Friday, July 1, 2011

My Heart is Full

June 30/July 1, 2011
I am so thrilled for my friend, co-counsel, and former student, Tony. His adoption of a young man presently in foster care is moving forward nicely. This weekend, the child will be moving into the home that Tony shares with his partner of many years. That this is able to happen in Florida, a state previously not known for treating it's gay citizens fairly, is breathtaking. Take THAT Anita Bryant!

I am also proud of my home state of New York, passing the law to legalize same-sex marriage, and I am deeply gratified by the positive reactions openly expressed by so many straights. With all it's problems and natural disasters, this is still a better world than the one in which I grew up. Every year, every generation, we get a little closer to Gene Roddenberry's vision of a world without racism or prejudice. Although I think the Great Bird of the Universe was beyond prophetic in his understanding that of all the evils, sexism would be the last to go. You Trekkies who remember the very last episode of the original series to be broadcast understand where I'm going with this ... I just hope we get to see a female President sooner than the Star Trek universe appointed the first female Starship Captain. Yeah, I'm still ticked off about Hillary. She would have been an awesome POTUS.

Let's talk about religion.

I guess the greatest bit of generation-shock to me comes from my observation that religion seems to matter very little between married couples. Although we baby boomers supposedly changed the world with our outspoken liberalism, that spirit did not seem to extend to my group of close friends. Almost all of us married "in." We all raised our children with some version of our birth religions. I wouldn't have even dated "out" of my religion; I was terrified of my parent's reaction, and besides, what did I have in common with a boy who had been raised in a different religion, and therefore a different ethnic and cultural environment?  And yet, the kids today have no such emotional constraints. All in one generation. While it feels weird to me, there are many people who would consider it progress. Oh, brave new world ...  incidentally, it has occurred to me that we need Aggressive Atheists just as we need the ACLU.  You may get annoyed at some of their tactics, but we need them to keep us honest.  Really. 

And the defense rests ...

Casey Anthony gestures to someone in the courtroom during a recess in her murder trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday.

I'm not sure what was bigger news in the Casey Anthony case - that the defense rested without putting the defendant on the stand, or that Judge Perry sentenced a 28 year old court spectator to 6 days in the Orange County Jail for flipping the bird at prosecutor Jeff Ashton in open court.

Matthew Bartlett is taken away by sheriff deputies on a contempt charge for his "obscene gesture toward assistant state attorney Jeff Ashton during the Casey Anthony trial at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday.

Since I would no more disrespect the court than I would have dated a non-Jewish boy back in the day, my vote goes to my very own Chief Judge, Belvin Perry.

Back to Tennessee by way of the Road Blog-a-logue ...

June 20, 2011
Eastern Tennessee is different from other parts of the country in which I have spent time. Despite attractions like Dollywood, the area has a depressed feeling. Some of this is no doubt attributable to the recent floods and tornados which created so much physical, financial, and emotional damage, but I can also see that there is a chronicity to the economic downturn which has this area in it's grip. The outlying areas, with their views of the mountains, is undeniably lovely. But we are spending a little time waiting in a place called Morristown, which despite having a mall and all sorts of government buildings, has a tired look to it that can't be explained away by the overcast skies.


But it is in this little town that we had the high spot of our trip so far, and that was our visit with very dear friends who moved here from Florida several years ago. Our history with Vickie and Chris and their grandkids is so very special and there is a lot I can't talk about because it involved the courts . . . anyway, we met them at the Little Dutch Restaurant for a long lunch, and caught up on everything and everybody, and Rob took pictures, and Vickie and I leaked tears and there was a lot of hugging. My heart is full.

More about the food - lunch at the Little Dutch was good, not great, but I have to say that the staff there was so very pleasant and I really enjoyed the soup and salad bar, so if you ever pass through Morristown you should stop there for lunch. Dinner was at the Chop House, right across from our hotel in Kodak, and it was delicious. I had lamb chops! Me lurves lamb chops, and the Parmesan creamed spinach, and the Cosmopolitan. Rob had a rib eye steak and sweet potato fries which I don't get but he loves.  


And then we caught up on the Casey Anthony trial. Holy cannoli, but my chief judge was madder than a wet hen. And then there was the defense witness, a certain Doctor Spitz, the best expert your money can buy. For $5,000 a day you can get him to accuse the Orange County Medical Examiner's Office, which is headed up by Dr. Jan Garavaglia, aka Dr. G, of staging the photos they took during the autopsy of Caylee Marie. "Old Fool" is the kindest thing I can say about him.

Tomorrow we head out to Memphis for Beale Street and barbecue. If we time it right, there will be Jack in the Box for one damn greasy, soul-satisfying lunch.

June 21, 2011
I am having a knitting crisis. Having made excellent progress on Antimony, my happy knitting came to an abrupt halt when the circular needles separated at the joining of needle and cable. It's not broken beyond repair, but up until this point I have never had the need to pack a tube of super glue along with the other important travel items like Hershey's kisses. I learned the hard way to never leave home without a backup supply of chocolate. Now I will add super glue to the list. For now, I am grateful I am driving through one of the lower 48, as I can expect to pass a Walmart before the day is done. Until then, I will work on the spiral galaxy socks.

If you are a reader of mystery books, then you probably heard of Dr. William Bass and the Body Farm long before the experts for the Casey Anthony trial started mentioning them. First time I learned about the Body Farm was while reading Patricia Cornwell's Scarpetta series. Driving past Knoxville, I got a cheap thrill of recognition seeing the signs for the University of Tennessee. Art resembles Life resembles Art . . .

Tennessee is an odd state, and I can't decide whether or not I like it. There are some states, like Mississippi and Alabama, that I actively avoid, and then there are other states, like Georgia, that I look forward to. Tennessee doesn't fit either category. And while driving cross state on Interstate 40, it occurred to me that it lacks a cohesiveness, and is really three states within one border.

Walmart came through as usual, and I am back working on Antimony.  But there was a Crisis in Nashville when we realized our Jack in the Box was out of business.  As it turned out, this was the harbinger of a Bad Food Day.

Driving past Nashville, and the remains of our Jack in the Box

LATER: we made it to Memphis, and headed for dinner to a barbecue joint we had picked out a while back. How could Memphis have bad barbecue? And I checked Trip Advisor, which has always given me an accurate sense of how good a restaurant really is. And this one had been rated really good by almost everyone. The place itself was fine, a little divey as you would expect, with a good menu full of choices. The only problem was the food itself. The ribs were oversmoked, although I never thought such a thing was possible. I love smoke, and I've done my share of home smoking, and I know low and slow is the way to go, but these baby backs had been left in the smoker way past the pulling point. The dry rub was too spicy for the general public - meaning me - and the sauces were mediocre. The side dishes were a huge disappointment. So if you are passing through Memphis, you may want to keep passing by Central BBQ. Try Jim Neely's Interstate Barbecue instead. We went there last year, and it was awesome.

Great sign, mediocre barbecue

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