Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Haiti: One Year Later

Incredible that it was just one year ago that Haiti was rocked by a horrendous earthquake that toppled the country, destroying infrastructure and the economy, and driving nearly a million people from their homes into temporary housing - tents and shanties. Today, a March in NYC will remember that tragedy and call for aid for the Haitian people.

Billions in international aid were promised that have never completely materialized ($1.15B out of $5.3B promised.) Where's the money asks The Nation ?

Haitians 'long for change after a year in hell.' Article here

A slew of prominent New York City leaders, including Rev. Al Sharpton and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, will speak at Marching for Change, a solidarity march commemorating the one-year anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010. Facebook and other sites indicate that the Marrch for Change is stil la go.  The march will feature two rallies, one in Times Square and the other at the United Nations. Speakers include:

Times Square: City Councilmembers Matthieu Eugene and Jumaane Williams; Brooklyn Deputy Borough President Yvonne Graham; National Action Network Executive Director Tamika Mallory; Housing Works Pres. and CEO Charles King

United Nations: Rev. Al Sharpton; Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly; City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez; Rev. Jacques Andre DeGraff; Diaspora Community Services Executive Director Carine Jocelyn

The Marching for Change route will take marchers past the Haitian consulate at 39th and Madison. Marchers will demand that Haitian and world leaders address the unacceptably slow pace of earthquake recovery by committing to four specific actions:

1) Remove the Rubble: More than 50% of the original 19 million cubic meters of rubble remains uncleared. President Clinton has called the situation "totally unacceptable."

2) Provide Safe and Secure Shelter: One million Haitians are internally displaced. More than 1,000 camps dot the country, potential incubators for cholera, sexual violence and the spread of HIV.

3) Provide Clean Water and Sanitation: 40% percent of camps lack access to water. 30% do not have toilets. Water-borne cholera has claimed more than 3,000 lives.

4) Provide Jobs: Post-quake, unemployment quadrupled in areas of Port-au-Prince and its outskirts. The estimated Haiti unemployment rate is 80 percent.

2 PM: Kick-off Call to Action rally in Times Square (42nd St. and 7th Ave.)
2:30 PM: March to the Haitian Consulate at 39th St. and Madison Ave.
4 PM (approximate): Rally at the United Nations’ Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at 47th St. and 1st Ave.

Carine Jocelyn, Executive Director of Diaspora Community Services: "Next year we don't want the issue to be that one million people are still living under tents. This is unacceptable to the global community and must be a priority of funding and action." DCS helps Haitian immigrants in New York obtain health care and other services and operates a community health center in Port-au-Prince.

Charles King, President and CEO of Housing Works: “We will use this march to come together, show our support and solidarity with Haiti and demand action!” Since the earthquake, Housing Works has opened two medical clinics in Haiti.

PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS: Bailey House; CAMBA; Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce; Catholic Charities; CHE; Diaspora Community Services; Dwa Fanm; HAFALI; Haiti Cultural Exchange; Haiti Solidarity Network NE; Haitian Centers Council; Housing Works; JCRC; Lambi Fund; MADRE; National Action Network; NHAHA; New York Immigrant Coalition; People's Organization for Progress

You Tube trailer here

NY1 news clip on the Gallery photo exhibit at the Umbrage Editions Gallery exhibition called "Tent Life: Haiti" displays 22 of photographer Wyatt Gallery's photographs. He visited the country twice over the course of 2010.

More on the book, which portrays the struggle and hopes of the Haitian people in photos by Wyatt Gallery and an essay by Edwidge Danticat here

From Snowmageddon to Snowbigdeal

The cruel alarm went off at 5 AM as usual, and it took another 15 minutes or so before 1010 WINS' Lee Harris announced, "drum roll please!" that NYC public schools were opened. An email from a sanit pro that I know who had just come off of a 12 hour shift offered hope that "the streets are clear and you should have no trouble getting to work."  I got ready for the day and headed out to the driveway to dig out the van for My Better Half who is a special education teacher in Far Bushwick and has no other viable options to get to work. In a typically Herculean effort for a 56 year old mandarin of Italian-American peasant stock, I cleaned off the car, dug it out, and shoveled out our 30 foot driveway so that she could get to the street. A thank you kiss and a half a cup of coffee later I was trudging up East 17th street to the Q train at Newkirk Plaza which was happily waiting for me at the station.

Trains were light. Traffic was light. Basically, I guess, because the snow was light. Brooklyn Heights, as usual, is remarkably clear, although none of the coffee cart guys or newspaper hawkers were out there. I don't know what role the Mayor played in all of this. However, indications that he was in Bermuda over Christmas rang as always of the venial sin of cover up. It wasn't so much that he was away, as he didn't want anyone to know about it.  Then, as the NY Observer reported, it appears he flew home in the storm to appear at the press conference the next day. Now DITHOB understands -- esta clara -- the poor Mayor went to all of that effort to get back to NYC and NO ONE APPRECIATED IT. No wonder he was so testy and pissed at the press conference. Whether the last blizzard was a perfect storm of a lot of snow, coming on the heels of a holiday, plus miscues by some folks in the Administration (face it, Mike, you just can't get good help these days), even if combined with budget cuts and labor issues,  it was a mess.

Some folks were stressed over not knowing until the early morning hours today whether school was opened or not. One extremely hard working and underpaid parochial school teacher I know was doing the hoochie coochie from last evening. But just as there are people pointing fingers in this economic climate at public sector employees, pensions, job security, etc., instead of organizing and fighting for similar demands of their private sector masters, I wonder why (or whether) parochial and private school families who pay a substantial amount of money to send their kids to non-public schools,  so easily and readily accept the closings of their kids' schools. I am sure there are many parochial (if not private) school families who will lose a day's pay because they had to stay home with their kid. The idea of public and private sector employment needs to change, and be replaced by a new consensus and different demands to counteract the clearly failed "business-management centric model," which, like Paul Krugman suggested, is like a zombie political economy, that has failed, but continues to rise from the dead.  None of us are Mike Bloomberg. We are all, regardless of our relative salaries, working stiffs of one sort or another. Maybe not today, but some day, there will be a renewed call for workers rights and a new social security in the private sector. It is an issue currently hidden in the collective unconscious, although obscured by the American dream of material happiness, celebrity, sports, music business or lotto success, reality TV, and the belief that criticizing business is un-American. But it is an issue that will resurface as advanced capitalism which is based on finance and complex stock market and corporate legerdemain and not on production/ employment marches on. As people get deeper into the hole, it is a new reality that will surface, as people demand a new model which hasn't been clearly elucidated yet. But I guess that is a discussion for another time.

For today, though, lucky for the Bloomberg administration and the citizens who struggle under the day-to-day reality of the working life, the "Weather Emergency" was a piece of cake.

Current Reading

  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War- Tony Horwitz
  • A Sultan in Palermo - Tariq Ali
  • Hitch-22: A Memoir - Christopher Hitchens
  • Negropedia- Patrice Evans
  • Dead Funny: Humor in Nazi Germany - Rudolph Herzog
  • Exile on Main Street - Robert Greenfield
  • Among the Truthers - A Journey Among America's Growing Conspiracist Underworld - Jonathan Kay
  • Paradise Lost - John Milton
  • What Is Your Dangerous Idea? Thinking the Unthinkable - John Brockman
  • Notes from the Edge Times - Daniel Pinchbeck
  • Fringe-ology: How I Can't Explain Away the Unexplainable- Steve Volk
  • Un Juif pour l'exemple (translated as A Jew Must Die )- Jacques Cheesex
  • The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  • Pale King - David Foster Wallce
  • David Bowie: Starman bio - Paul Trynka
  • Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat - Andrez Bergen
  • The Future of Nostalgia -Svetlana Boym
  • Living in the End Times - Slavoj ZIzek
  • FIrst as Tragedy Next as Farce - Slavoj Zizek
  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising - Daniel Wilson
  • Where is My Jet Pack? -Daniel Wilson
  • Day of the Oprichniks - Vladimir Sorokin
  • Ice Trilogy - Vladimir Sorokin
  • First Civilizations
  • Oscar Wilde -Andre Maurois
  • The Beats - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • SDS - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • The Unfinished Animal - Theodore Roszak
  • Friends of Eddy Coyle
  • Brooklands -Emily Barton
  • Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahme-Smith - Entertaining and historical
  • Dictionary of the Khazars - Pavic
  • Sloth-Gilbert Hernandez
  • War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy
  • Charles Addams: An Evilution
  • Life in Ancient Greece
  • Time - Eva Hoffmann
  • Violence - S. Zizek
  • Luba - a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez
  • Life in Ancient Egypt
  • Great Apes - Will Self - riveting and disturbing
  • Lost Honor of Katherina Blum - Heinrich Boll - could not put it down
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed (author deserving of new wide readership)
  • Living in Ancient Mesopotomia
  • Landscape in Concrete - Jakov Lind - surreal
  • 'There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby'-Ludmilla Petrushevskaya - creepy stories - translation feels literarily "thin"
  • Mythologies - William Butler Yeats (re-read again & again)
  • How German Is It ? - Walter Abish
  • The Book of Genesis - illustrated by R. Crumb - visionary
  • "Flags" - an illustrated encyclopedia - wish I could remember all of these. Flag culture
  • Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ubik - Philip K. Dick
  • Nobody's Fool - Richard Russo
  • Hitler's Empire - Mark Mazower
  • Nazi Culture - various authors
  • Master Plan: Himmler 's Scholars and the Holocaust - Heather Pringle
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt
  • Living in Ancient Rome
  • Traveling with Herodotus -R. Kapuszynsky
  • Oblivion - David Foster Wallace - Some of his greatest work
  • Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace - still wrestling with this great book
  • Netherland - Joseph O'Neill - staggeringly great read
  • Renegade - The Obama Campaign - Richard Wolffe
  • Mount Analogue - Rene Daumal
  • John Brown
  • Anathem - Neal Stephenson - love Stephenson but tough slogging first few chapters
  • 7 Deadly Sins
  • ALEX COX - Alex Cox
  • FIASCO by Thomas Ricks
  • I, Fellini - Charlotte Chandler & Federico Fellini
  • Best of 20th century alternative history fiction
  • Judah P. Benjamin - Eli Evans - Confederacy's Secretary of State & source of the W.C. Field's exclamation
  • Moscow 2042 - Vladimir Voinovich - Pre-1989 curiosity & entertaining sci fi read; love his portrayal of Solzhenitsyn-like character
  • Gomorrah - Roberto Saviano - Mafia without the It-Am sugar coating. Brutal & disturbing
  • The Sack of Rome - Celebrity+Media+Money=Silvio Berlusconi - Alexander Stille
  • Reporting - David Remnick - terrific journalism
  • Fassbinder
  • Indignation - Philip Roth
  • Rome
  • Let's Go Italy! 2008
  • Italian Phrases for Dummies
  • How to Pack
  • Violence - Slavoj Zizek
  • Dali: Painting & Film
  • The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight - Jimmy Breslin
  • The Good Rat - Jimmy Breslin
  • Spook Country - William Gibson
  • A Blue Hand - The Beats in India - Deborah Baker
  • The Metaphysical Club - Louis Menard
  • Coast of Utopia - Tom Stoppard
  • Physics of the Impossible - Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Managing the Unexpected - Weick & Sutcliffe
  • Wait Til The Midnight Hour - Writings on Black Power
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed
  • Burning Down the Masters' House - Jayson Blair
  • Howl - Allen Ginsberg
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Palace Thief - Ethan Canin
  • John Adams - David McCullough
  • The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll
  • American Gangster - Mark Jacobson
  • Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Gawker Guide to Becoming King of All Media
  • Jews and Power - Ruth Wisse
  • Youth Without Youth - Mircea Eliade
  • A Team of Rivals - Doris Goodwin
  • Ghost Hunters -William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death - Deborah Blum
  • Dream -Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy - Stephen Duncombe
  • Love & Theft - Eric Lott
  • Exit Ghost - Philip Roth
  • Studio A - The Bob Dylan Reader

Current Listening

  • Alexi Murdoch Wait
  • Wilco Summer Teeth
  • Wilco The Album
  • Carmina Burana - Ray Manzarek (& Michael Riesmann)
  • Polyrock - Polyrock
  • 96 Tears - Garland Jeffries
  • Ghost of a Chance Garland Jeffries
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra
  • Mustang Sally Buddy Guy
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Black and White Years
  • Together Through Life - B. Dylan
  • 100 Days 100 Nites - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
  • DYLAN: 3 disc Greatest...
  • Glassworks - Philip Glass
  • Wild Palms - Soundtrack -Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Dinah Washington - Best of..
  • Commander Cody& His Lost Planet Airmen Live at Armadillo