Monday, December 30, 2019

My Actual Favorite Things

Scalding hot showers 
And gin from the bottle 
Good human beings I don’t want to throttle 
Big sturdy vibrators made in Beijing
These are a few of my favorite things
Broiling in sunlight and cookie dough sundaes 
Bong hits and Netflix
And sleeping through Mondays
Wild nights out on the town with drag queens
These are a few of my favorite things
Little black dresses that never get dirty
Instagram filters that make me look 30
Dipshits I dunk on as if I’ve got wings
These are a few of my favorite things
When a troll tweets
When my kids fight
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Saturday, December 14, 2019

The Place Where Memory Cannot Reach

The Auntie who raised me from birth while both my parents worked full-time spent the first five years of her life in a concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Romania. She, her mother, and her two older sisters had been transported there, by train, in the dead of night without notice; the soldiers said they were going somewhere safe.

When, five years later, they returned to the home they’d left behind, they found it had been looted and stripped down to the studs. Their Christian neighbors had bet on Fani, Peppi, Betty, and their mom not returning.

But the family beat the odds and reunited with their dad and husband who had been interned in a Russian labor camp, eventually making their way to Israel and then to New York City.

Rain or shine, Fani believed children should be outside every single day and “valk in ze fresh ahyer.” We would frequently make the several mile trek from my family’s apartment in the Bronx to hers in Northern Manhattan, along the way weaving through the multicolored living monuments to immigrant life in 1980s New York: dim Irish pubs here, bustling corner pizza joints there, falafel carts, synagogues, Puerto Rican car washes, Black hair-braiding salons, aromatic Korean fruit stands, fancy Dominican dress shops. I could always talk her into buying me sweets.

We typically walked hand-in-hand and had developed a special signal for “stranger danger.” A disheveled man talking to himself, the smell of marijuana, or a hostile looking commuter would prompt Fani to squeeze my hand hard, wordlessly telling me to keep my wits about me and be ready to flee.

Speaking in a patois of Yiddish, English, and Romanian, she would tell me, her “pitsulah madeleh” (little girl), apocryphal stories of Romanian girls who were snatched off the street and forced to work in the traveling theater; she would read me clippings from the newspaper about some recent kidnapping in Queens or Staten Island, clucking her tongue at these inevitable tragedies.

Despite the fact that New York was a little sketchier then, I never felt the least bit unsafe. The stories Fani told me and her anxieties seemed silly, preoccupied, and overprotective rather than linked to reality. Only in retrospect, as an adult, did I realize that Fani’s vigilance was an artifact of her trauma and that she was always ready to anticipate a threat and escape it. She always believed the other shoe was about to drop and bristled at the sound of German—surely a reflex buried deep in a place within her mind that not even her own memory could reach.

I think that’s why the experience of having my livelihood, along with that of only one other Jewish woman from my office, illegally taken by the State felt different than an ordinary employment dispute. I knew that we had both done an impeccable job representing our clients. I knew we had been fired for exercising our constitutional rights in expressing dismay and fear at the rise of Trumpian loyalist authoritarianism in our own state. And I knew that divesting Jews of their property and livelihood was a tried and true tactic and a bellwether of much worse to come.

I watched in horror as families were separated and actual concentration camps sprang up on the southern border of the United States, and wondered what I could do about it; but not for one second did I feel immune or apart from these things. I knew I was next. I was resigned to Trump until 2024 and beyond. I made sure my family’s passports were up to date. 

I accepted, with a cold resignation, that of course the chief propagandist for the Dunleavy administration would question my ability to parent and threaten to call state OCS and have my children taken away from me, all while calling me paranoid, crazy, angry, unhinged, accusing me of playing "the Jewish card" and hurling every other venomous invective she could conjure simply for pointing out that which is actually happening.

It is impossible to convey to those who have not carried it the weight of epigenetic trauma; the way its tentacles seep like black mold into the interstitial spaces of your consciousness, to the places memory cannot reach.

Anyone whose family has suffered under white supremacy understands this: Black Americans whose families were irreparably shattered by the slave trade; indigenous peoples whose land, language, and way of life were stolen; Jews who have been stripped of their property, the opportunity to use their intellect, their lives; migrant families who, in fleeing gang violence at home, are torn apart by the sadistic maw of Trump’s Big Beautiful Wall.

It is fruitless to engage those without sympathy or understanding and try to make them grasp this type of trauma. The only thing you can do is simply turn away from bullies, sadists, gas-lighters, and those devoid of empathy and wish them well in the healing of their own pain, which is of course what drives their cruelty.

Fani died of breast cancer a couple of years ago. I was glad she got to meet my children—I brought them to her apartment where she made them waffles and played pick-up-sticks with them. We watched the 1/9 elevated subway train rumble back and forth between the Bronx and South Ferry from her 15th floor window. 

I can still feel her squeezing my hand.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Ten Times Alaska Man Kicked Florida Man's Ass

"Florida Man." 

You've probably heard of him. He's the guy who gets arrested at Wal-Mart for punching someone who took too long at the checkout. He's the fella who wears a "fuck the police" shirt to court. And he's the bro who was attacked during a selfie with a squirrel. There are a lot more example of Florida Man doing what Florida Man does, but I won't waste your time with those here because this is an ALAKSA blog--not a FLORIDA blog.

Have you heard of Alaska Man (or woman)? I didn't think so. I'm here to tell you that Alaska Man kicks Florida Man's AAAASSSS. One of my readers called Alaska "Cold Florida," and never has there been a more apt descriptions to describe the shenanigans that transpire up here. Here are at least ten times Alaska Man kicked Florida Man's ass.

1. THE GOAT INTESTINE DRUG MULE: From USA Today: "An Alaska man was arrested last week after allegedly smuggling drugs hidden inside spoiled goat intestines stored in his checked luggage, authorities said. ... He said he packed the goat himself after buying it from a California rancher for $140."

2. THE DENTAL SELF DEFENSE/NOSE BITER: From KFQD News: "An Alaska man used his teeth to defend himself and his property. Anchorage police say the man bit off part of the nose of a suspect who attempted to steal the man’s bicycle . . . Police say he removed a 'large chunk' of the suspects nose."

3. THE HOVERBOARD DENTIST: From Fox News: An Alaska dentist charged with fraud and unnecessarily sedating patients performed a procedure while riding on a hoverboard, authorities said. A former patient testified Wednesday at the trial of Seth Lookhart that an investigator showed her a 2016 video of the dentist riding the motorized, wheeled vehicle while extracting one of her teeth when she was sedated."

4. THE IN-COURT EVIDENCE STEALER: From U.S. News: "An Alaska woman charged with the courthouse theft of a gun that was being used as evidence against her has accepted a plea deal on her original charges . . . Authorities say that during a break in her trial Tuesday she removed the unloaded gun from an evidence box and hid it outside."

5. THE BEAR ASSAULT DEFENSE: From KDOQ News: "A 50-year-old Alaska man suspected of assaulting his mother [because she wanted him to move out of her house] told investigating officers that she had been attacked by a bear . . . Police found no evidence of a bear."

6. THE BB GUN BANDIT: From Fairbanks Daily News Miner: "A 41-year-old Anchorage man faces five felony assault charges for reportedly brandishing a realistic-looking BB gun pistol Wednesday near a west Fairbanks shopping area."

7. EYEBALL TATTOO GUY: From the National Post: "Alaska man with eyeball tattoo pleads guilty to attempted murder, says 'beautiful face' led to crime." Alaska Man's "most striking tattoo is the whites of his right eyeball that have been tattooed black. Eyeball tattooing is a relatively new practice that is done by inserting ink under the surface of the eye. The pigment is then trapped in the sclera, the white of the eye, and the ink then begins to slowly move around to cover the entire eyeball."

8. THE 70K PFD THIEF FROM ALABAMA WITH 149 CHARGES: From Fox News: "A woman suspected of fraudulently applying for $70,000 in Alaska Permanent Fund dividends pleaded not guilty at arraignment. Anchorage television station KTVA reports 44-year-old Sheila McMahon entered the plea Thursday in Anchorage Superior Court. She faces one count of scheming to defraud and 148 counts of unsworn falsification."

9. THE KNOCKOFF ITALIAN FURNITURE SALESMAN: From USDOJ: Alaska Man from Wasilla was sentenced to a year in the federal pen after he "participated in a scheme based on his importation of furniture manufactured in China and then falsely advertising the furniture for sale as having been manufactured in Italy. Specifically, [Alaska Man] purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of wholesale furniture from a manufacturer in China and then re-sold the furniture as “Italian leather furniture” to retail purchasers in Alaska at a significant markup using the internet marketplace. He fraudulently sold hundreds of these sofa sets to individuals in Alaska, including an undercover Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigator."

10. STOLEN "TEDDY'S TASTY MEATS" TRUCK CRASHES INTO "CHURCH OF LOVE": From KTVA News: "A man is in custody after allegedly stealing a delivery truck, [from TEDDY'S TASTY MEATS!?] ramming it through a patrol car and then crashed the truck into the side of the Church of Love building in the 3500 block of Spenard Road and fled on foot."