Friday, July 28, 2006

Parading Around New York

When I was very young, I went to my aunt's wedding in New York City. I was fascinated by the scale of it. The lights, the vibrancy, the noise and the bustle swept my imagination away. I fell in love with New York and no other city on earth has meant as much to me since. My next foray into the city was our 8th grade class trip to Radio City Music Hall to watch "Barefoot in the Park". Later, we went to Chinatown, where I had my first taste of real Chinese cuisine, real in the sense that it wasn't like the food you'd find at strip malls across America. We didn't even have a pu pu for two type restaurant in my old home town of Flemington, New Jersey back then. I think I ordered Fe Line Lo Mein. Meow. On the way home, it was dark inside our bus and I got to make out with Sandy Cvetan. Oh yeah, especially when we went through unlit tunnels and under the many overpasses. Touchy, feely and youthful kisses that spoke volumes of inexperience. When I reached adulthood, I wanted to explore this great city.

I had moved to Florida in 1981. In late June of 1986, one of my old time and best of NJ friends, Frank Foran, was getting married.
Two of my Florida friends were going to be in NYC the same weekend. One friend was visiting his sister, who worked for NYPD. The other had a booth at an art festival at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. We all knew each other and decided to meet up. I went to the wedding, and the next morning got a ride to Newark Airport, where I took a bus to the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 8th Ave. & 42nd St. I checked my luggage and walked up to Columbus Ave. & 64th St. I found my one friend and then went across the street to O'Neal's Balloon to meet the other. How convenient they were both in the same part of town. It was neat meeting friends a thousand miles away from where I had just seen them a few days earlier. O'Neal's was owned by Patrick O'Neal, the actor, and his brother. It was a nice place and was ballet artist Alexander Godunov's regular hangout as well as a favorite of Balanchine and Co., and others on tour like the Royal Ballet. Back then, an outdated prohibition law forbade the use of the word "saloon" in the name of an establishment. Perhaps city bigshots feared it would conjure up bar fights and western style shootouts as patrons sipped their birch beers on the rocks. I'm pretty sure that law has changed. I met Jay and his girlfriend and we had a couple of drinks. Then we walked to the art show where Ralph was plying his goods. He was quite an accomplished pottery artist. Still is. Jay was headmaster at a private school. Eventually, Jay left and I had hours to kill before getting to Newark Airport for my flight home, so I hung around with Ralph and looked at the offerings of other artisans.

None of us were aware that on this particular weekend a big parade was about to take place. The Gay Pride one. Organizing in front of us were NYC teachers representing their union - men and women assembled in all their black leather best. Men with black hair and crew cuts and the bushiest mustaches I had ever seen. Women with silver spikes in their clothes and cropped, spiked hair. It was riveting, to say the least, and they looked rough and tough. I'm glad I didn't grow up in New York. A while later, they marched down Broadway, which crosses Columbus right there, and disappeared into the bowels of wherever the parade was to take place.

A young woman came over to look through Ralph's wares. She found something she liked, but had forgotten her checkbook. "You do take personal checks don't you?" she asked. He nodded. "Then I have to go home to get it. I'll be back." We had carried on a friendly banter and felt fairly comfortable with each other. We had even walked around together for a while, much to Ralph's chagrin. He wanted it to be him. "Would you like to come with me?" Of course! Ralph got jealous. Well, she was rather attractive. He was a good guy and all, but I'd never want to leave him alone with my younger sister, if you know what I mean. No woman was ever safe with Ralph as long as she was still breathing. Wheezing, anyway.

I followed her as we sunk into the subway system. We boarded a car that took us all the way down to the Village. It was a long ride. Good. We went up an elevator, got to her door and I was invited in. How trusting this good soul was. She showed me her small, yet comfortable apartment. The door had about 8 locks on it and several heavy steel bars to wedge into both the floor and door for added security.

By the time we got back, it was about time for me to mosey on down the pike. We said our goodbyes and I started my trek back to the Port Authority. Along the way, I stopped for a bite to eat at the world-famous original Ray's Pizza, a New York institution on 8th Ave. I ordered two slices, probably with mushrooms, sausage and extra cheese. I had a choice between sitting at a table or a long counter with stools opposite from where I ordered. I chose the counter since I was alone, so I sat down to enjoy my dinner and to reflect on the day's events. All of a sudden, a guy came in and sat next to me. He was carrying a plastic bag full of paperback books from what I could see. Mind you, there were plenty of other counter seats available.

"Were you here for the parade?" he asked.

"No." I don't know why I felt compelled to explain. Maybe it was from an innate desire to profess my heterosexuality. "A friend just got married," and I told him the rest.

"Me neither. I didn't even know it was going on today. I live in Philadelphia and came to visit relatives."

Just then, two guys pranced in. One was holding lavender, pink and white helium balloons. My uninvited dinner date jumped up and excitedly flitted his way over to them. "Were you here for the parade?!!!"

No, I thought. Grown men usually walk around with lavender, pink and white balloons, don't they?

As he abruptly stood up, his bag of books dropped to the floor. I glanced down and could clearly make out the subject matter of some of them - gay, gay and more gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I guess, but I wasn't really in a frolicking lavender, pink and white puffy party take a walk on the wildside sort of mood. I slowly arose from my seat and stealthily slithered out the door. Then, I took off, leaving my "buddies" behind. See you, boys. Have fun. I don't think I finished my other slice.

I cruised back to the airport, boarded my flight and headed home. It was a different sort of weekend, to say the least. I think Jay flew out the same day. Ralph spent an extra two days. He marched into our happy hour hangout a couple of days later and the regular crowd had a field day with him. They asked him questions like how many pride parties did you go to and - wink, wink - did you need the extra days to recuperate? I was hoping those leather clad union educators would have had the chance to teach him a thing or two about parading around women. Well, come to think of it, and quite frankly, I don't think I would have trusted any of them around him, either.

New York. You never know what to expect. I wonder what ever happened to Sandy Cvetan?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Don't Be Afraid!

A friend e-mailed this link to me and several of her friends. She said it was a link "that will really creep you out... It's as if there's a spirit in the room with you reading your mind.
I tried this 6 times and it was never wrong... try it you'll see what I mean!... I had a hard time falling asleep last night. This thing had me so creeped out!"

My advice? Try it several times and guess how it works before reading the answer below.
It's quite simple, actually. Click the link below...

If you read the answer before trying the magic puzzle,
I will haunt you in your dreams tonight.
Yes. I have the power to do that.

First of all, it asks for any 2 digit number. All 2 digit numbers, when added to each other and subtracted from your original number will always be divisible by 9. Every time you try it, you pick out a new number. It doesn't matter what you pick. Take a look at the symbol for the final sum of the equation. Note that the symbols for 9, 18, 27, 36 and so on, up to your highest number, ARE IDENTICAL!

Voila! Look! How'd they know that?

Try it again. You'll see that the symbols for all of those 9's, 18's, 27's and so on are still identical, but they've changed. The symbols aren't like the last time you tried it. The symbol for all numbers divisible by 9 randomly change each time you or someone else does it.

See? Different from before.

No matter what number you pick, the symbol will always correspond to your number. There is nothing magical about it at all!

Monday, July 17, 2006

If I should die before I wake...

"No two historians ever agree on what happened, and the damn thing is they both think they're telling the truth."
- Harry S. Truman.

Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, believes this present engagement between Israelis, Palestinians and Hezbollah is the beginning of World War III. No doubt the events of recent days may give pause to consider this notion. There is much history in this region called the Middle East and it is rich in bloody conflicts, wars that are always the opponent's fault, no matter which side of the blown-up fence one straddles.

I tend to be the type of person people like to discuss current affairs with. They come from all directions, ultra-liberal, liberal, moderate, conservative and archconservative. Ironically, I also like to play the devil's advocate, to try to stimulate thought and lend credence to all sides of a political spectrum. In the case of this particular crisis of world proportions, it goes beyond political sides and tides. There is the underlying issue of religion and how religions have played such a crucial role in war, the killing of innocents and the destruction of nations throughout time and how quickly rewritten history blinds us to the true past.

Several people I know actually believe the Jews fired first. They believe that Israel never existed until 1948 when Britain and the United Nations ceded Palestine to them to create a new nation by that name. The Muslims were there first. I ask them, were you there thousands of years ago to bear witness to that first shot? If there never existed nations known as Israel or Judah (Judea), from which the term Jew derives, then how do you explain archeological digs in that region that prove the existence of kings David and Solomon from 3,000 years ago? Are you aware that the Islamic faith did not even exist before 600 A.D.?

Quoted from (quotes are in color)

The Jewish Kingdoms of Ancient Judah and Israel
The archeological record indicates that the Jewish people evolved out of native Cana'anite peoples and invading tribes. Some time between about 1800 and 1500 B.C., it is thought that a Semitic people called Hebrews (hapiru) left Mesopotamia and settled in Canaan. Canaan was settled by different tribes including Semitic peoples, Hittites, and later Philistines, peoples of the sea who are thought to have arrived from Mycenae, or to be part of the ancient Greek peoples that also settled Mycenae.

According to the Bible, Moses led the Israelites, or a portion of them, out of Egypt. Under Joshua, they conquered the tribes and city-states of Canaan. Based on biblical traditions, it is estimated that king David conquered Jerusalem about 1000 B.C. and established an Israelite kingdom over much of Canaan including parts of Transjordan. The kingdom was divided into Judea in the south and Israel in the north following the death of David's son, Solomon. Jerusalem remained the center of Jewish sovereignty and of Jewish worship whenever the Jews exercised sovereignty over the country in the subsequent period, up to the Jewish revolt in 133 AD.

About 61 B.C., Roman troops under Pompeii invaded Judea and sacked Jerusalem in support of King Herod. Judea had become a client state of Rome. Initially it was ruled by the client Herodian dynasty. The land was divided into districts of Judea, Galilee, Peraea and a small trans-Jordanian section, each of which eventually came under direct Roman control. The Romans called the large central area of the land, which included Jerusalem, Judea. Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, Judea, in the early years of Roman rule. Roman rulers put down Jewish revolts in about A.D. 70 and A.D. 132. In A.D. 135, the Romans drove the Jews out of Jerusalem. The Romans named the area Palaestina, at about this time. The name Palaestina, which became Palestine in English, is derived from Herodotus, who used the term Palaistine Syria to refer to the entire southern part of Syria, meaning "Philistine Syria." Most of the Jews who continued to practice their religion fled or were forcibly exiled from Palestine, eventually forming a second Jewish Diaspora. However, Jewish communities continued to exist in Galilee, the northernmost part of Palestine. Palestine was governed by the Roman Empire until the fourth century A.D. (300's) and then by the Byzantine Empire. In time, Christianity spread to most of Palestine. The population consisted of Jewish converts to Christianity and paganism, peoples imported by the Romans, and others who had probably inhabited Palestine continuously.

During the seventh century (A.D. 600's), Muslim Arab armies moved north from Arabia to conquer most of the Middle East, including Palestine. Jerusalem was conquered about 638 by the Caliph Umar (Omar) who gave his protection to its inhabitants. Muslim powers controlled the region until the early 1900's. The rulers allowed Christians and Jews to keep their religions. However, most of the local population gradually accepted Islam and the Arab-Islamic culture of their rulers. Jerusalem became holy to Muslims as the site where, according to tradition, Muhammad ascended to heaven after a miraculous overnight ride on his horse Al-Buraq. The al-Aqsa mosque was built on the site generally regarded as the area of the Jewish temples.

Enough ancient history. There were plenty of battles for that region going on in between the times quoted above and what we are witnessing present day. Of a more recent time, and why there is confusion over whether Israel ever existed pre-1948, read on...

The United Nations Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP) recommended that Palestine be divided into an Arab state and a Jewish state. The commission called for Jerusalem to be put under international administration The UN General Assembly adopted this plan on Nov. 29, 1947 as UN Resolution (GA 181), owing to support of both the US and the Soviet Union, and in particular, the personal support of US President Harry S. Truman. Many factors contributed to Truman's decision to support partition, including domestic politics and intense Zionist lobbying, no doubt. Truman wrote in his diary, however, "I think the proper thing to do, and the thing I have been doing, is to do what I think is right and let them all go to hell."

The Jews accepted the UN decision, but the Arabs rejected it.

The War of Independence or 1948 War is divided into the pre-independence period, and the post-independence period. Clashes between Israeli underground groups and Arab irregulars began almost as soon as the UN passed the partition resolution.

As the British forces pulled out of Palestine and the mandate came to an end, the Executive Committee of the Jewish "Yishuv" (community) in Palestine met to decide whether or not to declare a state, as has been envisioned under UN Resolution 181. The Arab states had declared that if such a state was declared, they would invade it. Nonetheless, the committee decided to declare a state, armed with the promise of US President Harry S. Truman that he would recognize such a state if it was declared. The Israeli Declaration of Independence was read out on Friday, the 14th of May 1948 by David Ben Gurion, who then became the first Prime Minister of the new state. The State was quickly recognized by the United States and the USSR.

The Palestinians did not declare a state immediately, and though several attempts were made to do so, they were blocked by the Jordanians and then by the Egyptians. The Egyptians later allowed the declaration of such a state in Gaza in September 1948, but it was recognized by no-one and had no resources and no real existence. Arab states had no interest in the formation of a separate state in Palestine, both because each state had territorial ambitions in Palestine, and because they feared the radical influence of Palestinian leadership under Haj Amin El-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.

The declaration stated that Israel "will uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed or sex; will guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture; will safeguard the sanctity and inviolability of the shrines and Holy Places of all religions; and will dedicate itself to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations."

I abhor having to quote from other writings. I like to write my own articles, but I am not prolific in the history of the Middle East. My point in this post is to state that too many people have so many biased thoughts regarding the deeply rooted hostilities in this area and fail to do research into this very delicate issue before shooting missiles out of their mouths. Britain and the U.N. didn't cede Palestine to the Jews. Romans named that region Palestine, not Muslims, who came many, many years later. Sure tribes of that area have been fighting forever. Does anyone in their right mind think it will ever stop? EVER?

I am of the opinion that Iran, with Syria, is behind this. Don't misinterpret me here. How convenient to start this during the G8 Summit. Imagine if Iran tries to broker a cease-fire. Won't they come out smelling a little sweeter and gain much needed respect in the world as the power brokers here, lending them much needed credibility in a region fraught with deadly and fragile flare-ups? Besides, didn't it take a little heat off Iran's nuclear hanky panky and give the G8 leaders something else to discuss?

So there, but I'm a little bit more scared of that other nutcase, pei wei Kim Jong Il. Can he maintain his composure by remaining off the world stage for any length of time without doing something? After all, he's got a reputation to uphold as a premature missile shooter. Poor Seoul.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Very Tempting (if you're a nitwit) Part I

I received this e-mail the other day. This is a wonderful opportunity for someone stupid enough to respond. Wonderful for the sender, anyway. If you feel inclined to answer, be my guest, especially if you work for the U.S. government. The e-mail came from this address:


Absa Bank Limited/Beperk, Reg No 1986/004794/06 Trading/Handeldrywend as ABSA Private Bank
62 Empire Road Parktown 2193
P.0.Box 6005 Johannesburg 2000

I am Dr. D K Maurice, a Deputy Chief Executive of Amalgamated Bank of South Africa (ABSA PRIVATE BANK) ,this BANK is also a correspondant of London international branch, HSBC Bank,Plc.Level 26, 8 Canada Square LONDON. I am writing following an opportunity in my office that will be of immense benefit to both of us.

In my department we discovered an abandoned sum of 9.2 Million British Pounds Sterling (Nine Million Two Hundred Thousand British Pounds) in an account that belongs to one of our foreign customers Late Mr. MORRIS THOMPSON an American who unfortunately lost his life in the plane crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 which crashed on January 31 2000,
including his wife and only daughter. You shall read more about the crash on visiting this site indicated below for more clarifications.

Since we got information about his death, we have been expecting his next of kin or relatives to come over and claim his money because we cannot release it unless somebody applies for it as next of kin or relation to the deceased as indicated in our banking guidelines / regulations.

Unfortunately I learnt that his supposed next of kin being his only daughter died along with him in the plane crash leaving nobody with the knowledge of this fund behind for the claim. It is therefore upon this discovery that I and two other officials in this department now decided to make business with you and release the money to you as the next of kin or beneficiary of the funds for safe keeping and investment. Since nobody is coming for these funds and we don't want this money to go back into Government treasury as unclaimed bill. The banking law and guidelines in South Africa stipulates that such money after six years and six months ( Seventy-Eight Banking Months ) will be transferred into banking treasury as unclaimed funds.
We agreed that 25% of this money will be for you if you assist us in claiming this fund, while the balance will be for my colleagues and I. Note that this transaction is confidential and risk free. As soon as you receive this mail you should contact me through my e-mail address ( ) for further details.

Please note that all necessary arrangement for the smooth release of these funds to you as has been finalised and this fund is not linked to scam and its alikes.

Upon the receipt of your response to assist I will be able to put you in a clearer picture of what next to do.Do bear in mind if this transaction does not interest, please discard this e-mail and do not use it against me as what I am doing will risk me of my job I have laboured for years if exposed.

I crave your indulgence to make this a top most secret .

Best Regards,
Dr D K Maurice