Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


For My Democratic Friends:

"Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2006, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee. By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher."

For My Republican Friends:

Here's wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Hat tip to AG, an old school buddy.

Friday, December 23, 2005


I've been thinking about "hate" crimes and "hate" speech lately, and I'm reminded of two episodes from my childhood.

The first one was when I was in sixth grade at St. Paul the Apostle school in Manhattan. Most of my friends lived in the Amsterdam housing projects, right behind Lincoln Center. Most days, after school, we would go to the Lincoln Center Library and do childish things, like sliding down the escalators, or scratch up the great Motown records (after listening to them, of course). Across the street was the Julliard school, where we would sneak in and try to get a peek at the aspiring ballerinas practicing. They were like creatures from another planet, all of them so pale and skinny, with their hair pulled up in a little bun on top of their heads.

One day we stayed outside, and taunted them as they left the school, saying "HON-KEY, HON-KEY, HON-KEY!" This was great fun for an hour or so, after which we went back over to Lincoln Center to hang out. I finally got around to asking one of my friends what a "honky" was. After he told me, I said "but wait, I'M WHITE!". One of my friends said "You're not Puerto Rican?", to which I replied "I've got blond hair and freckles!". He replied, "Chris, YOU A HONKY!". We all laughed, and no friendships were ended that day, though we didn't "honky-bait" the Julliard girls again.

The second episode was maybe a year or so later, when I was spending weekends in Freeport with my father. I met a whole new bunch of kids from south Freeport (all white), and quite a different culture. I was talking with a girl from this crowd, when I said to her "nigga, you're crazy".


The resulting commotion could be called "culture shock", but I was lucky the whole crowd didn't kick my ass! I tried to explain that where I was from, that expression was no more offensive than saying "Man, you're crazy" or "Dude, you're crazy". I can still remember her screaming "He called me a nigger!", over and over as my brother helped smooth things out with the crowd.

I still wonder if she would've had as bad a reaction if I had said "Bitch, you're crazy". However, I'm proud to say that I watched many people from that crowd overcome their racism in the following years, especially during high school.

The point of these stories is that you can't judge what's in a person's heart or mind just by what they say on one occasion. You also can't guess at what another person might be over-sensitive to, or what they actually hear when you speak. I realize that I'm citing childhood anecdotes, showing me to be quite a naive child. As adults, more is expected of us. Therein lies my problem with "hate crime" laws. If I get into a fight with a black guy, and I call him "nigger" during the fight, is that a "hate crime"? Considering my above stories, couldn't I make a case that, in my formative years, I learned that word as being no more offensive than "man" or "dude"? Would a jury buy it?

-Or how about a customer at the motel I work for, an old black man who said to me "they should ship you back to Ireland"? (I swear it's true, Anna was on the phone listening to the whole thing!) Should I have denied him a room, and sued him for "hate speech", or just laughed it off? I laughed it off, of course.

However, I don't see a need to apologize for using "bad" words in my everyday speech (or my emails). I don't use racially polarizing words nearly as often as I use plain old profanity, which is supposed to be offensive to everyone.

While society is getting more permissive of general profanity, more and more words are deemed "politically incorrect" due to racial over-sensitivity. Well, I'm not buying it. The only person I have to worry about offending is the man who looks back at me in the mirror; he's the most honest judge of my character.

We're all human, and quite fallible. Once we accept this, maybe we can work around all of our individual "quirks" and "biases". I may hate what someone else has to say, but I will defend their right to say it, unless it actually incites others to break the law.



I overdrew my debit card for the first time ever, the same week that I lost it, along with my wallet, on my way to my fiance's Christmas party. While it was bad karma to lose my wallet, and all of my ID, I'm sure whoever found it thought they hit the jackpot after seeing my Republican National Committee ID. Not all Republicans are rich, even in NY. They will be as sorely dissapointed as I was about the loss of my ID.


PS: I see the bright side; that I had no money in the wallet when I lost it, and that the card was useless to anyone who found it. I was able to correct both my arrears and get a new card at the same time, and the nice lady at the bank suggested a passport as a back-up ID.

NEXT: Reclaiming my ID before a potential ID theft! (Another bad move by the scammers, if they try)

UPDATE: Found my wallet at the bottom of my closet! Take that, imagined ID thieves!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Photo of my windows (center) facing Columbus Avenue. The window I jumped out of is around the right corner of the building.

I lived for a time at 46 W. 73rd St, and then moved next door to 48, which was on the SE corner of Columbus Ave (&73rd St.). My parents had separated, and my father lived in Freeport, Long Island. I stayed with him on weekends, being picked up either on Friday night, or Saturday morning. I had made some friends in Freeport, and preferred to be able to see them on Friday nights, of course. Well, one week, when I was about 12 years old, I thought I should be able to travel from Manhattan to Freeport alone on a Friday night. Mom would have none of this, of course. Dad would be coming in the morning to take me out to Freeport, and that was that. I was banished to my room, with 2 windows overlooking Columbus Ave, and a third window just one floor above the roof of the store next door.

I don't know exactly what posessed me that night, but I look back to my wish to be like Shaft, Spider-Man, and the Werewolf at that age, just as a guess. I put some clothes in a plastic bag, and scraped together the money for the subway and LIRR fare (I think it was $2.35 for the LIRR during off peak hours, and either 35 or 50 cents for the subway, though I'm not sure at all), and JUMPED OUT OF THE SIDE WINDOW, ONTO THE ROOF OF THE BUILDING NEXT DOOR. I sprained my ankle on that first jump, and then had to climb down the store's fire escape ladder, and hang- jump down onto Columbus Ave, about midway between 73rd and 72nd streets. I was hearing the theme from Shaft in my head as I limped down 72nd St. to the subway, and then to the LIRR, on my way to hang out with my friends in Freeport.

By the time I got to the Freeport LIRR station, it was past my usual curfew, and I had to walk the 2 miles to dad's place, because I had no money for a cab. I was starting to realize that this was not going to be worth what I had invested in it. Boy, I didn't know the half of it. When I arrived at St. Marks Ave, where dad lived, he was waiting at the door. NOT HAPPY. He invited me in, and asked me if I knew why my mother had so many nervous breakdowns. Of course, I had no clue. I was always the last one to know when mom got "spooky", as we called it, and I often unwittingly encouraged it. Little did I suspect, maybe not even during this incident, when my dad told me explicitly, that I might have added to her stress. Dad wasn't the only one; my older brother used to tell me that I (again, "unwittingly") used to put all kinds of pressure on mom. I didn't see it then, but do now. Now I see my fiance worrying about her adult (20 yr. old) daughter going out alone, and I understand.

There are alot more stories to be told about my life at 48 W. 73rd St. As I find the words to articulate them, I'll be writing them. This is what NEXTLEAV is for, after all. The personal side, and other stuff I wouldn't post on LEAVWORLD. Hope it's interesting, and helpful.