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Shower Wash [Nov. 9th, 2006|08:22 am]
Shower Wash

Here's an idea you may enjoy trying. As you take your shower for the day, imagine that you are not only washing your body, but that you are also washing your psyche!

Imagine that the stress from your worries and problems is flowing away, out of your body, down, down, down the drain. The energy and tension that you are holding in your body (shoulders, neck, back, head, legs, arms, stomach) from these worries can be released into the flowing water. Let the warm, pulsing beat of the stream untie the physical knots. Take deep cleansing breaths as your cares float away.

The idea is to release the tension that results from emotional stress, so that you can manage your concerns and problems more effectively.
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Ex-U.S. Attorney Ends Tenure of the Chafees in Rhode Island [Nov. 9th, 2006|08:21 am]
[mood |contemplativecontemplative]

Ex-U.S. Attorney Ends Tenure of the Chafees in Rhode Island

Published: November 8, 2006

PROVIDENCE, R.I., Nov. 7 — Senator Lincoln Chafee, a popular politician from a family with a long political legacy in Rhode Island, lost his re-election bid to Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat, in one of the most hotly contested races.

Mr. Chafee, a left-of-center Republican in a left-of-center state, appeared to fall victim to a national tide of dissatisfaction with Republicans in Congress. Many voters said that they liked Mr. Chafee and found it difficult not to vote for him, but that they wanted to do their part to give Democrats a shot at controlling the Senate.

Mr. Whitehouse, a former United States attorney and a Rhode Island attorney general, won with 53 percent of the vote to Mr. Chafee’s 47 percent. “Is this exciting or what?” Mr. Whitehouse asked cheering supporters. “You believed in me, and I will never never forget that.”

In his concession speech, Mr. Chafee said: “We gave our best effort. I believe that. I believe that. But the tide was against us, and our opponent’s coffers were overwhelming, and the rage toward our president was insurmountable.”

He added that his record was “no match for this perfect storm.”

The turnout was heavier than usual among the 700,000 registered voters. Although Mr. Whitehouse seemed to be ahead in the weeks before the election, polls in the final days suggested that the race was too close to call.

The contest became a paradoxical reflection of the national wave of anti-Republican sentiment. In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans three to one, Mr. Chafee, 53, had earned the approval of many Rhode Islanders because of his willingness to deviate from party lines.

He supports same-sex marriage and abortion rights and was the lone Republican to vote against the resolution to authorize the Iraq war. He even voted against President Bush in 2004, writing in the name of Mr. Bush’s father.

Mr. Whitehouse, 51, made his campaign largely about the Republican Party, asserting that even though Mr. Chafee and his politics might be popular here, his re-election could allow the Republicans to retain control of the Senate.

Many voters here seemed to struggle with whether to support Mr. Chafee as they had in the past or whether to buy Mr. Whitehouse’s argument.

Mr. Chafee, a former mayor of Warwick, comes from an admired family, one of the five families that ran many of the state’s institutions from the late 18th century to the early 20th century. His father, John, was governor and a longtime senator. When he died in office in 1999, Mr. Chafee was appointed to fill the seat.

Mr. Whitehouse made a run for governor in 2002. He is also part of a prominent family, the son of Charles Whitehouse, who was an ambassador to Laos and Thailand and an assistant secretary of defense. Mr. Whitehouse was helped in the final days by visits from celebrity Democrats like Bill Clinton and Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois.

Mr. Chafee, who had won a blistering primary against a conservative Republican with the help of financial support from the national Republican Party, worked to distance himself from Republicans in the general election.

After declaring victory, Mr. Whitehouse said, “I want to take this opportunity to thank the Chafee family for a long and very proud legacy of public service in Rhode Island.”

Mr. Chafee said to supporters: “Do I have any regrets about tonight’s outcome? Only one. At least in the short term, I won’t be part of a shrinking group who continue to talk to each other and takes their responsibility to govern more seriously than their political ambitions. Only at the nation’s peril can we afford to allow that group to disappear.”
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Political Theater and the Real Rick Santorum [Nov. 7th, 2006|09:04 am]
OP-ED Columnist
Political Theater and the Real Rick Santorum

Published: October 29, 2006

Every poll suggests that Rick Santorum will lose his race to return to the U.S. Senate. That’s probably good news in Pennsylvania’s bobo suburbs, where folks regard Santorum as an ideological misfit and a social blight. But it’s certainly bad for poor people around the world.

For there has been at least one constant in Washington over the past 12 years: almost every time a serious piece of antipoverty legislation surfaces in Congress, Rick Santorum is there playing a leadership role.

In the mid-1990s, he was a floor manager for welfare reform, the most successful piece of domestic legislation of the past 10 years. He then helped found the Renewal Alliance to help charitable groups with funding and parents with flextime legislation.

More recently, he has pushed through a stream of legislation to help the underprivileged, often with Democratic partners. With Dick Durbin and Joe Biden, Santorum has sponsored a series of laws to fight global AIDS and offer third world debt relief. With Chuck Schumer and Harold Ford, he’s pushed to offer savings accounts to children from low-income families. With John Kerry, he’s proposed homeownership tax credits. With Chris Dodd, he backed legislation authorizing $860 million for autism research. With Joe Lieberman he pushed legislation to reward savings by low-income families.

In addition, he’s issued a torrent of proposals, many of which have become law: efforts to fight tuberculosis; to provide assistance to orphans and vulnerable children in developing countries; to provide housing for people with AIDS; to increase funding for Social Services Block Grants and organizations like Healthy Start and the Children’s Aid Society; to finance community health centers; to combat genocide in Sudan.

I could fill this column, if not this entire page, with a list of ideas, proposals and laws Santorum has poured out over the past dozen years. It’s hard to think of another politician who has been so active and so productive on these issues.

Like many people who admire his output, I disagree with Santorum on key matters like immigration, abortion, gay marriage. I’m often put off by his unnecessarily slashing style and his culture war rhetoric.

But government is ultimately not about the theater or the light shows of public controversy, it’s about legislation and results. And the substance of Santorum’s work is impressive. Bono, who has worked closely with him over the years, got it right: “I would suggest that Rick Santorum has a kind of Tourette’s disease; he will always say the most unpopular thing. But on our issues, he has been a defender of the most vulnerable.”

Santorum doesn’t have the jocular manner of most politicians. His colleagues’ eyes can glaze over as he lectures them on the need to, say, devote a week of Senate floor time to poverty. He’s not the most social member of the club. Many politicians praise family values and seem to spend as little time as possible with their own families, but Santorum is at home almost constantly. And there is sometimes a humorlessness to his missionary zeal.

But no one can doubt his rigor. Jonathan Rauch of The National Journal wrote the smartest review of Santorum’s book, “It Takes a Family.” Rauch noted that while Goldwaterite conservatives see the individual as the essential unit of society, Santorum sees the family as the essential unit.

Rauch observed, “Where Goldwater denounced collectivism as the enemy of the individual, Santorum denounces individualism as the enemy of the family.” That belief has led Santorum in interesting and sometimes problematical directions, but the argument itself is a serious one. His discussion of the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, for example, is as sophisticated as anything in Barack Obama’s recent book. If Santorum were pro-choice, he’d be a media star and a campus hero.

The bottom line is this: If serious antipoverty work is going to be done, it’s going to emerge from a coalition of liberals and religious conservatives. Without Santorum, that’s less likely to happen. If senators are going to be honestly appraised, it’s going to require commentators who can look beyond the theater of public controversy and at least pretend to care about actual legislation. Santorum has never gotten a fair shake from the media.

And so after Election Day, the underprivileged will probably have lost one of their least cuddly but most effective champions.
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Lincoln Chafee [Nov. 4th, 2006|11:08 pm]
[mood |depresseddepressed]

Senator’s Tie to G.O.P., However Reluctant, Is Working Against Him in Rhode Island

Published: November 4, 2006

WARWICK, R.I., Nov. 1 — Senator Lincoln Chafee is a Democrat’s kind of Republican.

He supports abortion rights and a right to same-sex marriage, and is the only Republican senator to have voted against the Iraq war from the start.

And how many Republicans would — or could — hold a news conference like the one Mr. Chafee held here on Wednesday, where national organizations like the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, Planned Parenthood, Naral Pro-Choice America and the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign effusively endorsed him?

All this has served Mr. Chafee well in Rhode Island, where Democrats are three times as numerous as Republicans.

But this year, things are different. In a race Democrats consider critical to winning control of the Senate, even ardent Chafee fans are torn.

Mr. Chafee’s Democratic opponent, Sheldon Whitehouse, has centered his campaign on this premise: Forget Mr. Chafee’s appealing independent streak and moderate-to-liberal voting record. Never mind that he is a nice guy. What counts is that he is a Republican, and Republicans should no longer be in power in Washington.

“Rhode Islanders get that the price of Lincoln Chafee is very, very high,” Mr. Whitehouse, 51, a former United States attorney and onetime state attorney general, said in an interview. “His vote to put the Republicans in charge is just as dangerous as Rick Santorum’s.”

Mr. Chafee, 53, counters by saying, “You have to look at the person,” not the party. “That’s more important than control of the Senate.”

But polls that show Mr. Whitehouse leading by as much as 14 points suggest that many voters are swayed by the Democratic pitch, adorned with the advertising tag line “Finally, a Whitehouse in Washington you can trust.”

“The problem for Lincoln Chafee is fundamental,” said Wendy Schiller, a political science professor at Brown University. “The national Republican Party’s agenda is out of step with most people in Rhode Island.”

Take Sanford Spraragen, a retired doctor from East Greenwich, who voted for Mr. Chafee in 2000.

“I would support Chafee if he were not a Republican,” Dr. Spraragen said. “I think he’s a good senator. Unfortunately, he’s in the wrong party.”

Sandra Pascale, a department store employee from Cranston, agrees.

“The Chafee name has been around for so many years,” said Ms. Pascale, who previously voted for Mr. Chafee and his father, John H. Chafee, a four-term senator who died in office in 1999 and was succeeded by the son. But, Ms. Pascale said, “I want the Republicans all out; I feel we need a complete change.”

Mr. Chafee, known for his self-deprecating style, acknowledges that things are tough for him, saying that in the current climate, “this is not a surprise.”

In a grueling primary campaign against a conservative, the senator was flooded with support from the national Republican Party, which put aside ideological differences in the belief that he would have the best chance in the general election.

But the party has not helped him as much since, spending “in the neighborhood of $300,000” on television advertisements, said Brian Nick, communications director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, compared with $1.2 million for the primary. In contrast, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has spent $2.1 million on the race since the primary, said Phil Singer, its communications director.

Mr. Chafee said that lack of money had hurt him but that his party’s support was “a double-edged sword.”

“Even to have the disclaimer at the bottom of an ad that says, ‘Paid for by the Republican Party,’ ” he said. “They cannot say that fast enough, and I don’t think they are allowed to say it unintelligibly.”

Mr. Whitehouse has made hay out of Mr. Chafee’s assertion in the primary campaign that “I’m running as a Republican, and that’s the party I’ll support.”

Now the senator repeatedly emphasizes his differences with the party, including his refusal to vote for President Bush in 2004, when he instead wrote in the name of the president’s father.

In a reflection of Rhode Island’s small-town nature, Mr. Chafee and Mr. Whitehouse have ties to each other’s families: their fathers were roommates at Yale — Mr. Whitehouse’s father became an ambassador — and their 13-year-old sons are friends at private school.

Because of the incumbent’s popularity, the Democrats have not attacked him, believing instead that “the best message, both substantively and politically, is that Chafee’s own personal qualities are far outweighed by his voting for the Republican leadership,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, chairman of the Senate Democrats’ campaign committee.

Mr. Chafee still has many supporters, though, among voters at odds with national Republicanism. One is Richard Santoro, a teacher from Coventry who considers himself a liberal Democrat.

“I’m not buying the argument that it’s going to change the Senate if the Democrats are in power,” Mr. Santoro said. “If the guy makes the courageous votes, he deserves to go back. How else do you judge a politician?”

Some political analysts say it would be wrong to discount Mr. Chafee’s chances.

“I wouldn’t rule him out,” said Victor L. Profughi, a pollster at Rhode Island College. “People like him. If they have a reason to change their minds, I think they will.”
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Not every misfortune can be prevented [Oct. 11th, 2006|12:35 am]
[mood |indescribableindescribable]

Not every misfortune can be prevented
By H.D.S. Greenway | October 10, 2006

AMID ALL the agonizing and political post-9/11 posturing over whether we are safer than we were five years ago I found myself thinking of the fifth-century monk, Pelagius, and the heresy that bears his name. Pelagius got into trouble with Rome because he denied the existence of original sin and believed that men and women could, by their own choice, live a life of moral goodness deserving of salvation without God's grace.

The church was horrified at the suggestion that any salvation could occur without God's grace and, by extension, its own, and no less a figure than St. Augustine was brought in on the case. Pelagius was excommunicated and banished from Rome.

It took Richard Posner, the prolific judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, to introduce me to a modern version of Pelagius's heresy. In his book, ``Preventing Surprise Attacks," a treatise on the 9/11 Commission and the re organization of government to combat terrorism, Posner posits that Americans have a ``cultural peculiarity" that holds that ``human will can conquer all adversities." Thus ``every non success is deemed a culpable failure."

There are in life ``acts of God" in which bad things happen but for which no one is to blame. The modern Pelagian heresy, however, holds that there are no acts of God, that for every misfortune in life somebody is at fault. This leads to the proclivity of Americans to sue each other for ridiculous happenings for which no one is to blame, except maybe the person who is doing the suing. The famous case of the woman who spilled coffee on her lap and sued the coffee brewer for making the coffee too hot comes to mind.

According to Posner, the payment of enormous sums of money to the families of the victims of 9/11 attacks as if they were victims of wrongful conduct, ``rather than casualties of war," is an example. ``Yet how callous it would sound to say to the families of the victims, it was just one of those things," he writes.

Posner says this heresy infected the 9/11 Commission's thinking. ``To conclude after protracted and much ballyhooed investigation that there is really rather little that can be done to reduce the likelihood of future terrorist attacks beyond what is being done already -- at least if the focus is on the sort of terrorist attacks that have occurred in the past rather than on the new threats of bioterrorism, nuclear terrorism, and cyberterrorism, about which we may indeed be doing too little -- would bespeak a fatalism that goes against the American grain. When an American dies at the age of 95, his family is apt to ascribe his death to a medical failure."

This proclivity resulted in the 9/11 Commission, after doing brilliant work describing what happened, then making recommendations that might have been less than brilliant, not necessary, or even counterproductive, simply because recommendations were expected.

The creation of an ``intelligence czar," for example, may have made us less secure because it just added another layer of bureaucracy. And any government reorganization on the scale of Homeland Security is so time- and energy-consuming, as well as confusing, that it may have made this country even more vulnerable than before.

``One unfortunate consequence" of the new Pelagian heresy, according to Posner, can be that ``the people who get blamed for an undesired outcome are the people who were doing their best -- and the best may have been very good -- to prevent it from happening."

In intelligence matters it is not always possible to predict, especially in matters of timing. The CIA was blamed for not foreseeing the fall of the shah of Iran in 1979, but then even the followers of the Ayatollah Khomeini were taken by surprise at the suddenness of the regime's collapse.

In that same year, when the great mosque at Mecca was taken over by religious fanatics, many predicted the end of the Saudi monarchy. The Saudi monarchy has exactly the same weaknesses today, but it is still with us.

So unless we are determined heretics, we should show a little more humility and remember that it is not always possible to predict and prevent all misfortune s . Posner says: ``Some injuries occur without culpability, simply because the costs of preventing the injury would have exceeded the expected benefits."

The Bush administration can be faulted for its preparation for, and response to, Hurricane Katrina, but not for failing to prevent the hurricane itself. There will never be 100 percent security.

H.D.S. Greenway's column appears regularly in the Globe.
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(no subject) [Oct. 4th, 2006|05:41 pm]
[mood |annoyedannoyed]

AQUARIUS (Jan 20 - Feb 18): You have an ideal vision for your future and the planet's future and it disturbs you how far off everything has drifted from your fantasy. You may feel lonely because you cannot relate to what other humans are doing to your planet, other animals and especially each other. Don't get too discouraged if you don't have an easy solution because there isn't one. Instead focus your energy on those close to you and be a model for the lifestyle of your dreams.
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(no subject) [Sep. 30th, 2006|09:35 pm]
Pit bulls come out of the doghouse
By Carla Hall

LOS ANGELES — The bar is crowded, but Karen Dawn doesn't hesitate to enter with her two dogs in tow. Paula sports a pink bandanna around her neck; Buster, a camouflage kerchief.
Oblivious to the voices and music, Paula and Buster quietly make their way through the tangle of patrons' feet, pausing to bask in the massage of hands reaching down to pet them.

"They're usually on someone's lap," says Dawn, who seeks out animal-friendly restaurants and bars such as this one in Venice, Calif.

Monica Paull, sitting nearby, gushes, "Your dogs are amazing." She pats the empty spot next to her, and Paula hops up.

At this moment, it's difficult to believe that Paula and Buster share a heritage with dogs that, this past summer in southern California alone, fatally mauled a man in San Bernardino County and seriously wounded an 11-year-old girl in the San Fernando Valley and an 11-month-old girl in Santa Barbara.

But Paula, with her wide cheekbones and brown-and-white color, is unmistakably a pit bull. Buster is a pit-bull mix.

So how is it that two dogs belonging to a breed that is controversial, feared, banned by some cities and possessed of the worst public relations in the canine world end up cuddling with beach-community hipsters?

Paula and Buster are evidence of a phenomenon that is emerging in unexpected parts of the Los Angeles area and elsewhere around the country, including St. Louis: the well-socialized pit bull.

From the lofts of downtown St. Louis to the streets of West Hollywood to the bungalows of Venice, pit bulls increasingly can be seen strolling with their people. Oscar winner Jamie Foxx has two pit bulls. Britney Spears' husband, Kevin Federline, made celebrity magazine news walking with a pit bull in Malibu.

Even television has offered up a trusty pit bull: The young heroine of "Veronica Mars" has a bully companion named Backup.

Trainers, animal shelter staffers and rescuers see a trend: increasing adoptions by families, professionals and others willing to attempt to raise a civilized pit bull.

"As far as I'm concerned, pit bulls are one of the most popular breeds," said Shell Jones, a professional dog walker of nine years. On a recent morning at the Laurel Canyon Dog Park, she and her husband, Vance Floyd, were shepherding a pack of about 20 canines, including pit bulls Bernadette, Figgy, Louis and Bridie.

"With pit bulls, (behavior) just has to do with who takes care of the dog," she said.

At the West Los Angeles shelter, staffers promote the pit bulls they believe are temperamentally agreeable.

"The best dogs are the female pits who've had puppies. They mother everyone -- dogs, kids," said Charla Fales, an animal-care technician at the shelter.

Many who own or rescue pit bulls want to rehabilitate the image of a breed they believe has been unfairly maligned.

"I would say we're trying to restore the image," said Donna Reynolds of Oakland, Calif. She and her husband rescue pit bulls and run a website, www.badrap.org, which seeks to dispel the belief that pit bulls are vicious and unmanageable. Reynolds says a pit bull is "an exceptional family pet. . . . People who believe they're scary have been educated by the media," she says.

Anyone adopting a dog from Reynolds must sign a contract and take classes. "We find the home that can be an ambassador for the breed," she said.

Gateway American Pit Bull Terrier Club in St. Louis (www.gapbtc.org) has similar goals, even though it is not a rescue organization. It was founded two years ago to promote positive awareness of pit bulls and to educate current and would-be owners about responsible pit-bull ownership.

"Education is our big thing," said vice president Kelly Iams. The group stages public information events, such as its Pit Bulls 101 in St. Louis' Tower Grove Park this past summer, and provides individual help. It also works closely with metro-area shelters and rescue groups that accept pit bulls, such as Mutts-n-Stuff (www.muttsandstuff.com) and Stray Rescue of St. Louis (www.strayrescue.org).

Iams says that local rescue groups have more people interested in getting rid of pit bulls than in adopting them.

"People don't research the breed to begin with, then they get unsocialized puppies from backyard breeders who don't give them any information, either," she said. "As soon as the dog does something wrong, no matter how minor, they give it up."

Cesar Millan, the "Dog Whisperer," who has his own show on the National Geographic cable channel, says pit bulls, like all the power breeds, can be trained through exercise and discipline.

He keeps pit bulls in his resident pack at his South L.A.-based Dog Psychology Center, which is part dog camp, part rehab center.

"My kids are around pit bulls every day," said Millan, who believes the dogs have been unfairly stigmatized. "In the '70s they blamed Dobermans, in the '80s they blamed German shepherds, in the '90s they blamed the Rottweiler. Now they blame the pit bull."

But the pit bull story is more complicated than just a case of bad spin.

The dogs are genetically predisposed to be aggressive toward other dogs, having been bred centuries ago in England and Ireland to bait bulls, among other animals. When that was outlawed, they were bred to fight dogs in pits.

The term "pit bull" is a catch-all to describe several related breeds descended from that combative stock. The American pit bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier and the Staffordshire bull terrier are all basically pits.

The dogs were prized for their determination as fighters, their gameness and their loyalty to their handlers. A dog in a bloody battle with another dog would let its human handler reach into a pit and pull it out with bare hands.

Today, every state outlaws dog fighting, and most classify it as a felony. Nevertheless, dog fighting persists.

For most of the 20th century, pit bulls enjoyed a wholesome image. Petey of "Our Gang" was a pit bull. Helen Keller kept a pit bull as a pet. A dignified pit bull graced an American propaganda poster during World War I. And a pit rescued in 1985 on the streets of South Los Angeles by County Fire Station 14 was the station's beloved mascot for years.

But in recent decades, the dog has become a symbol of savagery. With its broad, muscular build and powerful bite capable of shredding dogs and humans alike, the pit bull became the canine of choice for gangbangers, drug dealers and other criminals protecting their turf. People who lived in those same dangerous neighborhoods bought them for protection.

A flourishing underground for illegal dog-fighting has led to further breeding to make them as aggressive as possible.

The fatal mauling of a boy by his family's pit bull in San Francisco last year prompted Mayor Gavin Newsom to consider banning pit bulls in that city, as Denver has done. That didn't happen, but at the mayor's urging the California Legislature enacted a law allowing local jurisdictions to regulate the neutering and spaying of specific breeds. The law went into effect this year.

Kelly Hawkins, director of the St. Louis City Animal Regulation Center, stresses that it's the deed that makes a dog dangerous, not the breed.

"We don't want to profile one way or the other," she said. "We try to evaluate each animal as an individual."

She said that the ARC relies heavily on the pit-bull-knowledgeable volunteers at Mutts-n-Stuff to help temperament test the dogs and give them a second chance. Mutts-n-Stuff will take as many adoptable pit bulls as it can and put them into foster homes to await adoption.

The wait is often a long one. Of all the animal orphans that Stray Rescue brought to St. Louis after Hurricane Katrina last year, the only ones still waiting to be adopted are the pit bulls and pit bull mixes, said Stray Rescue director Randy Grim.

Many trainers, rescuers and veterinarians suggest that anyone wishing to adopt a rescued pit bull put the dog through temperament testing and obedience training, and have it spayed or neutered. Most metro-area rescue groups that adopt out pit bulls will already have done the testing and the spaying and neutering. Some provide training as well.

There's no doubt that pit bull types require special handling. It's hard out there for a pit and its owner. Some dog walkers won't take pit bulls as clients. Not all insurance companies offer liability coverage to their owners.

Ron Cabrera, a 27-year-old student, and Sonny Izzo, 22, a musician, arrived at Laurel Canyon Dog Park in California with their muscular, unaltered pit bulls hoping that Cabrera's male, Biggie, would take to Izzo's female, Kyra, and mate.

The friends watched as their pit bulls roughhoused good-naturedly with other dogs. But when Biggie trampled a yelping Jack Russell terrier, who scampered off unharmed, then started toward a frisky Tibetan terrier, his owner grabbed him.

"No, you're too big to play with them," Cabrera said firmly.

Still, as far as dog park etiquette went, the damage was done.

"No aggressive dog is supposed to be in here," dog walker TerriAnne Phillips told the two men.

Phillips does not walk pit bulls. She held out her forearm.

"See this?" she said, pointing to a faint scar. "Pit bull."
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Afterimages [Sep. 18th, 2006|09:03 pm]
[mood |distresseddistressed]

For Joel Meyerowitz, recording the ground zero recovery effort was a personal and public need
By Mark Feeney, Globe Staff | September 11, 2006

PROVINCETOWN -- Like most people, Joel Meyerowitz can remember where he was when he first heard about the World Trade Center attacks. He was in Chatham.

More than most people, the attacks had a special significance for him. Meyerowitz, 68, lives most of the year in New York's West Village, 2 miles from the site of the Twin Towers. And as one of America's leading photographers, he had often shot them -- most recently, six days before 9/11.

Meyerowitz, who has a house in Provincetown, headed back to New York as soon as travel into the city was allowed. The next day, Sept. 17, he got within four blocks of ground zero. Out of professional habit, he carried a camera. When he took it out, a policewoman clapped him on the shoulder. ``No photographs, buddy, this is a crime scene!"

``I would like to find her and thank her, " Meyerowitz says five years later.

Irritated by the policewoman's order, Meyerowitz went on a mission: to record with his camera the recovery effort at ground zero. He spent nine months taking more than 8,000 photographs, 400 of which are gathered in a new book, ``Aftermath: World Trade Center Archive. " Meyerowitz discusses the book Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge.

``Photography is like that," Meyerowitz says. ``You're in the right place at the right time and you think to have your camera ready, cocked, no lens cap, in your hand, and something happens, and, you know, you're there. . . . Her poke was the perfect Zen-master poke. It just hit me."

The images show the recovery effort at ground zero with startling clarity. In part, this was because Meyerowitz mostly used (as he has for 30 years) a large-format view camera, which takes pictures with extraordinary richness of detail. That clarity is also owing to Meyerowitz's strongly documentary intent. He wanted his camera to take it all in, for history: workers, rubble, the surrounding skyline, the smoke-ridden air.

``What I wanted for viewers," Meyerowitz says, ``was that you could step into that space, almost like a diorama at the Museum of Natural History."

Meyerowitz says this in a cottony rasp that betrays more than a trace of his native Bronx, and as he talks he makes slow, curving gestures. It's almost as if, without a camera to cradle, he needs to keep his arms occupied.

At once energetic and meditative, Meyerowitz seems oddly ageless: a kid masquerading as an old man. The boniness of his frame and faunlike face give him a stripped-down appearance, but there's a robust physicality to his speech. It's fitting that his shaved head and prominent ears make him look a little like the basketball player Reggie Miller . Meyerowitz goes after ideas as if they were loose balls, fast and headfirst. He thinks as much as he sees. And he's articulate in a way that's rare among visual artists.

The interview takes place in Meyerowitz's studio. It's barely 20 yards from the ocean. A hammock hangs outside the door. A foghorn sounds, gulls squawk. Ground zero seems very far away.

Thanks to the intervention of New York City parks commissioner Adrian Benepe , a family friend, Meyerowitz became the only photographer credentialed to work at ground zero. Even so, he had to scramble to stay on the site. As the need arose, he'd forge passes on his office computer. And members of the police arson and explosives squad, who'd befriended Meyerowitz, ran interference for him.

``A lot of people wanted to take photographs [at ground zero], but his motivation was to create an archive that would be in the possession of the city," Benepe says. Meyerowitz has donated a thousand of the images to the Museum of the City of New York.

``He's one of the few photographers who has a sense not just of space and light and landscape but the interplay of people in space," Benepe says. ``His work throughout the years has been people in space, people in spaces."

Still, Meyerowitz might not have seemed suited to document ground zero. His best-known book, ``Cape Light ," captures the luminosity of Cape Cod with a ravishing sensitivity to color and texture. He's brought the same abilities to such other soft-edged subjects as redheads, flowers, and Tuscany.

Meyerowitz was supposed to be working on the Tuscany book when he was at ground zero. He used the advance to support the ground zero project, and eventually mortgaged his house and took out a business loan to keep it afloat. ``We ran out of money so many times," he says.

Yet New York had shaped Meyerowitz's photography long before the Cape had. He started out as a street photographer, hanging out in midtown Manhattan, his Leica at the ready. The photographic instincts he'd honed in the '60s, for city life and on-the-fly composition, stayed with him when he switched to color photography and a large-format view camera in the '70s.

``It's a perfect match among the elements of his career," Colin Westerbeck , a friend of Meyerowitz's and a photographic historian, says of the ground zero project. ``He brought to the view camera the sensibility of a street photographer."

Meyerowitz would spend 12-hour days at ground zero, usually starting before 11 and not leaving much before midnight. Traveling by foot, he'd lug some 25 pounds of camera equipment, along with the protective gear worn by all personnel at the site. He found the experience as exhilarating as it was exhausting.

``When I first started to do it, I just couldn't get enough of it," Meyerowitz says. ``I'm almost embarrassed to say, it was so vitalizing to me as a person and as an artist. I felt young again. I felt a passion I'd felt in the '60s, when I couldn't wait to get back out on the street."

Meyerowitz says that the very fact he felt a larger responsibility as a documentarian freed him up as an artist. ``I was probably never more at ease making photographs," he says, ``because I subsumed some aspect of my normal working methods. I felt this thing is going to write itself. I did not want to editorialize or in any way inflate it with a personal sense of drama or the profound."

Meyerowitz continues to feel the impact of his experience at the site. ``I have a weird connection to ground zero," he says. ``I get within a few blocks of it and it's as if I can smell it. Even though there's nothing to smell, I get that memory whiff of dust and burning and all of the combinations that were blended, all those things burning. It all comes back to me."
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The end of civilization [Sep. 18th, 2006|08:48 pm]
[mood |nostalgicnostalgic]

The end of civilization
By James Carroll, Globe Columnist | September 11, 2006

TO RETURN IN memory to that beautiful blue morning is to visit a lost country, a place as beloved as it is gone. The first thing to recall is how alike we Americans were in what we felt that day. Only months before, in the acrimonious aftermath of the 2000 presidential election, the nation had seemed so divided. It would seem so again. But during the hours of Sept. 11, 2001, we were brought together as we hadn't been in years, a people bound by fear and trembling. What a few saw in person, and what the vast population saw on television, was a glimpse of the human future to which, ordinarily, we are willfully blind.

It is important to distinguish between the event and the interpretation of it. The experience of 9/11 was one thing, the meanings imposed upon it afterward are another. Those meanings (``the clash of civilizations"; a Manichaean good-evil polarity; the rule of law versus the rush to war; blood for oil; imperial hubris or democracy now; Israel as cause or effect) are in dispute. America's enemy has triumphed already in the way Americans regard one another as enemies.

Abstracting from such painfully contested interpretations, can we return to the event that set all of this in motion? Today, can we leave the conflict aside to ask, Why was this nation's first reaction to the catastrophe of New York-Washington-Pennsylvania defined by the empathy we felt for one another? Indeed, empathy that day was nearly universal, including much of the world's instant identification with American anguish. Before we knew anything about Al Qaeda, bin Laden, the Cheney-Wolfowitz war plan, the new threat of global terrorism, the axis of evil -- the most important aspect of the event had already occurred. This aspect, however, the interpretations would ignore.

Some (including me) have said that an inch below the surface of our horrified reaction was a long-standing but subliminal dread of a nuclear war, as if the smoke above Ground Zero were a mushroom cloud, the Manhattan Project come at last to Manhattan. Soon enough, nuclear preoccupation (Iraq's WMD, Iran's enriched uranium, North Korea's bomb) would define the national purpose (with the United States renewing its own nuclear weapons program).

But I believe now that the immediate trauma Americans experienced that first morning was still more primitive than that. Beyond politics, beyond nationality even, what humans saw in that flash was a glimpse of nothing less than the end of the world. Here is the final meaning of the name ``World Trade Center" -- what happened that day was a world-event, almost certainly the first fully realized one in history. The collapse of the Twin Towers on themselves was a manifestation of the radical contingency of the human project itself. The terrorists were mere instruments of this world-historic destruction, far exceeding as it did any outcome they could have imagined. Their purposes were mundane, even irrelevant, when compared to the transcendent epiphany that resulted from the unprecedented combination of venality, accident, technological innovation, and instantaneous global communication.

What did we see? Not merely the end of the majestic towers, although their majesty was essential to what we saw. Not merely the mortality of those men and women whose bodies could be glimpsed in free fall (hemlines and neckties fluttering), although their mortality was absolute. We saw the stunning courage of a legion of heroes, rushing right before our eyes into selfless jeopardy, and we saw, finally, how such heroism was futile. In that destruction, we saw the destruction of the mainspring of meaning and hope -- not the clash of civilization, but the end of it. This was more than a sense of individual mortality, the sure knowledge of a coming death that each one carries. We humans live with that by assuming the open-ended continuation of other lives, our children and their children -- on into the indefinite future. But on 9/11, we saw the future itself as mortal.

In that vision, all that ordinarily separates humans was instantly ash. With the future ripped away from us, there was only the present. For a moment, we stopped struggling against time, and entered its most sovereign province, also known as providence. If all things will cease to exist, then the wonder is that they exist right now. With the fateful indifference of history so instantaneously clear, the human rejection of such indifference loomed as the magnificent exception. So, of course, we turned toward one another -- what else to call it? -- in love.

James Carroll's column appears regularly in the Globe

© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.
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With time, history has a way of fading [Sep. 18th, 2006|08:47 pm]
[mood |crushedcrushed]

With time, history has a way of fading
By Alex Beam, Globe Columnist | September 11, 2006

I'm good on dates. Every Nov. 11, I'm tempted to write a column about what was once the momentous date in the young history of the 20th century: the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. World War I, which exterminated the male youth of several European countries, had finally ended.

Of course, I remember Nov. 22, the day John Kennedy was assassinated, and I carry some odd chronological baggage as well: Aug. 22, the date of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and April 22, Vladimir Lenin's birthday. (Quite near Adolf Hitler's and William Shakespeare's, as we date types know .)

In 1941, Franklin Roosevelt told both houses of Congress that Dec. 7 was a ``date which will live in infamy." It lived in infamy for several decades, and not much longer. The jazzed-up, 2001 movie ``Pearl Harbor," with youthquake actors Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale, didn't fare very well at the malls. Reviewer Roger Ebert wrote that ``the filmmakers seem to have aimed the film at an audience that may not have heard of Pearl Harbor, or perhaps even of World War Two."

A final example: In 1883, 500,000 New Yorkers jammed the streets of Manhattan for the 100th anniversary of Evacuation Day, Nov. 25. That was the day that the hated British redcoats abandoned the city, ending our Revolutionary War. Let's go to New York now and find one person who remembers what Nov. 25 is all about.

Today is a terrible day for most of us, and unimaginably worse for families who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11 attacks. The date will resonate for months and years to come. I think the Republican Party will try, and probably succeed, in winning at least one more election on the strength of our remembrance. Eventually, they will try this strategy, and they will lose. Stripped of its political and rhetorical utility, the date will become less important.

Shakespeare crafted a beautiful, rousing speech for his fictional Henry V, in the hopes that no Englishman would ever forget St. Crispin's Day, Oct. 25, 1415, the day of victory at Agincourt over the French. But Shakespeare knew that, in time, Henry's warriors would die off, and other wars would follow ``All shall be forgot," Shakespeare's Henry tells his men. And it was.

It seems unimaginable, but in less time than it took two generations to forget Pearl Harbor Day, this day, too, will be forgotten. The ``war on terror" will continue to be pursued, with varying degrees of success and conviction, by the next administration or two. But different concerns will arise. The pessimists can legitimately worry about global warming, or an energy shortage, or about the ever-increasing likelihood of a regional nuclear war. The optimists -- and I'm sure there are some -- might look to the transformation of Europe, from Agincourt to the euro, as a model for future political collaboration among nations.

Sadder things than Sept. 11 will come, and happier ones, too.

In 1992, I wrote a column about visiting a playground with two children and tripping across a memorial to a 20-year-old girl who died in the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. ``It is impossible to tell the boys why anyone would blow up a plane in midair," I wrote. ``Then and now, it is impossible to imagine how the parents can ever be compensated for the loss of their daughter."

Of course, that is true. But who would have thought that Libya, the ultimate rogue state accused of the bombing, would have cooperated with the Lockerbie investigation and eventually paid $8 million to each of the families of the approximately 250 American victims? Or that you could now visit Libya, which would have been out of the question 20 years ago?

No, it's not peace on earth, and, no, the lions won't be lying down with any lambs in our lifetimes. The only certain future is change, and let's hope for enough of it to bury Sept. 11. This is a date we can look forward to forgetting.

Alex Beam is a Globe columnist. His e-dress is beam@globe.com.

© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.
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