Showing posts with label Eve Fisher. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eve Fisher. Show all posts

12 September 2019

Pentecost - Burning Up Every Wrong

by Eve Fisher

A month ago, I read Miriam Towes' Women Talking, a novel about the unbelievable but horrifically true story of a group of Mennonite men in the Manitoba Colony of Bolivia who "went around spraying an animal anesthetic into neighboring houses at night, rendering everyone unconscious, and raping all the women (infant, elderly and relatives included)".  At first the men in the colony denied that it happened.  Then they accused the women of everything from adultery to demonic possession.  But then some were caught.  Not that things got better for the women:  after arrests and confessions were made, psychological support was offered to the rape survivors by Mennonite missionaries, but the Bishop of Manitoba rejected it. He said, "Why would they need counselling if they weren't even awake when it happened?"  And the victims were and are being pressured to forgive the rapists, under threat of losing their eternal salvation if they don't.  (Manitoba case

Once again, proof that 99% of sex crimes are NOT about sexual desire, sexual desirability, or even lust.  They're about power.

In an authoritarian world, the real definition of power - unprettied, unsoftened - is the ability to do whatever you want and get away with it.  And one of the absolute proofs of power, to sociopaths, psychopaths, and pack mobs, is the ability to do anything you want to someone subordinate/inferior to you and get away with it.  Especially sexual dominance.  And if someone actually decides to rebel against the pecking order and resist and report?

DENIAL:
It never happened!  It wasn't like that!  It was consensual!  Demons must have done this!  S/he's lying!  What did s/he do to lure him on?
DEFLECTION:
Roy Cohn.jpg
Roy Cohn
Roger Stone on Roy Cohn:  "Roy was not gay. He was a man who liked having sex with men."  (Source)
DEFENSE!  DEFENSE!
Alan Dershowitz:  A john “who occasionally seeks to taste the forbidden fruit of sex for hire...  Prostitutes know what they’re doing—they should be prosecuted. But you shouldn’t ruin the john’s life over that."  (New Yorker
And as for rape, well - A young boy's life shouldn't be ruined over "20 minutes of action." (Brock Turner)
DISTRACTION:
Look!  Squirrel!  Someone else is worse!  They did that!  What was she wearing?  What was she drinking?  Why did she go there?  Why didn't they report it sooner?  What are they trying to get out of it by reporting it now?
DISTRACTION AND DENIAL:
Of course it never happened, s/he's not my type!  Who'd want to **** her [him]?
And we're back to the age-old "excuse" that sexual assault is based on the desirability of the victim, rather than an exercise of power.  But the truth is, rapists rape and abusers abuse the same way pigeons poop and bank robbers rob - that's what they do.  There's almost nothing you can do except lock yourself up in your house and wear body armor, and even then - well, read something about the Boston Strangler.  No, I'll take that back:  what you can do is avoid sociopaths, psychopaths, cult leaders, war zones, riots, authoritarians, and pack mobs.

The trouble is, that's hard to do.  Always has been.

My story in Liz Zelvin's Me Too Short Stories:  An Anthology is "Pentecost".  It's 1990, and Darla Koenig is the first female pastor in Laskin, South Dakota.  Not everyone is welcoming.  Nothing personal, just general principles, you know?  Not sure that women should be preaching from the pulpit.  Things might have to change.  Everything's fine the way it is.  Darla should be grateful that she's even allowed in.  And no one wants to deal with an old predator, even if he is still predatory.  So Darla has to, even though she knows that doing it herself could be one of the most dangerous things that she will ever do, for herself, her career, and the young girls of Laskin. 

A lot went into "Pentecost."  The Hutterite colonies throughout the Midwest.  They are hardworking religious communes that are also deeply, profoundly, completely patriarchal and capitalist.   They're also hard-drinking.  Sometimes things happen.  Sometimes someone talks about them.

WaPo
The sexual abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Church, and other Evangelical churches. Again, patriarchal societies in which women are not allowed any leadership or pastoral roles, and are expected to "graciously submit to the leadership of her husband".  In which the perpetrators were protected, hidden, and - if everything came tumbling out - were quickly, publicly forgiven, while victims were silenced, ignored, told they had to forgive and forget to maintain their salvation, sometimes even made to confess their "guilt" in rape and abuse.  (Evangelical Church Sexual Abuse; SBC Church Sexual Abuse)

The new church group in the South Dakota small town that - in 2015!!!! - wanted to use the community room in the apartment building Allan & I lived in, and assured the owner of said building that "In our church, women know their place."  (They didn't get the room.)

An incident from my childhood.  Another, on-going incident from those days, when every child in my Southern California neighborhood knew that the guy on the corner was molesting his foster children.  But it was the 1960s, and we didn't dare say anything, because we knew that, as children, to even know what sexual molestation was meant that somehow we'd lost our innocence - and that meant something was wrong with us.  How could we know that without being corrupted?  And we would end up punished.

Darla runs headlong into this issue.  When she makes a couple of suggestions to at least rein in the predator she's told, "The town might be embarrassed."  When she suggests that the victims band together to pull him down, the janitor, Portia Davison, tells her:
"I don't know many women in this town who'd be willing to admit that something like that happened to them.  And we don't have any proof.  He's a lawyer.  His dad was mayor.  He hangs out with Judge Dunn and everyone on the City Commission.  To them, Davisons like me are trailer trash, and you're not from around here, not any more.  Nobody's going to listen.  And people might get hurt.  Especially the girls."
Portia was right.  To speak up would mean that every ballet student for the last 20 years, but especially the ones right now, would be pointed out, whispered about, objects of pity but also of suspicion, sullied...  To speak up and be doubted would ruin Darla's image, if not her reputation.  Darla would be called a troublemaker and a feminazi and every other misygynistic slur, and it would be another ten years at least before there would be another woman pastor in Laskin. 
And it wouldn't even matter whether they were believed or not.  Even if they were, Darla would be hated for opening the can of worms, and the girls would still be held somehow at fault.
It wasn't fair, it wasn't fair, it wasn't fair.
Don't worry.  Darla finds a way through the dilemma.  A very effective way. 

Check out how she pulls it off - and many other wonderfully satisfying stories - in Me Too Short Stories:  An Anthology, available on Amazon.com HERE,, at Barnes & Noble HERE.

And for those of you in NYC, there will be a launch party at the Mysterious Bookshop in the Big Apple on Tuesday September 24!

Me Too Short Stories: An Anthology by [Zelvin, Elizabeth]

29 August 2019

Time Management & Other Myths

by Eve Fisher

I have, as so many others throughout history, considered the problem of the inelasticity of time on my terms.  Time seems to gallop only when I want it to slow down so I can enjoy the moment more.  On the other hand, when I want time to pick up its trailing skirts and race out the door - largely because the current situation sucks - it sits right down and prepares to do nothing, apparently, forever, with me.

This is also the main problem with the whole mindfulness movement.  You know.  Always stay present in the moment.  Savor everything, because now is all we have.  Even if your emotions are rioting like a sack of baboons, do the mantra, calm down, and enjoy the moment:

"Breathing in, I calm myself; 
Breathing out, I smile."  (Thich Nhat Hahn)

(1) This works very well when I'm already happy on a sunny day, preferably outdoors.  It's not nearly as much fun at 4 AM and I'm lying awake, listening to either the baboons chatter or the humming of the universe.
(2) There are some things it's hard to want to be in the moment with, like pain, grief, bad trouble, etc.  All of which take up 99% of your thoughts and slow time down to the pace of a snail on a molasses highway.

Back when I was getting ready for my hernia operation, I blocked off 2 weeks for recovery.  And I had such plans as to what to do with the time!  I was going to read, write, revise, sit out on the porch, loll, and generally make wonderful use of some unexpected free time.

HAH!  

The realistic time schedule for surgery:

  • Week before surgery:  Prepare.  Do laundry, grocery shopping, errands, extra blog posts, etc.  In other words, do anything you'd do to prep for vacation, only this time there won't be any fun at the end. 
  • Morning of surgery:  Experience ever-increasing apprehension as a variety of people in scrubs poke, prod, and stick you with needles.  There's also the little discussions with them as they do these things - have you every experienced any problems with having a long hose stuck down your throat and left there for an hour or two?  (I'm having problems just hearing about it right now.)  Personally, I think this is their way of getting you so fed up that you are actually relieved when they start wheeling you into the operating room, because you know you'll finally get knocked out and you don't have to hear all the grotty details.
  • Day of surgery:  I Am A Zombie.  
  • Day after surgery:  I Am A Zombie, but things hurt more.  
  • Week after surgery:  I am going to be able to stand up straight again, aren't I?  Without it feeling like I might spill something, like my guts?  Will this glue really hold until everything heals?  Oh, and why does eating wear me out?  What happened to my energy?  I'm going to take another nap now.  What happened to my back and my neck?  Why am I having more pain there than at my incision?  Hal, would you open the pod-bay doors now?   
  • (Visit to chiropractor to get adjustment, along with the information that, once the anesthesiologist knocks you out, they not only put the tube down your throat but they move you around to make their access to your body easier, irrespective of whether your back/neck naturally move like that.) 
  • NOTE:  At no point, from the day of surgery until about the end of the 2nd week, did I truly want to practice mindfulness for more than 5 minutes.  All I wanted was to escape.
  • 2nd week after surgery:  Recovery, recovery, recovery.  Reading, eating, sleeping, walking.  Laundry recurs.  So do groceries.  Do blog post.  
  • 3rd week after surgery:  I finally reopen a story and start working on it.  

Now, here's the remarkable thing.  The schedule for vacation is remarkably similar:
  • Week before vacation:  Prepare.  Do laundry, grocery shopping, errands, extra blog posts, etc.  
  • Day leaving for vacation:  Experience ever-increasing apprehension as you crowd into the economy section of a plane with a variety of people and only wish you had some sort of sedative to get you through this oxygen-free trip.  Mindfulness is not helpful.
  • First night of vacation:  I Am A Zombie.  
  • First week of vacation:  Hugely enjoyable, overwhelming, walking, reading, eating, drinking, sightseeing, sleeping, sometimes all at once.
  • Second week of vacation:  Man, that went quick.  Obviously, I did not practice mindfulness for more than 5 minutes, because it's all just a blur.  
  • Return from vacation:  Recovery, recovery, recovery.  Mail, laundry, groceries.  Strangely tired, sorry to see that mail, laundry, and groceries all require attention and energy.  Do blog post.  
  • 3rd week after vacation:  I finally reopen a story and start working on it.  

And now for some BLATANT SELF PROMOTION!!!!
Me Too Short Stories: An Anthology by [Zelvin, Elizabeth]
Check out Me Too Short Stories:  An Anthology, edited by Elizabeth Zelvin!  I am honored to be part of the company with "Pentecost".  It's now available for pre-order
HERE Amazon.com Kindle and
HERE for Amazon.com paperback. The official release date is September 3, and there will be a launch party at the Mysterious Bookshop in the Big Apple on Tuesday September 24.

MORE ON "PENTECOST" NEXT BLOG POST!

AHM_SepOct2019_400x570


Also, my latest short story (along with stories by our own Angela Zeman and Janice Law) is in the September/October issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine:
"On a cruise ship, a trophy wife in pursuit of a country-western singer seems like an obvious case of “The Seven Day Itch”, and there’s nothing that an irate husband, a jealous partner, or disgusted coworkers can do about it. But maybe there is – especially when there’s too many Brides at a costume party and a trail of blood on the deck…"
Check out a preview HERE.


15 August 2019

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

by Eve Fisher

Let's start off with the case of Stephen Jennings of Oklahoma, who (along with passenger Rachel Rivera) was arrested after a traffic stop by Oklahoma police and was found to be driving a stolen car, on a suspended license, with a unlicensed handgun, a live rattlesnake, a canister of powdered radioactive yellow uranium, and an open bottle of Kentucky Deluxe whiskey.  Oh, the questions we could ask!  Was he on his way to make the world's first nuclear rattler?  Was the rattlesnake getting his fair share of the whiskey?  Will some brilliant lawyer claim that the whole adventure was the rattlesnake's idea?  That the rattlesnake provided the uranium?  As The Week implied, have the Coen brothers been out-Coened?  (Oklahoma's News)

Meanwhile, there's the guy who took out a full page ad in USA Today on 7/25/19, with the solution to the Great Climate Change Hoax, which involves the law of force, the moon and a $20 billion check.  They must have some money - a full page ad doesn't come cheap - but what they heck, you have to spend money to make money.  Don't believe me?  Read 'em and weep:


If anyone one out there is brave enough to actually tackle the e-mail, phone number, M&M Co., Ltd. (my bet is that they're NOT the candy makers), let me know what's there. 

Now I've seen crazy full-page ads before, mostly because in small towns, a full-page ad in the local newspaper can come pretty cheap.  (NOTE:  Free speech is not always free, but it can always be made more inexpensive.)  This allows a wide range of alternative realities to be presented to us, the reading public, and up here in South Dakota, I've read some pretty strange stuff.  My favorites are the Sovereign Citizen sales pitches calling for everyone to sign up for their Government ID card which allows you to ignore the laws of the false United States with impunity.  BTW, these are actually fairly pricey, especially since no one shows up to help out at the [inevitable] trial after they're used.  But I've never seen an ad that asks for $20 Billion flat out with an apparent expectation that someone will cough it up.

On a lesser note, a guy in Longmont, CO, decided to fix his missing tail light with a red sports drink.  (Source)

Two stories that recently infuriated me were:
Trump administration reauthorizes use of 'cyanide bombs' to kill wild animals  (Read article HERE)
Trump administration weakens the Endangered Species Act (NYTimes)

Apparently we just aren't killing enough wildlife, fast enough, in the United States.  But God knows we tried up here in South Dakota, thanks to Governor Noem's own personal initiative, the Predator Bounty Program, which allowed state residents to go out and kill all those animals which might be eating pheasant eggs or otherwise disrupting the great Pheasant Hunting Season which God knows is a huge money-maker up here.  And get paid for it at $10.00 a tail!

Did I mention that our South Dakota pheasants are Chinese ring-necked pheasants, which are not native to South Dakota?

Anyway, to preserve these Chinese immigrants from natural predators, the Governor decreed that certain nest predators (i.e., they eat eggs) must be destroyed: raccoons, striped skunks, badgers, opossums, and red fox, all of which are native to South Dakota. The bounty season was from April 1-August 12, 2019.
South Dakota Game, Fish, Parks Logo

Did I mention that opossums eat 5,000 ticks a day, and are a major soldier in the battle against spreading Lyme disease?

Anyway, to prove that someone had killed them, and not just picked up road kill, they had to bring in the tails, and including bone, etc.  (The directions were grisly.)  And the animals had to be "harvested" with a trap.  (Speaking of traps, they were built by the inmates at the South Dakota State Penitentiary, labor costs 25 cents an hour, which is why the State could give away the traps for free.)

The really grisly part, to many of us, is how the capturing of an animal in a trap, killing it in cold blood, and then sawing off its tail, was been presented as good old fashioned family fun. While I am not going to post the pictures of Governor Noem's children -  one with a terrified live raccoon in a trap, and then one with the same, now-dead raccoon on top of it - you can find them posted proudly on her official Governor Kristi Noem Facebook site, April 6, 2019 with the following blurb:
"Love seeing kids this excited about being outside!! Our nest predator bounty program launched this week, and we’re seeing great results. Let’s get kids away from the x-box and out with the live box! To learn more about the nest predator bounty program, check out gfp.sd.gov/nest-predator-id/."
Apparently Governor Noem hasn't heard about the studies that have shown that kids who torture and kill small animals are prone to... unpleasant behavior... later on in life. 

Thankfully, the Program closed on Monday, August 12th, "after receiving 50,000 nest predator tails from nearly 3,000 participants.  The bulk of submissions came from raccoon tails at 37,720 followed by the submission of 5,529 skunk tails."  (KotaTV)  This means the State of South Dakota paid out $500,000.  That's a lot of money for something that most environmentalists, scientists, and even members of the Game, Fish & Parks don't think is going to do anything but increase the wild rodent population.  And wild rodents eat eggs, too.

Okay, everyone, let's get calm.  Deep breaths. 

Here is our Picture of the week, your Moment of Zen:



Bear watching sunrise from hotel in New Hampshire.  Who knew they had that kind of vacation money?  (White Mountains)

Meanwhile, I'm recovering steadily from my hernia surgery, and I will spare everyone the grotty details of what hurt where, when, how, etc.  I will only say that, because I had a laprascopic/robotic procedure done, I look as if someone took a very large three-tined fork and stuck it in my stomach to see if I was done.  I had a great surgeon.  A great home care nurse in my husband, Allan.  And I cleared my calendar of everything for 2 weeks.  Life is pretty sweet sometimes.  Especially when you have Medicare!  Huzzah!





01 August 2019

Little Shrimp on the Prairie

by Eve Fisher

I realize it's been a while since I've updated everyone on South Dakota's own particular band of crazy, and there's a lot of it.  So much, that I'm going to have to do this over a couple of postings.  Today:

LITTLE SHRIMP ON THE PRAIRIE

Sadly, the Great Cultivated Shrimp will not be roaming the aquatic halls of Madison, South Dakota, any time soon.  Some of you may have forgotten that the idea of raising shrimp in tanks was first floated by Tru Shrimp to be built in Luverne, MN.  But then things went mysteriously sour, and Madison, SD leadership grabbed the project for themselves.

TruShrimp
Tru-Shrimp supplied photo at Argus Leader
But why?  How?  Well, according to the Argus Leader (HERE)
"Luverne officials say they didn't know it, but concerns expressed in late 2018 with the city's wastewater facility had effectively driven away Tru Shrimp.  A big pork producer was also planning to open in the city, adding its own significant amount of volume to Luverne's wastewater system.  Documents obtained by the Argus Leader show that regulators wondered about they system's capacity with two new businesses coming to town. Luverne's wastewater plant had already failed two tests measuring the quality of water it was releasing into the environment.  Even if the city's plant could treat Tru Shrimp's wastewater, state pollution control officials worried the fluid would still be too salty to discharge and eventually flow into the nearby Rock River, endangering fish, wildlife and downstream agriculture.  Luverne met with pollution regulators in November, also inviting representatives from Tru Shrimp to the meeting at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s office in Marshall, Minnesota.  Minnesota’s pollution control officials never got a clear understanding about what to expect from the Tru Shrimp facility despite multiple requests for information, wrote ex-MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine in a letter to Luverne officials, sent after the company's decision to build in Madison." 
Another version, floating around Madison, is that when  a certain member of the Madison task force asked why they thought of Madison, the Tru Shrimp representative said, "God told us to come here."

But apparently God has other plans, because now the Tru Shrimp ground-breaking in Madison has been cancelled, and "No new ground-breaking date is currently set for the [Madison] facility."  (Madison Daily Leader)

But why?  How?

The whiteleg shrimp (juvenile shown),
the preferred species for shrimp farming. - Wikipedia
Because, while "[SD] State and local officials committed $6.5 million in taxpayer dollars for a low-interest loan for the Tru Shrimp project this winter, including $5.5 million directly from the governor’s Future Fund... [that] money has not been enough to justify starting. It will help Tru Shrimp prepare for the Madison site, and is being used to help cover research and development costs at Tru Shrimp’s Balaton, Minnesota-based facility." (emphasis mine)  (Argus Leader)

In other words, millions of South Dakota, Lake County, and Madison tax payer backed $$$ are currently going to their "research and development center" in Balaton, MN.
Purely informational:  The dictionary definition of Ponzi scheme is "a form of fraud in which belief in the success of a nonexistent enterprise is fostered by the payment of quick returns to the first investors from money invested by later investors."  
Anyway, all of this intrigued me to no end, so I made a road trip to Balaton, MN, with my trusty sidekick and best friend - "Ally - Dark Ally" - because this whole thing was increasingly feeling like The Hunting of the Snark, and I had to have someone to snark with.

The Hunting of the Snark (cover).jpgBalaton, MN, home of Tru Shrimp R&D, is a shady, old-fashioned little town of 640 people.  If that strikes you as being kind of small to host the headquarters of a multi-million dollar research and development center, you're not alone, and was one of the reasons I had to go see the place.  Balaton does have a beautiful lake on the outskirts of town which would presumably take care of their water needs.  The old Balaton school is being used as the administration building.  The large concrete building (built in 2017-18) in the back with no windows and a barbed wire fence (which reminds me, some day I'll have to tell you about Cheneyville on the outskirts of Sioux Falls) is where the R&D is done.  In other words, where the tanks are.

Dark Ally and I stood around, discussing the place, and watched as various people - all men, dressed in office casual - went inside.  So we walked across the street and tried the door.  It was open, and in we went, too.

The lobby has not been renovated from its old school days.  There was a generic pop machine (with a variety of religious quotes and verses posted on it), a sign that the gym could be rented out for special occasions, but was otherwise private, and a standard-sized aquarium, complete with aquarium tchotchke and 5-6 shrimp bobbing along the bottom.  A few people came and went, but to go past the lobby area, you needed a computerized chip card, and I wasn't even going to try that.  Besides, there was a camera watching our every move.

"Shrimp Girl" by Hogarth
Wikipedia
Someone must have seen us on camera, because a man came out of the back and asked if we needed help.   Now remember the first Argus Leader quote above.  I said, "I'm from Sioux Falls, and I heard about Tru Shrimp and wanted to see what it was about."  His instant reaction was to tell us that "The Argus Leader article was all wrong; we don't dump salt water anywhere. We pay for that salt. We don't dump it, it's expensive."  Then he asked - pointing at the aquarium - if we'd seen the shrimp.  We said yes.  (Later, Dark Ally said we should have asked if we could buy some, and I replied yeah, we could ask if they sold by the pound or by the piece.)  I asked if he had any handouts and he went back down the locked hallway and returned, eventually, with a large postcard style flyer saying they're a subsidiary of Ralco Agriculture (out of Marshall, MN).  And strongly sent out a vibe that it was time for us to go.  So we went.

BTW, if you want to check out the Tru Shrimp website - it's HERE.  Pretty boiler-plate, stock photos, lots of color, little actual text, and no maps or pricing.  And a hint - "consumers confirmed that products raised in a trū Shrimp facility," and "Advanced water filtration systems are implemented for each and every trū Shrimp location" - that there are multiple facilities, when so far the only facility is in Balaton.

Anyway, later someone asked me if I thought there was any "there" there, and I replied that I think there's just enough "there" there to cover taking $6.5 million in South Dakota money.  Especially if we just give it to them.  Which South Dakota did.

EB-5, Gear Up, Tru Shrimp - we keep this standard up, and someone might start to think we're easy.


STOP THE PRESSES!!!!  HOT HEADLINES FROM MADISON!!!!

Last night's headlines in the Madison Daily Leader (Click headline for complete article):

Tru Shrimp is committed to building Madison Bay Harbor


My notes after reading the article:

Initially, Tru Shrimp planned to harvest 4.5 million pounds of shrimp annually; that has been increased to 8 million pounds annually.  
  • BTW, the first shrimp for sale were offered 3/27/19 - in Balaton.  "About 300 pounds of shrimp was harvested for Tuesday’s sale, and more will be available fresh on Thursday."  300 pounds x 365 days = 106,900 pounds a year. (Link)  Wherever their next harbor is built, it would have to be VERY big indeed.  
The Balaton Bay Reef in Minnesota cost $11 million. 
The Luverne Bay Reef was expected to cost $45 million.  (Star Tribune)  
The Madison Bay Harbor is expected to cost around $350 million. 
Ziebell hopes the necessary capital will be raised by the end of the year.  The company currently has 24 investors and "a very engaged investment bank."
  • From $11 million to $350 million is a heck of a leap.
  • From $45 million to $350 million is a heck of a leap.
  • $350 million is half of the State of South Dakota's entire education budget, and one-fifth of the state's entire revenues.  
  • It's going to take some very rich people or a very large number of investors to pull this one off.  
WaynoVision Comic Strip for July 31, 2019


And now for some BLATANT SELF PROMOTION!!!!
Me Too Short Stories: An Anthology by [Zelvin, Elizabeth]
Check out Me Too Short Stories:  An Anthology, edited by our own Liz Zelvin!  I am honored to be part of the company with a story in it - "Pentecost" ("The minister worries about her parishioners" - and she should.  Or maybe they should worry about her...  Darla's a firecracker!) - along with a whole host of wonderful authors.  It's now available for pre-order
HERE Amazon.com Kindle and
HERE for Amazon.com paperback. The official release date is September 3, and there will be a launch party at the Mysterious Bookshop in the Big Apple on Tuesday September 24.

And my latest short story will appear in the September/October issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.  On a cruise ship, a trophy wife in pursuit of a country-western singer seems like an obvious case of "The Seven Day Itch".  But it's never that simple...

Best to all, and more craziness coming soon!



18 July 2019

Miscellany

by Eve Fisher

If you're looking for a logical sequence of events, this is not the blog for you.  The title means what it says.

So, to begin with,

My Masterpiece PosterThe other night we streamed Mi Obra Maestra (a/k/a My Masterpiece) on Netflix.  You gotta love a movie that opens up with a guy saying, "I'm a murderer".  And then - what a delight! - every time I thought I knew where it was going to go... it didn't!  Dead pan, very black humor, slapstick, a maniac artist, plus the fun of seeing Buenos Aires and the World Heritage site of Quebrada de  Humahuaca.  (And yes, I had to look that up all for myself.)  You can't ask for much more than that.

Quebrada de  Humahuaca
Those are real, folks!!!!

I've also been thinking about mysteries / thrillers / etc. written by non-mystery writers.  Most of these are short stories.

There is, of course, also the classic The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.  Who really did what, and was/were there ghost(s), and if not, was the governess mad, or is it all one big fantasy, have been argued up one side and down the other for decades. (BTW, it's available on Project Gutenberg HERE.)  Personally, I've never cared for The Turn of the Screw.  If you want horror - albeit of a different kind - I recommend James' The Beast in the Jungle (HERE).

But Henry James is a bit literary for a lot of people, so try Haircut by Ring Lardner.   (Read it HERE)   I keep re-reading it, and each time, new questions:  How funny did Lardner's contemporaries think it was?  Was the scene in the movie Pleasantville, where the mayor comes in and takes the barber's chair away from someone else, taken from Haircut?  I do know that Grant Tripp's brother, Barry, is kind of based on Paul.  I also know that there are still a lot of Jim Kendalls around, especially in small towns.

The Meyerowitz Stories.pngMeanwhile, I'm a big Maeve Binchy fan.  Most people know her from her Irish novels, but she wrote a number of short stories.  I just reread "Queensway", an absolute gem from the anthology London Transports:
When Pat saw something like "Third Girl wanted for quiet flat.  Own room, with central heating" she had dark fears that it might be a witches' coven looking for new recruits.
But sometimes a coven would be better.  And "Queensway" provides a wonderfully subtle, terribly accurate depiction of a manipulative sociopath.  Check it out.  (No e-text available.)
"It's like their apartment is full of everything we once threw out, but it looks so good the way they have it." - Cornelia in While We're Young.
Speaking of manipulative sociopaths, I've been working my way through the films of Noah Baumbach ever since seeing The Meyerowitz Stories, and Dustin Hoffman certainly nailed the manipulative narcissistic sociopath in that movie.   Goodbye, Tootsie, goodbye...  As did Adam Driver in While We're Young.  Both are available for streaming on Netflix.

Meanwhile, looking forward to the Lodge 49 season 2 premiere on AMC, Aug. 12, 10 p.m.!  Watch the Season 2 Trailer HERE.


Finally, thank you, David Edgerley Gates, for mentioning John Crowley's Little, Big in your blogpost The Art of Memory.  I had never read that book, and I did, because I'm always fascinated by memory houses.  I have one, mostly for books, because I figured out early in the day that if I really was going to read all the books I wanted, then by God, I was going to have to set up some sort of mental filing system.  And I did, although I'm not sure how, but it works.  It supplies me the title, author, plot, major characters, most minor ones, and specific scenes of almost every book I've ever read.  (Which is a lot.)

Anyway, Little, Big stunned me.  Among the notes I wrote in my journal were "A fever dream of immanence."  You see, I've always been and still am the person - girl and woman - who walks looking for the path through the forest, the door in the tree, the cottage under the stones, the opening in the sky, knowing that some day it will be there, and I'll get to go through.  (Yes, I'm a huge fan of the movie Picnic at Hanging Rock.)  This will definitely go on the shelf of those books I reread, breathlessly.

BTW, a few others that have provided me similar fever dreams:  The Once and Future King (T. H. White); Centuries of Meditation (Thomas Traherne); La Morte d'Arthur (Thomas Mallory; the oldest translation you can stand); all fairy tales (believe it or not, the Hans Christian Andersen ones get better as you get older); Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass; Piers Plowman; The Old Ways (Robert MacFarlane) and Meeting the Other Crowd:  The Fairy Stories of Hidden Ireland (Eddie Lenihan)

And FINALLY finally, next blog post - the mystery and challenge of Little Shrimp Factory on the Prairie - because if you thought everything was going to go swimmingly <groan> to bring shrimp farming to the high prairies, you really have a lot to learn.

and FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY, just for the information soundbite, from the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:

What you should know about National Origin Discrimination under Title VII

The law protects people against employment discrimination on the basis of their national origin. Following are some examples of employment discrimination based on national origin.

Harassment Based on National Origin

  • Ethnic slurs and other verbal or physical conduct because of nationality are illegal if they are severe or pervasive and create an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment, interfere with work performance, or negatively affect job opportunities. Examples of potentially unlawful conduct include insults, taunting, or ethnic epithets, such as making fun of a person's foreign accent or comments like, "Go back to where you came from, " whether made by supervisors or by co-workers.
Read more HERE.

Granted, this is probably another government agency that will soon be gutted, renamed, rehelmed, and/or dismantled, but there you are. For right now, that's the law of the land.

04 July 2019

Happy Fourth of July!

by Eve Fisher

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!!!!

In between barbecues and fireworks, sports and speeches, beer and brats, there's going to be time for some movies.  Here's a few:

Smith goes.jpgMr. Smith Goes to Washington:  Can you believe that this movie was controversial when it came out in 1939?  Because it actually dared to talk about corruption in politics?  (Pearls clutched across the nation!)  Only Jimmy Stewart could have played this part - and what a great one it is.  The filibuster scene alone is worth watching.

"I guess this is just another lost cause Mr. Paine. All you people don't know about lost causes. Mr. Paine does. He said once they were the only causes worth fighting for and he fought for them once. For the only reason any man ever fights for them. Because of just one plain simple rule. Love thy neighbor. And in this world today of great hatred a man who knows that rule has a great trust. You know that rule Mr. Paine and I loved you for it just as my father did. And you know that you fight harder for the lost causes than for any others. Yes you'd even die for them. Like a man we both knew Mr. Paine. You think I'm licked. You all think I'm licked. Well I'm not licked. And I'm gonna stay right here and fight for this lost cause. Even if this room gets filled with lies like these. And the Taylors and all their armies come marching into this place. Somebody will listen to me."

Advise-&-Consent-(1).jpg
And speaking of corruption in politics, another great movie is 1962's Advise & Consent, starring Henry Fonda, Charles Laughton, Walter Pidgeon, Gene Tierney, and a host of other Hollywood celebrities.  Communism, homosexuality, and womanizing all feature in the various forms of blackmail, backbiting, demagoguery and political intrigue that revolve around the President's choice of Secretary of State.

Fred Van Ackerman:  [sniveling over being shunned]  What I did was for the good of the country.
Bob Munson:  Fortunately, our country always manages to survive patriots like you.

Of course, the Fourth of July is about the birth of our country - but strangely enough, I find most movies about the American Revolution pretty... bad...  (Think about Mel Gibson's The Patriot and Al Pacino's Revolution.)  So how about watching 1776?  A musical take on the Revolution and the Convention, it'll have to do until Hamilton comes out.
"I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress! And by God, I have had this Congress! For ten years, King George and his Parliament have gulled, cullied, and diddled these colonies with their illegal taxes! Stamp Acts, Townshend Acts, Sugar Acts, Tea Acts! And when we dared stand up like men, they have stopped our trade, seized our ships, blockaded our ports, burned our towns, and spilled our BLOOD! And still, this Congress refuses to grant ANY of my proposals on independence, even so much as the courtesty of open debate! Good God, what in hell are you waiting for?" 
            - John Adams in 1776

But July 4th is also about war.  

From above a flat. and dry desert floor, a person in a green military uniform with heavy padding holds red wires attached to seven pill-shaped bomb canisters scattered around him. At the top of the poster are three critics' favorable opinions: "A near-perfect movie", "A full-tilt action picture", and "Ferociously suspenseful". Below the quotes is the title "THE HURT LOCKER" and the tagline, "You don't have to be a hero to do this job. But it helps."
America has been making up for some time for the way Vietnam veterans were treated when they came back from the war.  But wars haven't stopped; if anything, conditions continue to degrade, and a soldier's lot has become one of perpetual deployments, wars with no exit strategy or even long-term goals, devastating injuries to mind and body, and a Congress that never seems to want to spend money on them once they're home.  There are a few "fun" movies about war - but here are a few movies that keep in mind the real price:

Black Hawk Down
Born on the Fourth of July


Full Metal Jacket
The Hurt Locker
Johnny Got His Gun
Platoon

“I do not say that children at war do not die like men, if they have to die. To their everlasting honor and our everlasting shame, they do die like men, thus making possible the manly jubilation of patriotic holidays. But they are murdered children all the same.” 
― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle

“Society can give its young men almost any job and they'll figure how to do it. They'll suffer for it and die for it and watch their friends die for it, but in the end, it will get done. That only means that society should be careful about what it asks for. ... Soldiers themselves are reluctant to evaluate the costs of war, but someone must. That evaluation, ongoing and unadulterated by politics, may be the one thing a country absolutely owes the soldiers who defend its borders.”
― Sebastian Junger, War

Graves at Arlington on Memorial Day.JPG

BUT let's get back to fireworks and fun.  And if it's fun you want, then you need Presidents and aliens:

Dave poster.jpgMost fun movies about Presidents, from Dave to Independence Day, and, of course, Mars Attacks!  

Fun quiz:  Which quote is from which movie?

(1)  President:  I don't understand, where does all this come from? How do you get funding for something like this?
       "You don't actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat, do you?"

(2)  What is with [the] President lately? I mean has this guy been having too many "Happy Meals"? I mean geez!

   (3) I'll tell you one thing, they ain't gettin' the TV.

   (4) President:  What? Oh, you mean the press conference. I had a couple of ideas that I wanted to share with the country.

   (5) President: I want the people to know that they still have 2 out of 3 branches of the government working for them, and that ain't bad.


There's also Seven Days in May, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, and Dr. Strangelove.

Or you could do the Lincoln cycle - Raymond Massey's Abe Lincoln in Illinois, Henry Fonda's Young Mr. Lincoln, and Daniel Day Lewis' pitch-perfect Lincoln:
An iconic photograph of a bearded Abraham Lincoln showing his head and shoulders.Lincoln: Abolishing slavery by constitutional provisions settles the fate for all coming time. Not only of the millions now in bondage, but of unborn millions to come. Two votes stand in its way. These votes must be procured.
Seward:  We need two yeses. Three abstentions. Four yeses and one more abstention and the amendment will pass.
Lincoln:  You've got a night and a day and a night; several perfectly good hours! Now get the hell out of here and get them!
Ashley:  Yes. But how?
Lincoln:  Buzzard's guts, man! I am the President of the United States of America! Clothed in immense power! You will procure me these votes.
It's a shame that there haven't been nearly as many good movies about the other Presidents on Mount Rushmore.  The best are probably Ken Burns' documentary on Thomas Jefferson, the first 3 episodes of The Roosevelts:  An Intimate History for Teddy Roosevelt, and the 1984 miniseries George Washington (starring Barry Bostwick).

Gilbert Stuart Williamstown Portrait of George Washington.jpg“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
― George Washington

“As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.” 
― George Washington
Official Presidential portrait of Thomas Jefferson (by Rembrandt Peale, 1800)(cropped).jpg
“We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
― Thomas Jefferson
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
― Thomas Jefferson
President Roosevelt - Pach Bros.jpg“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

“Politeness [is] a sign of dignity, not subservience.” 
― Theodore Roosevelt

“Jazz is democracy in music.”
― Wynton Marsalis

Happy Fourth of July from South Dakota!


Image result for fireworks over mount rushmore

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”
-- John F. Kennedy

20 June 2019

Ancestry and Me

by Eve Fisher

As many of you, beloved readers, know, I was adopted to this country from Greece back when I was 2 1/2 years old, and have lived here ever since.  I was naturalized by my parents when I was five.  I was told I was adopted when I was about ten, and I took it better than you might expect.  For one thing, I was starting to grasp that my red-haired, Scotch-Irish, blue-eyed mother was probably not a direct genetic link.  (Still not sure about Daddy, but that's another story...)  For another, things were already getting strange in the Velissarios household, and - eventually - it was good to know I didn't have to be like that.  It wasn't in my gene pool.

But, inevitably, the question arises, what is?  Other than thalassemia minor and arthritis?

Now growing up, I'd been told three different stories about how I'd ended up in the orphanage.
Me, in the orphanage, looking
as happy as I was going to get.


  • The first one was that there had been an earthquake in my home town of Karditsa, my parents had died in it, and I - plucky little orphan that I was - was found in the rubble.
  • The second was that I was illegitimate, and my biological mother had to put me in the orphanage because in 1950s Greece, there were no decent unmarried mothers.  (This sounded more real than the last one.)
  • The third was that there was a female relative of my father's family who'd gotten in trouble, and I ended up in the orphanage.


Anyway, a few years after my parents died, I thought I'd look into it.  There were a couple of reasons why I finally decided to do this:

(1) I finally had all the adoption documents which my father had saved but never let me see before.  Included:  a Certificate that I "was taken over by the Athens Municipal Foundling Home of Athens on the 6th of July, 1955, and entered into our records under register serial number 44627."  (We will be coming back to this.)

(2) Loneliness.  You see, my parents had successively cut themselves off, through travel (when we moved to California, my father never contacted any of his relatives in NYC again), quarrels (my mother and her only brother didn't speak for the last 20 years of their lives), and a general indifference to family which I've never understood.  And that cut me off too.  Plus I'd done quite a bit of moving myself.  The end result was that somewhere in my 50s I realized that the only family I had was my husband and friends -

AND I AM EXTREMELY GRATEFUL FOR EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU!!!! 

But I felt like I was standing on the end of a thin wedge of rock hanging over an abyss.  So, being me, I decided to try to do something about it.  The research began.

And the first thing I found was a number of news stories about black market adoptions from Greece to America back in the 1950s.  (See New York Times, LA Times, and many more; just Google Greek black market adoption.)

Basically, what happened is that a very poor post-war Greece figured out that they could make a lot of money from selling babies to Americans.  And they were stealing them from poor Greek families - telling the mothers of twins that one of them had died in childbirth, or that their baby had died, period, or just taking them - and then laundering the babies through places like the Thessaloniki Orphanage or the Athens Municipal Foundling Home.  And then selling them to desperate American families for $1,000 and up (which back in the 1950s was a fairly large sum of money).  And telling the Americans back-stories about their new little toddlers like her biological parents died in an earthquake.  And giving almost all the little girl toddlers the same damn name as is on my original Greek passport:  Mariana.   (Emphasis mine.)

Well, after I gasped for a while like a fish on the bottom of a boat, I went to one of the websites that existed to reunite [perhaps] black-market adoptees with their birth mothers, and began the process.  It was all remarkably swift, and did not end happily.  I never spoke or wrote directly to my supposed birth mother; instead it was filtered through an intermediary.  At the end, I sent photos of myself in the orphanage and now.  The last response I got was "That is not my child.  Leave me alone."

And so I have.  Thinking back on it all, I don't know if any of it was true or not.  Whether the woman who did the search was actually in contact with anyone, or just answering out of her own head, for some obscure reason.  (No money exchanged hands, which makes it even weirder.)  Whether the supposed biological mother told the truth - she lost a child, but it wasn't me - or if she was lying because she did not want me back in her life.

But I never reopened that can of worms.  Instead, I moved on to the next one:  Genetics. 

John D. Croft at English Wikipedia























My first genetics test was with National Geographic Genographic Project, and the results were that I was 53% Greek, 24% Tuscan Italian, and 21% Northern (Asian) Indian.  It was the last that surprised me - Greeks and Italians have commingled for millennia, but what ancestor picked up a Kashmiri bride/groom?  Although it might have occurred back at the same time that my ancestors - a randy lot - were commingling with any hominid they could find.  My genome is 3% Neanderthal, 3.7% Denisovian, and 93.3% Cro-magnon, and if you'll look at the "Evolution and Geographic Spread of Denisovians" map above, you'll see what I'm talking about.
BTW, I am inordinately proud of my alternate hominid ancestry.  For one thing, it explains my unusual ability to spot wildlife wherever I go.  I was also pretty darn good at tracking before my knees gave out.  Plus I'm a great believer in diversity.  In my book, if all you've ever known is one thing - you're missing out.  
And then there's the story about the Greek Consulate.  At one point, I was thinking about going to Greece and searching, so I wanted to know a few things, like how long can you stay in Greece without them kicking you out and do I still have Greek citizenship?  After all, I still have the Greek passport that I came in with (along with a vintage TWA bag from 1957 that I have been offered serious money for).  So I was talking to them about this, and they said that it was just a travel passport, but did not prove my citizenship.  And, to confirm whether or not I was a Greek citizen, they would need the names of my biological father and mother.  I explained that I was an orphan, and I had been in the Athens Municipal Foundling Home.  That I had all the paperwork from the adoption and would be happy to FAX that to them, including the above-referenced Certificate.

But that wasn't good enough.  As the lady said - and I hesitate to repeat it here, for fear of giving Stephen Miller more evil ideas - "Just because you were in a Greek orphanage does not mean that you are Greek."  I told her I had a DNA test, but she was not interested in that.  Only the names of the biological father and mother would do.  I asked how orphans were supposed to come up with that information when they had been abandoned at an orphanage?  Not her problem.  What about the fact that apparently the Greek government had jurisdiction enough to sell me off for adoption and ship me overseas?  Irrelevant.  I finally asked her if that meant that Greek orphans in Greece had to apply for citizenship when they came of age, and at that point the conversation came to an end.  She suggested that if I had a problem with it, I should get a Greek lawyer, in Greece, and pursue it.  So there you go.  The ultimate Catch-22 for orphans, and how appropriate for the @#$^&! age we live in.

So, after that, I thought, what the hell, I'll do Ancestry.com's DNA test because they match you up with genetic relatives as well as the general heritage.  First off, they disagreed with National Geographic:  according to them, I'm 85% Greek/Balkan, and only 13% Italian.  The rest is kind of vague...  But here's the kicker.  I went to the list of DNA matches...  and I have none.  The closest I get is a short list of people who might be my 4th to 6th cousins.  What this means - looking at the chart below - is that while we might have crossed paths at an airport, no living relatives have shared bread, wine, or talk for probably 100 years.

calculating cousinhood how related far removed

My first reaction was that I was like a fox, looking for a hole in a fox hunt, and all the earths are stopped.
My second, was that I was back on that effing wedge of rock.
My third was that the universe was being very clear, and while I didn't like it, I was going to have to accept it.

And then, as Mr. Edwards said to Dr. Johnson, "Cheerfulness breaks in."

I called a dear friend of mine and told her the latest, and she said, "Oh my God!  You really are an alien!  You really are from some other planet!"  And we laughed our heads off.

So, now I have decided to embrace the truth:  Sometime after the Neanderthal/ Denisovian encounter, or at the latest after the little trip to the Kashmiri serai, my gene pool carriers took off somewhere else.  And then - after some trouble in that particular space-time continuum - dropped me off at the Athens Municipal Foundling Home.  Or so they say...

Will keep you posted.  Oh, and if anyone out there knows who the little girl below used to be, please let me know.








06 June 2019

A Foreign Field

by Eve Fisher

Yes, today is exactly 75 years after the landings of the Allies in Normandy, D-Day, a/k/a Operation Overlord a/k/a Operation Neptune.






























First, the facts:  It was the largest seaborne invasion in history, with nearly 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers participating.[186] Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on D-Day,[27]with 875,000 men disembarking by the end of June.[187] Allied casualties on the first day were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead. (Wikipedia)


Secondly - Blessings and thanks to all the survivors!  Blessings and thanks to all who died.

Image result for remains of d-day at normandy beach
Relics left over from D-Day at Omaha Beach
D-Day still remains in the actual physical landscape of Normandy.  And in the memories of the soldiers, the Normandy citizens,  and of course the books and movies that have been made about it.  "The Longest Day", book by Cornelius Ryan, was made into a 3 hour movie (written by Ryan with "additional material" by Romain Gary and James Jones, among others) with a cast including (apparently) every male star they had on the  Hollywood lot.  And some that weren't.
Trivia:  According to the 2001 documentary, "Cleopatra:  The Film That Changed  Hollywood", Richard Burton and Roddy McDowall were sitting around, not having been used for weeks, and bored senseless in Rome (I find the latter hard to believe - Burton always had drinking), but anyway, they phoned Zanuck, the director, begging to for something to do.  So they flew themselves to location and did a day's worth of cameo work for free.  (Wikipedia)
D-Day is also recreated in both "Saving Private Ryan" and "Band of Brothers."

But the most touching movie about D-Day takes place long after the event.  1994's "A Foreign Field" is written by British screenwriter Roy Clarke (who also wrote two of my favorite comedies, the miniseries "Flickers" and the longest running comedy series ever, "Last of the Summer Wine").  It stars Leo McKern as Cyril and Alec Guinness as Amos, two elderly British veterans, John Randolph as Waldo, an old American vet, and Geraldine Chaplain and Edward Hermann as Waldo's daughter and son-in-law.  These five gather for the 1994 D-Day anniversary, where they also look up Jeanne Moreau's Angel, the good-time girl who apparently took care of all the soldiers in 1944.  Let me assure you, even at 65, Moreau makes you believe she was worth remembering - and perhaps still worth fighting over.  Here's the original trailer:



With Lauren Bacall as the mysterious alcoholic who tags along.  BTW, Alec Guiness does a master turn as Amos, permanently brain-damaged by shrapnel at D-Day, who (as one reviewer put it) "brings more meaning to a flip through the channels on a French TV set than most actors find in a Shakespearean soliloquy."   (New York Magazine)  It's funny, it's touching, it's moving, it's full of memory and meaning.  Wonderful.   (It's also available on Netflix on DVD or at Amazon.)

Part of what works in "A Foreign Field" is the relationship between Cyril and Amos.  Which, in turn, is based on the great chemistry of Alec Guinness and Leo McKern.  That relationship also worked in "Monsignor Quixote", which starred Alec Guinness as parish priest Quixote, whose best friend is the Communist ex-mayor of El Toboso.  When Father Quixote is elevated - by a sheer fluke - to Monsignor, things get complicated.  Based on a short novel by Graham Greene (who also worked on the screenplay!) it's, funny, touching, moving, with one of the greatest endings (imho) of any film.  It's available here, on YouTube, in its entirety:


I wish that Guinness and McKern had made more movies together, but then I also wish that Paul Newman and Robert Redford had made a couple of more.  But "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "The Sting" are good enough.  So are "Monsignor Quixote" and "A Foreign Field."

We're going to watch "A Foreign Field" tonight.  It seems the perfect tribute to D-Day, and to all those who fought, and fought, and would not shift.  Watch, and you'll understand.



23 May 2019

Only the Dead Know Brooklyn

by Eve Fisher

A friend who knows me well sent me the following article -  Weegee's New York City by Christopher Bonanos - in New York Magazine, chock-full of crime-scene photographs from the 1930s.  (Thank you, Betty!)




April 18, 1937: Spurned Suitor Clubs Violinist to Death!  (The trail of blood is where the body was dragged...)  

May 5, 1937: The corpse everyone is checking over is that of Stanley Mannex, a 47-year-old Turkish immigrant, found in the ivy behind the New York Public Library.  (I'd love to know that backstory.)





April 20, 1937: Tony Benedetti was a single father of four from Uniontown, Pennsylvania, underemployed in New York during the Depression. Under a newly passed New York law looking to reduce the number of public charges, his family became the first in the state to be deported — put on a train at Penn Station back to Fayette County, where they were received by local welfare officials.

Two points:  the kids are crying, but dad is smiling.  Is that to cheer them up or what?  And I'd love to know what the local welfare officials did with him and his kids when they got there...



Date unknown, person unknown, location unknown.  But it's New York.  Everyone's wearing hats, and no one looks surprised.  I'm still amazed at how the corpse's hat ended right side up and in apparently perfect condition...

These are a few of the photographs taken by Weegee, a/k/a Arthur Fellig, the legendary crime-and-mayhem photographer of mid-century New York. In 1938, he became the only New York freelance newspaper photographer with a permit to have a portable police-band shortwave radio. Weegee worked mostly at night; he listened closely to broadcasts and often beat authorities to the scene. When other photographers asked him about his technique he supposedly answered, "f/8 and be there".  By the '40s he had pictures in the Museum of Modern Art and had been curated by Edward Steichen.  (Wikipedia)

Weegee's first book of photographs was Naked City. Film producer Mark Hellinger bought the rights to the title from Weegee and made the movie The Naked City in 1948 - which I have not seen - and the police drama of the same name - which I have seen.  I remember all the episodes ended with "There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them."  BTW, here's the opening of the episode "The Fault in Our Stars" starring a very young Roddy McDowall:


But back to Weegee's photographs - they're everywhere on the internet, from the above to this site where they have been colorized to add to their gruesomeness:  

Pre-Weegee, someone also took these photos from 1910s New York City, and if you continue to scroll down, more Weegee:  

And Paris has more than Murders in the Rue Morgue here:

Now, I'm not into gore, I admit it.  I don't watch autopsies, gory movies, or read torture porn.  But there's more than one way to look at a photograph.  Like the last photo above, the hat lying by itself, looking perfectly fine despite the fact that the dead guy's face was either bashed in or shot and there's blood everywhere.  The other thing that struck me about it, was how the uniformed cop and the detective (?) with the flash camera are leaning, trying to see what the other detective is showing them as he straddles the body.

Straddles:  "See?  Someone came up on him, and shot him, point-blank range, and he took a step or two before he fell."
Uniform:  "What're ya talking about?"
Straddles:  "Look at the trail of blood.  He moved after he was shot, ya blind bat!"
Flash:  "Want me to hit it with a little more light?"

Another aspect of all the dead body shots I've shared here is that there's a lot of bending over in police work.  None of this Sam Spade looking down at his partner's dead body and pointing around.  No, these guys are all getting their faces right in the action, talking with their hands and their mouths.  I'm sure that at least one of them has a flask in his hip or coat pocket, and that they're all smokers.  And I still can't get over how they all manage to keep their hats on.

There also aren't any women standing around.  Which makes sense, because back then, the only woman around at the scene of the crime would be the victim.  And there are a lot of those.  From the woman lying in bed, back to her beloved (?) who just blew her brains out before killing himself, to the girl who was found lying looking calm and drained as if a vampire had shown up moments before...

All of these snapshots are a trip back in time - except that the only thing that's changed is the clothes.  Murder stays the same.  The motivation stays the same (love, jealousy, greed... same old, same old).  The blood stays the same.  The fascination with the crime stays the same.  And that's why we're all here.

BTW, click here to read "Only the Dead Know Brooklyn" by Thomas Wolfe, the New Yorker, June 7, 1935.  Maybe the big guy was Weegee.