One drunken February night just a few weeks ago, I stumbled into a bar with some friends where we discussed the hot bartender (way too young), the fact that despite we had all just met up each one of us had been drinking for about 10 hours at that point (not alone), and the books we were currently reading. One of the British girls discussed the book "Talking About Jane Austen in Baghdad" and the other day she handed it to me as we passed each other in the hallway.
Yesterday, I visited the Hermitage Museum. Yes, it is the sister museum to the original in St. Petersburg and it is unbelieveably enchanting. It's by far one of my favorite museums to wonder, besides this random museum the boy and I found in Paris with the most beautiful Monet's and this incredible bronze sculpture of a 1920's woman looking down. There is an exhibit on late 19th century, early 20th century impressionists and cubist artists. Matisse, Picasso, Malevich, Derian and many others. Matisse's 'Dance' was on display. It arrived yesterday and is only around for 6 weeks! He is one of my favorites. Matisse, Schiele, Picasso, Klimt, Monet . . . I've gotten to see all my favorites over the last two months.
The museum is a large square with a big sitting park-like area in the middle and stands only 3 stories tall, but much more open than say NYC's MOMA. It was an old people home for over 300 years before they re-designed. During Museum Night last November, many of us went to the Hermitage to akwardly dance in the Russian disco and this middle park-like area was lit up by small white lights and roaming soft warm blues. Wonderful!
I sat in one long hallway with old Dutch church furniture and looked out on the canal just outside and almost finished the book my friend had lent me. It was a great last Thursday, if you don't count the periodic hailing that occurred throughout the day and me wondering into a four lane highway with no bike lane. The book is a series of email exchanges over three years (2005-2008) between a BBC journalist and an academic who teaches democracy and human rights at a university in Baghdad.
It's a simple story of what happened during those years throughout the invasion from one woman's perspective and a friendship that turns into a rescue mission. I love the honest dialogue between these two women. The British woman often talks about her three little girls (2,3, and 5) and their growing shoplifting problems and the stupid things her husband does that annoy her and asks questions to May, like " Don't all dictatorships crumble in the end? Aren't people at large responsible for taking their fate into their own hands? Can Islamic countries be democratic?"
And May talks about things like suicide bombings outside her house and how her elderly mother responded to the Americans who were searching her home and asked if she had any weapons, "'Yes', and then held up her walking stick up for the soldiers to see, telling them that this stick could break bones if needed. They laughed. Can you just imagine? An old woman without dentures talking about beating the soldiers with a stick! I think a sense of humour is a blessing in these circumstances because it relieves the tension." Most of the emails are the two's plan to get May and her husband Ali out of Iraq and into the UK through various avenues, the last of which is the book deal that Peguin made with them to publish their emails, but only after May and Ali were safely out of Iraq.
I'm not sure why these posts are turning into these types of descriptions, but they are.
So . . . mountaintop removal!
Remember how two weeks ago a bunch of activists built fake purple mountains on the front lawn of EPA headquarters and sat there for over 30 hours with no arrests? What happened to the good ol' days when DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey would round up hundreds of protesters and hold them hog tied face down on a high school gymnasium floor without charges for days on end? Maybe the Tea Party is right, we are turning into Europe!
Anyways, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson released guidance on the issuance of new mountaintop removal permits. Jackson and her staff have designed additional considerations for how to determine whether to issue permits. Back in September EPA held up 79 permits, looks like they were waiting in order to come up with new ways to look at this through the Clean Water Act. Companies must prove that there are no other alternatives to discharging into US waterways that would have less adverse impact on aqua eco-systems. EPA also released a study that shows 9 out of 10 mountaintop removal sites discharges have a significant negative impact to aquatic life.
Is this the beginning of the end of mountaintop removal? That's the rumor. Read RAN's blog post on the announcement.
Ciao from a sunny Amsterdam,
And for you haters that have laughed at me for years for wanting to change my white highlights to grey! Don't forget who is the Aquarius here bitches!