems in one fell swoop.

Too much to hope for? Perhaps. But, keeping the conversation going is a good place to start. Your thoughts?

In the Hot Seat

Uh-oh. Someone’s in the hot seat, and I think you know who I’m talking about.

But, if you ask me, I don’t know what the big deal is. There’s nothing strange about talking to a chair. After all, it’s not as if I’ve never done that.

Clint Eastwood talks to a chair at the Republican National Convention.

So, Clint Eastwood, I understand. You bet, I get it. Go ahead and talk to the chair as if it’s President Obama, like you did last night at the Republican convention. You were in top form, if I say so myself. Almost as menacing as you were in Dirty Harry when you went after the bad guys and refused to play by the rules. And, just about as curmudgeonly as you were in Gran Torino, after the Hmong moved into your neighborhood.

So, why talk to the hand, when you can talk to the chair? In fact, after you’re done, do me a favor and come on over to my place. I’ve got a sofa that thinks its FDR, and a coffee table that’s channeling Joe Biden.

For, the other day, my sofa, which has certainly seen better days, said to me, as I arrived home from work,

“You have nothing to fear, but fear itself.”

I turned around to see to whom he was talking to, as I didn’t think it was me. After all, I wasn’t feeling particularly fearful about anything. But, then I realized he must have known I had an important deadline approaching at work and was feeling rather fearful I wouldn’t make it.

Before I could reply, Biden, the coffee table, saw that I had in my hands a model car, a replica of a car my father once drove, that my brother had sent me (an early birthday gift) and, in no uncertain terms said,

“You didn’t build that.”

Of course, I knew that. I’m all thumbs when it comes to building anything, but my brother did build it from a kit he had purchased, gluing all the pieces together himself. And yes, I suppose, he couldn’t have built it without having the purchased parts provided by the manufacturer, so one could say, it was a group effort. It takes a village, after all.

Had I had a hand in it, I’m sure the engine would have ended up in the trunk.

Then, suddenly, out of nowhere, my footstool, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, exclaimed,

“Forward!”

I assume she was referring to President Obama’s new slogan. Still, it startled me into jumping, well, forward. And it’s a good thing too, because just then, Henry, my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, had come from behind, aiming for my legs and I would surely have lost my footing and landed on top of Nancy, had it not been for her strategic warning.

Speaker of the House, John Boehner, the floor lamp, chuckled. “Lucky you didn’t fall and need some of that Obamacare we’re going to repeal.”

To which I replied, “I think your bulb is out.”

“Still,” he insisted, “The last thing you need is to be sidelined by a fall, not with that deadline you have at the office.”

To which Joe Biden, the coffee table, interjected,

“It’s a war on women!”

“Hey, Joe,” I responded. “I think the war on women refers to something else, not me having a collision with my dog.”

My throw rug, Sarah Palin, looked at Joe askance, and asked,

“So, how’s that hope and change stuff working for you?”

“You know I don’t appreciate your sarcasm, Sarah,” Joe replied.

“We can do better!” shouted Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney, aka, the step stool leaning against the kitchen pantry. “It is not what we were promised!”

To which, Nancy replied,  “Look at the facts, Mitt.”

At which point, a fight among all my furniture ensued and I couldn’t help but wonder where I’d left Rodney King, my ironing board, earlier that day as I was getting ready for work. Oh, that’s right. Upstairs in the linen closet, where I’m pretty sure I could hear his muffled voice give a sigh and say,

“Can’t we all just get along?”

And that was when, FDR, the sofa repeated, “You have nothing to fear but fear itself!”

And then, it hit me. The sofa was right.

The Race is On

 

Have you heard? It’s election time in America.  A year of campaigning, grandstanding, hand-shaking, politicking, debating, mud-slinging and flag-pin wearing. A year filled with super-PACs, soapboxes, and the good ol’ red, white and blue.

Yes, once again we are voting for who will be our next president. It’s the right of all citizens to fill out a ballot and cast a vote. A right that is supposed to level the playing field, no matter what our path was to citizenship.

Of course, when it comes right down to it, not everyone votes. And that’s their right, I suppose.  Which is ironic, when you consider that there are countries where voting is not allowed, and where I’m pretty sure, many folks would give their eyeteeth for the right and privilege to cast a ballot.

As we have.

Perhaps some of us just don’t feel a strong desire to have a hand in picking the next president. Or senator, governor, or even, mayor. Maybe, we figure, others will do it for us, so that we can go about the business of living our lives and shopping at the mall.

Well, that’s never been the case in my family. From the time I first became aware that I was born in a country that has a president, I learned about our inalienable right to vote.

Back then, my mother wasn’t a citizen yet, but my father had already become one.  As a Latino, he was proud of his U.S. citizenship. For him, this was the land of opportunity, a place that gave him the chance to earn a college degree, and build a better life for his children. He always made sure he voted and, by his actions, he instilled in us the desire to be actively involved in the voting process.

It’s election time in America. What does Race 2012 mean to you?

I remember the political discussions my parents would have. They’d read the newspaper, and watch the news with Walter Cronkite, and then add their own two cents to the day’s issues. Sometimes, my father would yell at the TV, but I think that was mostly during the Watergate hearings.

When my mother became a citizen, she couldn’t wait for her chance to vote, too. The night before Election Day, she’d review the ballot measures, look at the pros and cons of each candidate, and create her “voting list” to take into the voting booth.

When I turned 16, I volunteered for my first presidential campaign. My friends and I were bussed from Long Island, across the state line to New Jersey, and deposited in a neighborhood, where we spent the day going door to door, asking people to get out and vote. Some listened politely; others didn’t give us the time of day.

And that was their right.

For my generation, 18 was a magical year. The year we became adults and were legally allowed to drink. But, when I turned 18, I remember just being excited about finally getting my chance to vote. And, I have voted in every election since. Nowadays, I don’t even go to the polls. I just mail in my ballot. But, I do miss getting the flag sticker that is given out at polling places, the one you can put on your lapel to show that you voted.

In most states, the deadline to register to vote is sometime in October. You can check here to find out the deadline for your state. If you haven’t yet done so, I hope you’ll take the time to register. After all, your vote counts as much as mine does. No matter where we come from, no matter what our race, religion or sex, our votes do matter.

Starting in October, I’m launching a blogging project to coincide with a new PBS documentary by the same name:  Race 2012. It’s about race and the election and what it means for each of us.  If you’re interested and would like to participate, sharing your personal story, photos, art, or editorial cartoons, then drop me a line at monicastangledweb@gmail.com, and I’ll send you information.  To those of you who have already signed on, thank you!

Yep, it’s about time for Race 2012, and together we can make a difference. Please feel free to tweet this and share with other bloggers. Then, I hope you’ll share below, your feelings and memories of voting.