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In the neighborhood

2nd Ave near 1st St. 

What does this say & what does it mean? 


Behind the fence is an unattractive, L-shaped park about the width of my apartment—skinny, that is. 


I have been puzzling over Infetine (sic) Sports for a couple of days now. What does this say?! What does it mean?!

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Monday Quote

A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence. 

~ David Hume


It's shooting kittens in a barrell, isn't it? So I will point out that I'm not ONLY referring to tRump & his henchassholes but to a lot of perfectly nice, open-minded folks, friends even, who I see swearing by, for example, the first campaign brochure that wafted their way. When they quote some nonsense, I sometimes as if they've vetted it. No, s/he SAYS s/he's honorable, tall, this-that-this & that's good enough for them. For some reason Maggie & I started looking up the heights of musicians. Elvis Costello was listed in 3 places as 5'8", 5'9" & 5'10". We believed the ones we liked were taller than the ones we weren't so much fans of. Good evidence! 

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Poem of the Week

Poem in the Classical Manner


I sing of legs & the man

Yes, & of what's in-between.



~ Elinor Nauen & Johnny Stanton


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Dining al fresco C19-style

This is the restaurant next door. 

See? This is city ingenuity. How do you distance when there's no space? You put your tables in the middle of the street. This gives me so much hope for New York.

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In the neighborhood

After 30 years, the dry cleaner/tailor is folding up shop. Not my place (only because I don't get anything dry-cleaned) but my block. It's hard not to wonder what the city will be like in a year or two. A friend of a friend of my sister's is leaving what she called a "broken" city. When I moved here at the end of 1976, my boyfriend's employer, the City University, would let him know when it was OK to cash his paycheck. It was soon after the famous Daily News headline "Ford to City: Drop Dead" & the city wasn't getting the life support it needed. It was fiscally embarrassed, anarchic, burned out, dangerous—and exciting! We've been down before & millions of people came or stayed, and worked their asses off to improve their lives & that of New York. We've done it before & we'll do it again & people who don't want to be here? Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. I still ❤️ New York just as much as I did the first day I arrived & felt instant, enduring love. 

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Dirt & seeds turn into food! Who knew?


I have it on good authority (Maggie) that there's a zucchini brewing here. 


On our roof! 


I guess we're not exactly truck farming—yet—but I like trucks & I like that they snuck into the farm equation. 

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Monday Quote

"There's only one very good life and that's the life you know you want and you make it yourself."

~ Diana Vreeland, quoted in The Unexpurgated Beaton by Cecil Beaton, forward by Hugo Vickers


And this is exactly why I'm (mostly) happy. How I live is how & what I chose & I continue to choose it. How fortunate I am that I could choose & stick to it. 

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Poem of the Week

Cuenca, Ecuador


a streak of sun wakes us

into wonder. we quietly breathe southern air


I go for a walk



a bowl they call a platter

a cup they call a vase


it's not mine—yet 

the white enclosed feel of the fog


3 pale blue domes of the New Cathedral

every morning a different delicate color


hooped roof tiles in shades of

pink, beige, copper, dusty, rust, khaki, brown


that somehow add up to red

earth tones, they say


but no earth I've ever seen

& small dark perfect people


boys wrapped with boys, girls with girls

a madre says no soda


& her little one snatches

her hand away


without a second joking reach

no tears, no complaint


only European-tinged women have gray hair

pajaros & clouds


an orange on a platter

I sit in a church not mine


in a country & religion not mine

Jesus in a tutu made of light


will Cuenca become mine? 

through food, love or a photo that I belong to


it was neither a noise nor a movement

or it was both! a little earthquake


the clouds the sun my recognizing eyes

change them charge them


our wealth is in time to stroll

we outdo each other in being pleased


the delicious fruit chirimuya

agua de pitimas, drink of a thousand flowers


& it's 3 in the afternoon

or 4 in the afternoon



August 2019

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A good week!

Don't you feel like the mood of the whole country lifted this week? Two excellent Supreme Court decisions, on LGBT rights & DACA; a falling away from the Clown-in-Chief, with critical op-eds & books coming out at a merry & damaging clip; and a chance at substantive police reform.


Boy, did we need some good news.


New York unPause is unsettling, as the virus continues its rampage. An old friend exhibited a heartlessness that made me cry (based on politics she only assumed—I have this idea that all the fire she took might burn up some of her ignorance). Uncertainty is driving everyone crazy. 


But that's always the way of things, right? Some good, some bad, & maybe toast in the middle. If we're lucky.

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Country music

I've been listening to country music all my life.


I have records of black fiddlers. (Violin, Sing the Blues for Me—check it out!)


I have records of white country blues.


At times I have been unable to tell by listening if it was white or black musicians. 


And yet it never occurred to me that COUNTRY MUSIC ITSELF IS BLACK. 


Not just an occasional Charley Pride or Darius Rucker, but black all the way back. 


By which I mean to say, country music has never been a white space that a few blacks snuck into. It's portrayed that way, but that's not the truth. Even the revered A. P. Carter is kind of the Elvis of country, finding (or at least polishing up) his songs & style in black churches & other places. 


Here's a really good article in Rolling Stone on the subject. I love how unsegregated music is at its essence, no matter what stories are told about it to whose benefit (one guess as to that).



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Monday Quote

Closeup on my roof. No connection to quote. 

No thief, however skillful, can rob one of knowledge, and that is why knowledge is the best and safest treasure to acquire. 

~ L. Frank Baum


Still thinking about my dad. He would say they (meaning the Nazis) took away his country, his citizenship, his family, his language. But the one thing they couldn't take was his education. Get a good education! 


And by the way, Baum was a newspaperman in Aberdeen, South Dakota, which was the model for Dorothy's home though he switched it to Kansas because that's where tornadoes came from. Much as I love to point out & claim everything SoDakan, Kansas is welcome to that one! 

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Poem of the Week

Actually, the poem of the week was the noisy laughing beautiful Zoom call this afternoon with my many cousins. So much love. It makes me so happy that everyone is still as enthusiastic for the 3rd one as we were during the first. And I especially love that the younger generation of cousins wants to be there. I love my family! 

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My dad II

Still not sure what I think or what to say. He's been gone so long (Hans Nauen 1906-1986) that any scrap of connection moves me utterly. As my friend Becky said, My eyes hurt all the way to my heart right now. We went to high school together, & when he died, Becky wrote me a note that means so much to me. He treated her like a person, she said. I send notes of codolence because that one held me up so much during my mourning. If there's a heaven Becky believes in, I expect she earned entree on that alone. In Judaism the highest good you can do is to bury/mourn the dead, because they can never return the favor. 


With so much trauma, anger, fear, resolve blooming lately, it gives me strength & hope—& sorrow—to remember & share my father's story. 


Sigh. It's been an emotional week. I'm glad to have my dad by my side again. 

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My dad

Argus Leader, April 30, 1939.

The full headlines:

Europe Still Waits For Hitler To Gobble Danzig

German Refugee Family Finds Refuge in Sioux Falls

Hitler Horror Over; Life Bright

Hans Nauen gets job, works hard to polish his English [he was offended by that - he thought his English was excellent]

Refuses to talk of persecution

Refugees find it continally harder to leave Naziland


My dad, his "vivacious" wife (not my mom), & daughter had arrived in Sioux Falls 6 weeks earlier. He wouldn't talk about Germany because his parents & sister were still there, and "The arm of the Gestapo is long." None of them made it out. 


My wonderful neighbor Louis tracked this down & made a legible copy, so I was able to read this for the first time today. 


More to say but I can't right now....

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In the neighborhood

Another attractively shabby wall, this one south of Delancey. I remember taking a Greyhound from San Antonio to Laredo, & wishing my job was driving back & forth on that scrubby 150-mile stretch. Not sure why I find this sort of landscape so relaxing & also so compelling. Maybe it stems from loving (& missing) the prairies of my childhood, where you had to look closely for the beauty. Anything you pay attention to enough is beautiful, right? 

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Monday Quote

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge. 

~ Charles Darwin



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In the neighborhood

There's lots of pretty in this world, but I respond more to plainness & purpose. 

The helicopters are still overhead. 


My guess as to what is going to happen is more cynical than my friends, a reverse from the usual that I can't explain. I'm thinking of a quote attributed to FDR, something he supposedly said to various activists: "You've convinced me. Now make me do it." By that I assume he meant that the bigger the clamor, the more organizations behind the proposals, the more likely that he'll have to give in to the people's will. Demonstrations are important but are only a first step. We have to go home & do community organizing, donate to orgs that are doing work we find important, contact our elected representatives & don't just holler on Facebook.


And that's what I wonder about. Are people in it for the long haul? It's not enough to say it should happen, therefore it will. Go and make them fix the things that are broken. 

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What's going on

Much is terrible, but much isn't. We may be locked down, but we have our spacious roof & houdahs. 

I see many of my Facebook friends (& their friends) saying they're ejecting everyone who hasn't spoken up this week about what's going on with Black Lives & the police & demonstrations. I get that. You want to know who your allies are. (I most definitely have noticed the VERY few times anyone non-Jewish condemned antisemitism in the news.)


Part of me feels that it's not doing a whole lot & that if you don't already know where I stand, are you going to believe me if this is the first time I've made a speech on the subject? And if companies, cops, people aren't going to DO something, CHANGE something, is there any more to it than virtue signaling? Even the most fiery black man among my acquaintances is only now telling some of the harrowing stories from his own life. Would it have made a difference if he had said this before?


I donated to the Equal Justice Initiative. It's what I can DO. Do you also need to know what I think, when whites are being asked to listen? when so many others have been so eloquent, thoughtful, passionate? when I haven't felt that I had anything to add? 

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Poem of the Week

En Garde


He waits, he pounces

like a kitten, serious, fierce,

comic. He explains

my explanation.

This is what they do.

One man runs for a bus & a woman plays

a small accordion on the corner.

Someone calls her by name

but she is dreaming in melody

drowning in tomorrows.

We have enough

to float us to the end.

Death is as competent as a pigeon:

one task.

That's all they have

to watch out for.

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"Yes, we are OPEN"

Broken glass in (apparently) Jewish businesses—Moishe's & B&H for two—is hitting me hard. I feel Krystallnacht in my guts. 


The quote in the second box is from Elie Wiesel: "I swore never to be silent whenever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."


I decided that too, when I once long ago didn't speak up. It was at someone else's family gathering, & I let a racist uncle go on & on. That's when I realized there's always a valid reason to keep quiet: it's his family not mine, he'll never change, did I even hear what I think I heard. I realized those weren't in fact valid reasons, just excuses.


Since then, most of the time, I simply say that I don't want to get into an argument but I do want to go on record that I don't agree, & then I try to change the subject. That usually works, (no one has ever hit me or anything,) & a couple of times people actually heard what they were saying, what they had most likely been repeating without listening to themselves for years. These days, though, it seems way more discouraging, when people I would expect to act better don't, & no one seems to be willing to listen to a different p.o.v. 


And the helicopters, & the curfew, & how broken we are. 

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Monday Quote

Democracy has to be born anew every generation, and education is its midwife. 

~ John Dewey 


Uh-oh, we might be in bigger trouble than I even thought. 

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