The Carpet Bagger's Journal — moving from NYC to Mississippi

September 19, 2010

Don’t MAKE me come up there, New York City!

So here I am, New York, one of your expatriates,  now living in Mississippi, forever assuming that  I had left the place of ultimate tolerance for a place still wrestling with civil rights issues.  While I’m off minding my business down here, I find out from Farah Akbar of The Gotham Gazette and others — the sweet elderly couple down the street at CNN, those crazy neighbors of ours at Fox News, and basically everybody else — that you’ve gone and pulled a switcheroo on me, New York City.  Down here, I’ve yet to witness a hate crime or hear about one recently committed in my environs, but up there, you’ve gone all Klannish on me!

Farah Akbar wrote the following:

“A 37-year-old Queens resident, who does not want his name used, thinks that he may have been the victim of a hate crime. On a warm August evening, he was taking the routine four-block walk home from the Jamaica Muslim Center after completing his prayers. He was wearing a traditional outfit from his native Bangladesh, which consists of a long overflowing shirt that reaches the knees and baggy pants. Two blocks shy of his home, five men surrounded him began punching him.

‘I kept saying, ‘Don’t hit me. Take what you want, but don’t hit me,’ he said. The men did not ask for money or for his watch. In fact, they did not say a word to him throughout the entire ordeal. The victim, an information technology professional, had to take two days off from work to recover from his injuries.

Officials from the Jamaica Muslim Center believe that this was a hate crime. ‘He was wearing Muslim garb, he was not robbed and he was only two blocks away from the mosque,” said Junnun Choudhury, general secretary of the center.'” — The Gotham Gazette, September 2010

And then there’s the guy who drunkenly took a whizz on prayer rugs in a mosque in a different part of Queens, a part of Queens where I organized a pro-diversity literary reading within a year of 9/11 that was well attended!

Why are the people of Astoria, Queens, in what must be the most diverse portion of the most diverse county in the whole world, seemingly more angry at Islam today than  they were in January, 2002?

Is this what you do, New York, when I leave you alone in the house like a grown-up?  If I had discovered you had thrown a wild party with a lot of friends over who broke stuff, that would have just been business as usual for you, and we wouldn’t be having this talk right now.  This is a sad surprise, to say the least.

And then, let’s take a look at this winner, who celebrated September 11th by protesting the Islamic center they want to build at Park 51:

Wait -- I'm in Mississippi and THIS GUY is in New York?

When I was contemplating my move down here, New York City, didn’t you warn me that if I went to Mississippi, I would run into a pack of half-wit racist scumbags with horrible taste in men’s hats?

Is this your idea of a joke, New York?

New York, it’s not just the ninth anniversary of September 11th when this guy was walking around like this — it was during FASHION WEEK that he was looking like this, too. Have you no shame?

New York, my Irish great-great-great-grandmother would have said the following to you:

  1. You’ve gone “beyond the beyonds” — which means pack your bags, no Carmelite nun’s prayer can save you — this is the kind of behavior that lands you straight in Hell.
  2. She would remind you of the controversy that existed during her lifetime about the building of  Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, as one wouldn’t want to encourage all that anti-American papist hooliganism supposedly inherent in the worship practices of that upstart immigrant group, the Irish Catholics.  I refer you to Martin Scorcese’s film, The Gangs of New York, for a reenactment of another jingoist protest against an immigrant group’s house of worship being built.
  3. You have abandoned your wonderful principles.
  4. Osama Bin Laden wins if we become hateful or even distrust our own ideal of a diverse society.
  5. Given that this man has “Guinness” written on his tacky cap, there’s a pretty good chance the guy in the photo is Irish-American.  What would  his Irish great-great-great grandmother have to say to him?  Irish eyes would not be smiling.

New York, what’s going on  up there?  Are you just acting out because you miss me so much?  Have I really  moved to a place of greater tolerance for difference and individual choice than your overcrowded streets?

Don’t make me come up there, New York City!  If I come up there, and I don’t see things back the way they were when I left — a reasonable attitude between all groups of people, a total rejection of the attitudes that inspire hate crimes, and — don’t forget — the best-dressed men in North America, you will have to answer to me.  I remind you of the many demonstrations I organized when I lived there.  I remind you of the several makeovers I performed.  You don’t want to get me started again, do you?  Don’t make me come up there.

April 25, 2010


Me with yet another pet -- okay, really Donna Douglas, but hey, it could happen!

In the beginning, there was me, just me, an apartment dweller.  I was accountable to no one.

Then, an older lady where I lived in Queens, around the corner from me, asked me if I knew anyone who wanted a kitten who had wandered onto her stoop.  The kitten came home with me.

I moved to Mississippi.  There was a man with a dog.  His little dog, a daschund, seemed easy enough to handle along with my cat.

Then my step-daughter told me her mother was going to put her dog to sleep if she didn’t find another home for it.  That dog lives here, too.

Then that dog brought home a live tortoise.

I remember watching The Beverly Hillbillies as a child and thinking how nice it would be to have a way with animals, with “critturs” the way that Ellie Mae Clampett did.  I heard her Southern accent, but I did not understand that her hillbilliness and her crittur skills were linked.  I only knew that when I asked my mother for a pet chimp, she told me that was not a practical choice for suburban dwellers.

Now, however, while neither having a pet chimp nor being truly in the back woods where my husband might shoot up some bubbling crude (alas!), I see a certain link between more rural life and pet life.

I find myself, like the lady in the unicorn tapestry, chosen by critturs for my extraordinary sweetness and purity — or maybe they are just looking for any chump who can fry up some bacon and let them lick something covered with the resulting grease.

I was not trained for this — I have cocktail party social skills, not hillbilly crittur skills.  However, I can adapt — if I imagine myself organizing a soiree with games, and the pets are my guests, here are the activities we seem to have planned:

Crudites and cocktails — more like crudities than crudites.

Parlor games with the following names:

  • Fetch the stick
  • What are you chewing on?
  • Whose poop is this? ( suggested by my friend Inna)
  • bath round up (like a conga line with barking)
  • Eat this, not that
  • The cat is not a_____ (Chew toy, enemy of the state, or other construct of indeterminate origin)
  • Musical bowls
  • Come back here!  Come back here NOW!

Personally, I would like to plunge us all in the cement pond and get us clean with chlorinated blue water three times a day.

I don’t have a pet chimp, but I might as well have one for all the mayhem in my life.  I used to have something like style.

I caught the new dog chewing the stuffing out of one of my duvets.  Recently, I was wiping up the food spill messes in the kitchen with a rag.  I left the rag in the laundry hamper.  The dog reached her head in and ate the rag — the whole rag — then vomited it up on the kitchen floor.  This resulted in the use of another rag to wipe up messes, one that I have hidden from dog reach.

My nails are gritty.  My pink bathrobe is covered with muddy paw prints.  My hair looks less like Ellie Mae’s and more like — choosing a mid-century TV reference — Phyllis Diller’s.

I remember that apartment dweller.  She looked nice, but she was lonely.

I have always wanted (secretly) a cloying entourage.  I now have one.  Wherever I go, I hear thundering hoof beats behind me.  I might decide, after all, to fry up some bacon, and none of these critturs, with the possible exception of the tortoise, would want to miss that.

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