Archive | Country Matters

The Jury Is In

Some thoughts on landing on a jury for the first half of January.
1. It could have been so much worse–some people in my pool were roped into month-long service.
2. I’m going to appreciate non-institutionalized time so much more when my service is done.
3. I am infinitely more enthusiastic about the judicial process now that the courts are the most effective deterrent to Trump’s nefariousness.
4. I adore downtown Brooklyn, and rarely visit it since moving to Williamsburg 16 years ago. En route to the courts I bought earrings at the corner of Jay St– NYC accessorization at its best–and swooned over the serious BK lady sidewalk style.
5. The eating is good! As I type this, I’m eating cheapo Sahadi’s black caviar slathered on a Mile’s End bagel with a half-sour Kosher pickle.
6. I’m fairly certain I conjured this experience because I’ve been mainlining The Good Fight, the most progressive, envelope-pushing TV drama no one is watching. (I blame the CBS All Access platform.) I adore strong legal dramas, and have convinced myself that in an alternate universe, I am a Diane Lockhart-style badass.
So, yeah: it’s all in how you look at it.

Crime + Punishment + Lobster Tails

Tonight I attended a screening of “Crime + Punishment,” Stephen Maing’s Sundance-winning doc about the NYPD’s illegal quotas system, under which officers are retaliated against if they don’t meet a certain number of summonses and arrests per month. I’ll be honest. The Tree of Life shootings already had me so down that I didn’t know if I’d make it through the night; as a Jew, a queer, a woman, and a fan of humanity-at-large, I’ve never felt more scared and sad about living under the shadow of a hate-speechifying president who proudly calls himself a nationalist. But something happened that I didn’t expect: I started to feel hope.

This film about a NYC-wide economy dependent on institutionalized racism focuses on the brave efforts of the NYPD12, a group of police whistleblowers who’ve filed a related class-action lawsuit; on the many NYC males of color, aged 14-21, who are targeted and brutalized by quotas; and on the families, activists, lawyers, and criminal investigators who support them. That these brave men and women still have the audacity to battle corruption when everything seems so relentlessly uphill reminds us that there always have been fucked-up power hierarchies, and we have no business giving up until they’re gone. In a profoundly moving Q&A at the Crosby Street Hotel screening attended by many of the doc’s key players, police sergeant Edwin Raymond spoke about how the struggles of the ancestors embolden him to fight today. “This is my turn,” he said calmly before going on to describe how he is being targeted within his department for speaking out on behalf of his community. In the face of evil, we all must serve as clear-hearted, clear-headed officers of love. Thank you, cousins from other mothers, for your example. And thank you, brilliant investigator and former cop Manuel Gomez, for providing us not only with your brilliant proposed legislative reform–go to his website for the details!–but for your delicious “lobster tail” pastries. Sweets to counter the bitterness is not just the Jewish way. It’s the way forward for us all.

Crime + Punishment is now streaming on Hulu.

A Word from the Siren in Charge

1970s Alice Walker taking up plenty of space like the good womanist she is.

I’ve been really struck that, even now, I’m seeing a number of women couch their indignation about the Kavanaugh hearings with phrases like “of course not ALL men…” and “there are really good guys.” Obviously not all guys are awful but I’m tired of tiptoeing around male feelings.

Witness how, even as CBF was serving her civic duty at great personal cost, she was in a million palpable ways laboring to “make nice”–to apologize for taking up any space. It is vital that we women stop people-pleasing no matter what our conditioning. I get that those of us who sleep with anyone identifying as a man are deeply conflicted in a way that is still unacknowledged. That we may unconsciously fear wilting dicks even as we wave our flags. But the bottom line is we need to stop being cool girls and instead stand as grown-ass women.

Everyone bold enough to identify as a women in this misogynistic culture needs to speak in declarative sentences rather than upticks that beg for permission. We need to stop playing along or picking our battles when micro- or macro-aggression appears. We need to call out BS as it happens in real time. Even if it means we seem like “man haters,” we need to stop apologizing for ourselves and stop trying to pretty up our righteous fury. And can we stop patting “good guys” on the back like they deserve a medal for achieving a baseline of decency in the face of profound human rights violations? I honestly expect any man I electively know to use their male privilege to fight misogyny and gender inequality at every turn. Life is short but the legacy we leave is long.

In other news, Mrs. Lincoln, Grace is really digging on the cooler weather. She’s all, mom, I like to snuggle in your knee pit! and, mom, isn’t it fun to play with jangly balls at 3 am? So cuddly I can hardly begrudge her transgressions, she’s keeping me company as I roast acorn squash, brussels sprouts, and pork loin tonight with concord grapes, thyme, and chopped apples. I also am opening a bottle of red from the Sierra Foothills that I’d been saving for a special occasion. Because, you know, Sunday blues, mean reds, permakittens, and patriarchy. NYC balance, y’all.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy