Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Al Franken Holiday Party

These photos are from the Al Franken Holiday Party in December, 2011. The event was held at the Normandy Inn in Minneapolis.  We had a good time with good food and a lot of laughs..
The author of this blog, David, is on the right. 
 U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (left) and seated guests (right).

U.S. Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Francie Nolan Grows Up in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
By Betty Smith

Harper Perennial Modern Classics

I recently finished reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The book is centered on the underclass of Brooklyn, New York, in the years up to World War I. (The tree, itself, is one commonly found growing up between the cracks in the concrete of poorer neighborhoods.)

One passage caught my attention. It was the author's portrayal of the treatment of schoolchildren by their teachers in a Brooklyn school. If the schoolchildren were from wealthier homes, and wore good clothes, they were seated at the front of the classroom. These front-row students had privileges; they were seldom chastised or ignored.

Children were placed in the very back of the classroom if they were poor. Some of the poorest children felt so completely disenfranchised, and were so intimidated, that they didn't dare raise their hands if they needed to use the restroom. Some of these, apparently, urinated in their classroom seats. They went home with wet clothes, chilled to the bone.

Those overcrowded schools in Brooklyn provided the author, Betty Smith, a compelling  illustration of how social-class privilege permeated American life at the beginning of the 20th century.

A Tree Grows is Brooklyn is a classic that I am sure many of you will want to read if you haven't already done so.

(The following link goes to the book at Amazon.com)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Publisher: HarperCollins

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Day at the Lyndale Park Rose Garden in Southwest Minneapolis

This year, there was no snow for Christmas. It was bright and sunny and my afternoon walk through the Lyndale Park Rose Garden was pleasant.

It is during the summer, however, that I usually enjoy visiting the garden to see all of the beautiful varieties of roses that the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has on display. I often sit on a park bench near one of the fountains to listen to the soothing sounds of the water.

My favorite fountain -- there are two -- features turtles.  With Lake Harriet being so close, I think turtles fit the theme of this garden well.

During late fall, the fountains are drained and encased in plywood to protect them during the harsh winter months.  At about the same time, the roses are carefully protected under thick blankets of leaves.

However, even in late fall and winter, you can still view some beautifully painted panels that the young artists from Barton Open School and Lyndale Community School have created. Their decorative brushwork enlivens those otherwise featureless plywood panels surrounding the fountains.  If you're in the Lake Harriet area be sure to stop and give the panels a look.

The art project was funded by the East Harriet Farmstead Neighborhood Association and Guse Hardware.   Just scroll down to see five photos of those panels.


All photos were taken by David Jonathan Malas

Monday, May 30, 2011

An Iowa Republican supports same-sex marriage.

Iowa Republican Jeff Angelo is launching a new group entitled Iowa Republicans for Freedom.  Angelo has not always supported same-sex marriage, but says his views have changed over the past few years.  Angelo will officially launch his new group, Wednesday, at the Capitol in Des Moines.  In addition, two Thursday press conferences are scheduled for Cedar Rapids and Davenport.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Living the Liberal Life

Book Review

538 Ways to Live, Work and Play Like a Liberal.

Copyright 2010 by Justin Krebs

ISBN 978-1-60239-982-2
Skyhorse Publishing, New York, New York

I have a few conservative acquaintances. However, they seem to be very "me" oriented. Conversations tend to be about their own lives, their own careers, their own homes, and their own struggles.

And yet, for all of the self-focus, my conservative friends don't seem to be getting very far. A tract home in some luckless suburb and a life of secretive desperation is the best they can do.

Last week I bumped into one of these desperate people at the fix-it-yourself store. You know, it's the store that says, "You can do it, we can help."  I didn't want to be bad-mannered, so I simply said hello. The conservative acquaintance said, "You must be mistaking me for someone else."

Today,  there are conservatives who are too embarrassed that they can't afford union plumbers and that they, the McMansion owners, are going to try to effect plumbing repairs on their own.

So, it ended up:  "You must be mistaking me for someone else."

I simply said, "O.K."  Then,  I quickly went on my own shopping errands having met my social obligation to acknowledge another human being's presence.

A few conservative acquaintances have declared bankruptcy due to high medical bills. A few have lost their homes in foreclosure because multiple, part-time, minimum wage jobs were not enough to make the mortgage payments.

Today, many conservatives are physically and mentally exhausted. They're struggling in additional ill-fated ways too numerous to mention.

There comes a point when I have little left to say to these conservatives whom I call K-Mart Republicans. As with some gays, K-Mart Republicans are people who get down on their knees and beg to belong to Republican organizations that will never represent them. In short, a K-Mart Republican is often a middle class evangelical who offers prayers--prayers that petition God to cut the supplicant's own head off.

On the other hand,  there are liberals. Justin Krebs, author, is a proud American liberal. I subscribe to Kreb's view of the liberal described on page 2 of his book, 538 Ways to Live, Work, and Play:

    Liberals believe that we are better off when we live
    for each other than when we live only for ourselves.

The book does a good job of defining what it really means to be a liberal from a liberal point of view.  538 items are listed in the back of the book. In short, being a liberal is about making the world a better place, but not exclusively for yourself. If you are a struggling and suffering conservative, living a life filled with hopelessness and despair, stranded in a far-suburban wilderness where streets have no sidewalks, after being sold a conservative castle in the sky, this book might be for you.

(The following link goes to the book at Amazon.)

538 Ways to Live, Work, and Play Like a Liberal

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Entertain Your Friends Outdoors This Summer

Book Review

The Dean Bros. Get Fired Up
Grilling, Tailgating, Picnicking, and More
By Jamie and Bobby Dean and Melissa Clark
Copyright 2011 by Dean Brothers Enterprises, LLC
Photographs copyright 2011 by Ben Fink Photography
Ballantine Books, New York, New York
ISBN 978-0-345-51363-2

Summary:  "The Deen Brothers present 100 all-new recipes and entertaining ideas for outdoor gatherings" -- provided by the publishers.

Politically active people take advantage of the outdoors by entertaining during the summer months. Jamie and Bobby Dean and Melissa Clark have put together an attractive book on the subject. The full-page photography by Ben Fink Photography is great. I've talked to other authors and publishers and they tell me they use professional designers for the food presentation in their books. I'm assuming the Dean Brothers hired such a designer because the food looks like someone with some expertise has carefully arranged it for the photographer. For instance, the cilantro is very artfully sprinkled on the fajitas--fajitas which, themselves, were not merely dumped on a platter. The fajitas were arranged the way you will want to arrange them, yourself, when your friends stop by. Be sure to complete the picture with the matching green tablecloth underneath the platter to bring out the green in the cilantro because presentation is a big part of the formula for success.

This is the book I'm going to be using this summer when I discuss the issues with other politically-minded people. I have my eyes on the Charred Tomato Salad with Peppers and Onions because we always need to have something for the vegans.

No doubt, the Dean Brothers'  expertise and experience at running their restaurant has taught them how to combine inspiration with practicality. If you have read the book Martha Rules, which I reviewed previously (see Martha Stewart: On Starting and Running Your Business), you'll note that Stewart mentioned that her first catering experience was successful, but that it was the work of a novice. She, too, has learned a lot since then.

I don't have as much time--or energy--as Martha Stewart to complete an extensive learning curve in the kitchen, so this book provides me with a dependable shortcut to successful summertime entertaining.
(The following link goes to the book at Amazon.)

The Deen Bros. Get Fired Up: Grilling, Tailgating, Picnicking, and More

Friday, April 29, 2011

America's Missing Liberal Class

Book Review
The Death of the Liberal Class
Copyright 2010 by Chris Hedges.
Nation Books, New York, New York
ISBN 978-1-56858-644-1

In his latest book, Chris Hedges explains how the United States is descending--or has descended- into a neo-feudal state controlled by corporations. Today, big corporations are America's royal family, so to speak. Liberals discover that speaking against corporate America is equivalent to speaking against the king. Hedges makes the case that liberals, in order to avoid being rejected by the power elite, compromise to the point of being totally ineffectual as a counterweight to the influence of the big corporations.

I found the section on the art world especially worthy of note since I studied art in college. Hedges' insights into the power elite's control of the art world are accurate but surprising to people on the periphery of that influential community.

Chris Hedges, a former journalist at the New York Times and a Pulitzer Prize winner, has also written the following books:

Empire of Illusion (2009)
Collateral Damage (2008)
I Don't Believe in Atheists (2008)
American Fascists (2007)
Losing Moses on the Freeway (2005)
What Every Person Should Know About War (2003)
War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002)

(The following link goes to the book at Amazon.)

Death of the Liberal Class