Wisdom of MY Words

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06 August
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Brown & Greene Floral

I have brain mets from breast cancer and yesterday my husband and I were walking around the Sidewalk Sale in Linden Hills. I’ve had an infection on the back of my head for months, and I’m blind in one eye since neurosurgery. When they operate on your brain you have to recover and you do not come out the same. I picked up some stuff, bowls and a measured ceramic pitcher, and then went inside.
There were glass domes over the candles. Diptyque, in Paris, does the same thing. So does the mall tea store. I am 52, and I have money for nice things. I’m terminally ill, I only want to shop at pleasant nice stores that do not cause me grief. That is NOT Brown & Green Floral.
Because of neurosurgery and the changes to my brain if I smell using the dome I will ONLY smell the first candle, I will sneeze, and I won’t be able to get the smell out of my nose for hours.
To avoid that problem I smelled the candles. Lisa decided to come over and criticize the way I was doing things. She decided to tell me her tip. You could feel the air get sucked into her wide body, crackling with energy. Lisa’s unattended anger shoved out into the air and I was frightened. The air was so oogey my husband of 23 years shifted and started to come over. He felt the energy and was concerned for me. He said later that he thought I was holding my own, so he did not interject.
Lisa stood with her arms across her prodigious girth and said, Oh, tell me how your sense of smell changed? I tensed up, and she became more aggressive, clearly thinking I’m a liar. She was behaving like she wanted to fight me because her way was the right way and there was no way brain surgery, if I had even really HAD brain surgery, changed the way I smell.
I was clearly trying to be difficult Lisa’s puffy Iowa farm girl face said.
Because she stood staring at me, gawp-eyed, I started to babble a bit, saying that neurosurgery changes everything, hot flashes, bowel movements.
Oh does int, she said, leaning in and sneering. Tell me more, she said and stared and stared and stared me down. I was uncomfortable and embarrassed and the last thing I wanted to do was talk about my terminal cancer with an angry stranger. Or my Bfs. Or my menopause. (SMH)
But I hesitated being a Mean Girl because I am thin and pretty and Lisa is not. So I chose to take the high road, leaving the store while my husband checked out because I was shaking and close to tears. We purchased an over priced $40 candle because I was tense and stressed by Lisa’s aggressive attitude. I felt ASHAMED that I am sick. I don’t need shame. I’m busy dealing with sorrow.
We will not be back.
I will be writing up an even bigger and longer blog post about it because I am sick of being treated like garbage. By a sales clerk! Oy! Insecure much? My husband told me that she was rude to me because I am beautiful. Oh whatever, she was aggressive, shaming, and nasty because she has a whole lot of seething anger underneath her skin. The shop down the way from Brown & Greene was super friendly, handing out over sweet Prosecco and totally chill. Quite unlike the experience I just had.
I dislike that I have to air my personal business to give this retail experience a thorough and fair review. It’s wrong.
As an author and small business owner I love small businesses and I have never shopped at Wal-Mart and very rarely at Target, not since my 30s. I practice what I preach. I do not go back to restaurants or stores that treat me badly. Life is, honestly, too short to be treated poorly when you are spending money. My husband said to me in the car, if I hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have believed you. The way Lisa treated you was absolutely awful.
Lisa?
Brown & Greene?
Why you gotta make life so hard?
–Michele Davis, PhD

01 August
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Turkey Cock

Imagine being a 19-year old opera freak, a voice student between jobs and suddenly finding yourself shepherding a whole carload of famous, if impoverished opera singers overnight from Chicago to New York in the middle of a midwestern winter – in February 1947 yet.

Imagine that these splendid artists have been stranded by an opera season that folded before it opened, and, just to add to the fun, that they have barely a word of English among them, while your own knowledge of foreign language is almost as sketchy as theirs.

Then imagine that this whole bizarre, impromptu  interlude would turn out to be one of the most memorable of your lifetime, vivid even now, more than half a century later.

But first we’d better backtrack a bit …

The previous summer, dazzled by the prospect of mingling with some real live opera singers – past, present, and future – I’d given up an academic scholarship for the richly rococo voice studio of oldtime diva Anna Fitziu and her fascinating entourage of students of hangers-on. (One of her last and finest gifts to the world would be the megastar Shirley Verrett). That same summer I was engaged as the youngest 2nd tenor to grace (or disgrace, as some would have it) the Chicago Opera Company chorus for what would be the city’s last resident season until 1954 – no connection there, really, folks.

By mid-July we were rehearsing for the October opening of a 6-week season to feature such household Gods of ours as Milanov, Björling, Traubel, Warren, and Tibbett, along with overseas newcomers like Ferruccio Tagliavini and Italo Tajo. For me, all this amounted to The Big Time, or as near as you would come to it in Chicago of 1946 – but wait! What was gthat brilliant light shining on the horizon? A brand new opera company. Glory! Hallelujah! A veteran impressario from South America named Ottavio Scotto had suddenly appeared – a feisty little turkey-cock of a gent with flowing silk scarves, a wide-brimmed champagne-colored Borsalino hat, silver-headed cane, and – I swear it – spats and pince-nez glasses. And he was fizzing over with grandiose plans for an ambitious new undertaking with the imposing name of The United States Opera, to open its inaugeral season at the Civic Opera House on January 6th, with an all-star production of Puccini’s Turandot. But that wasn’t all – thanks to generous backing, a constellation of legendary European stars had already been signed, names familiar from recordings and opera magazines, along with an excellent musical staff from conductors (Sergio Failoni, George Sebastian) and coaches to a chorus master from the old opera days. And the company would live up to its name by using Chicago as a base for touring all over opera-hungry America.

Signor Scotto strutted through the studio several times to audition singers for smaller roles, always with a squad of Cosa Nostra types, and though Madame Fitziu was always her usual gracious self, it was obvious that she Didn’t Quite Trust that Little Man. She disclosed that he had at one time been the manager and possibly lover of the tragic, Duse-like prima donna Claudia Muzio. Also, his vibes were negative in the extreme. Once at a rehearsal in Soth America she saw him slap star tenor Miguel Fleta viciously across the face for cracking on high notes due to sexual excess. (Ah, the mysterious mystique of Art!)

Anyway, we choristers were at once plunged into daily rehearsals for the new season. In addition to Turandot, there would be several operas new to many of us: Tannhäuser, Don Pasquale, Cavalleria, and two Massenet works, Thais and Manon, as showcases fora star of the Paris Opéra, Georgi-Boué, and her baritone husband, Roger Bourdin. (She was reputed to be drop-dead gorgeous, perfect casting for Massenet’s romantic heroines.) We never did see this pair – did they know something we perhaps didn’t?

Among the Italians would be established singers like Mafalda Favero, Galliano Masini, Cloe Elmo – while the German wing would be led by Heldentenor Max Lorenz, the famed Konetzni sisters, Hilde and Anny, from Vienna, and the young Swiss bass Heinz Rehfuss. Most compelling of all: a superb Italo-Russian basso from La Scala, Nicolo Rossi-Lemeni, who arrived early enough to become a familiar figure at Fitziu’s studio, a stunning singing-actor, 27 years of age, too intellectual really to be an opera star, simpatico, and physically what nowadays would be called a Hunk. Moreover, he was probably the only singer ever to get a rave review from critic Claudia Cassidy for singing over the telephone, sending her to the highest heaven of invention, where she remained for at least 24 hours.

It was Nicola who first told us about our Turandot, a fabulous young Greek-American soprano still back in New York – only 23 years old: shy, nearsighed, plump, and awkward to play the fire-in-ice princess, but possessor of one of the most fantastic voices that he or anybody had ever heard. Her name was something like Maria Kalogerapoulous shortened, or so he believed, to Callas (though advance publicity, bumbling as usual, dubbed her “Marie Calas”.) She had been something of a phenomenon in Greece during the war – singing roles like Tosca, Santuzza and Fidelio, but for the past year or so, back in New York she hadn’t had a chance. Learning Turandot had been a godsend – coached by a singer-pianist, who was along on our epic trip – but with the collapse of the season, she’d be back to square one, poor girl. However – the future held such things for her that no fairytale could envision. (By the way, many of the the Callas biographies have her coming to Chicago and getting stranded there like all the others, but it simply isn’t true. She remained in New York. If she HAD been along – in that concert AND on that train, I’m sure somebody would have noticed. So much for good reporting. Take that, Arianna Stassinopoulous. Sic semper Tabloidiensis!

Another outrider from the Scotto troupe was an Italian comprimaro tenor named Virginio Assandri (or “Sandro”), amiable and high-spirited. From him I acquired the Italian cusswords and scatological terms that still stud my vocabulary. (He later went on to New York to sing in several of Toscanini’s legendary NBC opera productions, starting with Cassio in the benchmark Otello the following autumn.)

December came and went, and with it the usual Chanukah and Christmas festivities, with Turandot all but coming out of our ears – one foot in Ancient Peking, the other in Limbo, because at that point we didn’t know where we stood: still no “Marie Calas”, and, what was worse, no money. Illustrations artists kept on arriving, and, though the opening had already been put forward a couple of weeks, ticket orders were already being filled. Rumors were rife and speculation becoming general because nobody had as yet seen a penny of rehearsal pay. And we were constantly being put off by the vaguest of excuses – the money was there, all right, but (a) being held up by the government, or (b) caught up in the bureaucratic tangle of international finance, or (c) tied up in the escrow, whatever the hell that meant.

When the opening date was again moved forward, our AGMA chorus-delegate, a lady named Evelyn Siegel, who Took No Prisoners, issued a Put-Up-or-We-Shut-Up ultimatum that brought matters to a nasty head.

Signor Scotto, meanwhile, last of the Bigtime Impressarios, had vanished in a puff of smoke like Rumpelstilskin – scarves, pince-nez, and spats, leaving his luckless partner, an agent named Eddie Bagarozy, holding the tab for something like $ 100 000 in debts.

The backers – invisible Millionaires from Outer Space – had suddenly withdrawn their support, taking all of their gold with them like Alberich and his seven dwarfs in Das Rheingold. The bitter, unvarnished truth: there would be no opera season, there would be no United States Opera Company ever. The key word was bankrupt. Kaputt. Fini. Finiti. That’s all she wrote, as they say in This Man’s Army.

            And those magnifiscent singers from overseas, what would happen to them? How would they going to bankroll their journey back to Europe? What, by giving a benefit concert for themselves, that’s how …

And what a concert it turned out to be – one of those rare occasions which one can, in all confidence, call unforgettable. The Civic Opera House was packed, and the audience was as enthusiastic as the Super Bowl’s. True, the programme handed out consisted of only one page mimeographed in that blotchy purple ink that old office machines used to have – no Xerox yet in 1947. The vast stage was empty except for the piano, a seat for the accompanist (Sandro on his very best behavior). The singing and the artistry were, of course, something else again. As one by one these wonderful artists came and went, most of them in pre-war finery that had seen better days, they planted themselves by the piano and delivered with a grandeur of voice and style that had nothing to do with costumes or scenery – an inner pride, a rocklike self-confidence that could only come from generations of tradition and hard work, showing us just what were about to be deprived of. Now, more than five decades later, highlights are still fresh in memory, and these are only as one spectator remembers them. There are bound to be some errors. Nodody’s perfect, as the fellah said.

Especially memorable high points – a Rigoletto Quartet that was, in a word , simply to die for – Mafalda Favero’s lovely but delicate soprano, heartbreaking in scenes from La Boheme and La Traviata (the latter with an attractive lyric baritone named Daniele Cecchele) – a humorous basso buffo (Melchiore Luise?) and itinerant quack hawking his wares to a gullible country bumpkin (tenore-di-grazia Nino Scattolini) who looked like a waiter at the Italian Village café a few streets over, but who sang like a Donizetti angel – sparkling Rossini from a beauteous young senorita named Carmen Gracia – superb arias from Masini, still one of the greatest Italian tenors extant. Then there were the tremendous Wagnerians, and you’d have to journey all the way to Bayreuth or Vienna to hear them or their like – Max Lorenz and Hilde Konetzni flooding the house with the lyrical springtime of Die Walküre (So what if it was incest? This was opera!), and her sister Anny, her dramatic soprano matching the royal purple velvet of her gown, taking us through all 18 minutes of Brünhilde’s Immolation, the longest aria in the lexicon, and this to only the plinkety-plonk of a piano. Most impressive of all: two singers on the brink of world fame – the contralto Cloe Elmo, delivering a Il Trovatore aria which critic Irving Kolodin would call an “incitement to arms” when the same lady debuted with it at the Met a year or so later – and Rossi-Lemeni, as unique an actor as he was a singer, with a Boris-Godunov. That oldtimers were comparing to Chaliapin’s. (A few seasons later, when Nicola was performing Boris with the San Francisco Opera, one of my oldest friends, the actress Janice Rule, was suddenly stricken with a bursting appendix, but refused to be taken to hospital until Boris had expired. Luckily, she didn’t follow suit, but greater love hath no opera buff!

For me the concert had an unexpeced encore, a Second Act in this young American’s life that rounded things off perfectly. My own troubles seemed tiny indeed compared to the stranded titans, but still and all, in addition to disappointment of the shipwrecked opera (six or more weeks of unpaid rehearsing), I’d been bellowing Grand Old Opry for something like seven months and felt I deserved a break. And what better tonic that a weekend in New York? So I got myself a ticket ($ 34,50 round trip) on the New York Central’s economical, no perks, no-frills coach train, the Pathfinder, which left the LaSalle Street Station every afternoon and plunked you down at New York’s Grand City Central early the next morning, come rain or come shine, all in one piece, and, apart from feeling rather moldy, ready for anything. But please hang on – here’s an excerpt from a letter which my dad wrote to his father about it – were are a family of incurable letter-writers and letter-savers, as well, for which I have been grateful many times –

 

Nell and I went to see Herby off at 3 p.m. on the 6th. Waiting to take the same train were all of the stranded stars mentioned in the enclosed clipping. He had met several of them backstage or at Fitziu’s and had made good friends with Rossi-Lemeni especially. They sang and had a glorious time all the way to New York. The Turkish Consul was there with baskets of lunch. Herby threw his box of lunch into the pot. The sane people on the train wanted to get some sleep and the conductor threatened to put the whole crowd off at Buffalo …

 

And thereby, as they saying goes, hangs a tale …

There weren’t any seat reserveration (at those prices, you were lucky they had seats) so we got there nice and early so the Beamish Boy could get a decent place on this, his first real adventure. My mom Nell, as was her custom, had provided me with enough provender to sustain a goo-size travel group a full week on the Trans-Siberian Railway – none of it was going to be wasted.

There was something unusual about the crowd milling about, waiting to board the train. Besides the usual clutter of seedy Willy Lomans with their cardboard sample cases, and the families with kids who should have been in school, this was a mob not exactly typical for a Thursday afternoon in February – a laughing, babbling, polyglot crush of wayfarers and wellwishers, many of them flamboyant in flowing scarves and berets, some armed with bottles of wine and long loaves of fresh French bread, one even wielding a king size salami. The air was vibrant with chatter and snatches of song.

And suddenly there was Sandro, pushing his way towards me: “Ciao, ‘Erby! Tu stai qui? Molto bravo! Anche tu a New York? Benissimo!” – “Una gioia improvvisa, Dearie!” put in “the Fitziu”, at my elbow and suddenly gone all Traviata. She had arrived with what seemed like half of the town’s music world – Rosa Raisa her husband Giacomo Rimini, Edith Mason, Claire Dux, and the critic Rene Devries. Her trilling continued: “I had a distinct feeling that something marvelous was going to happen today. You’re just the one to lead all these poor darlings to the promised land!” And she was jostled away by a moustached gentleman in a black homburg and a fur-collared overcoat, who turned out to be the Turkish consul, and he and Fitziu began handing out beribboned lucnh bags to our displaced canaries.

They seemed to be everywhere you looked – Favero and Masini and Elmo with her rich contralto laugh, and the lovely Spanish soprano, Carmen Gracia, lugging the guitar which would help us thru the long night ahead. I could also pick out some of the others – Melchiorre Luise, Cecchele, and the boyish Scattolini, Rossi-Lemeni, who greeted me with a hug, and a lady who proved to be the wife of Bagarozy, the agent who had lost such a bundle on the scuttling of the season. She was also a singer and had been coaching the Greek-American girl, Maria Whatzername, for the role of Turandot.

But where was the Wagnerian contingent …? Ach ja, they could be seen off to one side in a stolid little cluster, looking rather askance at the Roman carnival swirling all around them. As was their custom, they were keeping themselves to themselves, which was fine with me, considering the new-found responsibilities I had just fallen heir to as bellweather to the Italian herd.

Deafening loudspeaker crackling, and the train’s departure was announced – much hissing of steam and whistling as the train backed majestically in from the yards up ahead. The crowd started moving toward the gate, where some of the crew had gathered, looking most important: official caps, dark overcoats, clipboards … But first Sandro had to make his farewell speech to the troops, which ran somewhat as follows: This was ‘Erby, he began, aa fellow singer and a Chicago Paisan, who would take good care of them all until delivery at the hotel in New York. This news was greeted with smiles and clapping, and, I have to say, I stood mighty proud. Boy, what would they say at the Music School I’d opted out of?

A final chorus of “Ciao’s” and “Bye-Bye’s” and “Arrivederci’s” and we pressed forward. My parents, who had been enthralled by the spectacle being played out all around them, kissed me goodbye, handed over the grubstakes especially prepared for the trip, and took their leave. A final departure call and the conductor bawled out in a  ratchetty voice: “ALL A-BO-O-ARD!” – one more impatient whistle and I hustled the last of precious charges up the steps and into the day-coach. The epic journey, pure Fellini, and surely one of the most singular in the history of American rail transport, was about to begin …

Once inside, it took some time to get everyone sorted out and settled in our portion of the coach, lifting luggage – bags, umbrellas, cardboard boxes, real gypsy impediments – up onto the overhead rack, finger wiping off dusty windowsills and grimy windows – to a true worshiper like myself, every one of their actions and reactions, each small gesture had flair and style. One immediate project: an improvised buffet to be arranged on top of two suitcases piled one on top of the other on one of the seats, followed by sloshing of red wine into wax-paper cups (Chin-Chin! Cheers! Salute!) and slicing of bread and salami and cheese, all of it spiced with laughter. It was all so easygoing, so goodnatured that you couldn’t help wonder at these blithe musical spirits. They weren’t any of them despondent or depressed over the shipwreck of the opera. The thumping success of the concert the night before, both artistic and financial, plus the unqualified praise for each of them in the newspaper reviews of Claudia and Colleagues kept spirits soaring. Even if I’d had my pocket dictionary with me, I couldn’t have provided a very good translation, but they got the gist of it and were duly set up.

When you think about it, those weeks in America must have been  a kind of vacation for them all, perhaps the first most of thm had ever known. Remember that in the winter of 1946 – 47, the war had only been over for about a year-and-a-half, and privation, rationing, and black marketeering were still a big part of everyday European life. The threat of rampant communism was growing ominously, though the newly-coined phrase Iron Curtain wasn’t even a year old. The Nuremberg Trials were still fresh in memory and the Marshall Plan wasn’t even a plan yet. Large population centers like Berlin and Vienna were divided and being administered by the occupying victors, while most of the once-lovely historic towns still lay in ruins.

What a contrast with our own bustling, prosperous, wasteful and wisecracking cities. Even viewed through the grimy windows of a cheap day-coach, Small Town U.S.A. with all the lights and cars and overflowing shops must have had the storybook unreality of a Hollywood movie. Compared to what these happy and gifted people had endured – who, with their music and their merriment, were even now annoying the hell out of the Willy Lomans and the day-coach conductors – compared to all that, the collapse of a mere opera season was small beer indeed, and the fineglings of a tin-horn impressario were reduced to their proper puniness.

During the first leg of the trip I was like a Red Cross orderly heading out relief-packets to the survivors of a disaster, supplementing the Turkish contributions with my own hoard of fried chicken, meatloaf-and-peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, topped off with a variety of traditional American delicacies like Hostess Twinkies and cupcakes, Fig Newtons, and Tootsie-Rolls.

“Grazie, caro, molto gentile –“ I can still see the great lyric soprano Mafalda Favero, whose recordings of Boito and Massenet and the Cherry Duet from L’amico Fritz with Tito Schipa were among my most cherished 78’s, polishing off the last of my mom’s tollhouse cookies and rolling the crumbs between forefinger and thumb: “Delizioso, veramente, Signor ‘Erby!”

I’d be so pleased to discover that my Puccini-and-Pizzeria Italian wasn’t so hopeless after all. My only regret was that I had no German. How I’d have loved checking out the Wagnerians, wherever they were roosting for the night, to ask if they’d ever heard of this or that singer, and to pick their brains about prewar Bayreuth and Salzburg and Vienna. But, alas, at that point all that my Deutsch consisted of was “Bei mir bist du schön” (Early Andrews Sisters damage), a verse or two of Schubert, and bits from Lohengrin, one of the two German operas I’d ever been in, and there are limits to what you can do with phrases like “Heil dir, Elsa von Brabant!” and the praise for a knight’s shining armor: “Wie glänzt sein Waffenschmuck!”, while couplets like “Heil, deiner Fahrt, deinem Kommen!” wouldn’t do at all.

We must have been halfway across Indiana and well into the vino rosso when somebody toom out the guitar and struck up the Brindisi, the Drinking Song from La Traviata, and soon everybody joined in. For the first time the other, “normal” passengers actually sat up and took notice. (“Sane” was my Dad’s word for them, and who needs it?) The voices were so powerful and the singing so stirring and so true that at first the audience was simply incredulous – the newspaper reviews helped clarify matters – and before long they’d be genuinely interested. Of course, as the hours flew by on wings of song and as Sandman-time approached, the fascination began to wear a wee bit thin.

Each time the conductor came through, he resembled more and more the old Scots comic James Finlayson. Remember Fin? Laurel and Hardy’s furious nemesis with the Scots-burr and the baleful double-takes? Well, he had a Doppelgänger working for the New York Central in the 1940’s and that particular week his luck ran out. I don’t suppose he’d ever had to deal with a coachload of opera stars before. How do you ever prepare for such a challenge? Just then, our storied songsters enjoyed a high approval-rating, so all the poor sod could do was shake his head and to plead with me to “get ‘m to put a lid on it.” But imagine anyone putting a lid on a singer like Cloe Elmo? Follia! The sturdy little contralto was only just warming up, and soon, with only a guitar and not even a piano, let alone a full 110 piece orchestra, she’d be trading glavanic Sicillian taunts with the intensely dramatic Masini in the big showdown duet from Cavalleria Rusticana. (They’d been scheduled to do it in Chicago along about that time.) This might confrontation ends with Santuzza laying a death-curse on her former lover, and with him brushing her off with loud sardonic laughter, and if that didn’t break every window in the car it wasn’t for want of decibels. That should give some of the Hoosier Hot-Shots something to talk about at their next Kiwanis meeting.

The dearly handsome Masini had been a special idol of mine ever since ten years before when my parents took me to a performance of Lucia di Lammermoor, starring Lily Pons, we we all adored. She tweeted and chirped divinely, but the one I remember to this day was her tenor-lover Edgardo, played by Galliano Masini right up to the hilt and perhaps a quarter-of-an-inch beyond, the same Masini who was even sitting across the isle from me, nibbling chicken from Nell Moulton’s suburban kitchen and bantering between bites.

Back then in autumn 1937, he was winding up one of the most sensational engagements our opera had ever witnessed, “one long crescendo of excitement,” as the trib critic described it. To this day I can see him in his last aria, espiring from a self-inflicted dagger wound, propped up on one elbow and singing his great Livorno heart out. Then, at the final curtain calls, waving his hands up over his head to screams and cheers, like the true champion that he was. Later, during my high-school goofing-off period, I used to haunt the main Public Library reading room to pore over the old Tribune reviews of his performances, many of them hysterical in tone: WILD OVATION STOPS OPERA AS MASINI SINGS, headlined the Trib about one of his Tosca appearances when he had to encore his last act aria, something almost unheard of before or since. The same critic nominated him for “the mantle of  Caruso.”

The next year he’d had to share the limelight with none other than Beniamino Gigli, who was singing opera for the first and only time in Chicago, and not even a grand “Can Belto” like Masini could top that. But he went on to a successful Met debut in the same season that was Favero’s only time in New York. After her second Mimi there, both she and Masini, so the story goes, were ordered back home to Italy, and in those days nobody defied Il Duce. Then came the war and that was the last the were heard from for years, except for an occasional recording like the complete Forza del Destino, which Masini made in Rome and which is still state-of-the-art. If Masini had his faults, they came with the territory and Caruso and Gigli shared them, too – emotional overdrive heartrending sobs even in the middle of a word, and the endemic terminal grunt at the end of a high note. Sure they were (and are) in questionable taste, but audiences lap them up regardless.

So when both Favero and Masini were announced for the U.S. Opera in Chicago, it all but blew my mind. And as Masini walked on out onto that stage that had witnessed such triumphs a decade before, to be greeted by polite, but hardly wild applause, I wondered if I was the only one there who recalled that “one long crescendo of excitement.”

It was a nice enough success that he scored with a couple of arias, a consummate Boheme Act I scene with Favero, and the Rigoletto Quartet with himself as the Duke and Elmo as a once-in-a-lifetime Maddelena, joined by Carmen and Cacchele. It was as grand a finale as possible, given the circumstances: still and all, it was deeply anti-climactic , and must have perplexed him, like Othello, in the extreme. If only my Italian had been up to the task of telling just how much his voice and his art had meant to me all of these years. But no – there he was, just across from me, relaxed and receptive as he would be for the next few hours – and what did I do? Italiano or no Italiano, I blew it, let the moment slip away from me forever. I have regretted it ever since.

My bittersweet musings were broken off by more urgent matters. The ladies of the ensemble, temporarily exhausted by so much high-powered yodelling, and sated with juice, cola, and red wine, sent up such a heartrending lament for “acqua fresca” that I set off at once in my appointed role of Ganymedes, cup-bearer – no, make that PAPER-cup-bearer to the Gods – on a search for fresh water. My quest too me through each and every stuffy, smelly coach on that train, past the scowling Finlayson and his goons, past knitting womenand senior couples doing crossword puzzles and trying to ignore the minor sex-plays of necking teenagers, past people still nasching and others already snoozing. It also took me through squealing knots of small nosepickers, one of whom, a fat little girl with glasses, plunked herself right down in my path and greeted me with an enormous pink Double-Yum Bubble-Gum balloon, which emerged slowly but surely from her mouth and was almost as splendiferous as I could have blown myself if I’d not had better things to do.

Moving on, I knew at once which car was serving as Valhalla-on-wheels for the German-speakers, for they were conversing in low yet resonant Deutsch. Funny how the less you know a language the more you try to cover your embarrassment with idiotic grins, and I must have been grinning like a zonked-out samurai. My efforts were met with regal nods and a courtly bow from the Heldentenor, Max Lorenz, highly esteemed on both sides of the Atlantic, just then between pre- and post-war Met engagements. He and his companions seemed so grateful for any contact with another humanoid that I was instantly swept up in a handshaking mara

28 July
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What the People Think

Thankfully it was a Somali American police office that killed a white women. But since it was a white women that was killed the media will have no propaganda to spew. Fuck you BLM supporters, where are you now? Oh it must not matter because she was white. All lives matter dipshits…

Mark Dayton, Quiet on Minneapolis Police Shooting

Within hours of the police involved shooting of Philando Castile Governor Mark Dayton was on television stating that when a person gets shot during a traffic stop for a broken taillight, that is evidence that racism exists. Dayton made those comments before seeing any evidence and the recklessness of those comments contributed to riots and protests including the death of three police officers in Texas. A year later a jury finds the officer not guilty of any wrongdoing and judge who oversaw the trial commends the jurors for their work.This weekend we have a woman call police for help, they arrive and are talking to her from their squad car when one officer leans over his partner and shots the woman dead in cold blood. Police are mute on what happened and Dayton is mute on any inquiry or condemnation of the action.

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Minneapolis Police Shooting – When BCA Gets Around to it (Minneapolis)

The BCA is withholding comment about until the “have a chance to interview the officers”

As of this morning, its been 70 hours since the shooting and they still haven’t interviewed the officers? Where are their priorities?

You can bet if this was someone shooting or shooting at a police officer, that individual would have been apprehended and interrogated. But a police officer guns down a citizen in cold blood and pure complacency.

No witnesses, Body Cams not turned on, Dash Cam didn’t capture it, BCA dragging their feet. Sure looks like a police cover up.

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Betsy Hodges’s has been working really hard to destabilize the north side of mpls . Her and her city council that think that adding more PC candyass bullshit gonna make people live in some kind of strange ass utopia that simply will never exist . She has a very short sighted agenda now will fuck all of us real hard down the road . I think we’re done cleaning up strip clubs for hoes and johns they just gonna slime all over the place again . And kitty hall , I will never bring any of my kids to a gay parade sorry , I’m not against it , it’s just not nessacarry . Just cause you preform sex in a way that no procreation is commited just means that they are use if tax dollars to push a homosexual agenda . Yeah that shit exists . The government likes to codifying your thoughts .Betsy wants to put 300 more Somalian cops and give them a nice shiny gun with a lisence to kill you , um Betsy you need to do better . 300 more cops is not going to solve your problem it’s going to exacerbate your problem . When they hit the wrong boss playa in my hood your city will burn , like my dick going strait up your ass . And if it’s not spelled right it’s cause I don’t give a shit.

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Betsy Hodges is working terribly hard to destabilize the north side of mpls . This is more treasonistic activities that have been carried out by latte liberals, who think they should get a pat on the back for spending tax payers money on foolish bullshit , like makeing sure the strip clubs at extra sanitary for the whores and Johns. Wake up people your entire countries being destroyed by a clever orchestration of removing your rights , for others convince. Keeping loving Betsey , she is a snake just like officer Noor.
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Murder in the Second Degree (mpls)Believe me when I say, you will hear nothing from the Governor; Hodges is hiding under her desk and the County Attorney’s office has already shit a brick. This will be white washed due to the fact that both the city and the county are scared to death (no pun intended) of dark skinned minorities. BLM the perfect example.My guess is the cops will say they thought she had something in her hand and they were in fear for their lives. No evidence and no witnesses to refute their fear of death. The shooter should be charged with second degree murder. If I was his partner I would sue the shit out of the shooter for reckless discharge of a firearm.

But we’ll see. This will require much investigation and a Grand Jury. Don’t expect anything anytime soon.

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Roommate (Southdale area) hide this posting

I don’t get it…. I’m a 64yo, single, retired straight, male just trying to find a place to live. I only have social security, so I’m not able to get a “regular” apartment as I don’t have 3 times the amount of rent to qualify. I’ve been trying to find someone (M or F) that has their own place that wants a roommate. The only things out there seem to be looking for college age guys. I have a couple ads out, but all I get are crap responses. They give me a weird website to go to and log into facebook; yea, right. There are responses from women…”I read your ad and you sound so wonderful. I’m looking for a lover to be friends with”. Again, yea, right. The one I had last weekend was the best. A nice sounding lady emailed me saying she had a condo to share. We exchanged numbers and spoke for a while, then agreed to meet the next day. She emailed me and said something came up and would get in touch later that week. Haven’t heard back yet. When I called, it went right to voice mail.

OK, I’m done here, but I’ll keep looking….I have no choice. If anyone has some USEFUL advice, I’d appreciate it.
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City of St Paul HOMEOWNERS FUCK YOU PAY UP Illegals No PaY (St Paul) So the pieces of garbage running the city of St Paul want more homeowner cash for water run off. They stated in a phone call if you don’t pay the extra $100.00 they will take your home away. I say our leaders of Illegals are garbage and I hope the tax payers Voters will take the trash out. Not safe to go out after dark in both city and the garbage don’t need money for cops. Stadiums and Illegals that’s what the trash need money for. So in protest I will be throwing trash out in front of all the Stadiums. Super Bowl I will be trashing it. St Paul Police say they will not enforce the law on trash or garbage. So0 be it. TRASH the Freeloader leaking stadium.

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This is a warning, Betsy Hodges,  your party is over south mpls and northeast mpls. Worrying about how clean it is for Sex workers is not priority and never will be , nor will be it kitty hall anymore , Funtime stops now ! I know that Hodges is systematically attempting to destabilize the north side of mpls . She is scratching someone’s back and I think we know who it is . She is attempting to socially cleanse it so more get more refugees to vote her in so all thier relatives grandma , uncles aunts just the whole family over here so we can support them financially get them thier dream job and just shit on anybody who disagrees , I hope you wake up Hateing your job CUNT , Treasonistic BITCH , FUCK YOU Betsy !!!
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You all suck and i suck too (wanna know why)         Because were not John Wayne .Sorry but its true, John Wayne is the only man that ever walked this earth i would ever bow down to . Well Jesus too but hes all in a class by himself .no one else comes close , Jesus and John didnt need to be propped up ._________

In 1982, me and a chicky-babe were in a bar in Sarasota Fl., and in walked a man with a tea shirt that read “Rap is crap!” We all laughed with delight. I remember believing at the time it was a passing fad, and just grit my teeth and let it pass. Several days ago on TMZ they reported that Rap sells more than Rock & Roll for the first time.

All I know is after a generation of men having buz cuts, no facial hair, the “G-Man” look, my generation began growing mustaches and beards, wore our hair down to our asses (literally,) wore garish, outlandish cloths, smoked things, drank things, swallowed things, was in your face sexually unrepressed, mistrusted anyone over 30, anyone who worked or went to school, owned nothing, was motivated towards nothing, had loud, anti-establishment, anti-religious, anti-government, profane music older people said was NOT music. I swore back then I would never become one of those old, fussy people. My how times have changed.

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23 July
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American Fashion

Look around you, and you’ll likely notice a sea of different outfits. You might see similar articles of clothing — even the same ones — worn by different people, but rarely do you find two pairings of tops, bottoms, shoes, and accessories that are exactly alike.

That wasn’t always the case, said Deirdre Clemente, a historian of 20th century American culture at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, whose research focuses on fashion and clothing. Americans were far more formal, and formulaic dressers, not all that long ago. Men wore suits, almost without fail — not just to work, but also at school. And women, for the most part, wore long dresses. Clemente has written extensively about the evolution of American dress in the 1900s, a period that, she said, was marked, maybe more than anything else, by a single but powerful trend: As everyday fashion broke from tradition, it shed much of its socioeconomic implications — people no longer dress to feign wealth like they once did — and took on a new meaning. The shift has, above all, led toward casualness in the way we dress. It can be seen on college campuses, in classrooms, where students attend in sweatpants, and in the workplace, where Silicon Valley busy bodies are outfitted with hoodies and T-shirts. That change, the change in how we dress here in America, has been brewing since the 1920s, and owes itself to the rise of specific articles of clothing. What’s more, it underscores important shifts in the way we use and understand the shirts and pants we wear.

I spoke with Clemente to learn more about the origins of casual dress, and the staying power of the trend. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Let’s start by talking a bit about what you study. You’re a historian, and you focus on American culture as it pertains to fashion. Is that right?

I’m a cultural historian. I’m a 20th century expert, so don’t ask me anything about the Civil War. And my focus is clothing in fashion. So I’m a little bit of a business historian, a little bit of a historian of marketing, and a little bit of a historian of gender. When you kind of mix all of those things together, all those subsections of history, you get what I study.

So that scene from “The Devil Wears Prada,” when Meryl Streep criticizes Anne Hathaway for believing she isn’t affected by fashion, it must resonate with you.

Well you know, it’s just so true. People say, “Oh well, you know, I don’t care about fashion.” They go to the Gap, they go to Old Navy, and they all dress alike, they wear these uniforms. The thing that I really harp on is that, that in and of itself is a choice, it’s a personal choice, because there are many people who don’t do that. In buying those uniforms, you’re saying something about yourself, and about how you feel about clothing and culture. There is no such thing as an unaffected fashion choice. Anti-fashion is fashion, because it’s a reaction to the current visual culture, a negation of it.

How would you characterize the way Americans dress today? What’s the contemporary visual culture like now?

Well, I would certainly say that there are, above all, so many more choices than there have ever been before. There’s also a tendency like never before to alternate styles. People will one day dress very conservatively and then the next day wear something much more dramatic, much less formal.

There’s a clear trend toward individualization, as opposed to homogenization. There are so many different kinds of social and cultural personas that we can put on, and our clothes have become extremely emblematic of that. And the thing is, even if you don’t have a lot of money, you can now dress freely, individually. You have written about how American dress, perhaps more than anything else, is characterized by how casual it is. What do you mean by that?

There’s this fashion theorist who wrote in the 1930s about how in capitalist societies, clothing serves as this way to jump in and out of socioeconomic class. Now, he was writing at a time when people were still really trying to jump up, and could feign wealth. You could buy a nice-looking suit and make it seem like you were a lot more wealthy than you actually were then. But in the second half of the 20th century, what we’ve seen is people doing just the opposite.

Americans have come to dress casually in a way that is very interesting as a historian. When you look back at old pictures of students, it’s jarring. We used to dress so formally, just to go to class.

Are there points, chronologically, that stand out? Times that were particularly important for the migration toward less formal wear?

I think there are two key points in the 1920s. The 1920s were really important for this shift.

In the 1920s, when women really broke away from dresses and matchy matchy suits, and instead began to use sweater vests and other outfits, versatility entered the minds of buyers. At that point, people began to mix and match, wear more sweaters, more gored (which is a kind of skirt).

By the late 1920s, very few college men wore suits to class. The rise of the sports coat is an incredibly underlauded change in American culture. Because once boys started wearing sports coats instead of suits, men’s outfits became more versatile, they moved away from ties, they wore all sorts of different things, like sweaters, with their jackets.

If so much of this was predicated on shifts that happened in the 1920s, was there nothing impactful that happened thereafter?

Pants on women. You cannot talk about the rise of casual dress without talking about the rise of pants of women. You first saw it in elite women’s schools, such as Wellesley and Vassar. Once women were wearing pants and even jeans on campus and to class, which happened starting in the 1930s, things really began to change. Even though it wasn’t yet happening on co-ed campuses, because of the mix of genders, and formality that persisted around that, it was still a big deal.

World World II was also revolutionary for dress. The war brought about a whole culture of dress that didn’t exist before. Women wore what they wanted, because it didn’t matter — they were on their way to the victory garden — or because they were working at factories, where practicality was more important.

So in the aftermath of World War II, more casual outfits became commonplace?

Yes, although there was a slight backslide in the late 1940s, where we saw a bit of reluctance around it. In 1948, Christian Dior put out a new look in the United States, which featured long skirts that were tight-waisted. That was a Parisian couture influence, though, and it didn’t stick. Women either weren’t really buying it, or wearing it. It had about a two-year lifespan, and then the college girls migrated toward the freedom of articles like pants and less cumbersome dresses. They had experienced these, and they weren’t going to go back to more uncomfortable clothing.

Then in the 1950s, you really start to see stay-at-home moms wearing casual wear in the house — shirts, pants, jeans, even T-shirts. And it really took off from there.

The only thing I will say is that there’s still a bit of a gender hangover, where women are singled out for wearing clothing normally associated with men.Like the boyfriend jean?

(Audible sigh). Yes.

There’s something in women buying “men’s clothing” that still irks a lot of people. I have been shocked at the e-mails I have gotten. People like to say that casual dress isn’t about freedom, that it’s about laziness. But that’s hilarious, especially to me as a historian, because it simply isn’t true.

There’s something called collective selection. And what it is, is the idea that no longer is it the rich people telling the poor people how to dress, no longer is it that the poor people want to wear what the rich wear. Nowadays it’s a group decision. Because class is so wishy washy today, since everyone thinks that they’re middle class, the collective selection is what is acceptable in different scenarios — the office, the church, the classroom, etc. It’s decided by the group.

What about the development of American fashion in comparison to that elsewhere? Have we gone further down the road of casual dress than other cultures?

Oh, I mean, absolutely. I think that American culture is now associated with casual dress on a global scale. On sort of the world stage, where American culture is so prominent, many countries emulate the way people in the United States dress, and that’s almost inevitably more casually than the way people dress in those places. The version of casual elsewhere, in Europe especially, it just never gets as down and dirty as the American version. Their version of casual is still a scarf and a stylish leather jacket, whereas ours is a starter jacket and jeans.

The American love of sportswear and comfortable clothes has redefined the limits, and it’s affecting the limits elsewhere too, since others emulate us.

Can I ask what might be an obvious question, at least to you. What makes something casual, and something else formal?

That’s an obvious question, and an awesome question. The answer inevitably is tied to history. I can look at something and say “Oh, the history of that article of clothing is such and such, and that history is tied to wealth.” Or, if you look at, say, the turtleneck, and understand that it comes from ski-wear, or flip flops, and realize that they were originally shower-wear, often used by servants, it changes the context in which you understand the clothing.

More broadly, and kind of simply, fit and fabric also tend to be good indicators. The fit of casual clothes tends to be looser, and the fabric tends to be lighter, because there’s less of it. There’s also less covering of the skin in casual wear. When you think of formal attire, it mostly covers the vast majority of the body.

Also, the connotations of it, which, again, are rooted in history. That’s the cool thing about clothing, which people don’t realize. When someone is like ‘those shoes are cool but I don’t know if they’re appropriate for this wedding,’ their opinion is the product of years, even decades of understanding.

Even at the office, we’ve shed some of the more formal, traditional understandings of what’s okay to wear. You mentioned Steve Jobs, but Silicon Valley as a whole is kind of redefining office wear, is it not?

Oh, I love that. It’s this evolution of casual, and even of business casual. In the 1990s, it was derivative of business, and now it’s derivative of casual. It’s amazing for me to see.

But this isn’t your typical business casual. Every time I see that phrase I look it up, and it’s like khakis and a button down still. This is more like business CASUAL, or casual business, where casual is the emphasis.

They are absolutely the spearhead of business casual. They were the first people to do away with dress codes at the office.

Why does it bend toward casual?

I think we dress more casually because we can, because in American culture perennial appearance has become an expression of individuality and not social class to the degree that dressing up is dressing up the socioeconomic ladder. I think that we dress more casually because it’s a middle ground for Americans. I mean look at the presidential candidates. Donald Trump has his own, albeit mediocre quality, shirt and tie line. It’s all about standing out and yet fitting in.

The modern market allows us to personalize that style. Casual is the sweet spot between looking like every middle class American and being an individual in the massive wash of options. This idea of the freedom to dress in a way that is meaningful to us as people, and to express various types of identity.

I know that you’re a historian, and traditionally look into the past, but I’m going to ask you to look into the future. Where is this trend toward casual dress taking us?

How about I make a prediction about a specific technology that’s been long overdue? I don’t know if it will happen, let alone sometime soon, but self-cleaning fabrics, I think that will be a thing. At the very least it should be.

I have to say, self-cleaning fabrics are about as casual as it gets.

Let’s just say I probably wouldn’t put my money in dry cleaning if I had some extra money to spare and wanted to invest in something. Those sorts of things are going to die out.

There was this very cool Italian futurist who in the 1930s made a prediction about what fashion would be like 100 years from then. His prediction was that everyone would dress in uniforms. But that’s the complete opposite of what has happened.  And I don’t think people will be dressing in uniforms anytime soon. Clothing will instead continue to be a way to project individuality and our own personal alliances to the broader culture.

22 July
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Jumping In With 2 Feet

I’ve been jumping in for years. I make a decision and stick with it, never veering doffed course. One minute I’m telling my husband I ‘m going to cheat on him and fifteen later I’m posting a Craigslist ad looking for dick. To hell with the consequences. My exHusband told me over and over when we were dating and then married, that I could not change my mind. That changing my mind was worse than breaking one of G-d’s commandments. The Meister, as my ex was called because of his penchant for guzzling beer like an aficionado. He was an expert in bad alcoholic behaviour and magical thinking.

21 July
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Dystopian World Post Trump

It started in Minneapolis and since our state is different than others, with a Muslim population that keeps to themselves, we weren’t sure ion it hit other parts of the country as well. They’re part of our social fabric, they are in our jails, and running for political office. Keith Ellison has proudly stayed by his faith so much so that back in the early part of the century, Mehrunisa Qayyum ran for office in suburban Chicago. Sure, not near north, not the Jewish parts of town, but still, after the election of Trump back those 30 years, Obama told people to run for local office. He told people to bed part off there change they wanted to see. And like Jews 150-200 years ago the Muslims embraced political agendas both vast and small. Sharia law wasn’t discussed, but crimes of disrespect were discussed.

At the end of the day the laws of our great Christian nation were not usurped by the followers of Mohammad. But they slowly taught their neighbors in this great societal experiment that Islam is a religion of peace. In the early years off the Trump administration we didn’t think there was much we could do, and wearing or, quelle dommage, knitting a pussy hat was what the women from church decided to do. They partnered with a Lutheran-based church and together they made over 250 pussy hats. It took all my acting powers to plaster a semi-smile that didn’t say “You women aren’t respected, and pussy hats is not the way top gain respect.” But they insisted. They said this is what we can do. You need two join us, we will teach you to knit.

But I’m a wordsmith not a yarnsmith. I believe words will change the world. As I was writing about technology and science the world changed around me. I put my head down and worked like a dog for someone else, playing the game I was supposed to play, and the world around me grew into an angry place where I watched my blonde Scando husband, whom, in the days of the Nazi’s would have been revered for his small nose but not his pot bellied physique, was beaten and hospitalized over his Sanders vote in 2020. Trump won again, of course, because the poor in the southern states and in the Bible Belt were no match for Trump’s old money connections. Yet in books and magazines during the 90s, Trump’s playboy days, talk about the millionaire WASP was as if he was never a presidential threat. But 8 years that ushered in the worst economic crash since the 1930s left the entire United States open to corruption from the Muslim travel banned countries.

Around 2025 our political environment shifted because record heat waves dried out much of the south, making the land worthless from heat, un able to run water as Floridians moved away from all the coastal towns, darker skinned people that were more comfortable with the sun beating down over 18 hours a day with no rain, or other inclement weather to distract the pounding heat from the what man’s skin. Skin cancers were at all time high in the USA during the 2020s, but no southern subsistence farmers could afford the treatments. Even after an entire decade of federal government petitioning cannabis was still a Schedule I drug well past the 100 year lifespan of the war on marihuana.  Almost 150 years to the day the Supreme Court took off all restrictions on the plant and all throughout the midwestern states and New England you could smell cannabis. It was taken out of our environment for four generations and we should have realized that it was called a weed for a reason.

Denver had legalized recreational cannabis 15 years after California implemented their Prop 25 for marijuana. During our colonization America produced hemp, encouraged by our government in the 17th century in order to make rope, sails, and clothing. The leftovers of the plants, the trim as it were, the shredded leaves of bud, were smoked. The smoked portion was called marihuana. As early back as 1619, Virginians required every farmer to grow hemp. Interestingly enough, at that time hemp was so precious you could bArter with it. Hemp was considered legal tender in 3 states; Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland. We grew our hemp happily until the 1880s when imported materials and other domestic ones replaced hemp. Americans enjoyed plenty of choice when it came to cannabis-based drugs to eradicate headaches, or anxiety.

The in 1909 Pure Food and Drug Act was introduced, and required labeling of any medication that included cannabis.

1900 – 20s

Mexican immigrants introduce recreational use of marijuana leaf

After the Mexican Revolution of 1910, Mexican immigrants flooded into the U.S., introducing to American culture the recreational use of marijuana. The drug became associated with the immigrants, and the fear and prejudice about the Spanish-speaking newcomers became associated with marijuana. Anti-drug campaigners warned against the encroaching “Marijuana Menace,” and terrible crimes were attributed to marijuana and the Mexicans who used it.

1930s

Fear of marijuana

During the Great Depression, massive unemployment increased public resentment and fear of Mexican immigrants, escalating public and governmental concern about the problem of marijuana. This instigated a flurry of research which linked the use of marijuana with violence, crime and other socially deviant behaviors, primarily committed by “racially inferior” or underclass communities. By 1931, 29 states had outlawed marijuana.

1930

Creation of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN)

Harry J. Anslinger was the first Commissioner of the FBN and remained in that post until 1962.

1932

Uniform State Narcotic Act

Concern about the rising use of marijuana and research linking its use with crime and other social problems created pressure on the federal government to take action. Rather than promoting federal legislation, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics strongly encouraged state governments to accept responsibility for control of the problem by adopting the Uniform State Narcotic Act.

1936

“Reefer Madness”

Propaganda film “Reefer Madness” was produced by the French director, Louis Gasnier.

The Motion Pictures Association of America, composed of the major Hollywood studios, banned the showing of any narcotics in films.

1937

Marijuana Tax Act

After a lurid national propaganda campaign against the “evil weed,” Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act. The statute effectively criminalized marijuana, restricting possession of the drug to individuals who paid an excise tax for certain authorized medical and industrial uses.

1944

La Guardia Report finds marijuana less dangerous

New York Academy of Medicine issued an extensively researched report declaring that, contrary to earlier research and popular belief, use of marijuana did not induce violence, insanity or sex crimes, or lead to addiction or other drug use.

1940s

“Hemp for Victory”

During World War II, imports of hemp and other materials crucial for producing marine cordage, parachutes, and other military necessities became scarce. In response the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched its “Hemp for Victory” program, encouraging farmers to plant hemp by giving out seeds and granting draft deferments to those who would stay home and grow hemp. By 1943 American farmers registered in the program harvested 375,000 acres of hemp.

1951-56

Stricter Sentencing Laws

Enactment of federal laws (Boggs Act, 1952; Narcotics Control Act, 1956) which set mandatory sentences for drug-related offenses, including marijuana.

A first-offense marijuana possession carried a minimum sentence of 2-10 years with a fine of up to $20,000.

1960s

Marijuana use popular in counterculture

A changing political and cultural climate was reflected in more lenient attitudes towards marijuana. Use of the drug became widespread in the white upper middle class. Reports commissioned by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson found that marijuana use did not induce violence nor lead to use of heavier drugs. Policy towards marijuana began to involve considerations of treatment as well as criminal penalties.

1968

Creation of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs

This was a merger of FBN and the Bureau of Dangerous Drugs of the Food and Drug Administration.

1970

Repeal of most mandatory minimum sentences

Congress repealed most of the mandatory penalties for drug-related offenses. It was widely acknowledged that the mandatory minimum sentences of the 1950s had done nothing to eliminate the drug culture that embraced marijuana use throughout the 60s, and that the minimum sentences imposed were often unduly harsh.

Marijuana differentiated from other drugs

The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act categorized marijuana separately from other narcotics and eliminated mandatory federal sentences for possession of small amounts.

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) founded

1972

Shafer Commission

The bipartisan Shafer Commission, appointed by President Nixon at the direction of Congress, considered laws regarding marijuana and determined that personal use of marijuana should be decriminalized. Nixon rejected the recommendation, but over the course of the 1970s, eleven states decriminalized marijuana and most others reduced their penalties.

1973

Creation of the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

Merger of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNND) and the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE).

1974

High Times founded

1976

Beginning of parents’ movement against marijuana

A nationwide movement emerged of conservative parents’ groups lobbying for stricter regulation of marijuana and the prevention of drug use by teenagers. Some of these groups became quite powerful and, with the support of the DEA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), were instrumental in affecting public attitudes which led to the 1980s War on Drugs.

1986

Anti-Drug Abuse Act – Mandatory Sentences

President Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, instituting mandatory sentences for drug-related crimes. In conjunction with the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, the new law raised federal penalties for marijuana possession and dealing, basing the penalties on the amount of the drug involved. Possession of 100 marijuana plants received the same penalty as possession of 100 grams of heroin. A later amendment to the Anti-Drug Abuse Act established a “three strikes and you’re out” policy, requiring life sentences for repeat drug offenders, and providing for the death penalty for “drug kingpins.”

1989

Bush’s War on Drugs

President George Bush declares a new War on Drugs in a nationally televised speech.

People in the warmer climes of the US were dying just as the Romans had, with information locked in their heads about farming, and maintaining a civilization. The Dark Ages were called thus because humans didn’t have access to knowledge, wisdom and learning were in the dark. The Crusades were a time of Church rule where individual intelligence was killed off through pogroms, burning women of intelligence through accusations of witchery, it was a dark time, our Trump years. As the Old South eroded and the New South was a vast network of dark skinned peoples; Mexicans and Middle Easterners alike.

18 July
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Word of the Day: Omertà

I was reading aloud a Trump article got Juan Carlo and they said omertà and Juan said, must mean being silent and I thought, no, I’d have heard this word if that was all there was to it, it’s not directly from a Latin word that I can pull up. Now granted I’m in brain injury land, however, words disappear in the order in which you learned them and pejoratives are always handy, like shit fun k cunt; thanks Sharon Osborne. Omertà is a code of silence, practiced by the mafia, about any criminal activity and a refusal to give evidence to authorities.

17 March
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Say Hello Wave Goodbye

d. Sad to the core of me. I’m beyond devastated that I stopped cheating and he was unable to open up to me. These men from Minnesota are so broken it makes me weep. My mouth, mucus heavy at the back of my throat, tears streaming down my face, I am simply emotion. I am nothing but feelings. Tragedy. Sorrow. Pain. I want to be a damsel from 1820 and throw myself off a cliff. The great dilemma of the start of the twenty-first century; romantic love is elevated to such a degree that a love of the minds is discouraged. I remember the moment I decided to get pregnant with Zack. I remember the moment I gave my will up to “the spirit,” as my beloved cousin Dawn calls it.

My daughter is twenty-two and owns a dog, or he owns her, giggle, giggle. She’s wanted a dog since she was tiny. The Wolski-Davis’ didn’t own dogs. “We weren’t animal people” Nana Wolski would say, in that voice reserved for low-tone. Now in my fifties, I know that is a shaming tone. It is rude, judgemental, belittling, demeaning. It’s the tone my husband uses when he talks to myself or our son. It’s the same dismissive way his own father spoke to him. Dirty is how I feel after Jon gives me a verbal lashing. Most of the time it’s the nonverbal that are the hardest though.

Because Jon doesn’t speak. I don’t know if I’m loved, hated, desired. I don’t know what he expects of me, and since he’s mostly stopped speaking I can only seem to attack him. I can’t get my tongue to say, “Please let’s go to Walkin Counseling. You keep saying we have all these years behind us, a child, raising children together, but I don’t see you doing a damn thing. You aren’t suggesting counseling. You aren’t making appointments with therapists covered by our shitty insurance. As you can see, I start out and then I attack. I can see where my language changes. I can feel the words and their colours, but I can’t stop myself from being angry. I’m tired of being the only person that wants to solve our problems. I’m tired of being told I’m worth nothing by this technique called stonewalling.

In the Year of Trump, lalalalalalala, she comes out of the sun in a silk dress, in the year of the Trump, mumble mumble because Trump takes more space than cat in the song and changes the pacing. Sniffle sniffle. Don’t bother asking for explanations, She’ll just tell you that she came
In the year of the Trump.
She doesn’t give you time for questions
As she locks up your arm in hers
And you follow ’till your sense of which direction
Completely disappears
By the blue tiled walls near the market stalls
There’s a hidden door she leads you to
These days, she says, I feel my life
Just like a river running through
The year of the cat
While she looks at you so cooly

By my husband’s own admission, he waits for me to take action. What I call “waiting me out.” And I’m sure I’m going to come across as a callous bitch here, but I can see why women can’t handle lagabout husbands that don’t even pull their frair share. Like Sunny bitching about Scott. My own husband has expected me to find him work for 18 years! I’ve navigated two careers, been treated like shite by recruiters, internal HR, the local IT community, neighbors, and friends for the bizarre way Jon has decided to handle his career. Jean Fox-Pearson said to me once, “You need to make him responsible for his career, he’s getting a reputation for being difficult.” Guffaw! No shite Jean, I wanted to say. I remember asking Jon if I could speak with him and I told him that recruiters were talking about us and he said, “Fuck them. Just keep sending out my resume.”

Then my own IT career started taking on water. I was generally disliked by women, in or out of IT, and while men treated me better, they all wanted to fuck me. It was easier to tell myself that I could lose the weight on the back end since guys left me alone for the seven years I was fat. It was a relief. As I tipped the scales at 200 I could see my appeal wearing off. Recruiters who’d been happy to flirt with me before started to actively avoid my calls. That was a bitter pill to swallow.

Before I started writing this, whatever this may end up being, I’d been looking for my voice. Month after dreary month driving through Nebraska and Iowa, long brown landscape damp and sinister. I realized one day, while lying in bed in pain, that I couldn’t find my voice because I was trying to mask it with teenage narratives, IT narratives, things I was not passionate about because I am frantic to make money. Every day we spend more than we bring in. We are not in retirement. I didn’t plan for this liquidation of assets at only 52. I’m having constant panic attacks because we will run out of money at the rate this is going. I don’t want to go back to sex work. I cannot go into an office for $35/hour. I earned more with less education and hands on experience than I did a decade ago, yet cannot earn enough to pay the bills.

Jon’s trained me not to spend money on computer equipment. That it runs through him. My computer and my phone don’t work right, I can’t drive because of the pain and headache due to an antibiotic resistant middle ear infection, ottis media. I can understand how Jon doesn’t know where to start with the job search. Just like he doesn’t know how to invest because he expects me to do it all. I’m currently struggling to make sense of iPhone and Apple laptop reviews. I dreaded doing this myself because he’s done the research. He’s more deal savvy. He hates to talk to recruiters. That the interview is hard enough for him. The interview itself is soul sucking to him. He gets upset that Simon questions me whether Jon is working or not when he calls from jail. Zack said us arguing and Jon’s chronic unemployment is difficult to live with. He told me it was too late, even though I’m only 52, for me to find happiness. I gave him a dirty look and he replied, “Not that you shouldn’t try to achieve it, or get divorced because it’s the better than the alternative. What I heard was, “You’re doing the alternative. You’re settling.” I can’t seem to explain that I feel like I am in quicksand all the time. The bullying of my youngest son in Minneapolis, Jon’s constant need for my attention, Miriam’s wishy washy texts. We plan on her bringing the dog over today because she’s going drinking like a good Wagner/Meyer/Davis/ Wolski alcoholic on St Paddy’s Day. My daughter’s drinking will wind up costing her much during her life. Writing those words feels so final. I’ve prayed and begged for my daughter to go to therapy, or read up on addiction and get help. My daughter and I have a precarious relationship that perplexes me. She’s part of this chick squad, the smaller one First Communion kids from Annunciation, and the wider one includes gals from college that grew up in St Paul with exotic names like Lily and Vanessa. She went to Michigan to work at the Eileen Fisher store in Sterling.

23 February
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Directed Attention Fatigue

The lack of basic common courtesy in front facing customer positions is abhorrent. I know I’m a fucking twat and therefore will never be the customer service girl, or the retail clerk. I respect the hell out of people like my daughter that deal with customers day in and day out sucking their emotional well dry. I need my emotional well, if I don’t keep a protective fence with concertina atop around my emotional well I end up in bed for days. Working in technology (IT) did that to me. It sucked the marrow out of my emotions and I could do nothing but languor and consume media or play games such as FarmVille.

My well was at zero. I was empty.

Being whom I am it was important I know whether I was severely depressed or working with fuckers every day, ten hour days, for crap money, so I sold shite on eBay on the week-ends as hobby had completely tuckered me out. The eBay though! Honestly. It was to make booze money is what it was, if we’re being honest. All those hours I could have been swimming or playing tennis with one of the kids, but I didn’t know about cannabis then, and as my readers know, I didn’t know fuck all about cannabis until two years ago. Vicodin was always my pill of choice. Um, sweet poppy oblivion was such a relief from my pain. But those have been in short supply for a number of years, and because the knee pain was excruciating, there was no tennis. Or bike riding. Or running. Or hiking.

The reason I know what is going on with my former best friend, Tim Walker, is because I watched my chronic pain affect my husband so drastically he got fat and hurt his liver. I know I am not responsible for his actions, but when you get married some responsibilities fall to one person. I was the sporty person and therefore pushing us to do sporty things was in my court. My doubles partner was way the hell in the far eastern corner of the court unable to even continue to play the game. He was stressed and I was always in pain and he loved me so much, and he’s so bloody lazy, that he laid about in the evenings with me, zoned out on Castle, or something equally atrocious.

Because I drank to try to sleep, please G-d, could you just let me get six hours tonight? I am so exhausted. But no. I popped pills to try and sleep. I drank and popped pills to try and get the constant pain in my head, or my knee, or my ankle, or my left breast, to stop.

So anyway, as I was Googling around the internet in 2013 I found this article about Directed Attention Fatigue. Basically the expectations of people like Juan Carlo and I are so high and we are ON so much of the time that we are fried. We didn’t pace ourselves and we buckled to do more in less time and it gave me cancer, and continues to plague both my husband and I with stress.

Writing this has made me think of that crazy bitch, Deseria Galloway. Tomorrow I will write that interaction.

02 February
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Meeting the Ottos

Jill is walking toward me with a filled to the brim urine yellow Leine’s Honey Weiss. As her thin frame moved toward me a male-female couple to our right leaned forward toward us and asked what we thought of the late night Houlihan crowd?

I’m parched. A bit of cotton mouth from my medications. Ibprofen. Migraine meds like Maxalt, Compazine suppositories (taken rectally, indeed), Xanax, Ambien, Vicodin. My stomach must be lined with lead because I’m always unaffected, or so I think. I forget about the morning hangovers. I forget the only way I know my husband and I had sex is if my pussy aches. If he was gentle I don’t remember a thing.

It’s become a sick routine.

Often I feel violated. I quit Ambien to remember, but then I literally never sleep. I don’t sleep and then I sleep even less because my productivity suffered for the day, or the whole week. I hoard my Ambien because no one wants to label Ambien as a drug that you should you shouldn’t ever, ever take when consuming alcohol or while conducting life. Sounds crazy, right?

Yet, no, you can’t drive least you get into an accident and don’t remember anything the next day. Read this article in the HuffPost about the disturbing side affects of Ambient. Too many pharmaceuticals. I am able to see that now. It has made me look at the health care field, doctors, and big pharma-promoted ways to alleviate pain, regulate insulin levels, any array of maladies that have plagued man forever, but in this age of everything we ingest being an imitation of real food, drugs, supplements, spices.

Poly-pharmacueticality was a part-time hobby. Chronic pain that didn’t go away with knee surgeries, two different scopes; one on each knee. Migraines. Sleep. Ever present need to turn off the voices in my head. No, I am not schizophrenic. The voices I hear are telling me stories, explaining who they are, or having dialogues with other characters. This rich inner world has been part of my life my all fifty-two years.

Worse yet, I over-supplemented for years, until I started seeing Dr. Merlin Brown.

There were certainly days that Jon raped me. Where he used wile and guile to seduce me. Telling me how much he missed me. I call it rape for these reasons:
1. It was often against my will
2. We were both too drunk to be having sex
3. Always penile penetration, never foreplay

But oh G-d I love him, so I often over-looked his mysoginyst bullshit. But now that he’s early forties I’ve been explaining things and he understands and he’s really trying to be a good man and respect my boundaries. For that I love him ever more now, in 2017. 18 years after marriage. This stuff is hard! Ha.