Saturday, July 28, 2007

Graffiti Expo

See you at James Elementary School,
5810 Scarritt Ave. (at Topping, one block north of St. John Avenue)
in Historic Northeast Kansas City, Mo.:

(I don't know why the colors look like that or why it's blurry.
It's not like that elsewhere. Thank you to all the people whose work, money, vision,
advice, equipment and help have come together to make this happen.)

Hope for good ozone, some clouds and NO RAIN!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Orange et vert

Colors from photomemory.

Same Friday evening, walking Crossroads, lovely when deserted, with Diane, who treated me to tapas and red wine in the sun at La Bodega for my belated, which matches Henry David Thoreau's, Pablo Neruda's and George Washington Carver's. So far, the Half Price Books calendar shows me there may be some room for another "famous author's" birthday.

You can hear my voice

We all worry about what we sound like on the radio. We worry about how fat the camera is making us look.

Fortunately, all I have to be stressed about is saying "umm" too many times, coughing into the mic, and drawing complete blanks that translate into dead air.

(Very valid concerns for a radio virgin.)

I'm not going to worry about things I can't change, right? Remind self: no one is going to be looking at you except Charles Ferruzza, who already knows what you look like.

And at least on the radio, no one can see your face turn red.

But, but, but, they might…they might call in!

I have been invited to fill time charmingly and with some kind of seven-year perspective on Historic Northeast on Anything Goes from noon to 1 p.m. on KKFI today.

The main guest is Joyce Slater, whose performance "Dancing in the Danger Zone" is featured in this year's Fringe Festival.

She will be talking about Northeast of the 1960s.

(Obviously, I will not.)

Should you feel the need to try to comment on air, dial up 816-931-5534.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hwy 70

There's a place where we always turn off the interstate when going to Columbia. Usually, we go to one station, I can't remember which oil company's it is, but this past Saturday, my friends were enticed by Chester Chicken (maybe it's Charlie) and the prospect of better restrooms at a new place 50 feet down the road.

It was not a disappointment.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dang hippies

I hate it when supposedly liberal, earth-minded people prove they are simply equal to most other unethical businesspeople.

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey played a bit too obviously on chat.

Whole Foods is good, Wild Oats is bad…

It's not to say, though, that all kinds of CEOs and other management types aren't doing the same thing all the time. Why would anyone base their financial decisions on what was chattering around online anyway?

I have never shopped at Whole Foods. Could it be that the stores are all miles and miles and miles away from the central city?

I can't appreciate enough the original Wild Oats mini-market on 43rd and Main.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Seismic sad

Darn, maybe living in Nihon is not such a good idea.

Niigata got a 6.8 earthquake. And another one within 14 hours.

I'm confused about their not knowing in advance. I thought when you lived on a giant series of volcanoes and faults that your scientists were always going about with their ears to the ground.

I mean, "Skyscrapers swayed in Tokyo, more than 200km (125 miles), from the earthquake's epicentre in the Sea of Japan."

In 2004, an earthquake in the same area killed 65 people; this time, I'm seeing numbers from four to 600. Eight seems to be the current death toll, with 800 or so injured. You know the houses are made of very thin stuff. Living through typhoon season on Kyuushu was stressful enough for me.

In 1995, when a magnitude 7.3 quake came to Kobe, more than 6,400 were killed.

I am at a loss of Nihongo words.

Ganbate doesn't seem to fit.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


No matter what I say about the person who chose to jump yesterday from the top of this tower of freedom, someone will think me callous.

I was practically at the site at the time of the fall. And I look at it every day.

So, I had some thoughts.

First, if you are or know someone who is thinking and talking about death or suicide, there's a hotline and a bunch of links to local resources:

1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
or 1-888-279-8188.

Suicide is bad, sad and detrimental to society, and I will never know what this person was thinking nor how the people who know him must feel.

However, I had to pause and think – at least he didn't kill anyone else in the process.

Yes, that sounds sick, but I'm sick to death, and perhaps he was too, of suicide bombings and stupid kill-everyone-in-sight shootings at schools and businesses and public places.

So, a single experience here can seem as isolated as he apparently felt.

It seems that picking such a patriotic spot for ones half-planned self-inflicted demise should depend on having some political statement about war, suicide, life – something – to make. More may come to light, but it may not, since suicides are kept rather private. Besides, what speaks louder than "I'm out of here?"

I'm sad he chose to do it in front of people. Twenty-odd were there, a "handful" apparently saw. I can't fathom what they heard.

His death, like all suicides, has repercussions that are literally selfish.

Some witnesses who had been up on the tower at the same time he had been said he seemed agitated and was pacing around. (He was alone when he jumped.)

I don't know, it seems from my experience, that being up there makes a lot of people nervous. It's a frighteningly-open view, even though you're surrounded by thick walls that come up to about chest-height.

Being up there makes me dizzy and freaked out. The view makes me nauseous, and the "my life is in my hands" aspect is kind of weird. Standing on top of such things – like a bridge or ledge or rooftop – seems like kind of a test, in fact. There is a tiny itch inside me, at least - the one that flickers sometimes when driving, "All I have to do is turn the wheel a little and that semi and I converge…" – that I am going to faux-diagnose as "normal." After all, if it wasn't dangerous, there are a lot of things we humans would never do, because then they wouldn't be "fun."

Talk about thrill-seeking, my husband said he remembered a classmate who got up on that ledge and walked around, ADD-crazy, on a field trip once. (This would have been in the 1980s, before the 1994 jumper.)

They've talked about how to enclose the Liberty Memorial tower top and make it safe, just as on most buildings' observation decks, there is no possible way to access open air space.

For example, I have been to the top decks of the 475-foot Brunswick building in Chicago and the former World Trade Center of NYC, and those were well-protected.

I have peeked out through the Statue of Liberty's crown holes and run around all over the decks of La Tour Eiffel (Paris), and both of these, it seems to my memory, could have served a person determined to be suicidal.

Here, they are closing the tower until further notice, noting that "there really isn’t anything you can do to make the situation better and still allow people to see the view of Kansas City.” A security guard, for example, couldn't necessarily stop anyone "determined to jump," the spokesperson said.

And, really, if you take a look at the photo or know the place yourself, the northern edge of the observation deck poses quite a plunge of its own. It's never been questioned. It's still open. I've even seen someone set their baby/toddler there for a posed photo (walking away and trusting the kid's instincts, I guess, though we all know how much phyical coordination little ones have). It made me stop breathing. I froze in my tracks, ready to jump into super-hero mode, since I was closer to this kid than the photo-priority parent.

Nothing happened. Usually it doesn't.

Our cat doesn't try to jump from the third-floor balcony, either.

The possibility of passing out drunk and then drowning in the Liberty Memorial reflection pool at the south entrance qualifies that as a dangerous place, too, and it's still open, of course.

The world is full of danger; much of it is optional.

I'm sorry another person was so low, so dark, so ___ to feel that not living was the better alternative to a dangerous, yet beautiful world.

Maybe the ticket-sellers for the tower should be trained in psychological profiling.

Yes, we need more profiling in our society, indeed.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Ramen history

When I first ate ramen soup, introduced by a high school friend who was from a large, working class Catholic family who thus struck me as mysterious, I wanted mostly to eat just the noodles.

Once I "discovered" this cheap food, I would bring packages to the cafeteria and munch from the uncooked block, with no seasoning.

Of couse, ramen, at approximately 25¢ a pop, was a convenient food to make in a dorm microwave at college.

In Japan, the ramen shops were by far my least favorite places to eat, though they did demonstrate how it's prepared properly, with plenty of meat, vegetables and unidentifiable bits. (Oh! I get it, ramen is a Japanese word…)

Now, all I want is the salty MSG-water, a few bites of the pasta and some steamed arugula or baby spinach leaves instead.

Friday, July 06, 2007


I am feeling under tremendous, falsified/trumped-up pressure to
finish for Spanish translation several stories unstarted,
come up with something for an intern to do today,
socialize both at work and afterwards,
clean the apartment, wash clothes - organize, minimize
keep attention on all seven pets,
be a nice wife,
get enough sleep,
keep my hair under control,
eat nutritious things,
make sure my car is legal and operational,
save money, plan for vacations/education/retirement,
maintain a number of filial and friendly relationships,
remember to go to Kiwanis lunch every week,
ask people for things while offering nothing in return…

…and I feel mildly endangered by the people I encounter…

Yesterday I was surrounded by unfettered, unguarged (but for a lacadasical parks staff member) MCI inmates, people dressed in khaki and picking up fireworks in exchange for time off sentences for, as "Stacy" described it, "traffic violations for the most part."

A white man without top incisors walking an amber toy poodle felt it neccessary to come up to me and then say, after we'd chatted a bit and I'd gotten nothing useful for publication, that he had wanted to "make sure" I was "OK" - that I knew "where I was."

Umm, yes, I'm here all the time…stop making me feel worse…

Exactly seven years ago, I was babbling at workers in another park strewn with fireworks trash, gathering information for my trial story, my audition, so to speak, for the position I have still.

I was just as nervous, random and uncomfortable.

My interest simply falls to feign (mode) when I'm forced to follow along someone else's thoughts. Even the seemingly safest of strangers sequestered in suits inside their office suites fill me with discomfort. Fight or flight ends up being squashed, while I remain…

Out in the random field, I never feel afraid, though obviously, I carry a pervasive dread.

After all, nothing grants me a particular immunity to go traipsing in sandals through trash piles, walk as a woman through abandoned lots alone, go into hostile situations and talk to strangers - and always expect to remain unscathed.

The perhaps greater duty compelling some journalists to do their vocation inside of combat zones has not turned out well for the likes of Daniel Pearl, a patron saint of sorts, as well as the rest of the men and women whose names I've not bothered to learn.

It's a testament to some of my personal malaise, that no one has expanded most of the other reporters' stories: clearly, reporters pander to a public who does not want to endure "another one" about a hostage or martyr journalist.

Otherwise, would I have had to search for mentions of them at places like Reporters Without Borders?

So far in 2007, 128 journalists have been imprisoned worldwide, and 53 killed. Media assistants are not immune; nine have been killed, six are in jail

Interesting to me today that this popped up in the Kansas City Star; the editorial board wrote about fearless journalism after Alan Johnston was released after 14 weeks, citing:

"According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, an international nonpartisan organization of journalists based in New York, more than 460 journalists have been killed in the line of duty in the last 15 years.

"In 85 percent of the cases, the journalists were murdered. And most of the killers remain free.

"More than half of the journalists were killed by people in the government, political groups or the military. In most cases, the journalists are operating in their home countries."
it cites.

Their names, though, unlike Pearl's, never have made it into my memory, and if you search around for even a moment, it's clear that some of them were killed by "friendly fire" or even something more sinister; there are accusations about U.S. troops' deliberate killing of non-U.S. journalists:

Journalist killed after investigating US-backed death squads in Iraq
On June 24, Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi special correspondent for the news agency Knight Ridder, was killed by a single bullet to the head as he approached a ...

British journalist killed by American troops
By Henry Michaels 25 March 2003.

I'm being a bad writer and am surely confounding topics, so I want to emphasize that just because "everyone" around me is going to concealed-and-carry class, that I don't liken myself to the actually heroic writers and reporters who work in China, Iraq, Sri Lanka, etc.

Still, I'm rather tired, as I've said before, of dealing with feuds, crazy people, feuding crazy people, and liars.

Thursday, July 05, 2007