Homework Assignment II

      Sometime soon–perhaps this weekend--I intend to have someone write an essay about the following passage: 


     “Real power, the power we have to fight for night and day, is not power over things, but over men.”  (O’Brein) paused, and for a moment assumed again his air of a schoolmaster questioning a promising pupil: “How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?”  
     
     Winston thought.  “By making him suffer,” he said.  
    
     “Exactly.  By making him suffer.  Obedience is not enough.  Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own?”  


     –From 1984, by George Orwell


      Very rich.  Very rich.  How can you be sure, indeed?  
      For the Sadist, power can only be felt when it is wielded, used.    

Contract Suspended

     I made $120 tutoring today and was feeling pretty good until I got home and found an email from this company I’ve been doing editing and proofreading work for.  They were supposed to send me more work, but it wasn’t coming, so I called and emailed to ask when I could expect it.

     Due to unexpected budget cutbacks, we are suspending contracts with freelance personnel.

     FANTASTIC!  A warning would have been helpful, you bastards!  So, I get on the phone.  I want to know if there was anything wrong with the quality of my work.  I am told: No, we have brought the bloody hatchet down on all freelance personnel; it’s nothing personal.    I want to know if and when I may ever expect to work for them again.  They say, After Thanksgiving.  By early December.  You were with us last year–we always get slammed before the Holidays.

     So there you go, and here I am.

     I feel highly annoyed but surprisingly calm otherwise.  Interesting.  Maybe I really am changing.

    I have work from two other jobs coming in this week.  So, I have a little breathing room.  Not much, but a little.  Maybe a week.

    I need to make a plan.  Soon, very soon, before I get desperate.  As any prudent person living on the brink of insolvency (especially in this town) knows, it’s best to hustle before you really need to.

     I resolve to run my problems by at least three other homo sapiens I (mostly) trust in order to get their input.  Gonna put that Lone Ranger shit on the shelf for once.  It’s what got me into a lot of this mess in the first place.  Maybe I’ll even ask for help–imagine that!  Though the idea is counterintuitive to me.  What would I ask for, and with what justification?  That is the way that I think.

     I have spent my life without needs. Never taking, never owing. There are many reasons for this.  I don’t have entitlement issues–I have the opposite problem.  I don’t think that I’m entitled to a goddamned thing I haven’t procured with my own two hands. Secondly, when you ask someone for something, you give them power over you. I try to never give anybody the power to say no to me.  When is the last time I took a gift? A favor?

    I have to think about that.

Why I Will Never Eat at This Restaurant

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   I pass by this restaurant sometimes.  It’s new.  I was optimistic when I heard that it was going to be a pizza place (because you know that what New York needs is more pizza places), but I’ve never eaten there, and I don’t think that I ever will.

    Now, you may be saying, “Miss Margo, you don’t eat ANYWHERE!  Why is this place so special?”  To that I would say: my dietary preferences (ha! ha!) are besides the point.  Even if I was eating, I would not eat at this place.  I know that you would likely never eat their either, good reader.  Here, let’s take a look:

click to enlarge

          Remember those logic and word-association tests that you had to take in school?  Like where they would give you four words, and you’d have to pick out which one didn’t belong?  Like: fish penguin whale zebra, which one doesn’t belong?  Zebra, right?  Cause the others are aquatic.  

        
         Well, what is wrong with the picture above? Besides the awful name “King Gyro” and the hideous green  sidewalk tarp. What else doesn’t belong?  gyro falafels kebobs burgers.  Take your time.  I know it’s a real head-scratcher.
       BURGERS, right (and don’t you love the way ‘burgers’ is crowded onto the sign, as if it were included as an afterthought–as it should have been?)?  Now, I don’t know about you, gentle reader, but I get nervous when I’m at a restaurant that tries to make cousine from totally different regions of the globe.  I mean, some fine dining places try ‘fusion,’ but King Gyro here doesn’t exactly look like a contender for the Michelin Star.  It’s not written up in ZAGAT, either.  
     But wait, there’s more!
      King Gyro also offers breakfast!  What kind of breakfast, you ask?  Something Persian or North-African or Greek themed, perhaps?  
     Nooooooo!  How about donuts, bagels, bastardized McMuffins, iced coffee, and some mysterious thing that looks like it might be made with fried egg.  
Looks appetizing!
     I honestly have pity on the proprietor of this spectacularly ill-conceived restaurant venture, but at the same time, I’m waiting for that famous invisible hand we’ve heard so much about knock down these gorge-inducing signs and shut this place down.
    Maybe I should actually eat there and take photos of it and do an honest restaurant review.  That could be funny.  The inside of the store is bright green, like that sign.  Nobody is ever in there.  What do you think?  

Occupy Wall Street III (Sotheby’s Protest)

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       I went to the protest tonight about sending off two job applications. Being underemployed made me feel extra mad at The Man. Took the train up to the Upper East Side, Land of insane welt-leaving narcissistic Surgeons, posh retail shops, and elaborately coiffed old ladies with equally elaborately coiffed tiny dogs.

crossing Park Avenue. Click to enlarge 

      The protest was outside 820 5th Ave. The crowd was not very big but it was not embarrassingly small, either. The cops made us clear the sidewalk pathway, so we were squished between the sidewalk and the wall of Central Park. This had the effect of making the crowd look a lot bigger, because it was more spread out–it went way down the block. The bad part of this was that the chanting was yelling and speeches were supposed to be directed at the building across the street (photo below), and instead it kinda “leaked over” to the nearby residences.

I told myself, “Well, maybe that will annoy the neighbors, and they’ll call these assholes up and say, ‘Skip, it’s your old pal from Princeton–the rabble your men refuse to negotiate with is screaming across the street while we’re trying to watch Lawrence Welk…could you do something about this?”

But, if anything, I think that their neighbors are much more likely to send them a nice sympathy fruit basket.

Here are photos–sorry, not very good ones–as I mentioned, I’ve decided not to show faces from the crowd–I thought that the organizers and union members addressing the crowd would be fair to photograph, though.  Click to enlarge:

Blow-up rat in pinstripe suit holding honest worker by the neck.

Luxurious residence of union-busting millionaires. 

      Representatives from five different unions (that I could tell) showed up.  I like union rallies.  They mean business.

      I got to talking with some guys from the MTA.

     “People are worried about terrorist attacks,” one of them told me, gravely.  “I work on the train infrastructure every day.  Let me tell you, you shouldn’t be worried about terrorist attacks.  You should be worries about crumbling subway tunnels and ceiling supports.”

    “Really?  It’s that bad?  But there are safety standards, right?  I mean, you know when something is about to fall down, right?”  I asked nervously.

     He wouldn’t look me in the eyes.  “You should be worried about the infrastructure,” he repeated.

    Shit.

F-train tunnel…OF DOOM..?!?!

       I have to work tomorrow (thank God) but there’s another rally Wednesday morning that I’ll attend if I don’t have to be at work.

The Count and Cookie Monster

     I just found an awesome video on YouTube.  I don’t believe in God or the supernatural, but if I did, I would think that this video was some sort of message from Beyond, and that I was “meant” to come across it.

     It’s perfect!  What we see here are actually two sides to my personality: The Count and Cookie Monster.  The Count is smooth and collected, and he makes spooky things happen.  He is reasonable and solution-oriented. The Count is obsessed with quantifying things.  The Count probably jerks off to data sets.

     Cookie Monster is a beast utterly ruled by his obsessions with cookies.  Cookie Monster is basically a cookie junkie.  Cookie obsessions have ruined Cookie Monster’s life and taken his dignity.  Cookie Monster should probably go to SMART Recovery or Cookie-Addicts Anonymous.  Now, I do not eat cookies (FATTENING!  No thank you–can’t have that–how about my BRAIN, instead? ), but that’s okay–cookies can be a metaphor.  

   P.S.  I’m working on an Elegy for Dr. Drew Pinsky.

Occupy Wall Street II

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       By the time I got to the General Assembly rally tonight, the crowd was pretty small–the time of day (after dark) and the rain probably had something to do with it.  The F, 6, and 4 trains were skipping stops all over downtown and the East Village/Lower East Side, which is a huge pain in the ass as well.  I got down there via train, but then couldn’t take the train back uptown.  I had to hoof it about two miles home.  It was okay; I was wearing good shoes.

     I took photos–not very good ones, because it was night outside.  Also, after thinking about it, I decided against posting pictures of the crowd where faces are visible.  I took photos without peoples’ consent.  I also recall when police intelligence forces would analyze crowd photos to identify individuals.  Not that I think cops are reading this blog (I can be paranoid, but I am not grandiose, thank you).

“Trains?  Tonight?  What made you think that we would be running trains tonight, other than the complete lack of signs  informing you and every else that service was in any way interrupted?”  

You and me both, buddy.

      On one side of the park was a sort of sign mosaic.  I hate puppets, music, and theater, but I think that signs are important in the media age.  Anyway, here are a few (the rain ruined a lot of them):

My personal favorite.  Here’s to you, Banksy.  I hate some of these assholes so much it makes my hair bleed (the banks, not the signs).  They are evil, evil institutions.  

More signs.  I like the “all I got was this lousy summons!” one.  No idea what that one is on the left.  
Does WikiLeaks have official “units” like this?  For real? 

        I’d estimate the crowd at about 500 people–that’s the protesters, not the police and media.

        It was well-run and surprisingly tidy, given that some people are basically camping there.  There was a first aid station set up, a sanitation station, a few others.  I took a phone pic of the first aid station and texted it to the Surgeon with the message “WHY AREN’T YOU HERE?” (it’s a joke).  
      Tomorrow there is a big protest at 5:30 pm–a rally for the locked out Sotheby’s workers.  Teamsters Local 814 is planning on being there, so it should be good.  And important.  820 5th Avenue (between 63rd and 64th)  
        Here is another picture of Parrot, because parrots are good for the soul.
“Hello!  I’m the most awesome parrot ever! Come to the protest tomorrow!”
  P.S.  Did anyone watch Ken Burns’ “Prohibition” on PBS?  I missed it, of course, but I got a copy and have been watching it.  It’s good!  “The Civil War” was his best, of course–I have that one on DVD–and I also liked “Jazz” and “Unforgivable Blackness” (even though I think that Jack Johnson was not so much defiant out of principle than out of character disorder, but whatever, it was still a great story and snapshot of the nation at that time).  I am sorry to say that “The War” failed to catch my imagination, even though I really wanted to love it.  I didn’t watch “Baseball,” I think most sports are for meatheads.  I am death on meatheads.  

Occupy Wall Street

Oh, my.  Look what happened yesterday while I was puttering about and being self-absorbed:

Police Arrest More Than 700 Protesters on Brooklyn Bridge

Updated, 11:59 a.m. Sunday | In a tense showdown above the East River, the police arrested more than 700 demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street protests who took to the roadway as they tried to cross the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday afternoon.

and from the horse’s mouth:

Brooklyn Bridge Occupied 

Posted Oct. 1, 2011, 4:56 p.m. EST 

Police have kettled the march on the Brooklyn Bridge and have begun arresting protesters. At least 20 arrested so far.

     See, everyone–this is what happens when you’re not paying attention.  
    
     There is no reason why I should not have been there.  

      Well, better late than never–I’m going to Occupy WS @ Liberty Square tonight after my job.  I should be there at least an hour before the call for general assembly at 7 pm.  


       I have done a lot of protesting in my life.  My first political memory if of attending a pro-union rally with my mother when I was tiny.  My mother’s no bomb-thrower–the union was hers (and it was defeated and remains defeated to this day).  But I certainly grew up to be a little bomb-thrower.  I cut my teeth at the protests in Seattle against the WTO in 1999 (that was hot stuff–thrilling–we were absolutely stunned that so many people showed up) and it was off to the races from there.  The leadup to the invasion of Iraq and the beginning of the occupation there occurred at a time when I was intensely and unapologetically radical.  It is true that I may have been cartoonish, but I was serious as a heart attack for all that–dutifully slogging through volumes like Trotsky’s “My Life” and tear-assing around the country protesting and writing (nothing you’ve never read, I assure you).  


        Since then, I have mellowed somewhat (or completely sold out, depending on who you ask).  I’m not sure exactly how it happened (the story of my life)–fatigue, perhaps, and the fact that I could never see that the protesting actually changed anything.  The self-congratulatory vibe at the protests started to gall me–it seemed to me that a lot of people were having way too much fun.  The drums, the rock concerts, the paper-mache puppets.  Liberals making serious comparisons, completely without irony, of the USA and Nazi Germany.  (I mean, come on–I despised that president with the passion of a thousand suns–but Nazi Germany?  REALLY?  If yhou think that, I have some BOOKS you can read.  And See Matt Taibbi’s article “A March to Irrelevance.”  He nails it, as usual.)  


     Add to that the handful of other personal reasons that caused my life to jump the track in the last few years, and there you go.  


     I don’t believe that street protest contributes much of anything anymore.  At least, not within this context.  The State is largely immune to individual or group action like this.  Bomb-throwers don’t accomplish much.  You have to be a bomb-maker.  

       But from a personal and ethical standpoint, it doesn’t matter whether the protests cause anything to happen.  The fact is: if the cause is just, then it is right and necessary to protest.  The act of protesting is righteous in and of itself.  
        I don’t think that I have any local readers–nobody in any of my regular lives knows that I blog–but if I do, by all means, come to the protest tonight.  I’ve traded in my romper stompers for Prussian army boots, but I will be there.  It’s the least I can do.



   P.S.  Sorry about the font changes.  Still learning blogger.  


   P.P.S.  If you’re not using Google Chrome as your web browser, I want you to go download it right now.  Be kind to yourself.  Life is too short for bad browsers, especially Internet Explorer (Microsucks Unexplorer).  Trust me on this.  I suffered with Microsucks Unexplorer for practically all of my adult life, just because I have an irrational fear and hatred of technology.  When it comes to computers, I am like a crabby old lady.  Upgrade?  Why upgrade?  I’m comfortable with the one I have, thank you!  If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!  It’s embarrassing.  Anyway, my friend finally got  me to switch to Firefox and I never looked back until last week, when I upgraded to the newest version, which doesn’t support the google taskbar.   That was just totally unacceptable to me.  A deal-breaker.  Miss Margo loves her some Google and Google Scholar.  Yahoo!’s search engine sucks bigtime.  So I tried Chrome.  CHROME, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?!  Do don’t be like me.  Go get chrome.  It’s easy, I swear to god.  I did it in 90 seconds.  Totally improved my quality of life (because that is what I need for personal growth and happiness…MORE INTERNET.).  

Honk if You Hate NYC Noise Pollution

       WHY do police sirens in NYC have to be SO FREAKING LOUD???   Why?

      They are so loud that pedestrians routinely plug their ears while sirens go by.  They stop talking on their cell phones and cover up the speakerpiece of the phone in order to shield the person on the other end from the sound of the siren.  The sirens wake up infants and small children and makes them cry.  They cause car alarms to go off as they pass by.  I have seen it many times.

      Why?  Why?  I am writing this now because a string of police cars passed on the street below (please note: I live several stories up) and now my ears are ringing and car alarms are screaming.

       I googled “New Yorkers Against Police Sirens” and look what came up almost immediately:

          N.Y.P.D. to Shake Things Up With the Rumbler Super Siren

    “The Rumbler Super Siren!”  NICE!  Tax money well spent!

    Look, I admit that I have all the makings of a noise crank–if I live to be an old lady, I have no doubt that I’ll be pounding on my neighbor’s walls when they play their TV too loudly at night–but when it comes to dealing with the myriad unpleasantries of city life, I’m actually pretty stoical.  I’m not a complainer.  I know that the cops have important work to do, and that public health and safety is more important than my momentary comfort.

     But I defy anyone to prove to me, via research, that sirens of that decibel level improve police reaction time or facilitate law enforcement services in any way.

     In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I think THE RUMBLER probably erodes social capital and only makes people miserable and defiant.  Why is it that when the douche canoe up the block wakes everyone up with his car’s bass and ghetto blaster, it’s a ticketable offense, but when the cops do it, it’s okay?  Obviously we give cops special authority and bureaucratic discretion to do many behaviors–but why this one?

     DOWN WITH POLICE NOISE TORTURE!!!  PROTECT OUR SOCIAL CAPITAL!!!

Have You Seen This Bird?

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    I saw this flyer on a pole in the East Village this evening.  I thought it was sad, so I wanted to do my part:

click to enlarge

         This poor dove, LoviDovi, is missing.  If you have any information please call 1 212 388 9780

         I hate it when I hear about people’s birds getting away.  Parrot is clipped.  I’m seriously considering letting her feathers grow out so that she can fledge, but it makes me nervous because I’ve heard so many stories of birds flown out the window.  Realistically, that is unlikely to happen in my apartment…I guess there is something to be said about living in a 19th century Jacob Riis-esque walkup after all…natural light?  Who needs natural light?  Don’t you know sunlight gives you wrinkles and skin cancer?

          Still hunting for Threepenny Opera tickets.  Tomorrow I will escalate my ticket-grubbing schemes.  What I’ve done so far hasn’t panned out.

        Am also frightfully broke, so I got on Craigslist and landed a modeling job for tomorrow.  I have scrutinized the hell out of it and it seems legit (modeling gigs are a cesspool of scam artists–you have to vett very carefully to get honest, paying work).  I’m one to talk–I knocked a year off my age to meet the qualifications, and I’m counting on the HR or secretary person not checking it when I present my ID and sign the modeling release.  Whatever–my clavicles can hold their own against any teenaged Ukrainian competition.  HA–good thing all that college is paying off!

       Sick.

Moonbat Crazy

      Hmmm, what to do about the embarrassing and self-incriminating post I wrote last night….?/

      Well, I wrote it, I posted it, I’m not deleting it.  To do so strikes me as dishonest.

      In honor of this unfortunate event, I am introducing a new label–a new categorization for my posts.  The label shall be: moonbat crazy.

       Thank you all for attending the birth and christening of dear, beloved little Moonbat.  Flowers and gift may be sent to the address found in the profile on the right.  Thank you, thank you all.