Thursday, July 30, 2009

Senator Sherrod Brown gets more air time to promote public option plan

Senator Brown on Morning Joe (via the Ohio Dem Blog):

As Akron's neighborhoods disintegrate

On the fourth of July, as reported in the Akron Beacon Journal, a mob of around 50 black youths attacked a white family in Firestone Park, a predominantly white area of Akron. Immediately, a major "hush" overtook the local politicians, police and community leaders. There were short statements, the FBI was called upon to look into the affair, and Al Sharpton contributed a comment in condemnation of this apparently racially-driven act of senseless violence. The police are frustrated because nobody is turning anybody in or giving witness testimony.

The local rag refused to turn on public comments on that story, which was kind of silly because readers high-jacked other threads and have been talking about it ever since, some thoughtfully and others spewing racist ignorance.

Finally this week, one ABJ writer, Bob Dyer wrote this column, an interview with a black woman and her daughter living in one of the youth-terrorized areas of our town:

The 55-year-old woman lives in Akron's North Hill area, in the area between Main and Cuyahoga streets. Her neighborhood is predominantly black, with a sprinkling of whites, Hispanics and Vietnamese. Through the windows of her well-kept home, she has witnessed more bad things in the last year than most of us see in a lifetime. Intimidation, assault and robbery are routine. Not long ago, she says, she watched a crowd of 100 black teens surround an elderly white man who was walking his dog. ''They were blocking his path and cursing him out and taunting his dog,'' she says. The mob dispersed when a police car approached. Another time she saw ''a white girl getting jumped on by all these black girls.''
They speak of how their youth are without adult supervision, often living in homes headed by a grandparent who is working more than one job and seldom home to supervise the youths in their care:
Both women believe the sour economy is part of the problem. 'The government is stretched,' says the daughter. 'There's no money. This economy is jacked up. . . . There's nothing for these kids.' Kids have fewer programs, recreational opportunities and jobs. But the bigger problem, they say, is lousy parenting — or no parenting at all.
They say these teens feel entitled to everything without having any sense of having to work for what they want:
'Kids want nothing but money, and all these electronics. But it's easier to watch that person who just walked out of GameStop, crack 'em in the head and run off with their stuff.''
How much "hope and change" is taking place in our crumbling urban areas?
Although many of us thought the election of a black president would ease racial tensions at least a little, Barack Obama's overwhelming victory apparently is having the opposite effect in some quarters. Both of these women say they are sick of hearing black people shout ''Obama!'' in response to any type of public disagreement with a white person.
The conversation continues today when a beautiful city garden maintained for years by a retired black man to feed the elderly in his community was found vandalized yesterday. I pass that garden multiple times per week. I have admired it over the years. This season it has looked more lush and productive than ever. We are losing out in the effort to maintain a civil society, let alone one that cares and provides for the essential needs of every child that is conceived and born.

I have to wonder about the lives of those who produced the children now running wild in our streets, destroying gardens and terrorizing the elderly and their dogs. Why did the mothers and the fathers choose to have babies when they had no money or ability to raise a child? Did anyone teach them about contraception? Were safe abortions available and affordable? Did the fathers contribute anything other than sperm? What were the lives like for the young girls who became pregnant? What about housing, jobs, health care for the children and the mother?

How do we begin to socialize entire neighborhoods and turn wild children toward productive lives? Anyone have any thoughts?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Senator Brown Gives 'em Heck on Health Care

Sherrod Brown was a guest with Howard Dean, sitting in for Keith Olbermann tonight. Sherrod told it like I've heard very few tell it on health care. I've never seen him so fired up and passionate as he was tonight -- as well he should be. He says that he didn't get elected to bring home some weak Republican influenced plan. You go, Sherrod! I've pasted the entire MSNBC segment below. Hopefully, someone will edit out and YouTube the Sherrod section. Once that happens, send it all over the place and encourage your friends and family to start emailing their federal servants. Give them lots to think about over their summer break.

The good guys won, didn't we? Freakin' Democrats, please seize the moment and turn health care into something that is sane and equitable. Why can't we be like all the other civilized nations that recognize people should never have to go into bankruptcy because of outrageously high medical bills. President Obama's personal physician came out with a strong statement today about public insurance and the need for a single-payer system. Wasn't it just lovely -- the way the insurance industry poured money into the coffers of certain politicians to make sure that single-payer was not even brought onto the various committee agendas?

Just this evening I got a call from a national Democratic party fund-raising group and I listened to the spiel for about two minutes while I gathered my thoughts. Just before the bit where the person was about to ask for money, I interjected: "No, I'm not giving the Democrats any more money until they all back health care reform that turns us all from profit-making tools of the insurance, medical and pharmaceutical industry corporations into citizens who all deserve equal access to medical care equal to that now enjoyed by our federal public servants." Well, no I didn't actually put it in those words, but I did let them know I would not be donating any money to Democratic organizations that allow this opportunity to slip away.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Come out to PLAY! The Akron International Festival of Alternative Theatre!

Some very exciting local theatre news to share with you about an upcoming alternative theatre festival right here in Akron, Ohio! I have been a very absent blogger this summer, but all things must change and I plan on getting back into the writing rhythm by blogging about this festival with some posts about New World Performance Lab, the Year of Grotowski, and reports from festival as it happens!

PLAY! The Akron International Festival of Alternative Theatre coming in August

New World Performance Laboratory to present a festival of exciting theatre on The University of Akron campus

AKRON, OH –The Center for Applied Theatre and Active Culture (CATAC) and New World Performance Laboratory (NWPL) have organized PLAY! Akron’s own International Festival of Alternative Theatre from August 13 through August 30, 2009, on the campus of The University of Akron.

PLAY! includes six exciting theatre events: NWPL’s acclaimed production of Frankenstein; a cabaret performance, Stairway to Paradise: Songs of Sin and Redemption, featuring NWPL company member Megan Elk and saxophonist Bobby Selvaggio; two family-oriented productions (NWPL’s Looking for Alice and Theater Ninjas’ The Beetlebug and the Bad Worm); an open rehearsal of NWPL’s new performance Gilgamesh; and a film and panel discussion with NWPL artistic directors James Slowiak and Jairo Cuesta in celebration of UNESCO’s Year of Grotowski.

Tickets for PLAY!, individual events and festival passes, are available online here via Brown Paper Bag tickets or by phone at 1-800-838-3006

Schedule of Events for PLAY!

Frankenstein August 13, 14, 15, 27, 28, 29 at 8PM in Sandefur Theatre, Guzzetta Hall, ($15, $10 under 18 and UA Students)

Stairway to Paradise August 21, 22 at 8PM in Sandefur Theatre, Guzzetta Hall, ($15, $10 under 18 and UA Students)

Looking for Alice August 15 at 10AM and August 16 at 2PM in Daum Theatre, Kolbe Hall ($10, $5 under 18 and UA Students)

The Beetlebug and the Bad Worm August 22 at 6PM and August 23 at 2PM in Daum Theatre, Kolbe Hall, ($10, $5 under 18 and UA students)

Gilgamesh: An open rehearsal August 24 at 7:30PM in Studio 194, Guzzetta Hall ($5, UA students free)

Year of Grotowski: A Discussion and Film August 26 at 7PM in Studio 194, Guzzetta Hall ($5, UA students free)

Opening Night Reception: CATAC/NWPL will host an opening night reception on August 13 (tickets $20)

Mary Shelley's Birthday Party: a festival closing “friendraiser” to celebrate Mary Shelley’s birthday on August 30. For more information on these events call 330-867-3299.

PLAY! is funded in part by the Pittman Family Fund of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois. New World Performance Laboratory works in residence at The University of Akron.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Recently, Hamlet and I visited Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens to view the creative exhibit of specially designed dog houses, dubbed "Barkitecture." On Sundays throughout the summer and on thru October 31st, dogs (on leashes) are welcome to accompany their humans for a stroll round the grounds. Admission: Humans $8 and Canines $5. This was well worth the price of admission and is turning out to be quite a nice money-maker for the non-profit museum of life in a rubber baron's mansion. The day we visited, beautiful weather and lots of dogs and people strutting about the place as if we owned it!

My favorite stop was the Frank Lloyd Bite house. Hamlet liked the Not Your Average Joe house, with its dog fountain and cooling design features. The Upside Down house is really clever too. There are many more to explore with your dog pal, so check it out!

Hamlet admires the natural stone work on the Frank Lloyd Bite House, with its green roof helping to keep the interior cool.

The Not Your Average Joe House has a canine accessible fountain with pool and is built to capture cooling breezes plus it provides your dog some agility style training with its ramp up to the top. The shape of the house is that of an abstract sitting dog.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Sounds of the neighborhood

A new family moved in next door awhile back. That means adjusting to a whole new set of sounds. My neighborhood is very much working class bordering on scavenging class. There are plenty of families on the street. Their children contribute to the sounds of summer during the day. There is no convenient playground here, so the kids spend long hours rolling down the slope of the street on plastic toys with rumbling wheels. I hear them pushing their little tyke bikes up past my house, then the roll of the wheels and the delighted squeals as they rush back down the street. Sometimes, the journey ends in a crash to the pavement, and then mighty wails are added to the soundscape, along with accompanying howls from the dogs hidden behind the fence across the street.

The house next door is a rental property. The former family had lived there for more than a dozen years. They were avid collectors of stuff that ended up in the back yard, but on the other hand, they loved to garden and the front yard was always full of flowers. They played top 40 AM radio during the day, and sometimes late in the evening, friends came over for beers round the back yard fire pit. They got loud, but not out of control. Every now and then, voices might be raised in a family squabble, but these were only short bursts that seemed to fade quickly and resolve themselves behind closed doors.

The new family has increased the decibel level of the neighborhood to an alarming pitch. There is a teenage boy with a minibike who roars up and down the block and around their backyard. This is the only place the boy has to ride his bike apparently. The family dynamic seems to thrive on confrontational yelling. Adults yell at children and children yell back and at each other. Calm requests don't seem to be a part of their communication skills. They have three small dogs with high pitched barks. Throughout the day and night, I can hear their mistress order them in loud and imperious tones to "Go potty!" Sadly, I never here the sounds of dog and human play or the happy sound of "good dog!"

The family has many visitors who arrive in pick up trucks with loud motors. This goes on throughout the day. Since we share a driveway, I am always hearing trucks pulling in and pulling out, radios blasting with bass on so loud that my house shivers from the sound.

Their evening party sessions are loud and obnoxious, ending all too often in loud angry tirades. Last night for example, after a session of illegal fireworks being set off way too close to my house for comfort, the neighbors and their guests settled in for an hour's worth of screaming at each other. It was a male vs female battle, with several participants on each side booming and shrieking in tones that would surely upset any of the little children who live in houses up and down the street. So far the violence has been limited to vocal tones, from what I've heard at any rate. However, the potential for escalation sounds real and scares me.

I ponder what to do, if anything. Yell out my window? Call the police? Is it worth antagonizing unstable people? What if they seek revenge? Fortunately, last night was quite chilly, so I could shut all the windows and hide under the covers until the noise subsided some time after midnight and I was able to fall asleep.

The house on the other side of my property was originally purchased by a mom for her daughter to live in while she attended the university. It quickly turned into a party house with ongoing drug dealing 24 hours a day. That lasted for about a year, and then suddenly it all got quiet while a for-sale sign beckoned new owners to check it out. The family living there now hardly makes a sound except when the lawn is being mowed and the garage door goes up or down. Sometimes, kids and a dog show up for the weekend. Their sounds are lively and fun.

Late at night, the train rolls by on the tracks to the south of our neighborhood. It is a comforting sound that signals all is well and on schedule. During the day, a particular sound cues us to look upward to see the Goodyear blimp leaving or returning to its docking site to the east of us. For many days this summer, the sound of rain has dampened the other noises and provided us with an oasis of calm before the next period of sunshine sets off more chaotic sounds of human activity.

Right now the sky is cloudy and a drizzle of rain keeps the firework setters indoors waiting for better conditions. Outside the front window, birds are chirping to one another, while inside the dog and cat snooze, and the human makes clicking sounds on the keyboard.