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June 25, 2017 / thackersam

I’m Telling You Now

When I was 21, Danny Dobin grabbed my breast. He snuck up from behind me as I sat in for the receptionist at the front desk. It was my first real job. I was file clerk and relief receptionist for a fabric manufacturer on 34th and 10th, and it was so long ago that having nothing in the immediate area, we anxiously awaited the McDonald’s that still encompasses the corner. The Javits Center would not come for years, and the YMCA was not yet a fitness center and housed wayward men.

Danny Dobin was a VP in his mid-30s with a family connection to the business. He had a picture of his wife in the bath on his office wall, the office that was behind the front desk, making his stealthy tit-grabbing possible. The grabbing of my right breast, as I clearly recall, caused me to jump. I was stunned and baffled, as he just moved from behind me out the office door and while he passed the openings that surrounded the front desk, he shamelessly smiled at me and said, “I couldn’t resist.”

My response was typical. I gave one of those smiles, the smile that we give when we think we have to accept something that is so totally wrong, stifled by that feeling of being violated or that this somehow was our fault. It’s a really dumb look and a dumb response that I have since abandoned, although it took a while. Though you may not think it’s an offense punishable by death, I should have killed him. Or maybe just punched him so hard in the nuts that my fist would exit through his mouth. In other words, he got off scot- free, yet I’m reminded of it now and then, and it still pisses me off.

When I was a little girl, splashing about alone in a public pool, probably at a relative’s country club or possibly the Ronjo Motel in Montauk where we would go for summer vacations, I felt this sudden and startling grab to my crotch under the water. A boy popped his head out of the water laughing as a group of his little jerk-ass friends just a couple of feet away joined his laughter as they swam away. I can’t still describe in words how I felt, but when I try, I recognize the feeling. I can only say that it involved confusion. I didn’t have parents that would respond to something like that, so I also felt quite alone.

But when an incident occurred some years ago involving a young boy assaulting a young girl in the same manner, a stink was made of it. Someone responded and the boy was being charged with a crime. I don’t recall how severe, however I remember Bill Maher speaking out in defense of the boy saying he was too young to understand what he was doing, without any regard to the young girl, the victim, and how this sexual assault would affect her. I don’t recall the ages of the children involved, but the boy I believe may have been 10 or 11, and I also don’t recall what the outcome was, except that, aside from his movie Religulous, which was great and highly recommended by me, I no longer watch Bill Maher cause he’s often a big, stupid jerk.

Point being, these boys will be boys antics have long-lasting effects on their victims. You put something inside a woman or a girl, even the tip of a finger through the bottom of a bathing suit, that she doesn’t want there, that’s rape. Would I charge a ten-year-old with rape for doing that? Of course not. I don’t even think he should be forever listed on a sex offender registry, unless the offense continues. But he must be punished. He done wrong and he must pay the consequences. He must learn that it is wrong, that he cannot go around assaulting girls, and he should be taught how the victim feels. And the victim – she needs validation. They don’t know what they’re doing? Please. They know. I know they know.

And it’s isolating, particularly if you don’t feel that you can tell anyone. This in fact, may be the very first time I’ve told anyone of my swimming pool assault, and while I did share my Dobin attack with a co-worker, I never reported it. There was no support back then for sexual assault and harassment in the workplace, and even today, the assaults continue, though it’s harder for those who think they’re above it all to get away with. Maybe that’s why Bill O’Reilly and dickwads of his ilk want a return to “traditional values,” in which men can continue their ill treatment of women and girls, because after all boys will be boys.

I’ve no clue what set me off on this tirade. It wasn’t the Bill Cosby verdict, which I think we all could have predicted as soon as we saw the primary accuser in the case with her Phil Specter hairdo, doing herself no favors. I believe her but am not enraged at the outcome. He’s ruined anyway, rightfully in my eyes. So nothing specific pushed my outrage button today. Just general injustice.

On another note in recognition of today’s Pride Parade: I think of my brother often, though it’s been more than 30 years since he died of AIDS. I wonder what he’d be wearing today.

BTW – Yesterday as I was waiting on the checkout line at my Gristedes market, their radio station, which I must find, was playing “I’m Telling You Now,” by Freddie and the Dreamers, who were part of the British invasion of the early-mid ‘60s. They made several appearances on the Ed Sullivan show, and we all learned how to “Do The Freddie.” I started singing along, quietly to myself. Yes, there was some movement involved. I looked around and realized that I was probably the only one in the store that not only knew this song, but could also sing along. “I’m telling you now, I know it’s been said before…”

June 18, 2017 / thackersam

Music of the Millennial

My Millennial was telling me that she’d been watching the first volume of something called Guardians of the Galaxy. Of course I’ve never heard of it, but what she wanted me to know was that she has also been listening to the soundtrack, and likes it. It seems the mother of the lead character, neither of whom is the lovely green woman in the accompanying photo, influenced his taste in music with her own, and Spotify offers a mixtape of what my Millennial excitedly told me was music from the ‘70s.

Uh-oh, I thought, letting her know that the ‘70s was the decade of disco, and I was not a fan. The tape is not disco laden (whew), but I did wince at a few of the songs, including the “ooga chacka, ooga chacka” cover of “Hooked on a Feeling.” “Brandy!” she exclaimed not expecting me to gag with disgust. That is such a guy song, I explained – “Brandy, You’re a fine girl, what a good wife you would be” but I’m a sailor-man and I must do what he-men sailors do including wave from my chin (I didn’t say the last part to her as I would have to explain The Little Rascals to her).

Then she said “Come and Get Your Love.” Redbone? I love that song, don’t know why, but the list was starting to show improvement, although “Mr. Blue Sky” is not the best representation of The Electric Light Orchestra (think ELO’s “Roll Over Beethoven”).

It’s a tape of an eclectic taste, which I can respect. And not all songs were from the ‘70s, like the ‘60s song and really good choice, “Come a Little Bit Closer” by Jay and the Americans. My own eclectic taste in music, as you know, is well represented in the usual Sunday workout line-up. The weekday workouts start out the same although the Linda Ronstadt songs, which on Sunday remain the first three songs from Heart Like a Wheel, are “Desperado” and my big teenage heartbreak song, “Long, Long Time.” And because I just don’t torture my neighbors enough with my constant attempts to hit those notes that Linda did so well, and me never quite making it, this is always followed by Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Passionate Kisses” and Fiona Apple’s “Criminal.” And to further recap, we go into a light aerobic workout with Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women” and Gladys Knight’s “Heard it Through The Grapevine,” twice, because that’s the law around here.

When I take to the floor, the music doesn’t have to have a specific purpose like exercising the vocal chords or getting me moving. So I’ve taken the opportunity to go back to my cheap CD finds that didn’t really wow me the first time around, and give them another listen while performing leg lifts and cobras, and whatever else I’m doing on the floor. Because the mixtape includes “The Chain” from Fleetwood Mac, I was inspired to give Stevie Nicks’ Bella Donna a shot, and am sorry to say that I still found it less than wowsome, even with the quite recognizable Roy Bittan’s piano. I only needed it for 20 minutes, but that was a long enough sampling. I still love Stevie. She’s a freakin’ icon. The whole band is, and I hear that they will be getting together again for a farewell tour, so yay for them. I was also stoked that Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie, who I always thought had a swell blending of voices, released an album together, but I’m not impressed with the one song I’ve heard.

But you don’t always like the works of artists you respect, at least I don’t, and though disco was not my cup of tea (I neither bumped nor hustled), who doesn’t like “That’s the Way, uh-huh uh-huh, I Like It.” Uh-huh, uh-huh.

My Millennial recommended that I watch Guardians of The Galaxy, which I tried for ten minutes, but I currently have my hands full with Twin Peaks season 3, and Claws, which I will be watching shortly.

My apologies for repeating the workout line-up so often lately. I’m trying to make sure I don’t forget the original purpose of the blog. And these days, politically I am stymied and stunned to the point of speechlessness. And tomorrow is another day. It’s always darkest before the dawn, and when it rains it pours.

BTW – a very happy birthday to Paul McCartney, who was the initial inspiration for my blog. He’s 75. Ringo will be 77 on July 7th, my mother’s birthday. Keep on rockin’ guys!

June 11, 2017 / thackersam

In Her Own Right

I’ve figured out what the problem is. I’m down to the last three colors of my Pilot G-2 ten-pack – turquoise, lavender and pink, my least favorites. Thankfully, as I was tidying for what could be the last of the ladies nights for an awfully long time with the last of the ladies, I uncovered the maroon and black pens. Problem solved. I can write again.

My friend Gilda, who’s been living in Connecticut while coming into the city a couple of days a week for work, has found a new job in New Haven on Ella T. Grasso Blvd. Gilda’s a native of the state, but 20 years my junior, so I suspected she didn’t know who Ella Grasso was, even though she said she had heard the name before.

Well I know who she was. I remember. Ella T. Grasso was the 83rd Governor of Connecticut, and the first female Governor in the United States elected in her own right. That “in her own right” thing is important as there had actually been three female governors before her whose husbands had been elected to the office. In 1925, Nellie Ross became the first female governor in the United States in a special election after her husband died and she remains the only female governor of Wyoming. Miriam “Ma” Ferguson was Governor of Texas after her husband was impeached and convicted, and then we had Lurleen Wallace, wife of vocal segregationist and frequent presidential candidate George Wallace as he could not run again due to term limits. She died in office of cancer, and George, who had been instrumental in the addition of the word “consecutive” to the term limit rule, became Alabama’s Governor again not long after. Interestingly, Lurleen’s cancer diagnosis was in 1961, but because her husband and physician made the decision to keep this information about her health from her, as they could actually do back then, she didn’t receive treatment until after a second diagnosis a few years later. Even though her cancer spread, she ran for Governor while secretly going through radiation. Not only was George Wallace an ass, he was a supreme ass, and then some.

There have been 42 female governors of the United States, which also includes the feisty Ann Richards of Texas, Jane Swift, who as acting Governor of Massachusetts was the first governor to give birth while in office (she had twin girls), and the not swift Sarah Palin. Susana Martinez was the first Latina governor and has been the Governor of New Mexico since 2011, the more attractive than her name Muriel Bowser is currently the 2nd female governor of Washington DC, and Puerto Rico has also had a woman governor.

Ella Tambussi Grasso became Governor of Connecticut in 1975. She grew up in Connecticut and was the daughter of hard working Italian immigrants, who encouraged their daughter’s interest in learning though they each had very limited educations themselves. Ella would choose a life in politics and served in the Connecticut House of Representatives from 1952, then was elected to serve as Connecticut’s Secretary of State. She was elected to two terms as Governor, but resigned on the last day of 1980 after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She died a little more than a month later.

In addition to politics, Grasso had a full life raising her two children with husband Thomas Grasso, who she married in 1942. Ella Grasso died at age 61 from ovarian cancer. President Ronald Reagan posthumously awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981, and in 1993 she was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame. *ConnecticutHistory.org.

And I remember Ella Grasso from the neighboring state across the Long Island Sound. Women Governors aren’t exactly a dime a dozen these days, but back then, it was a mighty big deal. Thanks Ella.

For those who scoff at feminism, particularly women who do, please remember that it was less than 50 years ago that men could make the decisions for their wives on all sorts of matters, and it is only because women continue to fight for their rights that we have them. [To O: Pure coincidence, my writing of this post and the article in yesterday’s NYTimes by model AND feminist Paulina Porizkova.]

BTW – Gilda and I and our two other friends had a swell get together on Thursday night and came up with new references that only we will understand, to garbage bags and the hard finger (only one is sexual and not the one you might think). We ate pizza, samosa, ice cream and chocolates, and yes, the diet was blown and the end of month goal will be even more difficult to reach. But, it was well worth it.

Holy Moly – I just realized that it has been five years since I quit smoking, well except for that cigar in New Orleans. June 3, 2012.

June 4, 2017 / thackersam

Caption

Caption: We are a ways off from Halloween, but recently the Statue of Liberty (see picture) mentioned that she didn’t have any pictures of Vicki (The Chrysler Building). Scouring through my old photos, I came upon this one. I believe it was 1982.

Each Halloween, Vicki’s older brother rented a hall for a costume party for his many friends and their many friends. We decided to go that year, and settled on dressing as a chain gang, though no further planning had been made. We were all pretty broke, so buying costumes was out of the question, and we looked to Vicki, the creative one, to figure it out. Then she came to me with an odd suggestion. How bout if we go as famous buildings in New York City. Having no clue how she would pull this off, I said okay and called dibs on The Empire State Building.

One evening, I was summoned to Vicki’s parent’s house in Muttontown. It was a large, old-fashioned saltbox house, with lots of rooms of no great size. Except the kitchen. They had THE BEST kitchen ever! Vicki’s dad had folded up the long dining room table that left little room for anything else, as a work station for me and Liberty as Vicki worked in the living room across the front hallway. She had found two refrigerator boxes and broke them down, and with books of pictures of The Empire State and Chrysler Buildings, she meticulously drew outlines of the windows on the cardboard. She had finished one, that was splayed out on the dining room floor, and had started on the other when I arrived. It was my and Liberty’s job to color in the windows.

Clever Vicki had also found yards of an ugly green fabric that probably no one wanted, but was perfect for Liberty’s dress, and Mr. D., who was really into it, fashioned the torch so it lit up. I remember him popping into the room to show us, so pleased with himself. You have to understand that this kind of behavior in a parent was foreign to me, even though I’d spent nearly every holiday and then some in their home since high school.

But I’ll stay focused, regardless of the fact that it was getting hard for Liberty and I to remain so that night as we were drunk from the fumes of the thick, black magic markers, and had gone all giggly. In the end though, we had the costumes and they were great. Liberty was able to wear her costume to the hall, but Vicki and mine, now reassembled, were lying in the back of Vicki’s Volvo wagon, which has a few of its own stories to tell. When we got there, her brother suggested we go downstairs to the Ladies Room to put on our costumes, which in hindsight made no sense, as getting back up the stairs wearing ankle-length refrigerator cartons, could only be accomplished using small sidesteps. I grumbled at the ridiculousness (ah, to be young and stupid) as I slowly ascended the stairs when I heard someone say “Need a hand?” I looked up to the first landing, which I’d yet to reach, to see a guy dressed as an alien with numerous arms, and of course hands. “Not funny,” I fumed. It was funny, but I was not feeling it at that particular moment.

It was a fun party and we had a great time. Our competition for best group was stiff, as last year’s winners who had come as a sixpack of beer (I saw the pictures, and they looked great), came as Smurfs, and we expected them to win again. But we won, fair and square, despite Vicki’s relationship to the party organizer and that his wife represented Broadway as part of our group. I remember there being quite a few cute guys there that night, which may be why I’m the only one not looking at the camera.

 

May 28, 2017 / thackersam

Don’t Believe Me Just Watch

Thank God, or goodness, or my lucky stars, whichever, for music and this blog, and the routine of exercising, at the very least every Sunday. The Walrus Was Paul keeps me writing, even when I don’t want to, and sometimes I find the posts darned amusing. It certainly allows me to vent my frustrations, state my opinions, and take those trips down memory lane that are filled with tangents and secret messages. But the music takes me to another world. It distracts me, and frankly it’s hard to feel blue when you’re bopping your head or snapping your fingers.

So tonight I think we’ll return to the original blog theme of music and exercise, but skip the memory part, unless something comes up. The Sunday routine, which is the longest and on what the other workouts are based, has expanded due to the inclusion of a couple of songs I just can’t do without, is now: still Linda Ronstadt and the first three songs of Heart Like a Wheel; Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Passionate Kisses” and Fiona Apple’s “Criminal,” those being the two newest entries (I highly recommend the “Criminal” video for all); Glady’s and her Pips with “Heard It Through The Grapevine,” twice; “Smooth” twice; and three songs off Sly and the Family Stone’s Best of CD, with “I Want to Take You Higher,” twice.

And then we go to the mat, follow that with weights then end with stretches. That final half hour had been owned by Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black. I meant to tell you sooner, but she was released from that spot a while ago. I had filled it first with Patti Smith, but I haven’t settled on anything. The B52s are fun, TLC and a little Crazy Sexy Cool has been working out nicely, and of course there’s The Beatles.

But don’t dismay. Amy will be back. In fact, after seeing Bruno Mars doing Carpool Karaoke with James Corden and singing “Uptown Funk” I now have the need to add that song to the routine. The connection being Mark Ronson, who produced Back to Black and wrote “Uptown Funk” for his own album on which Bruno Mars was a featured artist.

Now let’s talk goals. You know I never lost the weight I wanted to before I went to New Orleans, just one pound of it. I knew it was unrealistic, but considering three of those pounds had just mysteriously appeared one day (I swear it was like overnight), I thought I could easily make them disappear. And I was having too much fun in New Orleans to really care that I was tacking on two pounds. So, without weighing myself, I am going to make this first and drastic goal to get back to 140, where I will be a much more comfortable size 10, sans pouch, by the end of June. And not only that, but I will now start nagging the Ex, because he is just looking like a crazy old fat guy and it’s concerning. As for me, no more shilly-shally. It could be anywhere from five to seven pounds (I don’t think it’s less and I hope it’s not more), but 140 it shall be by June 30th. Don’t believe me? Yeah, I’m a bit dubious myself.

BTW – I saw Kevin Kline in Noel Coward’s Present Laughter on Broadway the other night. He is a master at overacting and he still is very physical, animated and agile. The rest of the cast was great as well, and it was a mighty fine production. I’m hoping this motivates me to take advantage of our smaller more affordable theaters in New York, which I prefer anyway. And that usually gets those writing juices flowing. Win, win.

Oh, and you know, sometimes I feel like I’ve been tied to the whipping post. But, I’m no angel.

I will try to come up with an interesting story for next week. Promise.

May 21, 2017 / thackersam

Cavalier

I’m not a big English history buff, so I don’t know if King Charles I was a good guy or not, but I was thinking about the word cavalier, and learned that a Cavalier was a wealthy loyal supporter of King Charles’ I and IIIn my brief, recent research, I also learned that Charles I ruled for more than two decades, sold the crown jewels, which were not his to sell, to finance a war against his own people, some of which he hired foreigners to murder. He was executed for treason.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was named as such because it was the chosen lapdog of the King. Cute.

The word itself can mean gallant, but mostly, when we think of a cavalier attitude it refers to a haughtiness or “lofty disregard of others.” Not just your run-of-the-mill disregard, but disregard of the lofty magnitude.

I understand the dog thing, it’s stuck with the name. But someone thought to name a car cavalier, and a whole basketball team. Now, I know nothing of professional basketball, but I loved LeBron James in the movie Trainwreck.

And that was to be tonight’s post. Yes, it’s a veiled political statement. I short jab. But as a total aside, I must take this time to acknowledge the recent death of Chris Cornell. My friend, a much younger friend, wrote on FB about the music of Soundgarden helping her get her degree, motivating her to forge on. It was a lovely sentiment I thought, but I didn’t know his name, though I’d heard of Audioslave and Soundgarden, and until this week didn’t realize how much of their music I’d heard and that I could recognize his voice. It was not music that had any impact on me, but it did on my friend and apparently many others. I do know how it feels to lose an artist that impacted my life, like Bowie, Cynthia Robinson of Sly and the Family Stone, the amazing Lesley Gore, and to a lesser extent Joe Cocker and Leon Russell. And those are just the most recent ones. What I mean is, when the art of an artist touches you in some way, and though they don’t know you from a hole in the wall, they’ve seen you through tough times and happy times as well, or just gave you a needed boost, it’s hard when you then lose them and it’s a very personal pang to the heart. Condolences friend.

 

May 14, 2017 / thackersam

Mr. Buzz Kill or Life Beyond the Rally

My boss, whom we will refer to as Buzz, for obvious reasons, is a real Debbie Downer, a Negative Nancy, a Doubting Thomas, and one big buzz kill, ergo, his new moniker (he’s also a bit of a Nosy Parker). I have long nicknamed him Mr. Curmudgeon and stuck a big yellow smiley face on his office door. It’s still there. He likes it.

But oh, how he loves to argue every point and you just want to bop him upside the head. And mind you he’s one of those guys who has to have his phone on at all times because god forbid he misses a call just because he’s in a pesky meeting in which we are reporting on our recent trip to New Orleans and what we learned at the conference. Bop. For some strange reason, on this day he had changed his usual ringtone, Van Halen’s “Jump” to that Hall and Oates ditty, “You Make My Dreams Come True.” It was just oddly optimistic of him, particularly since he spent the majority of two hours bursting every bubble I had brought back with me. I never know though which one he is going to present as his own idea.

The next day, when his ringtone had returned to the better suited “Jump,” as I sat across from him in his office while he fiddled with his hearing aid, the battery flew up and dropped on the floor, somewhere. It had done a bounce and roll. Buzz crawled on the floor as I suggested that maybe my slighter build and two working eyes would be more useful. “Have you thought about how you’re going to get up,” I mused, but I don’t know if he heard me. He was laying practically splat on the floor behind his big imposing desk, concentrating on an area under the side desk. I hovered over him then glanced at the door that I always close behind me when I’m in his office, because we often disagree, loudly. I laughed. “I hope no one comes in now, because they’ll think I’ve killed you,” I said. I think he may have heard that one.

I told my Associate Director about it. “Especially you,” I said. “You would think I’d finally done it.” She grinned and nodded. “And I know what you would do,” I said. With her still nodding I suggested she would turn, after shouting “my lord woman, what have you done,” go get our millennial, and together we would devise a plan to dispose of the body. Because that’s the kind of team we are!

And speaking of solidarity, on Wednesday night I attended a meeting by the organizers of the Women’s March on NYC, to make some decisions regarding life beyond the rally. I was feeling it, and my sense that others must be feeling it too was confirmed when I got the invitation to the meeting. What else besides assemble in protest could we do, and what areas should we concentrate on in addition to that big one. There was a lot of talking, story telling and the like, so the only firm plan of action is that we will meet again soon. They had pretzel rods.

I was flattered when organizer Kat recognized me from volunteer headquarters on the day of the march in January. I had mentioned that the night before the march on the conference call the number we were told of registered marchers had double from the week prior’s figure and was then 200,000, and that as I stood on the southeast corner of 47th and Lex directing the oncoming crowds the next morning, I could somehow tell that it was a lot more than that. She said that while the press was reporting 400,000, someone else in authority had indicated that it was closer to 700,000. Then she told me when she started organizing the March as an adjunct to the main Women’s March on DC, she had filed permits for 2,000. “And then I just posted it on Facebook,” she smiled.

The next night I had a facial.

BTW – I called my stepmother in Holland to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. We had a nice chat, though I didn’t understand much of what she was saying other than “nice plants” and something about how the new president of Indonesia has contacted her about paintings of her first husband who had been the country’s premier artist until he was murdered nearly 25 years ago. The last part of that is true. He was the premier artist for decades and he was murdered.

As she approaches 91, it has become more and more necessary to respond according to her tone of voice with either sympathetic or enthusiastic ohs and hmms, use “oh that’s nice,” very carefully, and gently glide over the question, “So when are you coming over.” Key words like “nice man” alert me, particularly the helpful kind, but this time I surmised she was speaking of someone in the past. When she was still living in her apartment, to where she is returning tomorrow or the next day as soon as they take the pictures off the walls of her room in the nursing home where they are trying to kill her because she knows too much, the nice boys she referred to who were in her home at 4:00 in the morning her time, were cops. But they were nice boys. I know I shouldn’t poke fun, but she’s been heading down her trail of delusion for a long time and she’s not turning back to the real world, so when we speak on the phone, I just join her in her world. I don’t know if it’s better or worse that she is now going home in a day or two, as opposed to next week, as she has been repeating for years. But as I’ve been saying, her voice sounds strong and once in a while she’s been right.