I didn’t make it to jury duty because KITTENS!

February 24th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Last night I got an email inviting me to interview for a job I applied for recently. Once again I had to call up and reschedule jury duty, but this was for a job at the ASPCA. Taking care of kittens. This is a real job! AND I GOT IT. I am going to be paid to take care of kittens! More specifically, neonatal kittens, in THE ASPCA’S relatively new Kitten Nursery (2014 was their first year). I still can’t get over it. I’m not giving up writing, I plan to write more books, but kittens!!! I am going to be paid to take care of kittens!

Coincidentally, the founder of the ASPCA, Henry Bergh, makes a brief appearance in my Blackwell’s book. Bergh was also one of the founders of The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. It formed in 1874 after Bergh and Elbridge T. Gerry, counsel for the ASPCA, started looking into the case of an abused child named Mary Ellen. Interesting that the laws preventing cruelty to animals preceded the laws preventing cruelty to children (the ASPCA was founded in 1866). I’m sure that’s because there were at least stronger social restraints against harming children, and maybe people assumed that laws protecting them were already in place. Whereas with animals, you could do any horrible thing you wanted. I read a bunch of the ASPCA’s early annual reports and oh my god, I may never recover.

But here is my new place of business—this wonderful organization!

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Jury Duty Tomorrow

February 22nd, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

I’ve postponed twice, but so far nothing has come up so it looks like I can show up for jury duty tomorrow. It’s Supreme Court. I wish it would say if it was civil or criminal court. Of course I hope it’s criminal. Except I’ve become so jaded about the word criminal these days. Only certain people get labeled criminal, and the biggest criminals, committing the most far reaching crimes, are off the hook, for the most part.

An alleyway to a thrift shop, where everything was relatively reasonably priced. WEIRD. This was likely an alley to a stable. Horses would have once been brought through here.

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A Jacket I Can’t Possess

February 21st, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

I haven’t done this in a while, posted a picture of an article of clothing I can’t afford. For those who don’t know, I’m a poor person who lucked out and got a rent stabilized apartment in a very wealthy neighborhood in New York City. Every day I pass by stores filled with beautiful things I’d never be able to afford to buy. Honestly, I’m fine with that, even if I had money there simply isn’t a lot I’d want to buy. Also, a lot of the clothes I see would not look good on me. But this jacket is cute and I think I’d look great in it!

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Watch the Documentary 13th

February 19th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I just posted this on Facebook, and I know I’ve posted about this before, but as I said on Facebook, I just finished the documentary 13th and I have to rant again.

It started with my book about the NYPD’s Cold Case Squad. I became enlightened about how much time, manpower, and money went into investigating and prosecuting some crimes and criminals, and how little went into others, most particularly white collar crimes and criminals. Matt Taibbi wrote the book I didn’t have in me at the time to write, “The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap.” After spending a few years immersed in the subject of murder, I just couldn’t do it. I still haven’t read The Divide, but it’s next up on my to-read list. From a review of Taibbi’s book:

“How can it be, he asks, that a street drifter such as Tory Marone serves 40 days in jail after cops find half a reefer in his pocket, but not a single executive of HSBC faces criminal charges after the bank “admitted to laundering billions of dollars for drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia, washing money for terrorist-connected organizations in the Middle East, allowing rogue states under formal sanctions by the U.S. government to move money freely by the tens of billions through its American subsidiary, [and] letting Russian mobsters wash money on a grand scale”?”

I just spent a couple of years researching and writing about Blackwell’s Island, (now called Roosevelt Island) which in the 19th century was the home to some of New York City’s early penal institutions: the Workhouse and the Penitentiary (and other institutions, like the Lunatic Asylum). The Workhouse and the Penitentiary were precursors to the institutions now on Rikers Island.

I’ve learned the history of how we deal with the poor, the mentally ill poor, and the criminal poor. It’s all horrible and unfair, but the history of correction and incarceration is the worst, and the most unfair of all. Which is not to say we didn’t treat, and continue to treat these other groups badly. It’s just that on top of treating people who were incarcerated badly, is the over-arching idea that they have this coming to them. When you look closely at who “they” are and what “this” is, it breaks your heart. Then, as now, people with money who commit crimes are not hunted and incarcerated and abused to the degree that poor people are.

It breaks my heart how little has changed, and in some cases, has gotten much, much worse. I practically had a heart attack when I watched the Bill Moyers documentary about Rikers.

It’s so hard to get people to care. But watch the Bill Moyers documentary about Rikers. Watch the recent documentary 13th. Then read Matt Taibbi’s book. Your heart will break too. Because it’s a much bigger issue than “jails are awful,” which the documentary 13th reveals so well. Actually, John Oliver has done a number of pieces which illustrate the unfairness and the repercussions of the criminal justice system, which might be more accessible to some. Watch his pieces about the bail bond system, or mandatory minimum sentences, and others.

As part of my research, I read all the annual reports written by the people who were overseeing and running these terrible institutions in the 19th century. They would come right out say that it was a nightmare. But year after year, little changed. It was like everyone was paralyzed, it was all too much and intractable, and even throwing money at the problem, as much as that was definitely needed, was not all that had to be done.

Part of me is almost sympathetic to their lack of action, because I feel paralyzed now. But are we going to let another hundred or so years go by and let it get still worse??

They make this point in 13th, about how we look back and wonder how people could have tolerated slavery to the extent that they did. The future is going to look back and wonder the same thing about us and what we are tolerating now.

The Penitentiary looks so lovely and not at all foreboding in this drawing.

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Rest in Peace Young Man

February 19th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

A tribute in Tompkins Square Park, without a name. I passed this by every day while feeding my friend’s cats in the East Village. It’s so sad to see such a young face in one of these tributes. It was also sad to watch as the roses wilted away.

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