Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

I have seen the enemy--and it is us

The X-files mood
Originally uploaded by ozonic.
I am, knock wood, in a very good place right now in my life. I have become much more calm and content in the past few years. I am grateful for what I have, rather than longing for what I don't have. I am with the man of my dreams, and life is good.

My ex-boyfriend and I are in the process of getting ready to sell our Manhattan coop, which we co-own. I try not to think too much about the fact that I would love to stay there, but I also see how much Manhattan has changed. The streets are horribly congested, the borough is losing its character as building after building gets razed to make way for yet another soulless "luxury" high rise, and I'm not a kid anymore--Manhattan is more and more the playground of the rich and young. So I am content to buy a place in the Bronx close to BG. Although the atmo is very different from Manhattan, it is still very much New York, and Manhattan is just a subway ride away.

But lying below the peaceful surface is a sense of unrelenting urgency--a realization that my wonderful life could come apart at any time. This is scary, but it also makes me even more determined to treat each day as a precious gift.

One particular source of joy for me, particularly in the past 4-odd months, has been an immersion in the blogosphere. But it also means that I am privy to one more source of bad news as well as good.

Up til now, I've kind of let it all flow by. When the possibility of disaster is an everyday thing, the only way you can cope without going mad is to turn it into an mental and emotional abstraction. In London, after the subway bombings, it was noted that the citizens were amazingly calm--probably because they have been through this all before--first the Blitz during World War II, and later numerous conflicts with the IRA.

But gradually, little by little, I have absorbed the bad and disturbing news that keeps relentlessly flowing in. Now, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, I feel like my precarious sense of security has been destroyed like the levee's in New Orleans, with every disaster I have recently heard tell of finally breaking through and simultaneously flooding my consciousness.

Here, in no particular order, are a few of the things which have been disturbing me:

A video I saw recently from a link on the Lioness's site, Which surprised her, that shows a rabidly anti-Semitic sermon delivered by a Muslim cleric. This link will take you to a sampling of blood curdling videos full of poisonous rhetoric against America and the Jews; the one I viewed was #669.

Reading and hearing over and over from highly regarded experts about how likely, or nearly inevitable, an imminent nuclear attack may be --particularly if our administration does not take heed and employ decisive action.

Reports coming to the surface about how the weapons of mass destruction justification for invading Iraq was in large part fabricated by a notoriously unreliable source--which is old news to me.

Seeing Palestinians burning an Israeli flag during the disengagement in Gaza. Many fear that this conciliatory gesture will backfire, being interpreted by extremists as a sign that total takeover of the disputed areas is just a matter of time More on the situation, once again, from the The Lioness's site.

A report several days ago of a disaster in Iraq during a religious celebration where many fell or were pushed to their deaths from a bridge they were crossing due to a rumor that a suicide bomber was in their midst.

Endless, horrific reports of looting; snipers shooting at rescue helecopters, hospitals, and police; and rape, anarchy, and general mayhem in the aftermath of the horrific hurricane and resultant flooding and devastation in New Orleans.

Seeing President Bush, apparently cutting short one of his ubiquitous vacations, to finally tour the area a full five days after the disaster-- and now, at last. pledging federal assistance. As usual, despite putting his arm reassuringly around survivors's weary shoulders, he did not look sincere to me, to put it mildly.

Viewing up close, courtesy of CNN, the horrible conditions of the people still waiting for rescue. I could not help but imagine what it might be like to find myself and my loved ones suddenly without a home, food, water, or safety.

An August 31st post by the Sarcastic Journalist with links to some ads on Criagslist by moral bottomfeeders offering lodging to female refugees of Katrina in exchange for sexual favors, including assuming the role of a sex slave.

And closer to home, the fact that despite announcements that NYC subway passengers would be subject to bag and package inspection by police, I have yet to see one police officer in the subways doing so.

As far as the war on terror, although the enemy is hard to pin down, it is at least an evil force outside ourselves. And the hurricane is an "act of God" that cannot be blamed on anything human.

But the fact that it was fully known that this day was more than likely to come due to an eroding and neglected infrastructure--making New Orleans horribly vulnerable to the forces of nature-- is our own doing.

The fact that we have diverted billions to an arguably tragically misguided effort abroad, thus depriving us of adequate resources when we need them at home, is our own administration's doing.

The fact that some people in New Orleans reverted to horrible violence and destruction is our own doing.

BG likes to say that you don't have to go 10,000 miles to see your enemy. Your enemy can be your neighbor, or a fellow passenger on the subway, just as easily.

As for me, the only thing I can do is make a donation to the Red Cross and fervently hope that the scenario I am seeing on TV--or something similar, if not worse--will not be our fate down the road.


At 2:55 PM, Blogger Danny said...


I hope that all goes well with the moving and stuff. I totally agree with you about the changes in the "concrete jungle." We are running out of floor space, so let's start using the wall space - know what I mean?

It's such a sad picture, isn't it? I try not to get caught up in the emotion of the going-on lately, but it's nearly impossible.

I mean, who the hell are these IDIOTS that are shooting at RESCUE HELICOPTERS? If you ask me, they
should be disposed of. To try and circumvent the efforts of the rescuers is simply uncalled for. I know it's wrong to fight fire with fire, but when an obstacle gets in the way, you either A) go around it, or B) remove it. They can't seem to go around it, so...

Normally, I am against war and violence. I have a violent past and put that to rest (as best as I could, anyway.) Perhaps I appear hypocritical in some respects? I am not at the frontline, and I don't see what's going on firsthand.

I mean, seeing a helicopter coming down to rescue these poor people, and some son-of-a-bitch is shooting at them, for no apparent reason! It would look rather foolish to pull out a gun and off the idiots, as you deliver supplies to others in need. I guess that it's like a war in its own right - an unneccessary one at that!

Damn! This got me all fired up now! And for these religious zealots who insist on making the world terrible for the rest of us, you need to quit fooling yourselves and take stock in your life. Stop using religion as a means to get by and justify your actions (especially when it amounts to terrorism or sadistic acts.)

Stop denouncing people that are different than you. If you are truly spiritual, you be trying to reach out and to help others. I don't believe that ANY god truly believes in hurting mankind. I mean, how is it that someone can take the teachings of someone like Buddha and interpret them in violent acts? It's flat-out ridiculous.

It just makes me sick to my stomach to think of the lengths that people will go to just to prove a point. Let's stop and ask ourselves one question:

IS IT REALLY THAT IMPORTANT? WHY DO YOU CARE SO MUCH? Can't you just accept that fact that everyone is different, and that there is nothing, and I repeat NOTHING that YOU or ANYONE can do about it!

I'm not insulting you - I'm not saying you're weak, or stupid or anything like that. I'm just saying - LET IT GO! Live your life, and I'll live mine - if our paths cross, let's reach out to each other and do our best to get along. We don't have to love each other - hell, we don't have to even like each other. But we do need to RESPECT OUR DIFFERENCEs.

To me that's what it all boils down to. It's funny how we are encouraged to "be ourselves," yet if we don't "run with the herd," we are ridiculed, criticized, or even worse, beaten or killed.

Let's work together - and when your brother is down, do your best to give him a hand. True, this is easier said than done, and I could cite examples as to why things won't work exactly like they do in my mind - I won't deny that. Feel free to open fire upon me now. I'm ready and waiting. I only ask one thing - don't resort to name calling or belittlng. I simply won't listen - your words will fall upon deaf ears. :)

Sorry to go on so long, Elvira, but I had to get it out. Perhaps this outpouring may tarnish my views as an idealist - then again maybe not.

Thank you!

At 3:34 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Hi Danny:

Thanks so much for the awesome comment.

I too cannot fathom why anyone would shoot at those who are trying to rescue and help them. Law enforcement efforts in New Orleans broke down quickly, with many police officers, having lost everything themselves, simply resiging rather than risking their lives in the anarchy which developed. There are simply some people who will do horrible things just because they can--our prisons are full of them.

As far as religious intolerance--I am not comfortable with anyone who prosteletizes to me, or tells me my religion is the "wrong" one. Regarding Islam, BG's mom sent me a book that I've just begun reading by Mark A. Gabriel called Islam and the Jews: the Unfinished Battle. This formerly devout Muslim, born in Egypt, uncovers how the Quran is riddled with anti-Semitic sentiment and teachings. Although of course this does not mean that all Muslims hate the Jews, when they are kept in a state of ignorance and subject to hateful indoctrination, it seems inevitable that woeful repercussions will develop.

Any entreaties for peace on earth and goodwill towards men will fall on deaf ears for those whose religion and "culture" are based on hatred of another group. By this I mean the fundamentalist interpretation of a given religion--which almost inevitably engenders hatred and often violence toward those who are different.

One thing I must say though--if Islamic extremists see us as evil and corrupt devils, the reprehensible behavior of some hateful individuals in Louisiana would certainly bolster their beliefs. We don't have to look very far to see examples of raw evil in our midst.

Thanks again for the comment, Danny--don't ever worry about "going on too long"--I welcome feedback like yours, always.

At 5:42 AM, Blogger Walker said...

I can see what you mean about the neighbourhood around me here.We are not as congested here yet so it's not so bad, but the young are turning it into something else. But are they?
We are getting older maybe and we see what we are not anymore.
We have evolved into what we laughed at when we were younger.
I grew up downtown and have lived here ever since.
I wouldn't want to live in any other part of the city though.
I may be old but I still know how to be young.I hope you like your new home as much as your old one.

Ok now, I just finished reading your post I wanted to go back to all the sites.
Putting aside the fact that I smoked a joint just before i read it.
I laughed my ass off listening to those videos. Well I actually read them, I don't speak Arabic.
It's amazing what some people believe. I'm suprized that no one said that the Jews paid Monicato give Clinton head.
Or did they and I missed a video.
My parents are from Greece and they beleive what they are told and have been told over the years.
It's a blind sense of pride that all those people in the Middle East and south western Europe have that drives me nuts.
You couldn't get one person over there to admit they are wrong. Not even if you would show them video proof, they would just say it was fixed.
I would rather listen to those videos without the subtittles. Then it would be what it really is to me "BLAH BLAH BLAH".

The Mess left by Katrina has created victims and monsters.
I saw the bodys in the news and the people stranded on roof top[s for days without food and you want to reach out and help.
I saw some of the looting. I can understand looting for food to feed ones self and family, fuck it will spoil anyway. But people were stealing TV's DvD players Cameras. How many calaries does a mp3 player have?
I just want to smack these people in the head and the ones that are waving at the fucken camera recording them while commiting a felony, "your really stupid".
The guy that raped that woman and blamed the weather, well give me 5 minutes alone with him to read his forecast.
You would think that any government would be ready for the worst possible catastrophy so they could spring into action and save the day.
Scratching head.

Have a safe weekend

At 1:24 PM, Blogger Diana Crabtree said...

Great (and painful) post!

What an awful compilation of horror! I hope that writing them out like this helps you feel more in control, not overwhelmed by it all. (I am not sure of my reaction to looking at it layed out like that- it invloves some cursing for sure!)

On a topic not yet relevant (tell GWB) since people are still dying, rebuilding...I am saddened to think that a beutiful historical city like New Orleans is now going to become just like Florida and Manhattan and every American city- full of soulless, cheaply made luxury highrises. And ugly or not, most people wont be able to afford them.

At 6:48 PM, Blogger elvira black said...


I'm glad you're still enjoying the old 'hood. I, too, like to put down roots, but as long as I'm in NYC, it's all good. Seeing the kids just discovering all the things that once entranced me about the city kind of brings me back too. I try to learn from and enjoy the perspective of people from all ages and generations.

You are right--no amount of :"logic' or "reason" would change anyone's mindset in the fundamentalist world. But I think it is valuable for people in the West to have access to some of these clips which don't normally appear in the mainstream media.

The looters are one thing--that's not as sick to me as the people who actually tried to thwart the efforts of the rescuers--to what possible end?

Yes, it certainly is strange that the "saviors" of the world didn't have the wherewithal to respond quickly and decisively to a domestic catastrophe. Strange, yes--surprising, no.

At 6:55 PM, Blogger elvira black said...


Yes, I do have a tendency to lump together and compare and contrast--let it digest (or fester) --and then regurgitate it all out in one fell swoop (LOL). The one bright spot in all this may be that those fence-sitters may finally see what many of us have seen all along--that Dubya is a ((**&&^&^%^%%$$###--and that's putting it nicely.

I didn't imagine a luxury condo scenario in New Orlean's future--but you never can tell. It will take aeons to rebuild anything, I'm afraid. As horrific as 9/11 was, it was much much less extreme than this.

At 3:02 PM, Blogger !ce said...

I have a bit of news about that. A lot of people think that New Orleans sits right on the coast, but it isn't so. The city and the ocean are separated by about 50-100 miles or wetlands. The wetlands did serve to weaken storms, but they are disappearing by the length of a football field every 30 minutes. Now, for something slightly related from hydrology class. Did you know that as of 1995, the world's demand for clean water exceeded the supply by 17%?

At 3:04 PM, Blogger !ce said...

Republicans suck, not exactly news to anyone, and of course, they are phony. Michael Moore has repeatedly proven this very well. Also, there is an excellent book called The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.

Fundamentalists are so fucked up that they will believe dinosaurs and humankind walked the earth together if a fellow cult member says so.

At 2:03 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Thanks for all the useful info you provided. You described the whole situation very succinctly indeed. Although Michael Moore critics abound, I found Fahrenheit 9/11 to be an excellent and shocking film.

As for the book you mention, here's a link for anyone interested--it includes editorial reviews and a few excerpts from the book, which was apparently a NY Times bestseller as well. Again, Ice, many thanks!

At 3:49 AM, Blogger JC said...

This one hits too close to home for me even to do a good comment on. UGH! I was just having a discussion with friends today about how folks with bipolar actually do feel more emotions than others and how it is very important that we have a thick skin between us and others so that while we can see and feel badly for their pain, we don't actually feel it. A soft heart with a thick skin.
I hate to sound as though I am getting really old, but what is the world coming to? The whole New Orleans thing was just the icing on the cake for me. I quit watching the news a long time ago, but can't give up my blogs. We need to do something. Gosh, guess you got to see the whole 911 thing up close and personal. terrible. I am so sorry.

At 6:15 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Funny you should say that; my boyfriend BG, who is schizophrenic, commented to me last night about "making a friend of your pain." This sounds odd, but what he meant was that pain can be a tool for healing, transcendence, action, compassion, growth, etc.

I've found that my mental illness has given me more compassion for the sufferings of others. Pain is a part of life, and sometimes great humor, philosopy, political/social movements, etc. initially arise as a response to pain. But shit, it still hurts! lol...

The posts on your blog, as well as the post you wrote for Bring it on! are terrific. I do feel optimistic about the fact that so many people are speaking out. Plus, I just heard on the news that Dubya's approval rating is plummeting--to around 30-something percent. About time!

As far as 9/ll--well, the one positive thing that came out of this was that the NYC police dept has now set up a state of the art anti-terrorism defense system. The attack was horrific enough, of course, but would have been even more devastating if it had hit midtown rather than downtown. Not much comfort there, but I do think that New Orleans is a disaster on a much larger scale.


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