Tuesday, October 3, 2017

WRITE YOUR LEGISLATOR AND...... Thoughts on Democracy

 POSTCARDS 4 DEMOCRACY!

Last week we wrote postcards to elected politicians supporting impeachment, protesting restrictive amendments to the ADA (Disability Rights Act), and several other issues.  We also had a good time talking with each other.  

Please join us.
THIS WEDNESDAY, OCT. 4, 7-9pm
Cafe Boheme, 24th/Mission across the street from BART.   

THOUGHTS ON DEMOCRACY

Truly, I feel we have to:

ELECT DIFFERENT PEOPLE TO THE SENATE 
AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES!  

... and also to all the other legislatures in our lives.  Because -- guess what? -- that's what the Tea Party did!  That's right.  They started at the bottom -- Library Board and Sewer Commission and such, and they built from there.  Before they started seriously working on  getting elected to SOMETHING, no matter how small, they were considered politically irrelevant wing nuts.  Pesky mosquitos to be squatted every once in a while.  Who knew they carried Zika?  

And why did they do it?  Because they realized that the power to:
  1. pass laws, and
  2. spend tax money
is REAL POWER!!!!!

And let me tell you, it's not easy to elect a progressive candidate -- even in the Holy Land of San Francisco.  For example, my supervisor district has not elected a progressive candidate since we elected.... Harvey Milk in 1977!!!

Why is it so hard to elect progressives?  Most importantly, the other side has more money (SURPRISE!!).  When Matt Gonzalez ran for Mayor against Gavin Newsom, Gavin won with 52% of the vote.  But he spent $4,000,000 to Matt's $400,000.  In other words, Matt was outspent 10 to 1.  I think it's safe to say that the extra $3,600,000 that Gavin had to spend gave him his winning margin.  

With equal funding, Matt Gonzalez would have won.   Our country would have had its first Green mayor of a major city, which undoubtedly would have scared the Dems to the left!

And who KNOWS where we'd be today?  Maybe medicare and free college for all!

Okay, I don't want to get everybody all depressed by talking about how screwed up San Francisco is.  I know, for some people, the only thing that keeps them going is the belief that San Francisco is DIFFERENT!  But, folks, change for the better is harder than we would like.  That's the simple truth.  That's why we have to work so hard.

Please, start thinking about who you might work to elect or defeat the next time your vote comes around.

I would like to talk about how you can effect change even when you LOSE an election in a future blog.

Terry

Here's me and my campaign manager, Sue Vaughan, when I ran for Mayor in 2011.  I had a good time and MADE A DIFFERENCE!!

Inline image 1





PLEASE JOIN ME IN WORKING FOR HILARY CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT (orig. email sent 10/5/16)

Subject: PLEASE JOIN ME IN WORKING FOR HILLARY CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT 

Wednesdays 4:30-8:00pm  Squat & Gobble, 1 West Portal
Thursdays 5:30-8:00 pm Mission Developing Environments 540 Alabama
(These two I'll be at for sure)
Hillary for President HQ 1001 Van Ness/O'Farrell 9:00 am-9:00pm
(If anyone wants to go to the HQ at any particular time, I'm open.)

I've decided/realized that there is nothing more important than electing Hillary Clinton President of the United States.  We're talking about the survival of civilization as we know it.

Reportedly, when Hillary's main opponent was briefed by top security advisors, as all Presidential candidates are, Hillary's opponent asked three times -- THREE TIMES -- if it wasn't possible to use nuclear weapons.  

If Hillary Clinton's opponent is elected, I predict we will have a nuclear war with North Korea.  

There is a deep soul sickness in our people, caused by crushing growing inequality between the rich and everyone else.  We have to attend to this soul sickness, by ending the inequality that causes it.  That's easy:  TAX THE RICH -- Duh!

But before we do that, we have to elect Hillary Rodham Clinton the first woman President of the United States.  

This is the next thing on the plate of all of us.  I felt the same way the two times Reagan ran for President.  I feared that there would be a permanent change for the worse.  And there was.  

Please do what you can and continue doing it until the polls close on election day.  It's easy.  Just go to hillaryclinton.com/events and find something in your zip code.  Get a button and wear it all the time.  Get 10 buttons and sell them for $1 and donate the money to the campaign.  Make people promise to wear them.

In Northern California, some of us are cavassing in Nevada.  I plan to do that once.  I heard it was grueling.  

And forward this to friends.  And the friends forward until we have a volunteer army of people who understand we have  a choice between two things:

1.  The end of civilization as we know it

2.  The same old same old with a woman.  

I choose #2.  I'm asking, I'm begging you to do the same.    I'm personally driven by a need to not feel personally guilty if the worse happens.  

Please.

Terry
Slightly World-renowned Lesbian Playwright

Friday, September 15, 2017

IT'S A NO-BRAINER!

DONALD TRUMP HAS COMMITTED CRIMES AGAINST WOMEN.  HE HAS CRIMINALLY ASSAULTED  WOMEN.  ACCORDING TO THE LAW, HE SHOULD BE ARRESTED FOR THOSE CRIMES.

I WANT TO WORK WITH ANYONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN PUTTING THIS CRIMINAL IN JAIL.  IF YOU'RE INTERESTED, THEN PLEASE COME ON:

WEDNESDAY,  SEPTEMBER 20
6-9 PM

TO:

CAFE BOHEME
24TH & MISSION

WE'LL TALK ABOUT THIS ISSUE AND ANY OTHER POLITICAL ISSUE.

WE'L SEND PICTURE POST CARDS -- AT LEAST ONE -- TO AN ELECTED POLITICIAN WE SUPPORT AND/OR AN ELECTED POLITICIAN WHO HAS EARNED OUR ANGER.

ADDRESSES, POSTCARDS, PENS AND STAMPS WILL BE SUPPLIED.

WE'LL CONTINUE MEETING ON WEDNESDAY UNTIL ALL THE PROBLEMS ARE SOLVED.

TERRY BAUM
CANDIDATE FOR U.S. CONGRESS




Saturday, August 26, 2017

FREEDOM OF HATE SPEECH?

Dear friends:  This is an article written by Kathy Lipscomb, examining the dilemma of hate speech.  Kathy is a friend, neighbor and totally committed activist for neighborhood issues and, obviously, broader causes.  Heartfelt thanks, Kathy, for examining this very difficult and confusing issue in such a thoughtful way.  

Here it is:

"New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, in a historic speech explaining the removal of Civil War statues from his city in May, said, “The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity.” Last week, fierce right-wing forces brandishing Nazi regalia took a life and injured 19 people. They didn’t absorb Landrieu’s message.


Civil libertarians remind us there is almost no hate-speech exemption to the First Amendment. Now, quietly flying under the radar, there is a crackdown on such speech. U.S. social media companies operating in Germany face fines of as much as $58 million if they fail to delete illegal, racist or slanderous comments and posts after a law prohibiting such messaging passed in June.
For months, Facebook, Google, Twitter and others dragged their feet in screening such content, but now have come to their bottom-line senses. They will no longer post Nazi symbols, Holocaust denial commentary, clearly inflammatory speech or incitement to violence.

Facebook announced that it would nearly double to 7,500 the number of employees worldwide devoted to clearing its site of flagged material. Facebook and Google are taking steps even in the United States to limit the spread of extreme messaging. Kudos to Google for having separated an engineer from his employment for having written and disseminated a “manifesto” stating that women don’t have the biological wiring to do coding.

Germany has some of the most stringent antihate laws in the world: Germans apparently have paid attention to their history. Germany’s justice minister said the new rules that apply offline would be equally enforceable online.
Moreover, the European Union ministers approved a plan this spring that will require social media platforms and online video hosts to block and remove from their platforms hate speech, incitement to hatred and content justifying terrorism.

Canada, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and India all have laws banning hate speech. The U.S. mind-set, deeply rooted in law and culture, has a more individualistic approach. In short: “I’m an American, so I can say what I want.”

Others complain that it would be undemocratic for the government to regulate speech. The Federal Communications Commission for many decades, however, has taken issue with obscene, indecent, profane comments and banned them. How ironic that one’s average swear word is verboten on the airways, but ethnic nastiness is not.

In 1983, a New York judge dismissed a libel case brought by several Puerto Rican groups against a business executive who had called food stamps “basically a Puerto Rican program.” How far have we come in 34 years? The 2016 presidential nominee, Donald Trump, labeled Mexican immigrants a bunch of rapists and went on to win the presidency.

Free speech must be defended. However, given the enormous demographic changes in our country, isn’t it time to rethink the public permissive use of hate speech? Would it help our society to advance to make “my freedom” more important than the hatred and disrespect spewed at “the other”? In other words, what about the victims’ freedom to live without fear and insult?

There is evidence of a cultural shift in how hate speech is viewed. The stunning 3 million-person march led by women in pink pussy hats in January had a visceral connection to Trump’s hate speech. Signs in Bay Area windows reading “Hate-free zone” clearly applied to both acts of violence and speech.
Perhaps our growing rainbow nation will dramatically shake up patterns of behavior once found acceptable, and make them, well, totally unacceptable. Would it not be appropriate for us, given our blighted past, to move in the direction of being a kinder, gentler people by finding ways to eventually vanquish hate speech?"

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

"IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, BREAK GLASS," THE PENCE PROBLEM & OTHER ISSUES

CLICK HERE TO READ TEXT OF 25th AMENDMENT.

POSTCARD WRITING & POLITICAL DISCUSSION 
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 23 7-9:30PM
547 DOUGLASS ST. (betw. 21st & 22nd) in SF

"In case of emergency, break glass." 

These are the words that Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md used in introducing his bill to explore using the 25th Amendment to get rid of Trump.  Twenty-five Democrats have signed on to the bill so far. Let's thank them with postcards. 

BUT GUESS WHO HASN'T SIGNED ON TO THE BILL:  OUR VERY OWN NANCY PELOSI.  In fact...

"For months, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have privately counseled their more militant members to forswear talk of impeaching President Trump, telling them the political support for such a step simply doesn’t exist in the GOP-controlled Congress."

That's right, folks.  Let's just foreswear doing anything that might make us UNCOMFORTABLE, that might alienate some voter, where we might run the risk of FAILURE.... so awful to fail, isn't it?  So much nicer to passively wait and not take any chances.

Pelosi doesn't understand that we are all being tested.  We are facing a giant moral challenge, every single citizen of this country, and history will judge how we handled this.  

This Op-Ed  by historian Timothy Snyder very powerfully explores the historical implications of Trump's  moral failure and the necessity of us all to rise to the occasion.  Please click to read it.

Quite frankly, it doesn't really matter whether political support exists in Congress at this moment to remove Trump from office.  What matters is what the  American people think.  How many of us want Trump gone?  I'm betting it's a majority, but it's certainly a very large minority.  I'm certain our numbers are larger than the 35% who will follow Trump to Armageddon.

Are we going to do whatever we can to pressure our elected representatives to use their power to remove Trump? THERE ARE CONSTITUTIONAL SOLUTIONS TO THIS PROBLEM AND ONLY CONGRESS CAN USE THE LEVERS OF POWER.  

We might not even have to go to the point of successful political action in Congress.  If you recall, Nixon was never impeached.  HE RESIGNED when it became clear that the country and many Congresspeople passionately wanted him gone.  

The man who wrote The Art of the Deal, who spent a great deal of time with Trump and knows him deeply, believes if there is enough pressure, Trump will resign, that he will not hang on to the bitter end.

BUT PELOSI "AND OTHER DEMOCRATIC LEADERS" DON'T WANT TO DO ANYTHING TO PRESSURE HIM!

You know what?  History is pretty clear about this:  When evil is ascendant, it's not only morally wrong to do nothing -- it's extremely ineffective!  What's that famous quote?  
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.

We all know that quote, right?  Well, here we are, folks, and Pelosi and the Democratic leaders want Congressional Democrats to DO NOTHING.  But these people were elected to REPESENT US.  That's even the name of their JOB: REPRESENTATIVE.  MAKE YOUR REPRESENTATIVE DO THEIR JOB!  Write, phone, visit their office, organize a protest in front of their office!  Get them to sign Raskin's bill!

THE PENCE PROBLEM
Several people responded to my blog saying they're reluctant to get rid of Trump and end up with Pence who might be a greater evil.  The truth is, we do not know the future.  Maybe Pence will resign too!   Let's start with the immediate issue, which is that we have a mentally unstable vicious person who seems to be interested in nuclear war as President.  If we get rid of Trump by exercising political pressure, we will be in a position of strength to deal with Pence.  

In conclusion, I want to show you a photo I took at the Suffragist Parade in Rochester, NY, celebrating the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote in New York State.  These children are dressed as Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony:

You see, Susan B. was famous for wearing a red shawl whenever she went to lobby Congress to give women the vote.  Apparently, she didn't lobby year-round, because people in D.C. used to say, "It must be Spring because I saw Miss Anthony in her red shawl today."  The Suffragists never gave up.  Don't you think these children deserve a Trump-free world?  Am I getting corny now?  I guess so.  Better stop.

Terry



Saturday, August 19, 2017

IT'S TIME FOR THE 25TH AMENDMENT.

I MUST ADMIT THINGS ARE JUST A TAD SCARY BECAUSE NOT ONLY DO WE HAVE A PRESIDENT BEREFT OF EITHER DECENCY OR COMMON SENSE, BUT.....A FULL THIRTY-FIVE PERCENT (!??!!!!!) OF THE PEOPLE ARE WITH TRUMP NO MATTER WHAT HE DOES! AND THEY'RE THE ONES WITH THE GUNS.  OOPS. NEVERTHELESS, WE MUST ACT.


READ BELOW THE RELEVANT SECTION OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION.

25TH AMENDMENT

Section 4.

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

FOLKS, ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT, WE ARE DEPENDENT ON THIS REPUBLICAN CONGRESS TO GET RID OF THE WORST PRESIDENT EVER.  AND WE THOUGHT WE HIT BOTTOM WITH DUBYA.  LITTLE DID WE KNOW....
I DON'T THINK WE CAN WAIT FOR IMPEACHMENT.  THAT MEANS INVESTIGATING A WHOLE BUNCH OF STUFF.  I THINK IT IS CLEAR TO THE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS THAT the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.
BUT FIRST, WE HAVE TO GET THE DEMOCRATS TO STAND UP ON THEIR HIND LEGS AND DEMAND THAT THE CONGRESS AND THE VICE PRESIDENT GET RID OF THIS MOST DISASTROUS PRESIDENT.  HELLO??  NANCY PELOSI, ARE YOU THERE? 
CITIZENS OF SAN FRANCISCO!  WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY HERE!  OUR CONGRESSWOMAN IS VERY POWERFUL!  WHEN BUSH WAS PRESIDENT, SHE PREVENTED HIS IMPEACHMENT.  YES, THIS IS HISTORICALLY UNDENIABLE.  WE MUST DEMAND THAT SHE TAKE THE MOST POWERFUL MEASURES POSSIBLE TO KEEP THIS COUNTRY FROM DESCENDING INTY TYRANNY OR THE WHOLE WORLD BEING DESTROYED IN A NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST!

WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
EVERYONE WHO READS THIS BLOG, PLEASE DO WHAT YOU CAN TO PRESSURE YOUR CONGRESSPERSON TO GET RID OF THE PRESIDENT.  

PERSONALLY, AS MOST OF YOU ALREADY KNOW, I'M A BIG FAN OF HAND-WRITTEN PICTURE POSTCARDS TO ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES.  I'M HAVING A POSTCARD-WRITING PARTY EVERY WEDNESDAY NIGHT UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. EVERYONE IS INVITED.  AND WHEN WE'RE DONE WRITING TO OUR OWN REPRESENTATIVES, WE'LL WRITE TO THE OTHER DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS FROM CALIFORNIA.  AND WHEN WE'RE DONE WITH THAT WE'LL WRITE TO THE REPUBLICANS.
WEDNESDAYS 7-10PM
547 DOUGLASS ST., BETWEEN 21ST AND 22ND ST. 

I'M NOT SAYING WE SHOULDN'T DEMONSTRATE TOO.  BUT IT'S IMPORTANT TO REACH OUT TO OUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES AND HOLD THEM RESPONSIBLE.  AND IF YOUR REPRESENTATIVE DOESN'T GIVE A SHIT WHAT YOU THINK, THEN LET'S ELECT SOMEONE ELSE  IN 2018.  I MEAN IT.  I'M THROWING MY HAT IN THE RING AGAINST PELOSI UNLESS SHE COMES THROUGH FOR US.  I RAN AGAINST HER IN 2004 BECAUSE OF HER SUPPORT FOR THE INVASION OF IRAQ.  NANCY, YOU HAVE A LOT OF POWER.  USE IT! 
WE NEED TO LOBBY OUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES.  EVERYONE HAS THREE OF THOSE!  YOUR VERY OWN CONGRESSPERSON AND YOUR TWO SENATORS.  WE NEED TO WRITE THEM AND GO TO THEIR OFFICES, IN THEIR DISTRICT AND IN WASHINGTON.  WE NEED TO GO TO WASHINGTON TO TALK TO REPRESENTATIVES THERE AND TO DEMONSTRATE OUTSIDE CONGRESS.
IT'S TIME TO FOCUS ON CONSTITUTIONALLY REMOVING DONALD JOHN TRUMP FROM OFFICE. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

I'm deep in the woods outside D.C.

Friends and Blogistas:  I started writing this on July 18, after just two performances at 1st Stage Theater in Tysons Corner, outside of Washington D.C.  

Since then HICK got a good review on the DC Metro Website:

July 18, 2017

We got a nice interview in the Washington Post!


I am LOVING the Washington Post.  They had EIGHT PAGES of funnies in the Sunday paper.  I’m a sucker for the Sunday funnies. 

And this is a link to a very long hilarious article of interviews with theater critics about their opinions on..... INTERMISSION!!!



Carolyn and I are staying with Judy Mueller, one of the theater board members, who lives at the end of the road that's at the end of the road that's at the end of the road. 
I mean, we are in the middle of the forest in a beautiful house. 





I'm sitting on the deck outside the kitchen.

Yesterday, we saw a red fox, very relaxed, sauntering across the lawn, stopping for a leisurely scratch.  There was a bobcat the day before -- unseen by me.  Deer, of course.  People are ambivalent about them, at best.  Not only do they carry Lyme disease, they crash into moving vehicles at unexpected moments.  Even very slowly moving vehicles.   I wonder why.  Well, they're still beautiful.  Large hawks circling and birdsong everywhere. Two nights ago, Carolyn witnessed a huge cloud of fireflies.

It's early, 7:30 in the morning, so it's still pleasant to be outside.  I think I'm going to get up early every day to enjoy this beautiful place.  Everyone warned me about D.C. in the summer and it's true, I've never experienced such damp suffocating heat.  Like being covered by a wet blanket.  

Of course the best thing about Judy’s house is JUDY!  She started a women’s resource center in the 70s and has been to many countries in the world working with the women there.  We loved hearing her stories.  Once she fell down the stairs and broke two ribs two days before she was supposed to leave for Kazakhstan (or one of the ‘Stans).  The doctor told her she had to cancel her trip, she refused, so he loaded her up with painkillers and off she went for three weeks!

Judy was truly fascinated with OUR work.   Although she’s on the board of the theater and loves theater, she’s never actually MADE theater.  She was so curious to learn the intricacies of this very complicated, astonishingly labor-intensive activity.  Needless to say, Carolyn and I were very happy to enlighten her.  I don’t think I’ve ever encountered anyone so curious about my work. 
The lovely Judy relaxing on the kitchen deck. 


So the technical rehearsals took much longer than expected -- which is to be expected.  I wasn't present for a lot of it.  Carolyn, as director, was in charge, working out the cues and lighting design with Pablo, the designer.  There was some problem with the sound -- crucial for HICK, and they had to consult with Audrey, our sound designer in Berkeley.  Does a tech rehearsal EVER happen without some unexpected problem?  I don't think so.  Carolyn is very meticulous about all the cues and has a strong vision about the lighting.  She wants it to be beautiful and she wants me to be easily seen at all times.  It’s usually not so easy to accomplish both of these things.  So she’s very focused. 
Carolyn working on light cues

 According to everyone, the lighting WAS beautiful.  Unfortunately, I can never SEE the lighting so it’s hard for me to appreciate it.

Anyhow, I was supposed to do a dress rehearsal the night BEFORE my first performance, but I ended up doing it on the afternoon of my first performance.  It's not ideal to perform HICK twice in one day.  It CAN be done.  I did it.  But my opening show ... I couldn't find the flow.  For me, acting is not about finding perfection and repeating it.  It's about finding a channel of energy so that I can EXPLORE.  But Thursday night I was grinding it out.  I'm not saying I was BAD.  I am NEVER bad.  But I was.... heavy.  I was NOT having fun. 

When I went out to the lobby after the show to talk to audience members who were hanging out, people said things like: 

"It's amazing how much work you do!" (I never want to hear that.)
and
"It was so painful sometimes, it was hard to watch."

These were very intelligent, discriminating women.  They were expressing their appreciation, and I took their comments very seriously.  I realized that I had gone way too far into the pathos and angst of Hick's story.  Not just THAT night, but problably in a LOT of performances.   What is it in me that finds despair and agony so DRAHMAHTIC???!!

I mean, there's pathos aplenty just in the facts of Hick's life.  I don't need to wallow.  I'm not saying there should be no heartbreaking moments.  But they should be MOMENTS.  Right, HIck?  I mean, YOU WERE LOVED BY ELEANOR ROOSEVELT!!!!  You had a lot of good times and joy.  You were part of history!

I spend a lot of time talking to the spirit of Hick, when I'm backstage waiting to go on. 

Carolyn and I talked the next morning after the opening, and she felt the same way as me.  We got very inspired about re-envisioning HICK and the feeling of the play.  One of the reasons that Carolyn and I still love working together after… oh… 40 years or so… is  that we so often resonate with each other’s ideas.  We really are on the same wavelength a lot of the time.

The amazing thing was that, when I looked at the script, I didn't have to change or add a word!  A line like "You loved me.  I must not be so awful," which Hick says to Eleanor's spirit in the last scene, can be said in a lot of different ways.  It can be said as a desperate grasping at straws.  Or it can be said as a sturdy claiming of her legitimacy as a human being. 

So for the second performance, I threw out the first interpretation, went for the second interpretation on that line and lot of others.  In fact, many of the lines I'd been saying from a position of pain and weakness were MUCH EASIER to say when I said them from strength.   
And I got more laughs than I had ever gotten.  I know it was partly this particular audience, but it felt GOOD.   Four more performances to go!

Here's our beautiful portable HICK set, which none of the Bay Area folks have seen.  This is without theater lighting.




 And here's a wonderful ad without a drop of hip or cool at the St. Louis airport. 
 

That's all for now.

Terry

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

THE MOROCCAN ELEPHANT

FIRST:  I want to thank everyone who responds to my blogs.  It really means quite a lot to me.  I get a very warm feeling of connection with you.  It makes a big difference, especially when I'm traveling alone.

SECOND:  I'm getting a feeling from people's responses that the lovely glow of my experiences here is convincing many of you to think of coming here.  But I confess I have neglected to mention the elephant in the room:  The status of women.


I haven't talked about how it feels to be in a country where so many women hide their faces.  It doesn't feel good!  So if you do come, expect to deal with your feelings about THAT.  

When I was in Agadir with Rosalia, it was different.  I was meeting and teaching strong, creative, outspoken young women, some of whom wear the hijab (headscarf).  I was getting to know Rosalia's  close women friends, some who wear hijab.  These are two highly self-selected groups of Moroccan women.  Even in Essaouira, Rosalia and I met a young woman in jeans (no scarf) who was a rapper that we were hoping to see perform.  

But now, in Marrakech, I only talk with men.   Sometimes I have a nice joking exchange with a man for a couple of minutes.  I have not dealt with a single woman shopkeeper.  Everywhere it's men, men, men, often telling me that they're selling goods made by a women's association in the bled (countryside).  They know people are interested in helping women and that makes their carpets cosmetics purses whatevers more attractive.  Maybe I should confront these men and ask why aren't WOMEN selling the goods if women made them?  Rosalia probably would!  (Yeah but part of me just wants to be on vacation.) 

I don't feel disrespected by the men here, but I know that's because I'm an old woman. And everywhere everywhere everywhere I look I see women in the full burka, with only their eyes showing.  Some wear gloves too, and it was really warm today.  I hate it.  It's hard for me not to hate THEM.  I have a visceral response, and Rosalia does too.  She tells me all the time it wasn't like this when she came here in 1988, that the Moslem fundamentalism has become much more widespread.  She feels every time one of her students decides to remove her headscarf, it's a victory for that girl's personal liberation.  She mourned when her good friend decided to start wearing one. 

As for me, the headscarf doesn't bother me visually.  For some reason, they all look like fairy princesses to me.  The politics of it are very abstract to me.

But the burka....  Not every one is a big black enveloping cloud.  They come in all styles and fabrics.  Yesterday I saw a group of people I'm sure were tourists from another Moslem country.  The women were dressed in modern pants and blouses.  Very summery clothes.  And they all had hats and full veils in matching prints.  One of them had a hat and veil with big red polka dots on white fabric.  The bizarre irony of concealing your identity with red polka dots... It got to me.  I wanted to scream at that woman, "What is WRONG with you?"  Maybe it's because I like polka dots so much.

Today I saw a woman in full burka walking holding hands with her very butch little girl who was wearing a baseball cap, t-shirt, pants, and cowboy boots.  Oh, do I wonder what that girl is going to do -- or be forced to do -- when she grows up.  

To see all these wonderful lively beautiful girls with their masked mothers... 

I know that many women feel they have no choice but to do it.  I know that some women DO choose to wear the full veil, as they're choosing to wear the hijab.  And I feel my own freedom personally threatened by every single veiled woman I see.

That's what's happening now. And what's the distant past?  I'm experiencing a little bit, staying in a 19th century Riadd.  Here's where I'm sitting right now:

This is one of the many pavilions in my riadd.  How many?  Five?  This is the most isolated one.  I came here because there's a lot of noise in the central patio, where the restaurant is.  The only noise here is the splashing of the fountain. Blissful.  And in between pavilions, there  are little nooks everywhere.  Here's a couple of nooks.


Oh yeah, and let's not forget the terraces.  Here's the terrace where I sat and wrote my last blog:

One could say that Riadd Sebban is a complete world unto itself.  A graceful, comfortable, elaborately decorated world.  As well it HAD TO BE because the women of this very rich merchant family NEVER LEFT THE HOUSE.  Never.  Women lived in total seclusion.  According to Paul Bowles, who wrote in the 1950's, there was a saying:  A good Moroccan woman only leaves the house three times in her life:  When she's born (she leaves the house of her mother's body), when she marries (when she actually DOES get to leave the house and hopefully even has a good time but probably not) and --- of COURSE -- when she DIES!   Does that sound like a great way for a human being to live or WHAT??

Bowles has absolutely no critique of this saying, not being a feminist.  And then all the male writers about this culture complain that the women really ARE evil, that half of them try to poison their husbands, they're always yelling and irritable.  But why WOULDN'T you get just a bit irritable if you could never leave the house, even such a beautiful house as this?  Just thinking about it makes me want to poison my husband.  Fortunately I've never had one of those.

So here I am reveling in the beauty and luxury of my riadd, which was built as a prison for women.  Traveling in a Muslim Arabic country brings up a lot of troubling issues.  

But dammit, I still want to have a good time and tell you all the cool things I'm seeing and doing!  So here's an argan tree (only found in Morocco) full of goats eating the argan berries. We actually saw this on the way to Marrakech.

In case you haven't heard yet, argan oil (made from the berries found in the goats' dung after they've digested the tough covering) is the new wonder food AND wonder cosmetic!  Put it on salad, and it cures your diabetes!  Rub it in your skin and it banishes your wrinkles!  We've got goats and Morocco to thank for this great advance.    That's all, folks!