Monday, June 30, 2014

Skid Row Diary 29























27  September   2003   Saturday  Day 77


   I got up around 5:00 and showered. I watched last night’s “Charlie Rose Program,” while exercising. Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric and personification of Satan on Earth was the hour’s guest. I knew how to run a multi-billion dollar, multi-national company after it was over. 
   I was saddened to learn from Charley downstairs that George Plimpton had passed away yesterday. A co-founder of The Paris Review, occasional actor, and a journalist who researched his stories by getting personally involved, such as quaterbacking a Detroit Lions football game, performing in a comedy at act at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas, and playing with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, among other incidents. 
   The Palestinian American literary theorist, Edward Said also died a few days ago.
   This year is nothing but a death watch. I imagine this is one way to measure how old your are getting, by noting how many people you know die.
   At 6:15 I left the building and walked north to Boyle St and sat down outside Ron McCree’s apartment building. An overcast, grey morning, the street was littered with trash, and black and Hispanic homeless people, some drinking beer, some urinating, some just standing around waiting for what would happen next. 
   A young Hispanic gentleman with the proclivity of talking to himself, rode up to me on a bicycle, set it down next to me, and ran off down the street, around the corner towards 3rd St.
   Ron McCree oozed out of his building and looked around. He scanned up and down the street several times before noticing I was sitting directly in front of him.
   “I’ll be down in just a minute, man,” he said. “I just wanted to see if you were here.” 
   He went back inside.
   The young Hispanic guy came back and retrieved his bike without tipping me for looking after it.
   Ron came back and we began our walk and talk. 
   We walked within a rectangle described by San Julian St. on the west, 4th St to the north, Stanford Ave on the east, and 7th St on the south. The talk varied from self disclosure to predictions of our personal futures. I found out that Ron had been shot in the ass in Vietnam (and then signed on for a 2nd tour of duty... ”I was having fun, man!”), and was receiving a VA pension as a result. I hadn’t known he had even been in Nam. I learned that he had a daughter in North Hollywood. I learned that his internship at the Service Spot was precarious, and that he may or may not be getting paid on a regular basis. I also learned that he’s still drinking, as we stopped at Jack’s Market where he purchased a Magnum Malt Liquor for breakfast. 
   He asked if I minded.
   “I don’t care,” I told him.
   “I didn’t ask if you cared. I asked if you minded.”
   “I don’t care. I don’t mind. What? You think I’m gonna relapse because you’re drinking a beer. Are you crazy? It would take at least two beers for me to do that.”
   He laughed.
   “That’s the first laugh I’ve had today,” he said. “Thanks.”
   We continued our stroll. 
   He told me how Skid Row was divided into districts, as far as the procurement of drugs was concerned. Marijuana was sold and used in front of the L.A. Mission on 5th and Wall, heroin on San Julian, between 6th and 7th, and crack cocaine everywhere else.
   Ron makes these Saturday morning walks supposedly to keep in touch with the street scene, to see who’s dies, in jail, sick, and okay. All I saw him do was to try and pick up cute homeless chicks. 
   One white girl in her 20s was sitting on the sidewalk outside of the Volunteers Of America (VOA) on Crocker, as Ron and I approached. Ron immediately jumped headfirst into her business, asking her what she was doing, where she was staying, where she was going, etc., etc, etc. Surprisingly the girl answered him, and was very nice. Her name was Nina, and had been here in L.A. for six months, out of Wisconsin. Her boyfriend had just been arrested and she was staying in the 38th St. shelter, and was trying to get on GR. At one point she mentioned that she needed a pen to write something down, and I gave her one of my emergency pens from my utility belt and told her to keep it.
   McCree gave her his phone number, “just in case,” she needed it. Wasn’t that nice of him? She wrote it down.
   He tried to do the same to a pretty black girl named Karen who was waiting for a check cashing store to open on 7th, near Stanford. Ron kept trying to give her his number, “just in case,” and she kept politely refusing.
   Just up the street on Gladys, Ron showed me where the Hippie Kitchen was. I’d heard of it for the last year and a half, but had never seen it. As it turned out it was right across the street from Gladys Park where the elite homeless hang out during the day, and where the Drifters Meeting is held each night. The Hippie Kitchen provides meals three days a week, with Saturday being one of those days. But it didn’t begin doing that until 9:30, and Ron and I didn’t stick around.
   No one will ever starve in Skid Row.
   Besides the Hippie Kitchen, there are several missions nearby, like the Midnight Mission, and Union Rescue, that provide daily meals, a Senior and Woman’s Center, and good folks, or church groups often come down and hand out food to those who happen to be around when they’re there. Everything from complete meals, to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and whatever’s in between.
   We continued north toward 5th St (The Nickel) discussing the projected consequences of the imminent strike by the homeless, when Ron turned into one of the many seafood companies that encompass the Skid Row area. 
   Apparently this particular company sold to the public in an open market each day until 11:00, and Ron bought ten bucks worth of lobster and squid. Good on the lobster, yuck on the squid.
   Back at old Jack’s Market, he bought two more beers to take home with him, and we said our goodbyes.
   I invited him to the movies, but he said he couldn’t make it today. Another time perhaps.
   I walked back to the Weingart’s dining room and ate breakfast. Pancakes. Then returned to 5th St to catch a bus downtown. Just as the bus arrived I notice an LAPD black and while (police car) pull up to Jack’s Market across the street. Two officers jumped out with their guns drawn, and ordered a black guy to stand up against the side of the building. 
   I went to the movies. 
 And arrived at City Walk just after 10:00. 
   It seems that very same multi-national company, General Electric has just agreed to purchase this facility, along with Universal Studios down the hill, and it’s cable and music business. Joined with NBC, I think it’s a good match, if you don’t mind huge media conglomerates.
   “The Rundown” didn’t start until 1:00, so I kicked back and watched music videos. I enjoyed Elvis Costello’s “45,” and fell in love with Annette Strean of Venus Hum, who sang “Soul Sloshing,” from their album “Big Beautiful Sky.”   
   I may not be able to get over her. She’s much too cute.
   Good singer too.
   And really cute... for a girl.
   “Soul Sloshing” would play itself in my head for the rest of the day, replacing Elton John’s “Little Genie,” which I don’t even like that much.
   I didn’t like “The Rundown” that much either, or at least not as much as Ebert and Roper did, but I liked it a little. I thought Dwayne “The Rock" Johnson was great as the Syndicate’s “retrival specialist,” with a dream to become a restaurateur, and the lovely and talented Rosario Dawson as a  Brazilian rebel (who knew there were such things as Brazilian rebels... I certainly didn’t). 
   I’d rebel with her in Brazil given half a chance. 
   That dancing fool Christopher Walken has made a career out of playing edgy, idiosyncratic, possibly surreal characters, and he continued to do so in this film.
   Needed just a smidgeon more action though.
   While attempting to exit the theater complex a searing wind blew me upstairs into the #17 auditorium, where “Woody Allen’s “Anything Else,” just happened to be playing, starring the lovely actress (she’s very talented too), Christina Ricci (little Wednesday!) and Jason Biggs, the actor who has intimate relationships with apple pies. Another trip into Woody’s world, which usually concerns upper-middle class New Yorkers, who never seem to work, have no money problems, and are looking for love. I’ve got no problem with that. Somebody’s got to do it, and one of the things I most liked about this film was the shots of the city. As a matter of fact I now am afflicted with an uncontrollable urge to go to New York and run around Central Park at three o’clock in the morning.  
   Two jokes I have to relate. Christina Ricci,  congratulating her boyfriend (Biggs) new job as a a television writer in California: “That’s great. All the idiots who can’t make it in New York go to California and write for television.”
   Woody’s not making a lot of friends in L.A. I’m guessing.
   And Jason talking in Central Park about sex with his new friend, David Dobel (Woody):
   Jason: “I don’t like masturbation. I’t not like the real thing.”
   Woody: “Oh I don’t know about that. Let me tell you, just last night I constructed this fantasy with Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren, and to the best of my knowledge that’s the first time those two wonderful actress ever appeared together.”  
   I also accidently stepped into the last 20 minutes of “Under the Tuscan Sun,” starring the beautiful and talented Diane Lane.
   Now I know what you’re thinking. What is an exceptionally handsome, virile, sexy, man’s man, doing going into the biggest chick flick of the year? My answer... because the beautiful and talented Diane Lane starred in it. Enough said. 
   The cinematography was very nice too.
   I returned downtown, to the Weingart, singing and dancing to “Soul Sloshing.”
   I watched “Zorba the Greek,” on PBS, starring Anthony Quinn, in one of his most famous roles. 
   Scene: Men running out of a mine just before it collapses. One man pulls back, into the dust ridden entrance: “Zorba! 
   Quinn walks out, looks around... “What?”
   Did you know that Anthony Quinn was Mexican? I didn’t. His dad rode with Pancho Villa, which was the nickname of José Doroteo Arango Arámbula, a famous Mexican revolutionary. After that they moved to East Los Angeles (not far from the Weingart), which must have been a little anticlimactic for them.
   When I went to sleep I had a dream with Andrea Parducci, the lovely and talented star of “Once Upon a Madonna,” “Tales from the Chateau,” and many other fine films, Marilyn Monroe, and Sophia Loren, which as far as I know is the second time the later wonderful actress ever appeared together, and the first for all three.
   I won’t go into the details, but it involved a trampoline.


28  September   Sunday   Day 78


   I woke late, at 10:00 or so, showered, then went downtown to buy a paper. I also picked up the latest issue of Maxim Magazine, with the lovely and talented Gina Gershon, featured on the cover.
   I’ve heard some critics pan Maxim, and it’s imitators, describing it as pablum for young males, and a destroyer of minds. I say, hell no, that’s what T.V. is for. I find the magazine witty, entertaining, and informative. Why in this issue alone I learned who Antarctica belonged to, how to conduct a stakeout and follow people with their knowing it, how to throw a boomerang, spot fake twenty dollar bills, and how to create an artificial womb. I even found some funny jokes, like, a giraffe walks into a bar and says, “High balls on me.”
   Upon returning to my room I exercised and meditated  before fixing some nice eggs and sausage in the day rooms microwave. I also got 4 laundry tokens from Frank Valdez, the weekend case manager. Now I have 11. I could do laundry all day if I so desired.
   While reading the paper I had recently purchased I listened to The Prairie Home Companion on the radio, sponsored by The Ketchup Advisory Board, which provides instruction in the use of ketchup, which at times can be fairly tricky.
   The radio also told me that Elia Kazan, the famous film director had died, and  yesterday the actor Donald O'Connor (who was another actor I actually saw perform at Universal Studios. I was on an active sound stage for some reason, and he was guest appearing on some television show, and having a little trouble remembering his lines as I recall). He used to talk to mules.
   With all of these people dying all over the place I really think I’ll be lucky to make it to December, due to sympathy death.
   At 7:30 I watched and taped the Farrelly brothers, “There’s Something About Mary,” starring the lovely and talented Cameron Diaz, who is both talented and lovely all at the same time. I had forgotten how funny it was, their best effort to date.
   And at 11:00 I watched the “Fast Food Brain-Eater,” episode of “The X-Files,” which was really, well, bad. I taped it, but will record over it tomorrow with “The Man with One Red Shoe.”
   Christina Applelay, the beautiful and talented star of “Creasemaster,” and “Savannah R.N.,” and other fine films, and Cameron Diaz came to me in my dreams tonight.
   We were in Nepal, climbing up a steep, snow-ridden, trail on Mount Everest, on our way to a Buddhist monastery. Both of the girls were shivering mightily, as they were not dressed properly for the climate, wearing matching green string bikinis with purple stars embossed upon them. Taking pity upon the foolish ladies, I let them huddle against me to keep warm.


29  September   Monday   day 79


   I wrote until it was time for lunch (barbecued chicken), then walked up to the VA clinic for the 1:00 ASAP meeting.
   Bud Wilson, from the veteran’s benefit office sat in on the group to answer questions we might have concerning benefits we might have been eligible for. That took about three quarters of the hour, and in the last fifteen minutes Kathy explained how having our urine tested once or twice a week was an important feedback tool. 
   Lord knows I realize the importance of testing as a tool to measure progress, but I despite it’s value as a tool for patient feedback. I suspect that the ASAP clients know pretty much if they’re dirty or not. 
   Afterwards, I caught a Dash to 8th and Spring, and walked to the One Stop Center, and there faxed my resume to three places. All the computers were busy, so I went to the library to check my E-mail. There, I also learned everything I could about the electronic pop music group from Nashville, Tennessee, Venus Hum, and my new love, Annette Strean.
   I don’t usually do this, but if you click on this, you can see and hear Annette and “Soul Sloshing” too!
   She looks so sweet, and I’m almost positive that she is as pure as the driven snow. Innocent too. And she’s a very powerful singer.
   Don’t worry, Sophie B Hawkins, I still love you best. Jennifer, Odalys, Giselle don’t be jealous. There’s room in my heart for all.
    I returned to the Weingart and attempted to meet with my lovely case worker, as I was overdo for a session. Labren refused to see me, however, claiming her computer was down. Apparently the ability to take notes and enter them at a later time was beyond her. I was unreasonably upset as this always seems to happen with her. Whenever I do get to see her she acts like she’s doing me a big favor. Hell, it’s the Weingart’s policy’s that I see her on a regular basis, not mine. I already know how I’m doing.
   I didn’t voice my displeasure though. That would have been counter productive.
   Later, I tried to tape one of my favorite comedies, “The Man with One Red Shoe,” starring Lori Singer. When I think about films that I cherish this always comes to mind. Based on a  French film, “Le Grand Blond avec une chaussure noire,” or for those of you readers who do not speak or read French, “The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe,” and is smart, funny, irreverent, well acted, produced, and directed. It also has a wonderful musical score. It boasts some memorable lines, like, “This man has been badly beaned,” and scenes, little Tommy Noonan is mistaken by the enemy to be the target they are looking for and has all of his teeth removed in a dentist’s office as a result. The film is even somewhat relevant as a statement of the absurdity and lengths modern intelligence agencies will go to to prove doubtful positions (like why we invaded Iraq). 
   You can’t get much of a better cast. This guy named Tom Hanks looks elfishly young playing the straight man to all of the crazy antics happening all around him. Dabney Coleman is simply great in everything he appear’s in... “How will I know which tooth the microfilm is in?” he is asked. “Oh yeah,” he ponders briefly. “Better yank em all out.” Lori, “Left foot... one... red... shoe.” Jim Belushi, Tommy, Charles Durning, Carrie Fisher, Edward Herrmann, Squiggy from “Laverne & Shirley.”
   Here’s something I didn’t know until I checked it out. Hanks’character in the film is a concert violinist. Lori Singer is an actual concert cellist, and made her debut as soloist at age thirteen with the Oregon Symphony.
   “The Man with One Red Shoe,” bombed at the box office, but so did “ Citizen Kane” when it debuted in 1941 (it didn’t make it’s production costs back at least).
   I said I tried to tape it, but was unable to. Midway during the broadcast, I played back part of the tape only to discover that it was not taping smoothly, but starting and stopping in a jerking fashion, making the sound  impossible to hear. I experimented with the VCR for a while and came to the conclusion that the combination of the cheap tapes I use and the cheap VCR I have, has doomed my recording efforts. I also realized much later that I probably could have kept recording and played it back on a different machine, and it might have worked just fine.
   So I was a tad disappointed. The next VCR I buy will not be purchased from around here.
   After the movie was over I read for a while before going to sleep. 
   I dreamt I was in a small mid-west town dancing to an upbeat Kenny Loggins’ song with Lori Singer, Kevin Bacon, John Lithgow, and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
   Like Christopher Walken, we were dancing fools.


30  September    Tuesday   Day 80


   I got up reasonably early and went to breakfast, French toast, then left for Trimar. 
   At the 99 Cent Store in Van Nuys I picked up 2 jars of instant coffee, 2 cans of meatballs in tomato sauce, Colby cheese, jalapeno peppers, mustard of course, ham and turkey luncheon meat, smoked sausages, butter, grated Parmesan cheese, and 3 Three Musketeers Bars.
   At Trimer, they were watching Jerry Springer again, so I continued reading from “Floating Dragon,” finishing it late that night. I don’t think I finished reading it the first time around as I had no memory of the convoluted ending at all. Peter Straub is a great writer, but I personally don’t care for the endings of many of his books... which is a significant problem. This one, “Ghost Story,” two books that are roughly similar (a group of people pulling together to battle with a supernatural enemy from the past. In “Floating Dragon,” the final confrontation between the four principle characters and the dragon takes place after everyone else is pretty much dead and done with. One would think that these folks would have mustered up the gumption to fight back a bit earlier than that, especially after one’s husband had been killed, one’s father, and another’s wife and unborn child. And don’t tell me they didn’t know who the dragon was, as in the end it didn’t take a whole lot to figure it out.
   And the final vanquishing was done with the help of some “magic sword” that popped out of nowhere when one’s thoughts were clear or you sang a song.
   Seriously?
   As in “Ghost Story,” after all of the deaths, destruction, and mayhem, the overzealous antagonist seemed pitifully weak and easy to dispatch.
   In Struab’s book “Mystery,” the ending was very satisfying, and I’m looking forward to reading “The Hellfire Club, which I got from the library, because... well who doesn’t like clubs. 
   The first finger prick sample was too fatty, and I had to drink some lemon juice and wait a half hour in order to try again. Popcorn. Butter on the French toast. Bucket O’ Lard. I’ve been eating too much fat. I weighed in at 188.
   The second test came back okay, and I was able to donate. My friend Aurica was off today, so I had no one to talk to except the mad Dutch woman, Mama Nell, who complained to me about having to adjust my needle.
   I just love having my needle adjusted.
   After finishing I purchased a Super Lotto ticket, then made my way back downtown.
   I had received my new bus pass card in the mail yesterday, so I bought October’s sticker from the MTA customer service office at Arco Plaza, before returning to the Weingart.
   Swedish meatballs for dinner. They looked like regular meatballs to me.
   I spent the evening writing and watching television, very different from other evenings. I’ve been taping Jackie Guerrido’s weather forecast on “Primer Impacto," at 5:30 each day. Knowing the weather is very important.
    I watched the second to last episode of “8 Simple Rules,” that John Ritter appeared in. The last will be aired next week.
   And I watched the season premier of “Good Morning Miami,” starring Constance Zimmer. The producers seem to have discarded Suzanne  Pleshette’s character, substituting her with Ttiffani Amber Thiessen. This is an outrage! I have nothing against Tiffani, but to push off the beautiful and talented veteran actress and comedian is not only insulting, it’s down right rude. I for one, will never watch this program again.
   After finishing “Floating Dragon,” I went to sleep and dreamt I was dancing in Miami, right on the street, with the lovely and talented Constance Zimmer, Madison Stone, star of “Harley Girls,” and “Evil Toons,” and who is also very lovely and talented, and Suzanne Pleshette, to the song “Footloose.” All joined in. Pretty soon everybody in Miami was dancing. 
   It was just wonderful.


1  October   Wednesday   Day 81


   “Zen is easy. It is only selfishness which is problematic and painful.” -Shen T’ Sing

   After exercise, meditation, and shower, I cleaned my lonely room, and made a nice breakfast, scrambled eggs,  jalapenos, and smoky cheddar and Swiss cheese. 
   It was wonderful too. 
   I used the day room’s computer to write a letter to Monzano. Hopefully I’ll be able to print it tomorrow at the One Stop.
   I met Oscar, an old acquaintance of mine from Harbor Light, at the 1:00 ASAP meeting. A nice black gentleman who at one time was a professional rock and roll harmonica player. We used to perform together at the karaoke meeting on Wednesday nights in the so-called church across the street from the Weingart, performing Led Zeppelin songs mostly (he’d play the harp and I’d sing. I’m a very good singer). Oscar is now putting a demo together to submit to a record company.
   He told me of another Harbor Light alumni, a guy named Boon, who had just gone through 37 thousand bucks on crack cocaine.
   I don’t no where he got that money, but he sure must have had a good time while it lasted.
   On second thought, he probably didn’t.
   I checked in at the SRHT office after the meeting, then checked my mail. While filling out my CA7 form at the post office, a young and pretty Hispanic girl bought some stamps from the stamp machine that they have there for the purpose of buying stamps, which happened to be right next to where I was standing. She must have paid with a $20 bill, as she seemed surprised upon receiving fifteen $1 coins as change.
   “Yeah,” I said to her. “That sucks doesn’t it?”
   “This is how you get change back,” she asked me.
   “Umm Huumm. I put’em in a piggy bank.” Which is true. I do put them in a piggy bank.
   “Well I guess I’ll do that too. I have a new baby...”
   “Oh, congratulations!” I said in an appropriately congratulatory manner.
   “Thank you.”
   “Take care now.” I left.
   This would be the highlight of my day. Some small, precious contact with a normal, responsible person, who mistook me for one as well.
   I wrote after returning to my lonely room. Dinner consisted of about a half can of chile mac, of which I augmented with a smoked sausage sandwich upstairs.
   At 7:00 I watched Charlie Rose while reading about closing criminal records in California, and ice flows on Mars. The foreign minister of Egypt was on tonight, so naturally Steve Martin, the actor and banjo player, was the second guest. 
   Well anytime you get these two together you know all hell is going to break loose (sort of like Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren), and tonight was not an exception.
   I watched “The West Wing,” again, and this week’s show was 100% better than last week’s, helped out by the appearance of two of my dream girls, Annabeth Gish (formerly of the “X-Files”), and the magnificent Mary Louise Parker.
   Then I watched a new show, the series premier actually (I knew this because the words “Series Premier” appeared at the bottom left hand corner of the television screen for an intolerably long time, as if ABC didn’t trust me to figure this out myself, or that it even mattered. And while we’re on the subject, what’s up with all of the network’s sneaky little intrusions on the movies and television shows I’m watching with these annoying advertisements at the bottom of our screens! It’s not enough that we have to put up with endless commercials? It makes me just want to scream! But I get overly excited. And yet, if this is what unrestricted capitalism has wrought, then I long for a turn to Marxism-Leninism... it’s come to that, I’m afraid), of “Karen Sisco.”  Produced by Danny DeVito, I only watched because I’m secretly in love with the series’ star, the beautiful and talented, Carla Gugino, who until now has been working in feature films. 
   I first became aware of Carla around August 29th of 1971, when I was about 15 years old and I sensed her presence in the world. I became aware of her work, and finally got to see her, in Brian De Palma’s 1998 thriller, “Snake Eyes,” which also starred that acting fool, Nicolas Cage. 
   Now I’m not one to drop names, oh heaven’s no, but I first learned of this show from it’s creator, Elmore (Elmore) Leonard himself, whose book, “Out of Sight,” the show is based on. I saw him being interviewed at the UCLA book fair, months and months ago. A movie was also made from that book, starring Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney (who I have a tremendous amount of respect for, due in part because of his attitude toward the roles he chooses, and his television production of “Fail Safe”), with Jennifer playing the Sisco character, that Carla has now taken over, and for my money, is better suited for. The premier show was basically a repeat of the film and book. Karen gets involved with a bank robber, the difference being at the end she doesn’t let him get away... she shoots him.
   That a way Carla!
   I read from Straub’s “The Hellfire Club,” before going to sleep and dreaming I was in a prise fight in Vegas with Carla Gugino as my opponent. 
   She was dressed inappropriately for the occasion, in a short white skirt and blouse, the same clothes she wore in “Snake Eyes,” frankly, donning a blonde wig and glasses.
   I’m afraid my concentration was a bit off. She beat the holy crap out me, then to add insult to injury, she shot me in the foot.
   I hurt real bad.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Women and Men (Or, What the Hell’s the Matter with Men?) Part 2: The Difference






















“Buddhists are taught to show the same tolerance, forbearance, and brotherly love to all men [and women], without distinction; and an unswerving kindness. towards the members of the animal kingdom.” -[Amended] First Proposition of Buddhist Belief

“Sometimes you have to show a little skin. This reminds boys of being naked, and then they think of sex.” -Cher Horowitz, From “Clueless” 1995


Picture Legend

1. Cameron Diaz at the Academy Awards
2. Beautiful and diverse ladies vs penguins
3. The ruminations of Cher Horowitz
4. Montana Wildhack
5. Diane Kruger as Helen of Troy
6. Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra
7. The Befuddling Giselle Blondet
8. Jenny
9. Pretty Ann Margret
10. Lovely Erin
11. Young Brooklyn Decker (without personal power)
12. Close up
13. Old Brooklyn Decker (with a great deal of personal power)
14. Jeremy Meeks
15. Beauty and the Beast
16, Steven Pinker
17. Stop
18. Customer Rep Amy
19. Amy Paffrath
20. Irin Carmon


   Have you ever watched what they call the Red Carpet arrivals at the Academy Awards? I have.
   Some television networks and news programs make a big deal out of the various actors and actress, and those who are connected with the films being nominated in any given year, like directors, producers, writers, sound and visual people, and everyone else who help to make the motion pictures possible.
   Some shows dedicate, and place great emphasis on, what the ladies are wearing, with little, or no attention made to the men. 
   Is that fair, and why is that important to so many?
   Beats me. I’m watching to see who and what films will win the awards, and wouldn’t be watching the Red Carpet arrivals at all if it were not for the fact that the only other programs that are offered at the time on my basic cable T.V. schedule are “Swamp People,” “Duck Dynasty,” “Pawn Stars,” and the 187th broadcast of “Ironman,” on FX.
   As to whether the extra scrutiny applied to women and their apparel is fair or not, well, obviously, no it’s not. Women are held to a different standard than men, who as you can see from the 2nd picture above, are dressed more or less the same, looking much like a waddle of penguins in Antarctica trying to keep warm.
   As I just stated women are held to a different standard than men, they are judged by the individual choices they make in what they decide to wear, not only at these award ceremonies, but everywhere else.    Why?
   It seems that a huge emphasis is placed upon a woman or girl’s appearance, much more so than men. Men aren’t off the hook by any means, they’re judged by society for other traits, but not their appearance, to a degree.
   “So okay, I don't want to be a traitor to my generation and all but I don't get how guys dress today. I mean, come on, it looks like they just fell out of bed and put on some baggy pants and take their greasy hair - ew - and cover it up with a backwards cap and like, we're expected to swoon? I don't think so.”  - Cher Horowitz. 
   So it goes with out saying that women and men are decidedly different, both physically and mentally, with different, but similar goals in life. Let’s examine.      
   On a personal note, I love women. That’s why I gave them top billing. I’m not placing them on a pedestal, because I’ve had some experience with them and know how difficult they can be at times...
   Liz: “...You need to get laid, Bethany Sloane. You need a man, if only for ten minutes."
   Bethany: “It's been my experience that the average male is never a man. Not even for ten minutes in his entire lifespan."
   Liz: “That's a bit militant. You thinking of joining the other side?"
   Bethany: “Couldn't do it. Women are insane.” -Conversation between Bethany Sloane and Liz, from “Dogma,” 1999
    ...but on average I don’t mind that.. What do I like about women? Good question. I admire the difference, their natural beauty... to other humans (I’ve heard at least one woman exclaim, “The female body is one of the most beautiful things in the universe,” a statement that is both presumptuous and absurd. I sincerely doubt that a duck billed platypus, or a pink fairy armadillo, satanic leaf-tailed gecko, or the inter-dimensional beings from the planet Tralfamadore where the flying saucers come from, hold that opinion (although the Tralfamadorians did like Valerie Perrine)), their physicality, their intelligence and common sense, their point of view, and most of all their companionship, and the way they make me feel when I’m with them. 
   Women and girls are considered the fair sex. What does that mean? Google was nice enough to give me the noun, archaic definition of the word (thank you Google), which is: A beautiful woman. What does beautiful mean? Google tells us: Adjective, Pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically. Wikipedia tells us: “Aesthetics (also spelled æsthetics and esthetics) is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of art, beauty, and taste, with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste.” On and on.
   Other definitions and synonyms for beauty include: 1. Noun, a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight. A combination of qualities that pleases the intellect or moral sense. Synonyms: attractiveness, prettiness, good looks, comeliness, allure, :  loveliness, charm, appeal, eye-appeal, heavenliness; winsomeness, grace, elegance, exquisiteness; splendor, magnificence, grandeur, impressiveness, decorativeness; gorgeousness, glamour; literary beauteousness, pulchritude. 2. A beautiful or pleasing thing or person, in particular. A beautiful woman. Synonyms: beautiful woman, belle, vision, Venus, goddess, beauty queen, picture,  informal babe, hottie, looker, good looker, beaut, siren, doll, arm candy, lovely, stunner, knockout, bombshell, dish, peach, eyeful, fox.
   Well, there doesn’t seem to be a lack of enthusiasm for defining this concept, or making the definitions themselves. 
   Women throughout history have been prized for this quality, of being beautiful (or pretty, cute, attractive... whatever). Helen of Troy, in Greek myths was considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world (I guess it doesn’t hurt to be the daughter of Zeus). "Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships, / And burnt the topless towers of Ilium." -From “Doctor Faustus” by Christopher Marlowe.
   But this title has often been given to other women throughout the years, Cleopatra, ("For she was a woman of surpassing beauty, and at that time, when she was in the prime of her youth, she was most striking; she also possessed a most charming voice and a knowledge of how to make herself agreeable to every one. Being brilliant to look upon and to listen to, with the power to subjugate every one, even a love-sated man already past his prime, she thought that it would be in keeping with her rôle to meet Caesar, and she reposed in her beauty all her claims to the throne. She asked therefore for admission to his presence, and on obtaining permission adorned and beautified herself so as to appear before him in the most majestic and at the same time pity-inspiring guise. When she had perfected her schemes she entered the city (for she had been living outside of it), and by night without Ptolemy's knowledge went into the palace." -Dio, Roman History (XLII.34.4-6)), Marie Antoinette, Soong Ching Ling, Mata Hari, Princess Diana, Elizabeth Taylor, Giselle Blondet, Jennifer Connelly, on and on. The designation really doesn’t mean very much as it’s completely subjective. Many will consider their mothers as the most beautiful woman in the world, and they would be right, as far as it goes.
   Still beauty, or allure, attractiveness or appearance is highly important in society’s value of females, and makes up a great deal of women’s, or girls sense of worth and self-esteem.
   And it’s not only society, or men, who value beauty as such, but woman as well rate each other on attractiveness. Once I showed a picture of the lovely actress Ann Margret, to my lovely ex-case manager, Erin, who looked at it and said,”Oh, she’s very pretty.”
   See! I’m not making this stuff up folks.
   And indeed beauty is a valuable commodity, especially in a capitalist society. 
   Business’s, like advertising agencies on Madison Avenue, often use woman’s attractiveness to enhance advertising campaigns, if not out right depictions of sexual situations, to sell things. Sex sells, they say.
   Most ladies in the media, or cable news, or in the movies, or T.V., are exceptionally attractive. For every Melissa McCarthy there are 50 actresses nearly as pretty as Jennifer Connelly (the two are the same age), and I have nothing at all against Melissa. She’s a very talented and lovely lady.     
   There’s even an entire profession whose only job requirement is that men and women look good (although quite often unnaturally so). It’s called being a model. Heidi Klum, Brooklyn Decker, Christie Brinkley, Tom Selleck, all made just oodles of money and got nice rich husbands just for looking good... except Tom... he got an avocado farm.
   And Heidi Klum, Brooklyn Decker, Christie Brinkley (forget about Tom for a moment) are actually no more beautiful or lovely than literally millions of women on this planet. I see women on the streets here in downtown Los Angeles who look as good as these ladies everyday. 
   There’s one right now! Hey lady!
   I guess these girls just had the right agents, or something, and were very lucky, and didn’t have Tyra Banks on their ass. 
   How do women aquire what we call beauty. Well either God just gave it to them, or natural selection dictated that women and men with the strongest physical characteristics, the most sexually attractive, or who possess the best survival attributes, breed more and leave more offspring, thus refining the female form into what we find today (throughout history actually). Females expecially, who are more sexually attractive are more successful at having more children to whom the mother passes down desired attributes, who pass those attributes to their own children, and on and on. That’s how evolution works (in part).
   Either way, it doesn’t matter to me.
   Speaking of Brooklyn Decker, who’ve I’ve found to be an amazing actress, has illustrated the often shallow importance of female appearance in a current add for the BMW3, which is some type of car, here.  
   In this commercial some yoyo dumps a high school aged Brooklyn, only to regret it much later after she becomes a world renown fashion model and beauty.  
   Not only does a female’s appearance affect her personally, as in her sense of self worth, but it correlates directly with that amount of personal power she wields.
   Men are valued more for their physical strength (why do men require physical strength? We’ve evolved from a hunter/gather society, in which physical agility was required to hunt. Strength was also necessary to fight other men over women, while women tended to fight each other over food and other resources), and their ability to aquire resources that enable them, among other things, to provide for their mates and offspring. Not so much their appearance... despite this Jeremy Meeks character (a convicted, violent felon. “Meeks’ experience is due to a type of cognitive bias known as “The Halo Effect.” This refers to the tendency to “view others holistically, that is, as all good or all bad.” In forming our overall opinion people are “highly influenced by first impressions” and when “we see a person first in a good light, it is difficult subsequently to darken that light.” This is why, for example, companies pay “beautiful actresses to promote products about which they have absolutely no expertise.” It is also why, once someone sees a mug shot of Meeks and concludes he’s attractive, it’s hard to also believe he’s guilty of a crime.” -Think Progress,  6-21-2014.), and Brad Pitt. The more resources a male can generate, or accumulate, the more attractive he is to the opposite sex, which in this case would be females. 
   “Money is the only true aphrodisiac.” -Richard Joyce
   Women on the other hand, are valued for their appearance and feminine demeanor, though female humans are perfectly capable of acquiring wealth, and the power that wealth brings. Society looks at wealthy and powerful women differently than men, who are still judged on their physical appearance, although wealthy women most likely will not be lacking in suitors or companionship, or mates.
   And wealth, as strange as it may seem, is hard to come by. About ten percent of Americans are considered wealthy, which means ninety are considered un-wealthy, or members of the middle class and poor. So unless you’re a member of the Walton  family, or Steve Jobs’ widow, getting into that ten percent club takes a lot of effort, if it’s possible at all. And why should women bother, they have their looks (and this is true throughout the world, in developed countries, and those that aren’t. A woman’s appearance and sexuality is highly prized and sought after by likely mates), and sexuality, as well as other prized qualities, (cooking, homemaking, intelligence, sense of humor, sense of wonder... whatever) which they can employ in order to secure a suitable mate who will hopefully provide all the resources she and her offspring will ever need (unfortunately, for a large percentage of women, once they do choose a mate, and have children, they become much too dependent on that mate, and lose most, if not all, of their personal power. I sympathize with their plight, and yes, it’s not fair).
   Take a look at picture number 15 above, which features the lovely Ellen Page and the not so lovely Seth Rogen. Most people would consider Ellen more aesthetically pleasing than Seth, I know I certainly would. Yet Seth, as a very successful actor, is probably as desirable a mate as Ellen is if she were broke. I would be after her myself, if she were broke, and despite the fact that she’s gay, if she were just a tad younger (Ellen’s just been named the female winner of this year's Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity, from PETA. Congratulations Ellen!).
   Younger women are highly prized more so than older women because youth represents a longer period of time any particular female will be able to bear children, a direct correlation with the purpose of life.
   A women or girl's hair, for example. The tendency is to wear it long, and there's a specific reason for that. It is an instant, general indicator of that individuals physical, and thereby reproductive health. The more beautiful the female's hair is, the more desirable that female is as a potential mate, and the more suitors she will have to choose from.
   Oh, by the way, what is the purpose of life?
   If I had a nickel for every time that question has been asked I’d have quite a few nickels.
   I can answer this question with some degree of certainty. At least in one particular sense.
   The purpose of life, biologically, is to reproduce.
   You see it happening all of the time and everywhere! People, dogs, cats, snails, fish, avocados,  trees, even the satanic leaf-tailed geckos, and many others, they’re all reproducing all over the place. There’s no stopping them! It’s as if they are compelled to do so.
   Now there may be other purposes of life that our self awareness and evolved intelligence may place upon us, or allow us to explore, but those, if they exist, are beyond the scope of this discussion.
   Generally speaking, and I’m sorry about this ladies, but I didn’t make this stuff up (if you want to blame somebody, blame God, or evolution, or Steven Pinker, cognitive scientist and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, and his 1997 book “How the Mind Works,” and for that matter the collective works of the late planetary scientist, Dr. Carl Sagan, from which much of this source material has been derived), but the older a woman gets the less attractive she seems to the opposite sex. Her physical appearance tends to deteriorate rapidly after menopause. Because of the way men are made they are able to sire children well into old age, and therefore retain their attractiveness, physically, more so than females. Women tend to disguise the fact that they are getting older these days with the use of cosmetics, and surgery, seeking the appearance of youth that they once retained.
   So again generally speaking, men have the upper hand in their golden years, reproductively speaking, and women have that advantage when they are young. Young girls, after experiencing the rigors of puberty, seek out older boys (older boys representing greater resources in the form of cars, money, the prestige of associating with older guys rather than boys of their own age ) because they are able to, leaving males of their same age in the dust... reproductively speaking. Older boys are attracted to younger women because they represent a longer child bearing span... this representation takes the form of extreme prettiness and sexual attractiveness.   
   Of course this discussion concerns large groups of humans, like in a sociology course, and not individuals, who vary to an infinite degree. 
   Now about feminine attractiveness.
      “I see the girls walk by, dressed in their summer clothes, I have to turn my head until my darkness goes” -Mick Jagger 
     We’ve previously discussed gender based street harassment in the post “It’s Expensive Being a Girl,” and other associated penalties placed upon women just because they're female here. Jon Stewart, of “The Daily Show,” presented a piece on the sexual harassment of women, which they claim is constant, and possibly a dangerous phenomenon ladies face everyday. Please watch, here. The artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. examines the problem through art and other venues on her web site “Stop Telling Women to Smile,” which she created because she experienced street harassment on a constant basis, and quite often the men doing the harassment requested that she smile... for them, not that she might feel better about something, but so that males could elicit some positive response from the women they were harassing. 
   I’ve discussed this difficulty with many women I know personally, and it seems to be fairly universal in it’s scope... something that all young, fairly attractive females face on a daily basis.
   Men, no doubt, believe this type of behavior to be innocent fun, and actually a compliment towards the women they are turning their attention upon. However, I imagine, as illustrated in my post, that if the tables were turned and they were harassed in this manner constantly they would feel the same way as do women. As a matter of fact I’m freaking sure of it.
   I can’t imagine enduring the scrutiny of anyone in this manner, facing catcalls, whistles, lurid comments, car horns honking, etc., and I don’t believe the men doing these things believe that anything, some actual physical connection to the “object” they are addressing, will manifest itself as a result of their behavior, and I’ve always marveled at the idiocy of those I’ve seen do it to women on the street. 
   A lot of these men must have mothers, sisters, and daughters, and would most likely object stridently if these women  were subjected to this type of abuse. So why do they do it?
   First of all, they’re idiots. One can’t overemphasis the idiocy factor regarding this.
   But the main reason they do it is because men have a visceral reaction to the physicality of women, which is hardwired into them, and which they act out upon. Women may have the same feelings toward some men, I know ladies who get all googily toward certain guys, like Jeremy Meeks, for instance, or the actors, Charlie Hunnam, and Tatum Channing. My niece named her son after Hunnam’s character on the television program, “Sons of Anarchy,” for God’s sake, a violent, murderous thug (and another example of “The Halo Effect.”), but usually express themselves in a different manner, such as on social media (but that may be do to other considerations, such as women’s generally smaller physical stature).
   I would like to take this opportunity, again, to apologize to all women for all men. I don’t see how you put up with us (as Dr Sagan, would put it, the only thing men bring to the table that women can’t provide for themselves,  is a “vital substance” needed for reproductive purposes) . I would’nt if I were you.
   Visceral reactions to the opposite sex are a good thing as a species. If men and women were indifferent to each other physically we wouldn’t be here. 
   I know it’s hard to believe but women count on, and sometimes take advantage of the reaction they can elicit in men to further their goals, and I can’t say as I blame them (the lovely adult actress Ginger Lynn, one of the few I’ve actually met, at one time said that as a teenage girl she could give guys erections just by looking at them a certain way. I doubt that this ability is unique to her). In a world where the power base is strictly held by men, women will use whatever personal power that is available to them to their advantage. 
   Women often dress in provocative manners specifically to elicit a direct response from men, and anyone else who happen to notice. The skimpier a women dresses, such as actresses, and other ladies in the media, the more “stunning,” she is deemed by said media. And don’t get me started on the bikini, my gosh, these days ladies might as well not be wearing anything at all. 
   A personal example, I have an actress friend, Amy Paffrath, lovely girl (see how I’m automatically impelled to use the designation “lovely?” It can’t be helped, and is perfectly appropriate at times... like now). You may have seen her on Amazon Kindle commercials, as Amy, the Amazon customer representative lady who is always so helpful. Why here’s one now. 
   Isn’t she lovely (see)?
   Amy appears on many other television  programs, and hosts a show herself, and will soon (July 18th) appear in the upcoming film, “The Purge: Anarchy.” 
   And she keeps sending me pictures on Facebook, which I wholeheartedly appreciate because I’m fond of her. She sent me the left side of picture 19 above (being fair and balanced, unlike Fox so-called News, Amy provided an opposite view (point?) in the picture on the right a little later on) which elicited this response from me, “Amy, when I die this picture is the last thing I’m going to think about.” Now that’s an old line that I just thought up last week, and which I fully intend to use again sometime. I may even have it copyrighted.
   Now I know Amy is happily married, yet she is still amazingly attractive, and obviously very fit (intense yoga), hence my response, which was playful in intent, and hopefully complimentary (and decidedly more original than many of the other comments she received). I assume she took it the way I intended it to be taken, and no harm was done... in fact, just the opposite. 
   Which goes to say that many women expect this type of reaction from men... when they solicit it. As a matter of fact they’d probably be hurt if they did not receive similar responses. 
   The problem arises when attention is not solicited. And it is a problem, as a female’s attractiveness is like a radio wave, it is transmitted in all directions, to others she wishes it directed to, and to others she does not. 
   What can a girl do? Wear frumpy clothes, not bath, don’t wear make up, mess up her hair? That’s what I’d do, but for the most part, those actions not only deflect the attention of men, but also diminishes her personal power over them. 
   I have another friend, a lovely girl (see?), a correspondent for MSNBC, Irin Carmon, who keeps sending me messages about when she's going to appear on air, and what she will be talking about (what can I say, women flock to me, especially when I “Like” them on Facebook). 
   Now some might say, myself included, that Irin’s very pretty as well. Some men even say that, and more, to her on her Facebook page. I do not. Irin is a very nice, and a serious, intelligent, and earnest  journalist, who’s views I happen to agree with a large percentage of the time, and is not on line for the amusement of men. It would not be appropriate for me to make personal comments related to her appearance, or for that matter.any personal detail. 
   So I don’t.
   What comment did I place on Irin’s Facebook page today in response to her letting me know she would be appearing on several MSNBC morning programs discussing the Supreme Court Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. case?
   “Corporations are not people, despite what the person above, Romney, and the Supreme Court attempt to impose upon us, and should not be accorded the same rights as flesh and blood human beings. The founding fathers, and those who took part in our Revolutionary War (and here I’m attempting to decipher original intent) did not fight and die so profit generating legal entities, or that the owners of such entities could impose their religious beliefs on others, whether those being imposed upon are employees of said entities, or not. If the owners of Hobby Lobby want to restrict access to birth control to their own families, have at it, but as far as forcing their views on their employees, I do not believe they have that right, and we shall see on Monday, whether the Supreme Court believes this as well, or we move one more step in making this country a dystopian nightmare. “
   I believe this was appropriate, and didn’t need to mention how pretty she is even once. 
   But women have to put up with that crap all of the time, much more so than men.
   It isn’t very hard for women to get the attention of men. Check out this classic scene from Monty Python, here
   My lovely ex-case manager, Erin, said this while watching it, “Men are so easy.” Which is very true. Men are decidedly less discerning in the acquisition of sexual partners than women. I replied to Erin with this statement, “It’s because men invest much less in the reproductive process,”  which is also true, and is where our conversation ended as Erin didn't wish to continue talking about reproduction with her client.
   Men on average, and here I’m relying on personal experience, invest about three hours on a good night, toward the reproductive process in a sexual encounter, some guys don’t last as long... I don’t know why.
   Women, on the other hand, and especially before the invention of effective contraceptive methods, run the risk of pregnancy after any given encounter. When a female becomes pregnant, the least amount of time she will invest is approximately nine months (unless she aborts, which throughout history was not always an option). If  she decides to rear the child herself, hopefully with the cooperation of the father, her time investment increases to six or seven years, as human infants are notoriously helpless after being born. 
   So women are hard wired to be more discerning toward engaging in sex, while the opposite is true for men. Reproductively speaking, men hope to leave as many offspring as possible, with as many different mates as possible. The Mongol warlord Genghis Khan, is said to have fathered thousands of children (after analyzing tissue samples in populations bordering Mongolia, scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences believe the brutal ruler has 16 million male descendants living today...). The ideal reproductive situation for a man would be to father a child and have another man raise it as his own, leaving the father to move on to impregnate other women, hopefully with a similar outcome. So much for true love.
   Women, in looking for prospective mates, look more for a man who will provide long term care for her and their child, for a man who will invest the same amount of time that she will, in the raising of that child. And thus the invention of marriage evolved. What does a man get out of marriage? The promise of sexual exclusivity. A woman? A nest, if you will, a partner in the rasing of offspring, allowing them both to pass down their genes  to future generations, the most viable path to immortality one can achieve in one’s lifetime (except of course, if you’re a writer).
   This also explains society’s taboos regarding female promiscuous behavior. With the invention of effective contraception, women should be as free to express themselves sexually as much as men. Unfortunately medical science has evolved faster than society’s norms. 
   In America, and most industrial countries, females choose their mates. It’s not so in the rest of the world. Arranged marriages, child brides, and slavery are often the norm. 
   Why, and why are the indignities and the crimes against women that are discussed in the first part of this post committed?
   Well there’s a few reasons. Some for political gain, such as Republicans pandering to their respective bases, and the religious right. Some Republicans may even believe the dribble that they spue, but that is because they are sick and deluded. The harm that they perpetrate toward millions of women in this country is incalculable. How do we end it? Vote the assholes out of office! Get active. Stop watching “Dancing with the Stars,” and become involved with the things that matter to you the most, the things that affect your life the most. 
   Take charge, in some way, no matter how hard it may seem, no matter how large an obstacle may appear.
   As radio host Thom Hartmann quite often says, “Despair is not an option.”
   As far as I’m concerned all women should be independently wealthy and provided with birth control so that they may escape the  tyranny of men. 
   How about the senseless crimes committed towards women, the rape and murder, and the attitudes some in authority retain toward female victims?
   Well obviously rape and murder (and masturbating to women in public, for that matter, which I’ve discovered is more prevalent than I thought was possible) are against the law, here in this country and abroad, and should be prosecuted to the fullest authority of society’s laws, the more vigorously so, the more some potential perpetrators will think twice before committing these heinous acts.
   I believe that in certain countries, such as those in the Middle East lets say, men fear a woman’s sexuality and the power it gives them over men, so they deny that it exists, and try to control it, much to the sorrow of the women in those countries.  
   And men are instinctively bullies, and because they have greater upper body strength they have traditionally used that strength to subjugate women (women’s upper bodies are more often used  for two purposes other than fighting or subjugating, namely feeding babies, and befuddling the minds of men), and other men. Smaller men are bullied by larger men, which is the one and only good reason I can see for the invention of the gun, which tends to equalize matters in a close situation.
   And as we’ve discussed in my post “Psycho,” I’ve estimated that 1 in 6 people on this planet is afflicted with sociopathic tendencies. That’s well over a billion psychpaths roaming around free. Most of them are not violent, but many are (it is extremely unfortunate that Jyoti Singh and her friend got on a bus where all six passengers were psychopaths)
   So ladies... take care. Until we evolve into a “Star Trek” utopian society where everyone is truly equal and has the same opportunities in life, and life itself is held in much greater regard than it is today, we need to remain extremely vigilant, and continue our efforts to educate those who don’t know it, even our wonderful Buddhist friends, that women are not a commodity to be used and misused, and not an object, but the world’s beautiful, wise, and powerful natural companions, who should be able to cherish the experience of life, and it’s all to brief uniqueness in the universe, as freely as is possible.

Addendum: 6-30-14: The War on Men.
Addendum: 6-30-14: 5 Conservative Justices in the Supreme Court continue the War on Women.
Addebdum: 6-30-14: No Wonder There's a Problem.
Addendum: 7-1-14: How Did the FBI Miss 1 Million Rapes.
Addendum: 7-1-14: Fox News Idiocy.
Addendum: 7-1-14: Idiot's Idiocy.
Addendum: 7-1-14: Women's Rights, from Our Friend Irin.
Addendum: 7-1-14: More Idiocy from the International Conference on Men's Issues.
Addendum: 7-2-14: George Will's Idiocy.
Addendum: 7-20-14: Harassed Scientists.
Addendum: 7-21-14: Outrage in India.
Addendum: 7-23-14: Judge Suspended.
Addendum: 8-27-14: More Stuff from India.
Addendum: 9-1-14: English Terror.
Addendum: 10-28-14: Cat calls.
Addendum: 3-18-15: 3 girls in Delhi

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Women and Men (Or, What the Hell’s the Matter With Men?) Part 1: A Small Sample of Problems













“Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed.” -Albert Einstein

“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." I really hate this expression. I bet fish would totally want bicycles.” -Meg Cabot

“Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.” - Charlotte Whitton

“When men see an attractive woman, they fantasize about sex. When women see an attractive man they fantasize about a relationship.” -Alexandra Potter

“Unfortunately, he still hadn’t asked for my number, or a date, or my hand in marriage, and my drink was getting low.” -Kimberly Novosel

“To come across as younger than they are: Women buy creams that promise to slow aging; men buy fast cars.” -Mokokoma Mokhonoana

“He - and if there is a God, I am convinced he is a he, because no woman could or would ever fuck things up this badly.” -George Carlin

“Sadly, in any industry and in any work-related environment, females always strive to achieve a certain amount of perfection, whether that be skinny or pretty. It's a constant, in our society.” -Mila Kunis

“Life is not fair... yet being alive is a hell of a lot better than being dead, because being dead is worse than being unfair... it’s really, really boring.” -Richard Joyce

“A woman brings so much more to the world than birth, for she can birth discovery, intelligence, invention, art, just as well as any man.” -Shannon Celebi



   And often better.

    Freshman Veronika Weiss, 19, was into sports and great at math.  Katie Cooper, 22, was about to graduate with a degree in art history.
   “They were both two very incredible, beautiful people. And that’s how I want them remembered,” Bianca de Kock said.
   Ms de Kock is using the past tense to describe her two sorority sisters because she was the only one who survived a drive by encounter with 22 year old Elliot Rodger last May 23, in Isla Vista, California, after being shot 5 times herself.
   A few minutes later the girls attacker would be dead by a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head, after being pursued and shot in the hip by police, but not before he had killed 4 others, 20 year old Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, 20 year old Weihan "David" Wang, 19 year old George Chen, and 20 year old Cheng Yuan "James" Hong. All the victims were students at the nearby University of California, Santa Barbara. 
   Rodgers managed to injure 13 others before killing himself. 
   The motive for this insane act of unmitigated violence? 
   Apparently he couldn’t get laid. 

   Last year, 19 year old Corey Batey, 20 year old Brandon Vandenburg, 19 year old Brandon Banks and 19 year old Jaborian McKenzie were kicked off the Vanderbilt University football team, in Nashville, Tennessee, after they were arrested on five counts of rape, and two counts of sexual battery, allegedly committed upon an unconscious 21 year old female student.
   Vandenburg’s lawyers have filed a 128 page motion for dismissal with the court, because  the alleged victim was “a promiscuous and heavy drinker who had a history of dating football players, even working with [Coach James Franklin] to recruit football players.”  
     Which of course gave the four men license to rape her after she had passed out. 

   Last Monday a judge in Billings, Montana, G. Todd Baugh, sentenced Brandon Daniel Turell to 10 years in custody of the State Department of Corrections, with five years suspended, and ordered him to pay about $13,600 in restitution, for using a stolen BB gun to shoot out the windows of approximately 100 vehicles and at least one house on Dec. 11 and 12 of 2012.
   The same judge, with 30 years on the bench, sentenced former teacher, 47 year old Stacy Rambold, to one month in jail last August, for repeatedly raping a 14 year old student, Cherice Moralez, in 2007, arguing that the girl shared responsibility for her rape because she appeared “older than her chronological age” and “as much in control of the situation” as her teacher. The judge technically sentenced the former Billings high school teacher to 15 years in prison with all but 31 days suspended and gave him credit for one day served.
   Cherice would committ suicide with a gun on February 6th, 2010, two and a half weeks before her 17th birthday. It is believed that constant ostracism and bullying by her classmates after the rape charges were made helped to lead her to the decision to end her life.
   "When a big rain would come, she'd always get out and dance in the rain," the teen's mother, Auliea Hanlon, said. "She taught me how to dance in the rain."
   On April 30th, the Montana Supreme Court  ruled that Baugh used an inapplicable statute to impose the 31-day sentence. When read properly, Montana law mandates a minimum four-year prison sentence -- with a suspension of no more than two years -- for the rape of children under 16 by someone at least three years older.
   The court ruled that Rambold's original sentence was inadequate and outside legislative guidelines, which it said should have ensured he spend at least two years behind bars.
   Two years.
   On June 4th, the same court  ordered the suspension and public censure for District Judge Baugh.
   In a six-page ruling, the court said Baugh’s actions warranted suspension without pay for 31 days. Noting Baugh's term expires at the end of the year and that he did not seek re-election, the court said the suspension would begin on Dec. 1st.
   The court also set July 1st as the date for a public censure.
   "There is no place in the Montana judiciary for perpetuating the stereotype that women and girls are responsible for sexual crimes committed against them," the court said.

   Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) talked about the wage disparity between men and women with the Huffington Post last Monday, saying it costs an average woman nearly half a million dollars over her career.
   "We still have women that earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns doing the same work," she explained. "Over the average woman's lifetime, working life, she loses $430,000 in income based on that disparity."
   When you compare women and men with the same education and experience levels working the same jobs, the disparity shrinks, but there is still an unexplained gap of 7 to 9 percent, economists estimate, suggesting persistent pay discrimination against women.
   Why?
   "The problem is that too many women don't have the ability to know what their coworkers, who are doing the same work, earn, and their coworkers can be penalized by their employers for sharing that information," the Congresswomen said. "The Paycheck Fairness Act would take away that penalty and allow for the exchange of salary information and also make sure that there is another measure of accountability so that we can actually enforce the Equal Pay Act."
   Last April, Senate Republicans blocked a vote to open debate on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would prohibit retaliation against employees who share their salary information with each other, which supporters say would eliminate the culture of silence that keeps women in the dark about pay discrimination. Additionally it would require the Department of Labor to collect wage data from employers, broken down by race and gender, and require employers to show that wage differentials between men and women in the same jobs are for a reason other than sex. The Senate voted 53 to 44 to move forward on the bill, falling short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. 
   Most Republicans in Congress have objected to all Democratic proposals related to women's economic security. Senate Republicans have blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act twice before, claiming that it will only result in more lawsuits against employers. 
   It seems unlikely that employers would be sued if they voluntarily followed the dictates of the Paycheck Fairness Act, or if they simply paid women the same as men for the same work.
   Republican lawmakers also consider the Act "condescending" to women. "Many ladies I know feel like they are being used as pawns, and find it condescending [that] Democrats are trying to use this issue as a political distraction from the failures of their economic policy," Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), the GOP conference's vice chair, said at the time.
   As a member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Jenkins’ salary is commensurate with her male colleagues. I wonder if the “many” ladies she knows fair as well.
   "This is not just an issue of fairness," President Barack Obama said. "It’s also a family issue and an economic issue, because women make up about half of our workforce and they’re increasingly the breadwinners for a whole lot of families out there. So when they make less money, it means less money for gas, less money for groceries, less money for child care, less money for college tuition, less money is going into retirement savings."

   Women spend nearly an hour more per day on household chores than men. That’s approximately two weeks a year. 

   “And now, now we are going to have a fight over women’s health, Give me a break. This is the latest plank in the so-called war on women. Entirely created, entirely created by my colleagues across the aisle for political gain.” -Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Speaker of the House of Representatives
   “The Republican War on Women” is an expression used in United States politics, nationally and in the states, that characterizes certain Republican policies as a wide-scale assault on women's rights, especially their reproductive and health rights.  Prominent Democrats such as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), as well as feminists, have used the phrase to criticize proponents of these laws as trying to force their social views on women through legislation.
   In 2011, state legislatures across the country introduced over 1100 bills related to women's health and reproductive rights, with an additional 944 provisions, half of which would restrict access to abortion, in the first quarter of 2012, This legislation has focused on mandatory ultrasounds, shortening the time when abortions may be performed, and limiting insurance coverage for abortion. 
   In 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States, in a landmark decision, ruled 7–2  that a right to privacy under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman's decision to have an abortion, but that this right must be balanced against the state's two legitimate interests in regulating abortions: protecting prenatal life and protecting women's health. Arguing that these state interests became stronger over the course of a pregnancy, the Court resolved this balancing test by tying state regulation of abortion to the third trimester of pregnancy. This decision is commonly referred to as Roe v. Wade, and is the law of the land. Republicans have attempted to undermine it since it was made.
   The Life at Conception Act, is a bill to allow 14th Amendment (an Amendment to the Constitution which addresses citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws, and was proposed in response to issues related to former slaves following the American Civil War) 
equal protection rights to extend to each "preborn" human person. The bill was introduced by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) on January 29, 2009 and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill did not advance to a vote, but similar bills, such as  the Sanctity of Life Act and the We the People Act, which would negate the Roe v Wade decision, keep be introduced by Republicans. 
   All of these bills and acts and sometimes laws (many of which have been deemed unconstitutional by federal courts), that affect the health and wellbeing of all women, seem to be a sop to elected Republican’s base voters, and are intended to get said politicians reelected, rather than to improve the health and welfare of a large percentage of their constituency, similar to the actions of many state legislatures that are controlled by Republicans, that have denied access to health care for the poor in their states through the implementation of Medicaid expansion, even though that implementation would initially cost the state nothing. The Republican war on women extends to the poor, the elderly, children, minorities, stray dogs and cats, and anybody else who doesn’t vote for Republicans. 
   For Rep. Boehner: Denial, in ordinary English usage, is asserting that a statement or allegation is not true. Simple denial: deny the reality of the unpleasant fact altogether. Minimisation: admit the fact but deny its seriousness (a combination of denial and rationalization). And projection: admit both the fact and seriousness but deny responsibility by blaming somebody or something else.
   
   On 16 December 2012 in Munirka, a neighborhood in South Delhi, India,  a 23-year-old female physiotherapy intern, Jyoti Singh (her name was not initially  released, as per Indian law, and for months she was only known and referred to with a pseudonym. With the permission of her family it was eventually announced), and a male friend, Uttar Pradesh, were returning home after watching the film, “Life of Pi,” and were lured onto a private bus with the promise that it was going by their destination. Six men were already on the bus, including the driver and one seventeen and a half year old minor, the one who had made the promise. When the bus deviated from it’s normal route, Uttar protested and was beaten, gagged, and knocked unconscious with an iron rod.
   Jyoti was dragged to the rear of the bus where the men beat her with the rod and gang raped her while the bus driver continued to drive.
    She attempted to fight off her assailants, biting three of the attackers,  leaving bite marks on them. After the beatings and rape ended, the attackers threw both victims from the moving bus. The driver tried to drive the bus over the woman, but she was pulled aside by Uttar.
   About an hour later the two were found on the road by a passerby who contacted the New Delhi Police, who transported them to Safdarjang Hospital, where Jyoti was given emergency treatment and placed on mechanical ventilation.  According to reports, one of the accused men admitted to having seen a rope-like object, assumed to be her intestines, being pulled out of her by the other assailants on the bus. Two blood-stained metal rods were retrieved from the bus and medical staff confirmed that "it was penetration by this that caused massive damage to her genitals, uterus and intestines"
   Uttar Pradesh suffered broken limbs but survived.
   Jyoti was less fortunate.
   She underwent multiple surgeries, removing most of her intestines. By the 25th,  she remained intubated, and on life support. Doctors reported that she was running a fever of 102 to 103 °F  and internal bleeding due to sepsis (a blood infection that can lead to organ failure), was somewhat controlled. It was reported that she was "stable, conscious and meaningfully communicative".
   The incident gained national, international attention, and outrage. Public protests took place in New Delhi December 21st,  at India Gate and Raisina Hill, the latter being the location of both the Parliament of India and the official residence of the President.  Thousands of protesters clashed with police and battled riot squad units.  Demonstrators were baton charged, shot with water cannons, and tear gas shells, mass arrests being made. Similar protests occurred throughout the country.
   What were they protesting? A national sense of permissiveness toward the type of behavior by men toward women that encouraged Jyoti’s rape and beating. 
   Police found and arrested some of the suspects within 24 hours of the crime. Eventually six men were arrested in connection with the attack. They were Ram Singh, the bus driver, and his brother, Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, an assistant gym instructor, and Pawan Gupta, a fruit seller, were both arrested in New Delhi, Akshay Thakur, who had come to New Delhi looking for work, and the minor, Akshay Thakur.
   At a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 26 December, a controversial decision was made to fly Jyoti to Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore for further care. 
   During the six-hour flight by air-ambulance to Singapore the next day she suddenly went into a "near collapse," which a later report described as a cardiac arrest. The doctors on the flight created an arterial line to stabilize her, but she had been without pulse and blood pressure for nearly three minutes and never regained consciousness.
   On the 28th, at 11 am (IST), her condition was extremely critical. The chief executive officer of the Mount Elizabeth Hospital said that Jyoti suffered brain damage, pneumonia, and abdominal infection, and that she was "fighting for her life." Her condition continued to worsen, and she died at 4:45 am on the 29th,  Singapore Standard Time. Her body was returned to New Delhi and  cremated on December 30th. 
   On the 11th of March, 2013, Ram Singh, the driver of the bus, was discovered hanging from a ventilator shaft in his cell at about 5:45 in the morning.  Authorities said it was unclear whether it was a suicide or a murder.
   On September 10th, the four remaining adult defendants were found guilty of rape, murder, unnatural offenses and destruction of evidence. Three days later they were sentenced to death by hanging, a verdict and sentence that was reaffirmed on March 13th of this year by the High Court of Delhi. The Supreme Court of India stayed the executions of the condemned, who are currently appealing their sentences.
   The seventeen and a half year old minor, said to be the most brutal of the attackers, was tried as a juvenal, and sentenced to 3 years  in a reform facility, the maximum sentence allowed under Indian law. 

   In the impoverished Layyah area of Punjab province in Pakistan, 20 year old Muzammil Bibi was attacked by three men in a field, probably last Friday. She resisted the attack, and the men raped and strangled her.
   Senior police officer Sadaqat Ali Chohan said: "This is the first time in my 22 years of service in the police that I have seen such a case, where a girl was raped in this way and found hanging from a tree. 
   We have heard of such cases in India but never in Pakistan. The girl's clothes were torn. We took her down and moved her to hospital. Her body had signs of resistance. We have arrested three individuals who have confessed to the crime."
   Two teenage cousins were found hanging from a tree after being raped in the north of India in May.

    On the night of 14–15 of April of this year, approximately 276 female students were kidnaped from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. The kidnapings were claimed by Boko Haram, an Islamic Jihadist and terrorist organization based in northeast Nigeria.
   Boko Haram is opposed to the Westernization of Nigeria, which they maintain is the root cause of criminal behavior in the country, which apparently prompts and legitimizes their own criminal behavior. Thousands of people have been killed in attacks perpetrated by the group. 
   Boko Haram’s ideology stipulates that girls should be educated in the Islamic tradition only, which is to say they should not be educated at all. Girls found in government schools are kidnaped, and used  as cooks or sex slaves, which seems to not interfere with Boko Harum’s religious sensibilities.

   More than 370 girls and women have been violently murdered since 1993 in the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, a border town across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. 
   The murders have received international attention. The 2006 film “Bordertown,” starring Jennifer Lopez and Antonio Banderas, is loosely based on these violent and mysterious acts.
   International outrage over the murders is primarily due to perceived government inaction in preventing violence against women and girls in general, and bringing those who murdered them to justice.

   According to the Hope Alliance, 1 in 3 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. 1 in 5 high school girls report being physically assaulted and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. In the United States a woman is beaten every 9 seconds. Each year, intimate partner violence results in an estimated 1,200 deaths and 2 million injuries among women and nearly 600,000 injuries among men. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 through 44  in the United States, more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined. Almost one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner. Witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next. Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children as adults. 50% of girls who grow up in an abusive home will go on to be victims of abuse themselves. Domestic violence is the leading predictor of child abuse: 30% to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the household. Family violence costs the nation from $5 to $10 billion annually in medical expenses, police and court costs, shelters and foster care, sick leave, absenteeism and non-productivity. Every year domestic violence results in almost 100,000 days of hospitalization, almost 30,000 emergency room visits, and almost 40,000 visits to a physician according to WomanKind Inc.

   Unfortunately, I could go on and on documenting injustices committed mainly against women, who are men’s partners in life, whose goals are more or less the same, and who quite often, throughout the world, are treated as chattel, rather than the wonderful human beings that they are.
   Why is this?

To be continued.