Friday, March 31, 2006

Such care

can be found on Kansas City's boulevards.

This is a catch basin on Van Brunt (at Thompson).

Newspapers, mucky leaves, trash. . . .

The city has trucks that vacuum these up every so often, but, hello? Homeowners? Give a crap? Didn't think so.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


This is the Other Feral Friend.
The one without the bald spot.
Not on my car.
Until I left.

This morning I saw one of them coming down the alley looking guilty, scooting along. Sure enough, there is a bicycle crashed in the middle of the alley, with a black trashbag nearby probably containing someone's worldy possessions. These cats are secret operatives for U.F.U., which apparently has some kind of anti-homeless-person component. Or, I'm making light of the fact that someone had a really bad night a bit south of my home. I didn't hear anything nor have time to wander without cat escort halfway down the block to see.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

If a tree

falls in our National Forests, do the bushes notice?

George W. might. If it fell on him.

Remind me once again, who do these lands belong to? You. Me. Do you want the government to sell our land to pay for a few years of education (so they say)?

No? Then you agree with a number of Republicans in Congress who oppose the president's plan to sell 200,000 acres of National Forest for $800 million to "re"fund the money that would be lost from a proposed phasing out of the Secure Rural Schools and Communities Self-Determination Act, which six years ago was put into place to "re"fund the money lost to these communities by scaled back logging rules.

The Missouri Governor (also R) opposes it, too.

He said: Missouri’s natural resources are not a commodity. They are intended to be enjoyed by all, not to be sacrificed just to fill holes in the federal budget.

At stake in our homestate is 21,000 acres of the Mark Twain National Forest.

You have less than 24 hours to get your comments to the Forest Service: e-mail them at before their comment period deadline, midnight tonight.

And pester your Congress, too.

Other forests we may lose: in Idaho

in Tennessee and Carolina.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

3434 Paseo

February 2 and today.

The Christ Temple Pentecostal Church One, Inc. bought the house at Armour and Paseo in August 2004 for $125,000, and now, they're tearing it down.

At least they had joined up with the Congregation Beth Shalom back in 1999 to save the 1927 synagogue down the street that has belonged to them since 1969.

(White flight, hints the KC Public Library's description: Kansas City’s core suffered from a general population migration after World War II. Dear Jewish friends, please enlighten; when the Census asks, do you check the "white? box")

At any rate, I'm going to miss that house.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Just one week left to see this painting (poster paint, even) at The Kansas City Museum before it returns to the private home of its owner, Scott Heffley (painting conservator for the Nelson-Atkins).

Tomorrow, you can even see him live, when he returns to the Beaux Arts maison everyone loves to lament, to close "Bold Improvisations: 120 Years of African-American Quilts." He was at the opening back at the end of January, but I didn't go and only ran into him by accident one afternoon. He had come back to see the show in a quieter setting.

The talk tomorrow, according to P.R., is about the process of collecting and the significance of the quilts. The exhibit is up through April 2.

If you come (at 2 p.m., 3218 Gladstone Blvd., Historic Northeast, not Gladstone, Mo.), to hear the lecture, you will notice as I did that he is white.

Well what were we expecting?

I had been trying not to expect anything at all.

I left that question open and unanswered until that visual moment, but when you're trying not to think about something, you can't not think about it. So, did I expect, for some reason, that a collector of historically-significant and visually-striking home-assembled bed-coverings might be of the same culture as they?

Let's enjoy some fruit together first:

The painting above, Watermelon Quilt is by Sallielou P. Eakins (Reading, Penn., 1988), a so-called "outsider artist" who says she first finds a frame and then begins to paint something to fill it. The guys from "Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations," whom I've often wanted to strangle for their condescension and classism, would have a hey-day with her process, I'm sure. She's so outside, though, that I could only find information about two other Eakins artists, Susan and Thomas.

So, bring whatever race you happen to be in your head to view this parody of the famous stereotype and see how it makes you feel when you read:


It might make you laugh. I mean, just look at the quilters' expressions.

The other items in the exhibit, which, to be honest, I only went to see because I was supposed to, are not as emotionally-charged, at least not on the surface. You would have had to have talked with these women, who sewed in the 1930s, the 60s and 70s, and even the early 1900s, to get close to finding out what was going on in their lives. A few of them are contemporary, working consciously as textile artists, like Sarah Mary Taylor (as seen in "The Color Purple" film), but she died in 2000, too.

Most traces of family history had vanished by the time Heffley got the quilts.

Obligations aside, I returned to the exhibit because it is quite beautiful. I know, who would think that quilts can be interesting, but these are on a number of levels.

There's the patterning, the structure, the technique - all junk I know nothing about, since, who quilts anymore, right? - that at any rate, form a piece of female heritage. I'm female, so this is something I can relate to. It's good as a human to have some textile skills, anyway, since you never know when the shit is going to go down and you'll be stuck turning draperies into dresses like Scarlet O'Hara. . . .

There's remarkable contrast between these quilts and the prim (and even dull) standard examples from white culture, represented by some photographs and good descriptions. Hence the "bold improvisations" thing. . . .

There's good background hinting, represented by some other photos and actual pieces of African-made cloths from a number of different regions, that show how pattern preferences, the use of certain symbols, color, etc. have been passed down and transformed as only Americans can transform old world culture.

There's sheer wonderful artistry, arrangements of color that predate Abstract painting, attention to movement and detail, in short, a heck of a lot going on visually to keep the eyes working for a good while.

Then, there's the undercurrent of the distance between the lives of the quilters and people like me or Scott Heffley. One of the quilts, a shaded spinning star made of hundreds of individual triangles, is bordered by cloth that still bears commercial print announcing the "cured and salted bellies" inside. Another one, "found" in Kansas City, Mo. and sold to Heffley by just one go-between, is only 30 or 40 years old, but disconnected from its family. The description card reads, "The African-American dealer who sold this quilt knew the location of the house where he bought it in Kansas City, but unfortunately not the family's name."

Monday, March 20, 2006

It's spring

so let's balance eggs for the equinox. . .in the snow. Or, gaze at these lovely pastry swans, which were made and set out on an altar of symbolic-shaped foods in honor of St. Joseph yesterday. . . .

My mouth is all onioned from a Taco Bell spicy chicken thing. I'll spare you the calorie report, and instead list the banal account of "what I did this weekend" and what I'm not doing right now (at work). It's gross, being out of Big Red gum that the people from the Grace Church of the Nazarene brought me in January.

I was supposed to pass on the good deed. They brought more than gum, of course; you may recall my being sustained for weeks on mere microwave kettle corn and honey-dry-roasted peanuts. Working on it. . . .

Anyway, there is no Sudafed a'flowing (I can breathe again unassisted, but am feeling the feeling one might call withdrawl. When your body is used to the old-fashioned appetite-supression-factor of psuedoephedrine that's reminiscient of Dexatrim diet medication of days gone by (wasn't that just caffiene? I was a baby back then and had no concept of being fat and never took the stuff and then they made it "safer"), it gets used to it, plain and simple.

I think I'm going to pass out.

And I've eaten and I can't fill up!

(Add most of bean burrito - yup, we've approached the 1,000-calorie mark!)

Still hungry.

Got up at 5 today, again, as usual, after another thrilling weekend of work-related travel, typing and socializing. Had a blood-sugar nausea episode that almost shut down the Monday morning writing production. Recalled without fondness the 50.5 hours spent these last seven days caring about issues and events, crime and punishment, trash and weaponry.

The St. Joseph's Day tables, well, I actually care. Not enough to hit all four (five) churches putting their Italian heritaged old women to work making cookies all spring and dragging things out of storage, the men in charge of making anchovy-based (and Lent-approved) pasta Milanese, but I care. Other years, I've seen them all. Since March 19 was on a Sunday, well, I'm trying to have a life, too, and you can only eat one plate of this stuff in the space of a couple hours anyway. My cookies - cutie biscotti and some round and chocolate things said to contain cocoanut - are at home, two went for breakfast.

It's this wonderful homecoming of sorts, even if you have no clue who anyone is; you can tell they are happy to be there, happy to have the work over (all but for cannoli-filling and sphingi-frying), happy it didn't snow yesterday and happy to collect openly-displayed piles of cash that will fund feedings and such all year long, in honor of the Medieval tradition Sicilians started once when their prayers were answered.

"This famine sucks, St. Joseph," they said, I imagine. "You're our patron, can't you do something?" Of course it eventually rained, the harvests came back and people didn't have to eat boring fava beans anymore. And then they shared.

Which reminds me, missing one of the tables this year means I didn't get my three lucky beans.

There are two old ones in my desk drawer, and having all three, I think (think Trinity) somewhere in your purse or money-pocket is said to bring fortune. It was described to me less fantasically - "Keep these and you will always have a bit of money, at least some change, to call your own."

Make them jellybeans!

Still hungry, but by no means a'famine.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Today, I spent over $50 on drugs, and I charged it all.

It's "that time of the month," the time when payday is tomorrow, but the Ortho-Tricyclen is due in my bloodstream two days ago. . . .

Last time I saw him, my doctor thought it was more convenient to just tell me to have the pharmacy call his office to recharge my refill, rather than scribble out a new, tangible presecription, the kind that, say, can be faxed up to a northern connection for the utter joy that is getting pills at half-off American retail.

American retail right now is $45.69, and, no, for the last time, it's not covered by my insurance.

But that wasn't my main point. I said I spent 50 bucks, and I did. The rest of the charge came from my first-ever post-anti-meth legislation Sudafed purchase.

Since last June, when you buy pseudoephedrine pills, you have to prove you're 18, and your name goes in a book, just like in Oklahoma and Texas.

The point is to "make sure" that meth-makers can't get their hands on enough raw speed-material to cook up their stuff.

However, as this AP story points out, it's not like anyone really is watching.

Pharmacists have until September 13 to begin maintaining a log book of consumers who purchase the medicines, reports the Associated Press. The new law does not require the log book information collected by pharmacies to flow into a centralized database.

The pharmacist who gave me all my pills said herself that no one was collecting the data.

"On the Avenue alone, there are four places someone could go."

The so-called limits of what you can buy are silly, too. I can buy 7,000 mg of pure pseudoephedrine a week.

Can that be right? When a box is only 720 mg and they tell you to stick to four doses (240 mg) per day, lest your heart explode?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Fossil Fuels

and blue sky. Must we love such contrasts?

Saturday, March 11, 2006


I think that people whose hearts wander with flowers are bloomin' crazy.

Word to your 'worth.

: )

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Tickle Party?


Call collaboration what you wish. It's the next big (already going on) thing. Yeah, cuz down the street they're doing something "art battle" Saturday night. . . .and you know, those Urban people downtown have had live collab-projects, etc.

Fun is fun, after all.

"Performance Art" carries that creepy 60s feeling, and I can assure you, this won't be a bunch of high-faluting abstractists pretending to be statues or pouring blood on themselves.

Font-free version: "Step into the Arena" is Friday, March 10 starting at 7 p.m. at The Greendoor Gallery, 1229.5 Union Ave., Kansas City's West Bottoms.

Features artists Hector Casanova, Josh Cotter, Lori Raye Erickson, GEAR, Loo Ruzich and Mike Springet, with musiucal accompaniment by Amy Farrand's One Woman Band as well as beats from DJ AJ2 and Beatbroker.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Scattershot and Sinking

This is what happens when the ship of my day is broadsided by work-related phone calls - it is after one in the afternoon and I have not accomplished anything. New work has been generated. The big, messy kind.

Day started well.

I was only 15 minutes late today, "on time" being 8:30 and facts being that I was working until 6:30 last night and have put in 30 hours of overtime this year that will never count because I am on salary. "Overtime" assumes that a work week is 40 hours.

I'm almost a week ahead of the game!

And then (do you hear music from Pippen too?). . . .

Call from friend, re: family life; call from Eastern Jackson County resident, re: the Jackson County Legislature's fighting ways and evidence cover-ups, etc.; call from local resident, friend-esque woman, re: rental issues, personal issues, justice issues.

The call from my friend was not that long, but the total of ear-time ended up being something like three hours. So, I come and blow more time with this, because I can't leave because no one else is here.

And I'm tired (blog-style whining) and my throat hurts (draw your own conclusions) and the office anchor/reception person, while she has been in three times today to use the fax or whatever, is off until Monday.

That means when the phone rings, it's mine. I used to have things to write about and work on. They have all been obliterated, much in the same manner as the oft-cited "Kubla Khan" poem was obliterated when Coleridgewas interrupted 54 lines in by that legendary knock at the door. Damn visitors.

Things about which to write include:

Tuesday night's action-packed event, the public opinion session thrown together at the last minute by the Board of Police Commissioners or the mayor's office. Subject, let's talk about traffic cameras, the kind that send tickets to snapshotted motorists running red lights.

No one knew why they were there, it seemed, and one woman took the microphone opportunity to ask, "I wanna know how are you all gonna spend tax money on [a red light camera system] when my nephew's in jail downtown for a smash and grab jewelry on $50,000 bond and the tape is lost. What about that?"

The commissioners were not answering those kinds of questions (not even when she said, "I've been assaulted by the police. My son was murdered." She wasn't yelling, seemed rather resigned. Had brought a video camera along. I didn't see her use it).

The whole comment-gathering thing was stupid, since no one official had any stats about how many people get into wrecks because of traffic signal flouting, how many were perpetrators or victims of someone else's red-light-running, number of deaths, etc. In other words, we were wasting time.

They wouldn't even commit enough to acknowledge that the cameras have a $60,000 to $90,000 price tag - per camera.

"Just here to here your comments; we have no official opinion."

So, there's a commission to study the issue for a month. Another public hearing will come at the close, but in light of the way the police department has made a push (under the new chief) for transparency and accountability, it was a bit obvious that this meeting last night was a base-covering move. People are easily surprised by new initiatives, which the city seems to spew out every 10 minutes, especially ones involving money and privacy.

One thing that "came to light" and which some of us have known for some time (though do not believe!), is that the cameras already atop the traffic signal arms are not really recording anything.

Even a commissioner had to admit just finding out that those cameras are merely there to "deal with traffic flow."

One police officer found out recently himself when trying to get taped material to use as evidence in a non-traffic offense. No can do.

So, for now, Kansas City seems safe-ish from the all-sweeping eye.

This month's issue of Popular Mechanics features an article about traffic cameras' pros and cons, and a citizen at the meeting last night handed out photocopies to anyone who would take one. This is how "wonderful" cameras are in England:

To see where we could be heading, look at Britain with its surveillance cameras. Starting in December, the British government began compiling a database of information from thousands of cameras around the country. Using 35 million license-plate "reads" a day, it will be able to pinpoint the location of every vehicle on British roads.

2006-1984=22 years to get it right!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Carnivorous Irish Catholics Rejoice

The bishop has said it's "ok" to eat corned beef on St. Patrick's Day.

The Church sets aside the Season of Lent as a time of personal prayer and penance for the renewal of the Christian life. . . .

In order to assist the faithful to participate in this season of strong grace, the Church sets forth certain penitential practices to be observed. The principal practices are the observance of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as days of fast and abstinence, and the observance of the Fridays of Lent as days of abstinence. 

This year, March 17, the Memorial of St. Patrick, falls on the second Friday of Lent. In light of the time-honored celebration of St. Patrick on his feast day by various parishes and groups within the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, I am pleased to dispense, in accord with the norm of Canon 87, §1, the just-mentioned parishes and groups, as well as the individual members of the faithful who participate in their celebrations, from the observance of Friday, March 17, 2006, as a day of abstinence from meat.

So, "time-honored" celebration takes precedence over canonical law, which can be dispensed with the stroke of a pen, because, fasting on a holiday, after all, just isn't the kind of sacrifice we Catholics are going for. I'll never understand rules that are rules only until they become inconvenient. I mean, this is the Roman Catholic Church for goodness' sake. If they don't think their fasting thing matters, why do it at all?

There's no mention of compensating or anything by not eating meat on Thursday, for example. The Church seems to be betting on the probability that people will be too ill off green beer and greasy meat even to think about eating on Saturday, March 18.

I know, I know, it's about a spiritual reflection, inner cleansing, being a prayerful individual with a good relationship with God - an attitude that has nothing to do with food rules. . .but still.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The pagan-ish

aspects of the Lent/Easter season make it more attractive to me than Advent/Christmas. Is it obvious that I would appreciate a political execution over a baby's birth? Today marks the beginning of the "lengthening" days of Lent, and the press toward spring is ridiculously apparent, since it's actually almost hot outside.

Today is also the day you can see who is Catholic, for the best ones are wearing it on their (sleeves) foreheads. It's a day when the "fallen" come back to the fold and try for 40 days of repentence. (The Sundays are not counted.)

The smudge of black may look like a guilt sign, but back in Catholic grade school, you'd feel guilty if you didn't have one. You always hoped to get the younger priest, the one who didn't make you look like you fell head-first into a barbecue grill. The coolest girls (picture plaid skirts and white shirts) would bow their heads back at the pew and surreptitiously brush the ashes away. "How does it look now?" they whispered to each other, not daring to pull out a mirror. God forbid if Sister saw you touch your head. . .

One day without vanity is not too much to ask.

It can be when someone is making you devanitize, but no one makes me go to church anymore. For some reason, I didn't hear any church bells today, only the neighbor's Harley at 5 a.m.

Morning masses are over, and while I do not have last year's burned Palm Sunday fronds on my face, I find the chant that goes along with the ritual one worth repeating:

Remember, man, that thou art dust and to dust thou shall return.

My Street

(Tracy) & 25th Terrace

Lonely twins

on Tracy.