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Bird's Blog

Poetry, musings, observations, commentary, rants, confessions...and who knows what else!

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Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Teacher, writer, poet, grandmother, lover, wine-drinker, chocolate eater, beach comber, hiker, traveler, Giants fan, San Franciscan. All work on this blog is copyrighted material.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Honoring Veterans

California has more homeless veterans than any other state in the union and federal funding for housing for these vets has declined over the past few years.

Like all vulnerable populations during an economic downturn, vets have shouldered more than their fair share of the burden. Our country likes to pump its fists, yell “USA! USA!” and send the Blue Angels into the air to glorify our military, but we are less than willing to properly support soldiers returning from war.

San Francisco is planning a memorial to veterans at a cost of 2.5 million; about 2/3 of the funds required has already been raised for the project.

The memorial, a series of three reflection pools, will be located between the War Memorial Veterans Building (which, by the way, doesn’t house any entities having do with veterans – it’s a performing arts center) and the War Memorial Opera House (ditto). Both buildings, completed in 1932, were constructed to honor the soldiers of World War I. These are lovely civic buildings with character, but exactly how these edifices honor vets, I am not sure. I doubt that anyone entering these buildings for a performance or lecture or art show thinks about soldiers, or sailors, or airmen and women. Civic buildings and art can certainly honor vets, but the link here is tenuous.

The new veterans memorial will no doubt provide a haven for opera goers and those attending events at the War Memorial Building to meet before a performance. It may also provide a place for those busy people (who work in the area but can't afford to dine in the area’s numerous restaurants) to sit and rest for a bit and eat their bag lunches under the soothing influence of the reflecting pools.

Now that’s fine – calm, peaceful public spaces are an asset to any area. But how that memorial will help or “honor” vets, is frankly, beyond me. I suppose homeless vets can hang out at the reflection pools, pondering their lives, but more than likely, they will be asked to move along. We can’t have homeless folk congregating by a lovely memorial; they will detract from the memorial’s peacefulness and beauty.

San Francisco enjoys many pubic art installations and memorials can be a wonderful way to remember important events and people, but why create a memorial that will not in any way help vets in a time when they need help? Why not take that funding and create a memorial that actually helps veterans – why not use it to provide some low-cost housing for homeless vets?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Rincon Post Office Annex

This week's post is up at my other blog, 46.7 Square Miles (yup, you guessed it that's the area of San Francisco).

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy 4th of July



Sunday, July 03, 2011

Mark Dayton: Superhero

Finally, a politician with some balls. And integrity.

Mild mannered, bespectacled Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has shut down his state’s government. Why? Because he clearly understands that the true problem with Minnesota’s state budget (just like so many state budgets across the land and the Federal budget as well) is primarily not a spending problem, but a revenue problem.

His solution: raise taxes on those in the state that make a million dollars or more.

In California, chicken-shit Governor Brown wanted to extend the sales tax and the car registration fees that were increased a few years ago. And who does that hurt the most? The lower-middle class, the working poor, the unemployed, and families living below or at the poverty level. And who does it not affect? The wealthy. At least Brown wanted to take the proposal to the voters, but the Republicans shut that down – fast. Brown didn’t even bring up the idea of raising taxes on those who could most afford it. We now have a budget that cuts social services and funding for education. Because lord knows, you can’t close the loopholes on corporate taxes here in California and you can’t raise taxes on the privileged few who control the vast majority of wealth and whose lives just keep on getting better and better while the lives of the majority of us keep on getting worse and worse.

But back to Minnesota. The Minnesota legislature shares the burden for the government shut down – the Republican-controlled legislature would rather cut services on Minnesota’s most vulnerable populations than require millionaires to pay a bit more. And why not? We are, after all, living in a very Dickensian time. Please sir, may I have just a bit more of that day-old porridge sitting at the bottom of the pot? Hell no – and besides, we’re putting that pot away on the back shelf – and charging you for the storage fees too!

Dayton’s family is rich. And his values are rooted in the Bible – that old idea that those who are blessed have a responsibility to help those who have far less. His early adulthood experience of teaching in an impoverished inner-city school also informs his thinking. “Through no choice of our own, I was born into great wealth and they were born into this abject poverty. The injustice really seared my conscience,” Dayton told the Associated Press.

Besides, as Dayton puts it: “I grew up in that [wealthy] environment. I know people can afford it.”

Put a superman cape on that man!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Pink Triangle

As I sip coffee this fine Sunday morning, I gaze out my window to the city below. I have a clear view of Market Street, running like some sort of umbilical cord from the heart of the City (which is indeed the Castro – geographically at least) down to the Ferry Building. Market Street, like this morning, is quiet, though certainly Justin Herman Plaza is now bursting with people and sections of Market are lined with spectators, all awaiting the Pride Parade. Shortly, Dykes on Bikes will open up the parade, gunning their shiny motorcycles down the hot asphalt and Market Street will be awash in color, smiles, officials in shiny convertibles, floats with handsome dancing men, and contingencies of various entities – community organizations, labor unions, student groups - all marching in solidarity, support, and pride. Helicopters will buzz the city; flags will wave; crowds will cheer.

Yesterday, the Pink Triangle was unfurled on the east side of the Twin Peaks Lookout. On a clear day, like today, the Triangle boasts a visibility of 20 miles.

Living on the San Francisco Peninsula for decades, I was of course aware of the Pride Parade, but not until I moved to San Francisco, to my roost east of Twin Peaks and overlooking the Castro, did I learn of the Triangle. During my first Pride Weekend living in the City, I took one of my usual walks in the neighborhood, heading uphill toward Twin Peaks, and halfway there, was astounded to see the large pink triangle embracing the hillside.

For me, the triangle has long represented female power. And that’s how I saw that pink triangle that first morning: a symbol of the lesbian community, of the power and force of women – a symbol of women’s struggle for acceptance, identity and acknowledgement in both the straight and “gay” community. Although LGBT is more often used these days (particularly in San Francisco), gay is still the standard and gay doesn’t really include women. And truly, if you look around the Castro – the gay mecca – you see men dominate the area. Women are scarce in the gay mecca.

But the pink triangle also harkens back to the abysmal time when the Nazis torched Europe, defiling, vilifying, torturing so many. In their sadistic penchant for labeling, the Nazis forced gays and lesbians to sew a pink triangle on their clothing as a sign of oppression. Now, every Pride Weekend, the pink triangle is a loud and visible memorial for the gays and lesbians who suffered in Hitler’s concentration camps. But the triangle makes another statement as well: there is pride in being gay, in being lesbian; and all of us have a right to an identity of our own, a community of our own – and here, now, in this time, the gay and lesbian community and its family, its supporters, are strong and will fight for the right to be treated fairly, equally, under the law.

The parade has begun. At the far end of Market Street I see splashes of gold, as the sunlight sparkles on the brass instruments of marching bands, on the gleaming chrome bumpers of well-polished cars and trucks, on the bits of shiny foil flags and ribbons. But when I leave my roost in a bit, I won’t head east and down the hill to the parade, I’ll head west and upward, toward the Pink Triangle.

(Note: the picture of the pink triangle was "stolen" from the Internet via google images. The other pics are mine. Click on the pics to enlarge for a better view.)

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ode to Buster Posey

The runner flies down the third base line
With such reckless force he should be fined.
But willing is he to take a thoughtless chance
And alas our noble catcher cannot shift his stance.

Oh ignoble Cousins, what have you done?
Could you not have found a lane that was safe?
No, instead you ran pell mell
into our catcher at home plate.

The stands are quiet
The bats are still.
We hold our breath
muster our will.
And from the bleachers the chant begins:

Posey! Posey!
Posey! Posey!

And all across the ballpark
This chant gains force.
We chant until our voices are hoarse.
For we believe as we always have
That our shouts, our chants
Can sway the game
give our players fortune and fame
the opposing team grief and shame.
Our collective will can make Posey stand
And crush Cousins with an invisible hand.

But our lad has fallen.
Our lad is down.
His fist in vain pummels the ground.
Our voices falter, but not one fan sits down.

We fear the worst.
We know the dark.
Ah baseball gods, will ye not hark
to our collective will?
Make Posey stand, our wishes fulfill!

But our lad has fallen.
Our lad is down.
His fist pummels the ground.
Our faces in dismay still frown.

Oh Cousins, ignoble Cousins,
Some day great fear will you feel
When in the batter’s box you see
A ball coming swiftly toward your knee.
So fast, so furious you cannot move
And whether that ball strike you low or high
It will leave a lasting bruise
And make you cry and cry.

Then you will know a small measure of the pain you’ve caused
And perhaps next time that will give you pause
Before you barrel your two-bit game
Into a catcher of such noble fame!

For our lad has fallen, our lad is down.
But not forever and not for long
and someday again we will sing our song:

Posey! Posey!
Posey! Posey!

For we believe as we always have
that our Giants will rise and our Giants will win
on a glorious day so fair
for to think otherwise will plunge us into despair.

And when our Posey is on the mend
And he takes the field again
the opposing team will fall into his trap
and all of AT&T park will clap and clap.

But until Buster dons that catcher’s mask again
Messages of love we will send
To our lad so noble and so brave
temporarily undone by a callous knave.
And though our rookie of the year we now do lack
to our stalwart Posey we will remain true blue or actually orange and black.

Note: I've taken some poetic license here as I don't truly believe Cousins is a horrible fellow, but he must be vilified for dramatic affect - haha!

Copyright Birdstory Publications 2011

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Is Bird Back?

The last time I posted on this blog was a little over a year ago. Hard to believe, as I look back over the infrequency of my postings that once upon a time, this was a thriving blog with regular posts and a regular readership that engaged in a lively discussion within the comments; I was part of a rich blogging community (which, from a quick swoop through cyberspace, I see is still alive and well).

I ponder whether to blog again. I wonder what has kept old blogger friends blogging all this while (K9, Chicory, Boggs, /T, to name a few). Is it wise or desirable to once again, invest time in blogging – composing, posting, and making regular swoops through the blogs of others (both beloved and reviled) and engage, engage, in this cyberspace community?

The Benefits
The blog still supports a certain level of anonymity and Facebook does not.
The blog allows for richer postings and Facebook does not.
Community in the blogosphere still exists and can be tapped into .
May force me into a regular writing practice again.

The Concerns:
Will I still become irritated with ill-mannered bloggers – which always bugged the shit out of me before? Will I handle this irritation differently?
Can a true community with substance be built?
Do I still have something to say? A story to tell? Of course I do – that’s a moot point, but leads to the next concern …
Do I want to tell it here?

A few updates about me
Still teaching.
Now a grandmother and in love with my grand-daughter.
Older than I used to be.
Try harder now not to become upset over politics or the course of the country.
Still in love with San Francisco.
Still in love with the Giants.