Archive for January, 2010

Blowing raspberries

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

A Turkish friend was over the other day and introduced Tin to blowing raspberries – he loves it. Tonight he entertained our friends who had come by for dinner with full on raspberry blowing that rivaled anything on MTV and he was so tickled with his performance that his laughing was contagious.

Tomorrow – I’m blowing raspberries as I step back into the working world and forfeit my walks in the morning with Tin and my noon feedings. Raspberries indeed.

Tin’s first parade

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Tin went to his first parade last night, Krewe de Vieux and he seemed to really enjoy the spectacle. He lasted for the first part and then fell asleep in his papoose, and later got to enjoy seeing the other kids at the party. At one point, I had walked into the room where the kids were all on the floor watching a DVD and a little boy had walked in and one of the girls asked, “How old are you?” and he said, “Five and a half.” And she said, “Well, I’m seven so I’m in charge.”



If I were a boy

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Last night, we went to the Krewe de Vieux parade, stopping in at a friend’s party – the same one we have been going to for the past few years, with the same crowd of friends. And similar to last year, when one of my male friends pulled me aside and asked me, “Well, now that you are with a woman, what do you think is the biggest difference?” – another male friend pulled me aside this year and said, “I have this burning question to ask you and I hope you don’t mind, but how are you handling having a son with regards to your feelings about men, as in do you dislike men, are you angry at them, and how does it feel to have a son?”

I laughed and told him I love men, I love male energy, and I have always wanted in particular a son. I grew up with four brothers and had more in common with my dad and my brothers than I ever did with my mother and my sister. While they were busy making up and dressing up, I was interested in things other than the mirror. As I grew up this boy tendency I had either worked for me or against me, it depends on how you narrate the story. But I went through life oblivious to needing to wear make-up, needing to take a backseat to any discussion, needing to be coy. It wasn’t in my make-up.

I was attracted to and married effeminate men, metrosexuals are what they are called these days, but they were men who were not intimidated by my core strengths for the most part. And later when I was in my late forties and found myself on the dating scene suddenly, I had one too many male friends counsel me that I was a tough nut to crack. A source of mine for years told me over dinner that he would be hard pressed to know what kind of man I could find because I am free spirited and self-contained – a lethal combination he said over our fourth glass of wine.

While I was still entertaining the notion of creating a family this late in the game, men my age were looking two decades younger for mates if they were at all thinking about family. When it dawned on me that perhaps I could be with a woman was when I went on one of those MS bike rides where we all camped out and the man that came with us was someone I was attracted to but after the weekend I knew that it was only in the company of women that I could stretch my wings and fly.

Do I love men? What a weird question, I find I’m more like a man than a woman most times. I have been told I intimidate men, but I’ve never been intimidated by a man. As far as how my perception of men goes and how I raise my son to be a man, Tin will know that his uniqueness is in becoming a man, but that his transcendence will be to grow beyond his gender. As I believe I have.


Here’s my boy with all his boy energy – another photo by Marc Pagani.

Oh when the Saints…

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Where floodwaters once stood, a tide of emotion rises in New Orleans
By Sally Jenkins –  Washington Post Staff Writer – Monday, January 25, 2010; D01
It was a contact drunk. You didn’t have to swallow a drop for this NFC championship game to make you feel totally inebriated, like you’d been swilling the cheap well whiskey of Bourbon Street all night. When the action finally ceased, after nearly four hours, the wrenching swings and lead changes, dramatic spirals and swoons left you staggering amid the great geysers of horn music and confetti. The New Orleans Saints, dragging a whole metropolis on their backs, had advanced to the Super Bowl, but only in overtime after one man, Brett Favre, tried to take down the entire city.

The Superdome crowd of 71,276 was incoherent with madness; it was the loudest noise ever, a hurricane in your head. But when you thought it couldn’t get any louder, it went up another notch, into a great shrill stratosphere as Garrett Hartley stepped up to a 40-yard field goal with 10 minutes 15 seconds left in overtime. Behind the uprights was a large fleur-de-lis emblazoned on an upper deck of the Superdome, that storm-ravaged facility. Saints Coach Sean Payton told Hartley, “Why don’t you just hit that fleur-de-lis dead center?” Hartley did exactly that, sailed the ball through the uprights toward that ornate emblem of a team and a city, to give them the 31-28 victory over the Minnesota Vikings and the greatest moment in franchise history.

Make no mistake: They won for love of their city. They won for all the neighborhoods where the benighted old mansions now peel and sag, like old ladies who have misapplied their makeup. For all the buskers and panhandlers and street dancers, working under shabby, old oaks and palms. They won for the poor, flooded districts where the horns lament on street corners, Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans, I miss it both night and day.

Had a town ever craved a victory more than New Orleans? All across the city, people who had lost everything needed so desperately to win something. Even the cops on street corners chanted, “WHO DAT?” The local paper, the Times-Picayune, threw away all dispassion and ran a banner headline Sunday morning: “Our Team. Our Town. Our Time.” One Saints fan outside the Superdome even stamped a fleur-de-lis on the side of his great Dane. Party wagons with Klaxons barreled down the boulevards, imbibers hanging from the windows.

“Four years ago there were holes in this roof,” Payton said. “The fans in this region and this city deserve this.”

This time, the wreckage on the field and in the streets was sweet, beads and feathers and streamers, as opposed to the flotsam and detritus of the flood. The references were inescapable, and the Saints didn’t shy from them. All season, they had announced they were playing for something much larger than themselves. “It’s a calling,” quarterback Drew Brees said. After all, their home stadium had been the last refuge in the city for 30,000 residents during Hurricane Katrina, and an earthly version of hell during the storm-flood afterwards, strewn with debris and with breaches in the roof. The damage was so heavy, and so emblematic of New Orleans’s sense of trauma and abandonment, that city officials nearly decided to tear it down.

Instead it underwent a $200 million renovation, and when the Saints returned to it in 2006, they did so with a new head coach in Payton, and a quarterback the rest of the league had given up on in the sore-shouldered Brees. The renovated dome was a charmless edifice, all gray cinder block, but it was filled with the ghosts of Katrina, and the men who played inside the building never once flinched from the responsibility of that. On the contrary, they took specific, enormous pride in it. “Ninety percent of people who come up to me on the street don’t say, ‘Great game,’ ” Brees said back in 2006, when he first got to town. “They say, ‘Thank you for being part of the city.’ ”

Brees and Payton became the guys who came to New Orleans when no one else would. They arrived when the city was still destroyed and there was still junk in the streets. When Payton moved to the city, it was nearly empty, and the franchise was so lacking in facilities it had to hold training camp in Jackson, Miss. “There was a lot of traffic going the other direction, not much going in,” Payton recalled. Businesses were so shuttered that at one point, he had to stand in line for two hours at a Walgreen’s drug store to get an antibiotic for his daughter, and could only get half the prescription filled. “In other words, it was different,” he said. “It was hard to explain if you weren’t here.”

Brees was looking for a new team after the San Diego Chargers had no use for him. He committed to a city still partly underwater. “There were still boats in living rooms and trucks flipped upside down on top of houses,” he said earlier this week. “Some houses just off the foundation and totally gone. You just say, ‘Man, what happened here? It looks like a nuclear bomb went off.’ For me, I looked at that as an opportunity. An opportunity to be part of the rebuilding process. How many people get that opportunity in their life to be a part of something like that?”

One of these days, football will just be football again in New Orleans, but on this night, it was much more. Everything seemed to have outsize meaning, from the stakes to the noise. Then, as if the game needed anything more, the 40-year-old Favre delivered a living-legend performance.

Time and again, Favre choked off the crowd and the momentum as he directed scoring drives downfield. He struck at the Saints repeatedly, like a rattlesnake, as he threw for 310 yards with an assortment of lasers and fades while enduring a succession of shuddering blows. Gimpy and grizzled, he just kept slinging it downfield. In the final minute of regulation he threatened to bring the entire building down as he drove the Vikings once more, this time to the Saints 38. Finally, with 19 seconds left in regulation, Favre made a fatal mistake. Facing third down and 15 yards to go, he rolled right, then whirled and threw back to his left toward Sidney Rice — but right into the hands of cornerback Tracy Porter. That effectively sent the game into overtime.

After all that, it came down to a coin toss. That was the break the Saints needed to close the deal. Favre would never return to the field; overtime belonged to the Saints, who won the toss, then got a blazing 40-yard kick return from Pierre Thomas. From there, the Saints inched their way into field goal position. Hartley took aim at that fleur-de-lis and sent the ball up, and the sound came down from the upper reaches of the Superdome like a landslide.

“It’s surreal,” Brees said. “Coming here four years ago, post-Katrina. . . . It’s unbelievable, it’s unbelievable. You can draw so many parallels between our team and our city. In reality we’ve had to lean on each other in order to survive. The city is on its way to recovery. We’ve used the strength and resilience of our fans to go out and play with confidence on Sundays. It’s been one step at a time, and we’ve had to play through plenty of adversity. Just like this town has.”

Roger dat?

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Who Dat Nation 1, NFL 0 in merchandise fight

by Jaquetta White, The Times-Picayune

A proud proclamation of membership in the Who Dat Nation: The NFL seems to have seen reason and won’t fight the Who Dats.

The National Football League appeared to back off Friday on its trademark ownership claims to the phrase “Who Dat” and the fleur-de-lis logo, saying it is challenging the sale of items only “when those products contained or are advertised using other trademarks or identifiers of the Saints.”

“‘Who Dat’ we do not claim to own by itself,” said Brian McCarthy, a spokesman for the NFL. “It’s when ‘Who Dat’ is used in conjunction with Saints marks that it’s a problem.”

McCarthy said T-shirts and items with ‘Who Dat’ and a fleur-de-lis logo unlike the one owned by the Saints are allowed as long as they are not advertised as being Saints or NFL paraphernalia.

‘Who Dat’ shirts being sold at the Fleurty Girl shop on Oak Street would be acceptable, McCarthy said, as long as the shop removes advertising referring to the Saints.

In a letter to Sen. David Vitter, R-La., the league described the trademark tussle, which has enraged New Orleans Saints fans across the country since it erupted this week, as “a significant misunderstanding.”

The controversy began when the NFL sent letters to two New Orleans shops ordering the retailers to stop selling a host of merchandise that it said violates state and federal trademarks held by the New Orleans Saints. That, the letter said, included items with the words ‘Who Dat.’

According to the letter, “any combination of design elements (even if not the subject of a federal or state trademark registration), such as team colors, Roman numerals and other references to the Saints” are also trademark violations.

The shop owners and others interpreted the letters as the NFL claiming ownership of ‘Who Dat’ and the fleur-de-lis even as fans were flocking to buy gear before the Saints play the Indianapolis Colts in the Feb. 7 Super Bowl.

Vitter sent a letter Friday to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, stating that he “was stunned to learn recently that the NFL is taking the position that it owns the exclusive trademark of the term ‘Who Dat’ and has even threatened legal action against some mom-and-pop merchants selling T-shirts using the term.”

Vitter said he “would urge you to drop this obnoxious and legally unsustainable position and instead agree that ‘Who Dat’ is in the public domain, giving no one exclusive trademark rights.

“This letter will also serve as formal legal notice that I am having T-shirts printed that say ‘WHO DAT say we can’t print Who Dat!’ for widespread sale in commerce. Please either drop your present ridiculous position or sue me.”

In a response from Jeffrey A. Miller, vice president of government relations and public policy for the NFL, the league said it was hoping to “clarify the misinformation that is circulating on the subject in Louisiana.”

“Contrary to public reports,” the letter states, “the NFL has not sought to exclude all uses of the word ‘WHO DAT’ or the fleur-de-lis logo. Rather, the NFL has sent out narrowly targeted letters, challenging the sale of products bearing the the fleur-de-lis and ‘WHO DAT’ marks only when those products contain or are advertised using other trademarks or identifiers of the Saints.”

Vitter spokesman Joel DiGrado said, “The senator is pleased that the NFL is already coming off its original position. However, he is continuing to demand that the NFL drop any claim on the phrase ‘Who Dat’ under any circumstances and will be sending a more detailed letter to the NFL Monday.”

Speaking before the NFL clarification, Saints coach Sean Payton said he was sympathetic to business owners and the fans.

“I’ve read a little bit about it,” Payton said at a news conference. “I don’t know enough about it other than it’s — I think the people who are running these small businesses, you know, I think we’re fans of those people. I don’t think anyone can own ‘Who Dat’ personally. So there are some specifics with it as it pertains to business sales and that’s something that I’m not as familiar with. But I think that’s for everyone to enjoy.”

Other members of the Louisiana congressional delegation also demanded that the NFL cease its threats of legal action against merchants.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said it is “unfortunate that the NFL is exploiting a phrase that has been part of Louisiana’s culture for more than a century. Who Dat Nation deserves better. I am exploring several options to sack the NFL’s greediness, including removing the league’s tax exempt status.”

Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville, who is running against Vitter in this fall’s Senate election, posted on his Twitter page a link to his “No One Owns Who Dat” petition urging the league to give up the fight.

And Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, said: “If the NFL owns ‘Who Dat,’ then a football is round. No matter how hard they try, nobody can dispute the power and energy of the Who Dat Nation.”

Washington bureau reporter Bruce Alpert contributed to this report.

The cold weather arrived with warning

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

As usual, it is freezing outside and Krewe de Vieux is rolling tonight – god bless those people in the parade who don’t let the cold stop them. We’re thinking of just how many layers were could put on Tin to make sure he enjoys his first ever Mardi Gras parade and we are praying for warmer conditions come Fat Tuesday.

The pressure is building

Friday, January 29th, 2010

It’s been raining all day today – sort of a weird warm downpour that also feels like incredible pressure much like what comes before a storm, not during one. Tonight is a full moon – a wolf moon it is called because it is the cold winter night’s full moon, the first of the new year. We know what is blanketing the north and midwest with arctic weather is bearing down on us and going to turn our first Mardi Gras parade tomorrow night into a shiver me timbers event, but still I do believe that on a night like tonight, it’s best to stay indoors and try to keep a lid on the pressure.

The legacy stops here

Friday, January 29th, 2010

I was speaking to a friend of mine one time – a Jewish father of a grown boy. I asked him if he would mind if his son married a non-Jew and his response was, “He knows who he is.”

It had this omnipresent tone to it, even though in reality the man I was speaking to was pretty hip and although he was Jewish (almost obviously), his Jewishness never seemed to be top of mind with him or his wife when we gathered for a meal or celebration.

My brother insists on writing me about this re-circumcision and my obligation to give Tin the same legacy I inherited, Judaism, but I wonder about that. In 1985, my father died of a massive heart attack. I know now that if he had a stent installed like my two brothers have, he would have survived his heart problems. Nevertheless, I would go to the synagogue to say kaddish for him. This is the prayer that elevates your loved one closer to god (Jews don’t believe in hell, there is near god and absence of god). [I think I’ve told this story many times before but it bears repeating.] To say Kaddish there has to be what is called a minion – a gathering of 10 men – and there I was, maybe months into driving to the synagogue before work and school and going after work and school and then driving across the Causeway home and I arrive one night to nine men and me. No kaddish said aloud.

I said fuck it.

Then as I was thinking about raising my own child, I thought about having a boy, I thought about it a lot because of many reasons, the weird dynamics that I had seen between my husbands and their mothers, and because of all things in the world that I could not fathom it was my son ever saying in shul, “Thank you god for not making me a woman.” This prayer comes from a time when women were considered chattel. I ask you does this religion need refreshing? Amen.

So when I started going to reform synagogues after being raised orthodox, I thought I would find the new new Judaism that would fit my modern day mentality but I did not. Much like the Catholics who still prefer the mass in Latin, I longed for the books that opened backwards, I pined for the male cantors voice chanting the prayers in Sephardic melody no less, and I missed the Torah carrying and my father holding up his tallit to cover my and my sister’s heads. My father sang better than most of the cantors I’ve heard and Sephardic melody is something that goes to my soul especially sung by my grandfather from Turkey and my father’s Spanish/Turkish roots. I had a nostalgia for that old time religion that I was brought up in and so to me the reform synagogue had gone too many steps away from the tactile and rich traditions that are deep at the core of Judaism. And there I was adrift, no way to re-enter the religion.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that Judaism is my legacy, but it’s not the tradition I care to hand down to my child. Tin will know what it means to be a Jew but he will be part of a new world spirituality that doesn’t see a hoary bearded wise man sitting on a stone throne who deliberates judgment – instead his cosmic understand, I hope, would be fluid and mysterious and universal, and Tin himself would not learn to sit in judgment on anyone else’s belief or cast aspersions on what one ought to be doing or how one ought to be believing.

Who dat say they don’t love a challenge?

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Tee shirts are being offered presale – with our answers to the NFL.

Getting used to Do Drop

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Tin is starting to get used to the people who drop in at the LaLa at all hours to visit. The difference is that now most of those people are stopping in just to see him. He has a group of regular visitors that have taken a liking to him. Of course, we know why! Yesterday one of his Turkish friends came by and spied Tatjana and my Turkish lessons on the table. I then proceeded to offer up a few words from my lesson and he said, “You sound like a foreigner.”