Friday, October 22, 2004

Last night I saw a film called "A Closer Walk," which aims to empower and mobilize normal people to come to the aid of millions upon millions who are suffering and dying from AIDS. The film features the most powerful and prominent political and spiritual leaders, the most vocal activists, the most commited healers on the front lines of this pandemic. There were no Jews in this film. Why were there no Jews in this film? We are a presence and a power far beyond our numbers in art, in science, in religion, in politics, in media. Why were there no Jews in this film? Why were there no Jews in this film? Why were there no Jews in this film? Why were there no Jews in this film? Hashem is calling us. In AIDS we have an opportunity for tikkun olam on a scale unprecedented. Where are our communities? Where are our leaders? Why are we not on the front lines? When hashem calls us, how can we be so deafeningly silent?

Monday, October 18, 2004

Today I began venturing onto the vast landscape of the Zulu language.
I was hooked on hello.
Hello, in Zulu, is sawubona.
My textbook Funda IsiZulu! Learn Zulu! An Introduction to Zulu translates sawubona as "I see you."
I see you.
Intimate, direct, intense, grounded, playful.
Sawubona. I imagine mafiosos approaching each other armed to the teeth, lovers with eyes locked, a father playing peek-a-boo with his newborn.
The vaguest dreams of South Africa are beginning to take shape along the horizon. Sawubona, South Africa.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

a momentous day. I have a working cell phone. Ethan, you win the bet. I held out for a while, but definitely not anything close to five years.
I got a cell phone because I want to be able to interact with other people on terms they feel more comfortable with. House calls and emails--dont work for most in a world where interactions are planned, connections are controlled, and availability is constant.
Most of all, I felt selfish not having a cell phone. I have all sorts of reasons not to presonally prefer it, but none of those reasons are all that important to me any more.For the convenience of others, carrying myself around on this leash, this little vibrating piece of plastic and metal in my pocket, is a worthy sacrifice.
That said, I am troubled by the place of cellphones in many of my interactions--used inappropriately, they are the ultimate enemies of presence. So, a few resolutions, or intentions, that I would like to strive for with my new cellphone.
1) vibrate only. no one else should be interrupted or distracted by someone calling me.
2) present people come first. Save in emergency situations, I do not want to interrupt any in-person conversations to answer a call. I want to give priority to where I am and who I am with. I also want to speak to people who call me in contexts when I can give them my full attention, when I can be as fully present with them as possible.

This kind of ethic will be hard. I love answering phones. I will wake up from the deepest stages of sleep and risk injury and all peril to sprint across a house and lunge for the receiver to answer a midnight call. Resisting the inviting vibrations against my thigh, little pleas and curious offerings of my pocket, will be tough. But it is a standard I hope to strive for.

Read The NY Times endorsement of John Kerry.

An exciting week ahead. Zulu. Unitarians. African Dance. Wait, that's just Sunday. We'll see where the rest of the week goes from there.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

There has never been a more pivotal moment in media technology policy. New technologies are emerging by the minute that offer to reshape artist-audience relationship, resurrect independent media, revolutionize the way information moves and is created. At the same time, large and powerful interests are vying for control over these new technologies to reshape them in the image of their own ambitions. Who will create and control the new technological spaces for artistic and journalistic exchange? Who will control older public spaces, like the radio airways, television stations, and newspapers, which are increasingly being given over into the eager hands of fewer and fewer media conglomerates?
I'd like to think that the FCC is spending sleepless night after sleepless night creating innovative new ways to revisit the tragically mired, hijacked, and obsolete ship that is our current body of copyright and media law. I'd like to think that they're drafting plans on how to empower artists, encourage media diversity, and empower our nation's citizens to find a voice through emerging media technologies. I'd like to think they are involved in all these urgent FCC duties.
Their gaze, unfortunately, seems inextricably fixed upon what body parts or words of the English language don't insult their constitutions. IS THIS TRULY THEIR MOST URGENT MANDATE? These sorts of efforts would not ignite my indignation so fiercly by themselves--their role in obscuring the far more pressing duties of the FCC at this time is far more insidious and disturbing.

All I can do is say, Oh Lord.This is absolutely revolting. I can't even bring myself to it repeat here. The link will have to suffice. How is this man the Maryland State Comptroller? How can anyone make comments so hurtful, so completely devoid of reason, substance, or compassion? I am embarrassed that such an official is part of my state government.

Monday, October 11, 2004

this is a weekend. shulamit. new torah. cuddling in midnight music temple. berries and fresh figs. pinapple. adi. impromptu salsa lessons. blessings and doubled creations. shabbat. baklava and quiche. dancing in the streets. lucas. slam poetry. discovering my hips in african dance. greta. sarah. swings. freeze tag at India Point with Fox Point kids. stuffed peppers and butternut squash and roasted garlic and fresh corn. morgan. dreams and dreams.
shavua tov.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

are cheny and edwards reading my blog during the debate? just like kerry, BOTH candidates discovered the audience during their closing statements, using you and we language very directly and effrectively, looking straight at us. I suppose I can only ask, why so late?

do dick cheney and john edwards know where their audiences are?
in the presidential debate, george bush did. he knew where the camera was, he made eye contact with his audience, he spoke to the american people--he used "you" and primarily "we" language. In a debate that most agree Bush lost, this was his greatest strength. John Kerry talked to the Jim the moderator for 87 minutes, referring to his audience, the american people, frequently, as "they." His closing statement, he found the camera, found the audience, talked to us, and it was golden. Beautiful. It made such an impact, and sealed the forceful and compelling arguments he had been presenting for the entire debate.
Now, in the VP debates, I can't look either candidate in the eye. They are both referring to me in the third person...why arent they talking to their audience? Is it the table? The compelling gaze of the moderator? Are the cameras hidden?
Candidates should talk to us, not some abstract and removed "The American People"--how are they empowering each of us to be involved in the political process, to feel like this democracy has deep roots in the needs and wills of its citizens?
This may seem like a minor rhetorical point, but its roots are deep.