Thursday, September 20, 2012

You're Welcome

I like to think this is because I post much about Rachel Maddow . . . oh wait shit I post about Fresh Air a lot. hmm . . will have to recalculate my influence over the world.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday, August 17, 2012

Just a Dream

" Everyone was treated on an equal basis
No matter what color, religion or races
We weren't afraid to show our faces
It was cool to chill in foreign places"

I love Run DMC

So  . . . there's a Presidential election in just a couple weeks. And I love it! I always forget how much I really really love elections. I hate it as much as I love it but at the same time it's just society. This is actually how people behave. If it wasn't, this shit we get to see wouldn't happen.

I love that Biden says ridiculous things. I love that Ryan looks like an Abercrombie and Fitch cashier. I love that Reid is like fuck you you stupid bitch, I may be a really old boxer from a small western town, but I'll throw down in my quiet steady as stream voice. I love that Trump is making a big annoucement at the convention (you're fired Obama!). I love that Romney describes Obama, of the Hope-fame, as full of division, anger and hate because if you say black man and angry in the same sentence if front of an all white people backdrop than everyone that is secretly still scared of black people are like 'yeah you right'. I love that Donna Brazil once told me in a hotel room at the first Democratic presidential debate in 2002 in Washington DC to shut The Wire off because there were too many curse words. (I put it on mute I'm not gonna lie) I love that two women are hosting two of the debates this year after twenty years after the only other woman hosted a debate.

Wait, no . . ..   actually it makes me sick to my stomach that I am in fact happy there has only been one woman to host a debate. And though I don't work on women's issues like I use to, I am unbelievably disgusted that women are getting thrown against the wall and beaten down in the name of small government ( by the way of more government spending up your uterus) this year. I don't know if you've ever had a very large piece of plastic forced up your body in the name of finding out what is going on in your uterus while your legs shake with pain to find out you're totally ok and that experience was completely unnecessary (because I have), not to mention if you're pregnant and trying to exercise your constitutionally legal right to an abortion,  because that is also part of this election cycle. People (men of GOP persuasion) forcing women (and others like the elderly) to jump through hoops to exercise long fought and won rights (as in voting) makes this election important. It makes paying attention to a president that may not have fought all the battles in the way you wish he would have important and knowing the difference between being perfect and being human worth it.

But I say all this, with the understanding that this is how elections work in the United States. This is the way it goes and the drama makes me laugh otherwise i would cry.  The older I get the more I understand the ingrained need for debate and argument in this country. Because if we didn't have these fights, we would probably have Pussy Riot judgement way too regularly. Let's be honest, I too would probably be in jail for hooliganism myself. oh wait.

There is real enjoyment in this election season. And you should vote. . . .  and pay attention to both sides because you're probably missing something if you don't.

Renee








Wednesday, August 1, 2012

And That's the Way We Do It

Thanks EC!

besides the obvious, my favorite is the "please, no phone calls about this job" after putting their phone number as one of the first things in the post. 

DOWN SOUTH PARANORMAL RESEARCH (LOUISIANA)


Date: 2012-07-29, 9:14AM CDT
Reply to: g8sqr-3170234433@job.craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?]

Need An Investigation Done? We Investigate Residential/Commerical. 504-327-7314

Company Overview

We are a local Paranormal team based in New Orleans Louisiana. We investigate residential and business locations, as well as other reported haunted locations. You can also checkout our facebook page here: www.facebook/504.PARANORMAL . All of our investigations are free of charge.
If you would like our help. Have any Questions? Or would like to learn more about us. Please contact us on Facebook or our website http://downsouthparanormal.net46.net/
..... Thanks ~ D.S.P.R.
  • Location: LOUISIANA
  • Compensation: We do not charge for our investigations. However donations are accepted.
  • This is at a non-profit organization.
  • Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
  • Please, no phone calls about this job!
  • Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

Friday, July 27, 2012

They're Hubig to Fail

"One of the firemen said we put the fire out with our tears."

To everyone's disbelief Hubig's pies burned to the ground this morning. Every last pie is already off the shelves and we are waiting for the day they are back. Owners said they will rebuild and I don't doubt for a second everyone is this city will help them do so. 

No White Flags!

'Rebirth' was unveiled today at the Superdome. A statue representing one of the best plays in Saints history executed by Steve Gleason of the New Orleans Saints against the Atlanta Falcons (boom!) on September 25, 2006. It was the first game the Saints played in the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina and over a year on the road.

Here is the team photo from today. All good things are bittersweet in this state, you might notice that Coach Payton isn't there. Free Sean Payton!

And in case you want to remember what the feeling was in 2006 in Central City that night. The Falcons' coach even said, "As hard as it is to lose this game, I'd be lying if I didn't say there was a little, little piece of me that really appreciated what this game meant to this city," said Falcons coach Jim Mora Jr., whose father coached the Saints for more than a decade" 

Can't wait for the new season! I will be in my usual seat at Pal's next Sunday with a Blood Orange vodka and soda in hand! My official Saints season drink.

Who Dat or go home! 

 Reneé

Monday, July 23, 2012

"Only Bad Writers Think Their Writing is Good"

An amazing list of lists of advice from writers on writing.

reminder: this blog is now only for crap like the above and below and for links to web pages I like but won't ever remember I like unless I put them somewhere like for instance here on this blog not the other blog, but for something a bit more thoughtful check out For the Love of Coffee, Politics and Louisiana.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More Fresh Air

If you are part of the Cabrini Breakfast Club, you hear me say this every morning. I'm getting rid of my smartphone! My brain feels overwhelmed with technology and people and things talking to me. I need a break. So I'm doing two things, going to cafes at night sans smartphone and laptop to read and write (no I can't do that home because I will watch Pretty Little Liars instead) and two taking a kayak long weekend trip somewhere, possibility Alabama in the next couple of weeks. Just need to find a kayak to borrow.

Anyways, on my way home from walking the dogs at the lake last night, I was listening to Terry Gross interview Aaron Sorkin, the writer of A Few Good Men, West Wing, and Newsroom. He was talking about how smart his family is, both parents are lawyers and they always debated all sides of issues at home. He said he didn't have the stuff to participate in those discussions, but he has a good ear and he picked the phonics of those conversations. The actual movement of sound and words, which he believes led him to be able to write tv shows like West Wing, without ever being able to actually have those intellectual conversations himself. I find this fascinating. It's hard to tell sometimes what writers really mean when they degrade themselves, because that is a hard and fast fact about the trade. Writers are the first to explain they are dumb and lazy and only write because they can't do anything else. You see it over and over and over again.


Take a listen if you didn't catch last night's episode of Fresh Air.

Renee

ps. I feel like I should contact Terry Gross and ask if I can be her blogger. I write about her nearly everyday anyway.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sing It!

"You can't be an anti-immigrant bigot and love this country. The statue of liberty won't let you"

Sing it!

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Its a good weekend to end a bad week

I don't know what went on last week but it was rough. The heat, the grumpiness, the shootings, the rapes, the robberies, the beatings, the bad coffee. I felt like everyone was having a bad week. Thank goodness for the weekend! And a great one.

Breesus is back!

I got a new rug!

I think I found a new couch I love that can still be used as a guest bed!

Yesterday was spent finding a great new bookcase, buying a great new rug, taking a wonderful nap, getting a super sketchy massage, having a couple of really good cocktails while listening to James Singleton strum a beautiful upright bass which is totally my favorite instrument ever, drinking a great rosé at Bacchanal, deciding to finally let go of someone I should have let go of a long time ago, drinking more cocktails at Mimis with my favorite New Orleans friend, and then wondering to Markey's for more cocktails and bumping into other good friends.

I watched Beau roll around in a ginormous mud puddle at the lake where he dipped his head straight into the puddle with a kind of glee I've never seen before.

My friend Andrew is writing one sentence a day in honor of Hemmingway's search for the perfect sentence and they are great!

I found this archived list of articles by writers on writing from the NYTimes.

There is a bbq in the french quarter with a pool later this afternoon!

And now I'm going Kayaking, though it kind of looks like it might rain. Scratch that it is raining. oh well. Beau needs several more baths to wash that nasty mud puddle smell away anyway. 


Friday, July 6, 2012

When Did I Become the Oldest in the Room

I remember when I was by far the youngest person at work, not just because my mom had me in the office after every school day, holiday and in the summer from when I was in diapers, but even at restaurants. I recently picked up one shift in a friends cafe to start learning the business side of running a cafe, but first I'm spending a month in the front of the house finding out how the operation runs. Yesterday, I learned I was the oldest person in the cafe. Though they all agreed I looked 25! (liars)

If that realization wasn't enough, I woke up this morning barely able to walk because my joints hurt so much. I couldn't do my workout at full speed, cut half my lunges and all the jumping lunges out including my full yoga session. Whatthefuck?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

And By Week I Mean Day

Let me know what you think.

I've moved my blog over to Wordpress, see post below for the details, but click above to start reading.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

New Website on the Way

I've been at this same little blogspot for almost five years, but I'm in the process of expanding what I'm doing here and will be moving to Wordpress shortly. I have a couple reasons for this:
  1.  I want to get spiffy. I want a new look that Blogger isn't providing. Something more magazine layout style. I think I've found a good template that you will be happy with.
  2. I want to expand my writing. Though I'll probably keep the more personal ranting over here (I know you love my trash talking and terrible language), I feel that I've really expanded as a writer in the past couple years. (Don't feel the need to tell me if you disagree, please.)  I am interested in pushing this even further.  Maybe I'm a writer and not a campaigner after all. Maybe I'm not even a writer or a campaigner. Maybe I'm something entirely different. Who knows. But I'd like to see where it goes. The new website will contain more feature like articles and I will be challenging my style a bit more to see where I can push myself. If I can push myself beyond the style you have been reading for all these years. My fiction writing as well has turned a page recently, that writing I will not be sharing with you on this or the new website unfortunately. You'll just have to wait for my first book! 
  3. I'm interested in exploring things beyond politics, nonprofits, and my puppies, though we all know those things will still play a prominent focus. I guess when it comes down to it, while this started as a way to reach out to my family and friends on the issues (like PVC and brominated flame retardants) I work on in a way that makes sense and more specifically to breakdown stereotypes that liberals care about one thing while conservatives care about another when in reality humans care about protecting their families and their communities just the same. But I think ultimately what all this writing and reading has allowed me to do is bring out a piece of my personality I might not have otherwise developed. Your years long stream of words telling me to keep writing and sending me emails and skype messages and making jokes about the stuff that I write has indeed encouraged me, so thanks for helping me to be a better writer. (Don't feel the need to tell me you do not think I'm a better writer or a good writer or a writer, please.)
So as soon as I choose a new blog title and learn all the new things on Wordpress, I'll be up and running. I'm guessing another week or so. I'll probably repost some of the posts here that have the largest hits to get started and add new content weekly.

Ciao,
Reneé Claire 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Morning Listening

Thank you Joss Stone Pandora station.

Ain't No Sunshine - Buddy Guy and Tracy Chapman

These Arms of Mine - Ottis Redding

The House of the Rising Sun - Tracy Chapman

Right to be Wrong - Joss Stone

Try a Little Tenderness - Ottis Redding
 
Summertime - Joss Stone and LeAnn Rhimes (because its become difficult to remember that LeAnn Rhimes is actually an incredible singer, remember Blue? The song was originally written for Patsy Cline. The video is amazing!)

Fell in a Boy - Joss Stone

There's Hope - India Arie

Easy Like Sunday Morning - Lionel Richie and Westlife (no idea who Westlife is, but they look like an Insync type of group with maybe a little soul) This is a much better version.

Also, some great quotes on why writers write by famous authors including Georgia Orwell saying "I have made it appear as though my motives in writing were wholly public-spirited. I don’t want to leave that as the final impression. All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery.”

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Social Entrepreneurship

Business is often thought of, in the United States anyway, as a clear path to putting money in your pocket or the pockets of whoever is in charge of said business. And it is, but I believe we have forgotten as a country the other benefits of entrepreneuralism outside of profit making, such as providing jobs, enabling infrastructure growth, and providing access to health care in the form of the benefits it offers employees so that its employees are healthy enough to keep the business operating. All these things help both the community at large and the business owners and the employees. So in reality business isn't just about making money, its also about creating a healthy and functioning community. Money is just one mechanism that enables an entire ecosystem to be successful. That ecosystem is our community and in a broad view, our nation.

New Orleans and its surrounding towns is an area often abandoned by not only the federal government but also the state. The state of Louisiana notoriously allows large corporations to use and abuse and throw away its people. Why else would oil companies be allowed to forget about the thousands of miles of unused and abandoned oil canals of the oil companies making? The result of these canals is our entire state eroding into the ocean, in fact a football field of Louisiana land disappears into open water every 38 minutes. In addition to the impacts of the oil canals is mans attempts to control the wild Mississippi River, preventing the soil build up that has given our state its land mass for centuries. By ignoring the impacts of oil canals, we are prioritizing corporate profits over peoples lives in Louisiana and calling it a free market. In place of the state, is a rising tide of ordinary folks taking things into their own hands. They are losing this battle everyday and are in desperate need of government help and there will be a day where folks on the Gulf Coast will be either swept into the Gulf or forced to evacuate, but they do it nonetheless.  This is exactly why governments exist, to wield a larger hand when individuals aren't able to do so for themselves.

As the business community (and those in political office and trade associations that represent the business community) in the United States continues to move away from this understanding leaving its employees and patrons struggling to successfully access and utilize healthcare, the financial system, and struggle with decaying infrastructure, while bringing in record profits resulting in a collapsing economy except for the very very rich, community members are rising up to find solutions. The long term result of this shift of responsibility for uplifting a community away from business towards social justice organizations is that our businesses will  eventually be run by people who are better able to be productive members of the community. Business will once again regain a sense of respect for the community that allows it to exist. One such solution is social entrepreneurship.

What do I mean by social entrepreneurship?

"Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society's most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change." - Ashoka

Social entrepreneurship is the recognition of a social problem and the uses of entrepreneurial principles to organisze, create and manage a social venture to achieve a desired social change.  - wikipedia

I also see social entrepreneurship in the work of very large companies such as Toms and Seventh Generation. These companies make a profit but part of the way in which it does is by doing good for the communities that need it. These models are slightly more traditional business than say Kiva, which is a non-profit that lends out micro-loans to small business people.

I am more and more attracted to the social entrepreneurs who are challenging the status quo of both business and government. I no doubt will run my own business one day, hopefully sooner rather than later, and do not see my role as solely making money. I firmly believe that profits over people is not sustainable and we only have to look at our world's current financial problems for proof. That was never business's sole purpose and it shouldn't be now.

Update June 30:

I just found this article that says New Orleans is seeing an entrepreneurial rate 40% higher than the national average.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Language is Yours for the Making

Just found this amazing letter from C.S. Lewis to a child fan who wrote him a letter asking for writing advice. It's like he is reading all those long winded, whiny, nonprofit emails demanding we strongly care about their issues while excluding the many everyday people perspectives and instead choosing to speak like a hostage in a political science office of a higher education institution with me!

Writing advice from C.S. Lewis to a young American fan named Joan Lancaster:
The Kilns,
Headington Quarry,
Oxford
26 June 1956
Dear Joan–

Thanks for your letter of the 3rd. You describe your Wonderful Night v. well. That is, you describe the place and the people and the night and the feeling of it all, very well — but not the thing itself — the setting but not the jewel. And no wonder! Wordsworth often does just the same.

His Prelude (you’re bound to read it about 10 years hence. Don’t try it now, or you’ll only spoil it for later reading) is full of moments in which everything except the thing itself is described. If you become a writer you’ll be trying to describe the thing all your life: and lucky if, out of dozens of books, one or two sentences, just for a moment, come near to getting it across.

About amn’t Iaren’t I and am I not, of course there are no right or wrong answers about language in the sense in which there are right and wrong answers in Arithmetic. “Good English” is whatever educated people talk; so that what is good in one place or time would not be so in another. Amn’t I was good 50 years ago in the North of Ireland where I was brought up, but bad in Southern England. Aren’t I would have been hideously bad in Ireland but very good in England. And of course I just don’t know which (if either) is good in modern Florida. Don’t take any notice of teachers and textbooks in such matters. Nor of logic. It is good to say “more than one passenger was hurt,” although more than one equals at least two and therefore logically the verb ought to be plural were not singular was!

What really matters is:–

1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.

2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’timplement promises, but keep them.

3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”

4. In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do my job for me.”

5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
Thanks for the photos. You and Aslan both look v. well. I hope you’ll like your new home.

With love
yours
C.S. Lewis

Fresh Air

I love Fresh Air with Terri Gross as you already know since I often link back to interviews of hers. Here is another one with Louis C.K. I know very little about him and after listening to this interview tried to watch his show, which I got maybe 3 minutes into and turned it off. But nonetheless this is a great interview. He talks about writing about serious issues, in particular a suicide moment where he is put into a situation to help prevent someone from killing themselves only to realize that writing such a moment is made up of pure ego where he gets to be the hero. Then have one of his best friends kill himself in real life a few years after writing this episode.

Worth the listen. 

Also as the Olympics are getting ready to start let's remember 1968. I loved the Olympnics when I was younger, yes, I spelled that correctly. Here is a good video (even if it is CNN) about how every moment is an opportunity to seek justice if only we would let it be.

Renee

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Protest Comes in Many Forms

I just found this amazing website targeting the Prime Minister of Canada. Every two weeks (on Monday) a writer sends a letter to the Prime Minister suggesting a book that he should be reading. Here is an excerpt about why . . .

"I was thinking about that, about stillness, and I was also thinking, more prosaically, about arts funding, not surprising since we fifty artists were there in the House to help celebrate the fifty years of the Canada Council for the Arts, that towering institution that has done so much to foster the identity of Canadians. I was thinking that to have a bare-bones approach to arts funding, as the present Conservative government has, to think of the arts as mere entertainment to be indulged in after the serious business of life, that—in conjunction with retooling education so that it centres on the teaching of employable skills rather than the creating of thinking citizens—is to engineer souls that are post-historical, post-literate and pre-robotic; that is, blank souls wired to be unfulfilled and susceptible to conformism at its worst—intolerance and totalitarianism—because incapable of thinking for themselves and vowed to a life of frustrated serfdom at the service of the feudal lords of profit."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

So What If I'm Suppose to Be Working

 . . . its national Bourbon Day!!!

I can drink Bourbon and get a whole bunch of writing done. Actually, no I can't, but I can dream about drinking bourbon while I get a whole bunch of writing done today.

Also, I made awesome sangria yesterday with Frangelico and Grand Marnier, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, and peaches along with Barefoot Savignon Blanc and Moscoto white wine. Wow. . . I think that's the only real indicator that my life has actually progressed. My sangria has more expensive ingredients.  I've been making my own sangria for almost 10 years, but in 2005 I was living in Brooklyn chain smoking Newport Lights and making home made sangria with a gallon of Carlo Rossi, cheap fifth of Peach Snapps, and frozen fruit.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

And There Goes the Reporters

Just wanted to share with you an interesting article in the Atlantic about the dismantling of New Orleans' paper Times Picayune, which is a damn good paper and not just by Louisiana standards. Its competitive to almost any other major city paper on content, but looks at what it gets to report on. Highest murder rate in the country, highest prisoner rate in the world, best artists, biggest fuck ups (education, environmental protection, letting the city drown, etc). It also has one of the highest percentages of community people that actually read the paper in the nation. And exactly how  do people read an online newspaper when they have no internet connection?


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

9 Year Old Shames School Into Better Lunches

by writing a daily blog with photos of her lunches and then rates each meal. The revolution will be blogged by the kids. Even Jamie Oliver mentioned her.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Dog is Not God Spelled Backwards

It's a direct translation of "shut the fuck up". Georgia has picked up the habit of loudly barking at me when she wants food, a walk, a belly rub, Beau to play with her, me to stop working at the computer, or when she wants to climb on my lap and pretend she is a 7 pound Shitz Shu. It's really annoying. I'm just letting her bark until she gets tired and walks away. It's helping but in the mean time oh my fucking god, just shut the fuck up Georgia!

This weekend I have Zuki back. You might remember him from such blog posts as "Zuki Wants to Cuddle With You!"  and "Sister and Brother from Another Mother".  My cousin Justin who lives just outside the city, that city being New Orleans my stuck up east and west coast and European friends, and adopted Zuki not long after I rescued him. You'll be happy to know I have yet to replicate the Summer of 2011 where I rescued 5 dogs off the street. Now I just pretend I don't see them out my car window. I've become a monster.

Zuki and Georgia are on the verge of homicide at any given moment, though they are also deeply in love, as it always seems to go. However, Zuki has some real separation anxiety, he was chained to a tree for who knows how long before I found him. He has some problems sleeping without Justin. And when I say sleep, I mean pacing the entire house whining alternated with walking around the bed the entire night and peeing in the laundry room. I have had serious sleep problems for as long as I can remember which means the only one sleeping when Zuki visits is Georgia. Another reason to hate her.

On another note, I just bought a stove top espresso maker. I have a percolator I bought in a garage sale for $3 in Oakland but this is a different kind called moka pot mini. here's a boring youtube video of how it works versus a traditional percolator.  I've learned through reading so many coffee websites and blogs that these folks are pretty boring in their explanations so consider this video par for the course. They obviously need some Renee Claire to spice up the industry. The moka pot mini is kind of awesome. I'm really excited for it to come in. With my new butcher block that I rescued from my moms garage this weekend, I now have an official coffee making station currently set up with two different types of grinders, two different types of cones, two french presses, and soon to be two different types of percolators. A big gap in my equipment is a Turkish coffee maker, which I use to curse loudly when I worked at a Turkish place in DC, but have now fell in love with after all those terrible Amsterdam coffees (Turkish coffee is much much better than anything you can get in Amsterdam). Of course a major part of the coffee station, is the liquor cabinet that sits just beneath it so if I make shitty coffee I can just pour in some Frangelico and call it brunch.

off to the gym! hopefully zuki won't tear apart my window unit like he did last year while i'm away.

Reneé Claire

Thursday, June 7, 2012

New Books and New Chairs

I just transported nearly a hundred books from my moms house this week. Boxes and boxes of books that I had collected in high school, college, and while traveling. I need two new bookcases to store these all. I think I should open up a library in my house with the hundreds and hundreds that I have collected over the years.

I read a new one while in Montreal called The Power of Habit. It breaks down habits into the parts of the brain that control them and the individual pieces that create and sustain them. It was amazing! And a relative easy read as I finished it in two days.

Here are a couple interesting sections:

(page 175)

"Sometimes, one priority - or one department or one person or one goal - needs to overshadow everything else, though it might be unpopular or threaten the balance of power that keeps trains running on time. Sometimes, a truce can create daners that outweigh any peace.

There's a paradox in this observation, of course. How can an organization implement habits that balance authority and, at the same time, choose a person or goal that rises above everyone else? How do nurses and doctors share authority while still making it clear who is in charge? How does a subway system avoid becoming bogged down in turf battles while making sure safety is still a priority, even if that means lines of authority must be redrawn?

The answer lies in seizing the same advantage that Tony Dungy encountered when he took over the woeful Bucs and Paul O'Neill discovered when he became CEO of flailing Alcoa. it's the same opportunity Howard Shultz exploited when he returned to a flagging Starbucks in 2007. All those leaders seized the possibilities created by a crisis. During turmoil, organizational habits become malleable enough to both assign responsibility and create a more equitable balance of power. Crisis are so vaulable, in fact, that sometimes it's worth stirring up a sense of looming catastrophe rather than letting it die down."

I've worked with several organizations who live this daily and that is why I run all the time. . . I mean actual running, like for exercise and with expensive running shoes and crappy old campaign t-shirts.

I finished Wild late last week. It was a great novel, but lacked an ending that didn't draw on cliches. I almost wanted it to end in some non life lesson with her getting to her new Portland apartment and chowing down on a pizza. I feel as though the journey was enough, I don't need the story to get sappy. Of course she found something bigger than herself and her lost on the trail. But it's worth the read regardless. Also turns out Oprah reignited her book club after reading this book (and terrible OWN ratings) and Reese Witherspoon's production company is making it into a movie. Opal and Harv are so ahead of the times! 

I'm on to a new book called "A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar" about a sister team that travels to the middle east during the early 1920's, not a time known for its adventurous independent women travelers, though "Out of Africa" is also about the same time frame and continues to be one of my go to movies when I want to see a woman kick some ass, which Kill Bill also fits. Anyways, the new book is interesting, though has a slow start so far. I think maybe the last two books were so easily drunk that anything less is proving a little more difficult. Good thing I just create two new sitting nooks in my house for extra comfy reading and writing time. Maybe I'll grab a copy of the book "Out of Africa" was based on for my next read.

Ciao,
Reneé Claire




Friday, June 1, 2012

No Sleep . . .

Till Florida!

Got home last night from Montreal, had a couple drinks at JJ's (love you trashy bar begging for a lawsuit), and was finally in bed snuggling with Georgia by midnight. Woke up at 6am, dug through my still packed luggage replacing the dirtiest clothes, switched out my books and magazines, walked the boxer around the block and hopped into a cab for another flight. Arrived at airport and realized I had forgotten my coffee on kitchen counter!

One more trip and then I'm home  . .  . for a couple weeks and then no more traveling for a very good long while as my favorite folks will be visiting me over the next several months.

Found this lovely statement today:

A revolutionary woman can't have no reactionary man

Sing it!

Renee Claire

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bringing Out the Crazy

Why Obama will win the election. I thought the McCain/Palin madness was a once in a lifetime event, granted Obama had a real fight on his hands because that combination brought out a very mobilized crazy. I think he won, in part, because there IS something about Obama that brings out the crazy in fringe American voters. And that crazy fringe scares the shit out of the rest of us. Most people are in the middle and care about people and want to move forward as a country instead of backwards. The Republicans are so terrified of losing that they are making the terrible mistake of embracing this fringe that most people are so scared of. And now that campaign season is on, the crazy is back. Donald Trump, thank you. Please be Romney's running mate!

I subscribe to Forbes. I find it interesting and most of the columns infuriating, which is partly why I read the magazine. One column is particularly infuriating to me. The author tries to explain the 99% movement as anti-creativity and entrepreneurship. Needless to say, I believe she misses the point. The 99% movement, which I identify with, is anti- the concentration of power and disenfranchisment of American voters and taxpayers through overly large corporations and the political players that support them. It is FOR small business owners that help to create and keep alive our communities, which means it supports the creativity and hard work to sustain these business. And is AGAINST the creativity it takes to remove power from everyday people for larger and larger wallets for fewer and fewer people. There is a big difference in this and what the author of this column states.

Granted I agree it can be difficult to learn about the 99% movement's message when you see fights in the streets, hippies in drum circles, and dirty people on the news. (Even if the cops around the country are taking a ridiculously harder stance on this movement than in other movements such as say the anti-choice movement that actually kills people. But that's a story for another time.) The 99% movement sometimes looks like something other than what it is. As a very very liberal person myself I too am annoyed by the people I see and hear in the movement. There was a photo running around last year among my friends that said I hate drum circles but I hate corporate greed more.  I've attended Occupy NOLA meetings and all they do is fight about how all they do is fight. I haven't been back. But sometimes we have to look beyond the messenger. Though we may not always like who is saying it, the media should be looking beyond partisan stereotypes in order to explain what is truly being said by the 99% movement. Yes, I understand this is just an opinion column, but it is also a misinformed one in a magazine that has a lot of influence.

This was my favorite cafe in Montreal. One of the best espresso's I've ever experienced. A smooth velvet of earth and sunshine in a tiny little porcelain cup.  Another reason to have my own shop.

And . . . blueberries are back!

Ciao,
Reneé Claire

Monday, May 28, 2012

No Sleep Till . . .

Montrel!

Off to Canada today for a conference where I have to speak on a panel. In front of people. About IT and climate change. s.c.a.r.y. We'll see how that goes. And all my shoes have Georgia bites in them. Will need to find a new pair once I arrive today.

I got to watch actual tv last week instead of Hulu or Netflix. It was strange not having total control over what comes next and to watch the news. I think I've seen this before but for some reason I remember it more this time. The news reports on what is trending on Twitter. I think that's interesting but I also think  . . . are you fucking kidding me? Maybe when there is a revolution happening somewhere in the world and you can report on where the most tweets are coming from on this issue and by what demographic and the content of those revolution based tweets. But to report on rhianna being a trending twitter topic on the NEWS!!!  makes me sad for humanity.

Au Revoir
Reneé

Sunday, May 27, 2012

It's Like That, And That's The Way It Is

Edmound's appeal is set for May 30. Remember Edmound is the Lebanese comic who was recently sentenced to 30 days in prison for indecent behavior while raising money for a children's health organization. Sami, Chief Editor of Executive Magazine and a friend of a friend in Beruit, recently wrote about the situation.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Jay-Z Likes the Gays

My mom thought Jay-Z was the hottest thing around, next to Lil Wayne. I'm not kidding. Today mom would salivate over him just a little bit more.

Also, thanks to Opal and Harvey for passing this great book along to me. Diane Rehm recently interviewed the author of Wild. It's a great book about a woman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995 four years after the passing of her mother. 

here is a small excerpt:
(page 89)

"You're doing fine, Cheryl," he said. "Don't worry about it too much. You're green, but you're tough. And tough is what matters the most out here. Not just anyone could do what you're doing."
"Thanks," I said, so buoyed by his words that my throat constricted with emotion.
"I'll see you up in Kennedy Meadows," he said, and began to hike away.
"Kennedy Meadows," I called after him with more clarity than I felt.
"We'll make a plan about the snow," he said before disappearing from sight.

I hiked in the heat of the day with a new determination. Inspired by Greg's faith in me, I didn't give quitting another thought. As I hiked, I pondered the ice ax that would be in my resupply box. The ice ax had allegedly belonged to me. It was black and silver and dangerous looking, an approximately two-foot-long metal dagger with a shorter, sharper dagger that ran crosswise at the end. I bought it, brought it home and placed it in the box labeled Kennedy Meadows, assuming that by the time I actually reached Kennedy Meadows I would know how to use it - having by then been inexplicably transformed into an expert mountaineer.

By now, I knew better. The trail had humbled me. Without some kind of ice ax training, there wasn't any question that I was far more likely to impale myself with it than I was to use it to prevent myself from sliding off the side of a mountain. On my trailside breaks that day, in the hundred-plus-degree heat, I flipped through the pages of my guidebook to see if it said anything about how to use an ice ax. It did not. But of hiking over snow covered ground it said that both crampons and an ice ax was necessary, as well as a firm grasp of how to use a compass, "an informed respect for avalanches," and "a lot of mountaineering sense."

I slammed the book shut and hiked on through the heat into the Dome Land Wilderness, heading toward what I hoped would be an ice ax crash course taught by Greg in Kennedy Meadows. I hardly knew him and yet he had become a beacon for me, my guiding star to the north. If he could do this, I could, I thought furiously. He wasn't tougher than me. No one was, I told myself, without believing it. I made it the mantra of those days, when I paused before yet another series of switchbacks or skidded down knee-jarring slopes, when patches of flesh peeled off my feet with my socks, when I lay along and lonely in my tent at night I asked, often out loud: What is tougher than me?

The answer was always the same, and even when I knew absolutely there was no way on this earth it was true, I said it anyway: No one. 

Ciao,
Reneé Claire

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Morning Soundtrack

Every Chance I Get - T.I.
Drop the World - Lil Wayne
Make Me Proud - Drake
Dirt off Your Shoulder - Jay-Z
How Do You Want It - 2Pac
Quiet Storm - Mobb Depp
Your Shoulder Lean - Young Dro
No Matter What - T.I.
How We Do - The Game
We Be Steady Mobbin - Lil Wayne
Dead Presidents II - Jay-Z
I Get Around - 2Pac

Thanks 2Pac Pandora station for making the writing of a powerpoint presentation on the IT industry and climate change into a chair dancing party!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Friday, May 4, 2012

Photos From Lebanon

Here you go.

Disclaimer: These are unedited and I've only put a handful of descriptions in there.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I"m Not the Asshole, They're the Assholes!

That is my new favorite line. Stated by Sami after I called him an asshole for yelling at random city workers in Beirut. He seemed to believe they were trying to cut down the trees, though no tree cutting equipment was around. I think he may just be angry and that's not just because he told me so.

Anyways, I'm back in the states without jetlag. I had been staying awake until 2 or 3 am and sleeping until 9 or 10 am, which is crazy bizarre for me. I usually go to bed around 9pm and wake up at 530am. I told you I'm practicing to be an old lady sitting on the porch drinking whiskey. Quite shocking I'm single, I know. I guess I need to meet a man who is also practicing to be an old man sitting on the porch drinking whiskey. But I can only see actual old men sitting on the porch drinking whiskey from my front door. Must find new porch on which to sit and drink whiskey.

Here are a couple things I found today:

New Orleans Teenage wins Science Fair 3rd year in a row - she disproved that magnetic bracelets help build healthy cells when she was a freshmen and this year did some other crazy shit.

Escort Has Message for Wall Street: Your Bad in Bed - shocking.

Louisiana Ranks Last in Something Else - still shocking

Awesome video from Gulf Restoration Network two years after the BP Oil Disaster



Monday, April 30, 2012

And I'm Off

Tomorrow I'm on a flight back to New Orleans. I looked at my ticket and realized I made quite the novice traveling mistake. My flight from Beirut lands at 8pm Monday and my next flight out to Canada doesn't leave until 10am Tuesday morning. Without credit cards and only a couple dollar's I've stolen from friend's couch cushions and powder room cash, I will be spending 14 uncomfortable hours in the Franfurt airport. Just like the good ol' Thailand backpacking days. Where I would book the cheapest ticket I could find usually spending the night in the Newark airport trying desperately to keep warm enough to nap for a couple hours on a bench. The trauma of which is still the reason I carry a sweatshirt, an overly large scarf that can double as a blanket, and snacks while flying, even on a trip that lasts only an hour or two. 

It's been a slow few final days. Hussein is in school so Monday, Wednesday and Fridays I spend many hours at a cafe reading and writing while he is in class. I spent all of Friday writing and rewriting a terrible Op-Ed for GP. I can pen a couple sentences on my travels but writing an Op-Ed for a large newspaper is not where my skills lay. Hussein is very stressed about his final project which will determine whether he finally graduates from university and which he has barely started. His family invited us to a dinner yesterday but instead of heading back south where large posters of Syrian President Assad are plastered everywhere, we spent the day touring the National Museum and looking for Sami's car. Sam is the Editor for Lebanon Executive magazine. I read one of his columns yesterday and it was scathing against the government.

The National Museum looked like the lobby of New York's Museum of Art. Its perfectly square two levels of all grey marble. Or maybe its the Chicago Museum of Art it reminds me of. I'm not sure, maybe it's just the same boring old museum feel I'm thinking of. Within the walls are artifacts found around Lebanon, including vases and jewelry from 5th century BC. Sami made the obvious comment, "In the US, you see shit that is 200 years old in museums and they are in aw. This vase is from 500 years before the birth of christ!", but nonetheless all that stuff really is from the beginning of civilization.

What we all found funny or infuritating often at once, was that most artifacts held only a minimum of description. Vase. Beirut. I'll post some photos of the title cards later, but the truth is that when someone wants to build a parking lot they end up pulling up some ancient building and no one in the country knows what is it.  The crumbs of the progress of civilization lays before every footstep without much notice in this city. Sami was so angry about the lack of not only Lebanese people at the museum but also any understanding by the Museum's curators of what they are displaying. I thought the most interesting was the planning drafts of greek style theaters and temples made of stone. I guess when you are an architect before the invention of architecture drafting paper, stone is the obvious choice.

After the Museum we drove around Hamra, the hipster neighbhorhood we've spent most of our time. (No there are actual hipsters here, thank fucking god) But in actuality that is what Hamra is, great small hip bars with good bartenders and lots of interesting food choices. The music spills out into the streets at all hours of the evening and the same folk visit the same bars everyday. They are just missing pairs of Toms, big black empty eyeglasses, and minimualists bikes locked to every street sign. On Friday we (Hussein, Sami, Maurice, Steve, and Olli) met in Hamra for a couple drinks. Hussein and I left early. At the end of the night Sami and Maurice decided for once to night drive home drunk out of their minds, but had forgotten to remember where they had parked the car. Hussein, Sami, and I drove around and around and around yesterday looking for it. We found it blocked into a handicap spot two blocks from the bar.

The traffic: I keep trying to wrap my head around the traffic. At first I didn't think much of it. Not busier than Manhattan, less chaotic than Bangkok, but something was off here. I just haven't figured out what it is. Why aren't there more car crashes? Where are the lines on the streets to distinguish lanes? And why do cars suddenly park on the highway? I guess the better question is why do cars double park suddenly on the highway when a line of cars behind them must squeeze past to continue down the road? During the war there were many car bombs and so the police and people became afraid when cars did such a thing. Though it never stopped a non-terrorist driver from parking at the edge of a busy intersection when no other parking spot could be found.

The trend became that you left a business card or a slip of paper on the dashboard so the police or owners of any other car you were blocking could reach you. What didn't happen during these car bombs was the end of parking illegal in the middle of the street and intersections. I've tried to take photos of these impromptu parking spots, but I'm afraid they don't truly show off the situation.

Speaking of traffic. I finally drove in the city! This is my first time driving in another country and especially a crazy screaming match of traffic jam. Fortunately, it was 2am and there were barely a car around. Hussein and I began comparing traffic jams personifying them to characters we develop. During the day Hamra is a grumpy old man pissed off that his favorite futbal team had lost while at night it is a loverly dressed lady headed to dinner. One day earlier this week we were stopped behind a van with many screaming children. The driver door kept opening and foot would appear to be pushing the van. Hussein screamed in Arabic lifting his fist and closing the points of his fingers together like he was grabbing a pinch of salt for dinner. He said here you drive i'll push the fucking van. But as soon as I was going to jump out the car a motorbike appeared to our left raced directly in front of us and pushed the van with his foot. The driver closed door and gunned the engine as the motorbike pushed the van up a small hill. Eventually whatever had stopped working began again in the van and the traffic was back up to speed. This traffic jam: A frustrated father just trying to get his kids home from school so he can get some rest.

Alright I'm off. 4pm and finally headed out. Ghallia's children spent the night last night and we had a great brunch together. A house full of teenagers!! Though the line to the bathroom was hours long, there was lots of good conversation. When they left the oldest asked, are you on twitter? I'll follow you. let's keep in touch.

Ciao,
Reneé Claire

Friday, April 27, 2012

More on the Comic

 I received this question from a friend who has been receiving my emails on Lebanon: 


So I "liked" their group on FB and got the pictures of the protest. Were you there by any chance? I checked out everyone in the background. I found it surprising that they cAn have that FB page when they are so limited with free speech to be jailed for underwear\comedy. Very interesting to see how the comics case turns out.

Here is my one sided, slightly misinformed answer to SC.

You can like the group to support him on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Support-Lebanese-Comedians-Rawya-and-Edmond/235002573273603

Edmond was never arrested or asked to explain his situation, he was simply ordered to prison. He will saw the judge this past Wednesday. I'm not sure how common this is, but over the past couple months several artists have been arrested or charged and sent to jail. There is a recent crackdown on this community.

I didn't attend the protest unfortunately. I was planning on going but a lunch time glass of wine turned into being dropped off at Hussein's apartment at 4am by his good friends Sammi and Steve after he had gone home hours before, but Sammi did make it. No idea how that was possible. Obviously more use to this lifestyle than I am. I was out for about two days.

So there were 60 people that showed for a rally in front of the courthouse. They have gotten massive news coverage including French and British media. I think a couple things are happening here. One it has been only a decade or so since the civil war ended, with a string of political assassinations in the early 2000's. However when the civil war ended, the warlords took over the highest political positions. So really there was no change in power, simply the ending of violence. Second, the old guard remains in power with a underground group of religious leaders secretly calling the shots out of the public domain. That's what they think happened here. The judge was called by a cleric of some sort that holds power and was able to get Edmond summoned and sentenced outside of the rule of law using antiquated laws that are no longer enforced and really just need to swept from the books. On top of this, are the people who were very young during the war and have grown up exposed to the internet, social change in other countries, and who reject a more conservative government that cracks down on artists like in this case.

Lebanon has always been a very fashionable and liberal place, but regressed when the Muslims and Christians were fighting over boundaries and power for thirty years. So I think there is an internal struggle happening. Young artists embracing their history of freedom satirizing an aging power dynamic. The aging power dynamic unaware that its time has come.  Unfortunately, the country has a serious brain drain. The most educated are leaving for Europe and the States, frustrated and disheartened by how long it takes to make change.

I think one of the most interesting parts of what has come out of the civil war is the lengths those in power have taken to make it look like real change has happened. The Prime Minister can only be one religious sect, the President another, the heads of Ministries still different sects. On the outside it looks like they are working hard to equalize religious power, but I think instead this alienates people. No one in Hussein's family could ever Prime Minister, but not because of work ethic but because they are the wrong religion in the name of religious freedom. But its things like what is happening with the comic that pushes those boundaries eventually. I think the Occupy Movements and Arab Spring have encouraged many who were frustrated to speak out without as much fear as activists once had here when the violence was raging.

Last night Edmond, the comic, did a skype interview with MTV (not the music station, but it is a local CNN-type station). The interviewer asked him if he was afraid to go to prison. He said that when he first heard about it he was terrified, but at the rally so many people came out to support him including other artists who have been arrested recently. And now he isn't afraid, He feels supported and this event seems meaningful to him now. 


Ghallia helping Edmond get ready for his MTV interview via Skype


So because of the public outcry generated by my friends Ghallia and Ziad (who are former Greenpeace Ocean campaigners), the judge decided to continue the case until May 30. They are now willing to hear the full story of what happened that night, instead of just throwing him into prison as was first discussed. Public pressure works!

The next steps for this campaign is for folks around the Middle East to send in photos of how the culture has changed. Showing that though there are laws on the books about morality, they are not modern and need to be thrown out and the people can not be judged on outdated laws that no longer represent the culture. There are so many instances within Lebanon where you see two worlds collide. For example, down by the seaside there is a swimming pool where women go topless or in bikinis directly next to women swimming in full clothes and a women's only pool where women wear headscarfs. 

Ciao,
Reneé Claire

Maurice, the Comic, and the Movie Star

my blog posts are emails that I've been sending to close friends about my trip. Here is the second one.

I'm finally over my jetlag which meant that last night I got massively drunk, was hungover all day, and probably going to fall asleep as early as I have been with the jetlag.

Yesterday we went to the Al-Shouf Cedar Reserve. I've uploaded all of my photos to my flickr account. Since I only got a camera charger on Saturday afternoon and was in bed most of today, I don't have any photos besides from the hike yesterday. You can check them out here.

The hike was great. Not too difficult, but enough to get the blood going. Quiet with perfect weather. I wore long sleeve shirt and never had to put on a jacket though we found snow in several places. I even drank from the origin of a spring at the top. Blissful!

As we were driving up the mountain Hussein almost drove off the side when he saw a sign that stated caution: landmines. Ziad, one of the people whose home I am staying in, said that oh yes, during the war the military had put landmines all around the cedar reserve in order to protect it. The Cedar tree is over harvested and the governments is trying to protect it. If you look at a Lebanese flag, it is the cedar in the middle.

Maurice: Maurice is one of Hussein's closest friends. He is a stout wild hair loud Arab with a black girlfriend from Houston who works at the UN office in town. At first meeting he embraced me and kissed me and told me I was beautiful. It's quite lovely meeting Maurice. We ran into him last night at a dance club that only played 1960's and 70's music. A lot of bars in Europe do the same. You can't beat dancing to Superstitious and Preacher's Son with a bunch of Lebanese. Though it turns out there were a number of Americans in this group many from Houston oddly enough. Several of Hussein's friends are moving to the states this coming year and they have all vowed to visit me in New Orleans. I always spread the gospel. 

Maurice, Sammi and Myself

Upon seeing me arrive in the club, Maurice grabbed me and kissed me and told me I was beautiful. He pulled me on the couch to sit next him and chatted me up. Then introduced me to everyone before pulling me off the couch to dance. Seriously the only appropriated way to be greeted. Maurice and his girlfriend Christina are moving to Philly in August. Maurice is going to get his MBA at UPenn.

On Saturday Hussein and I spent a couple hours sitting on Maurice and Christina's balcony. Soaking up the sun and drinking beer with lime juice and salt. My new favorite summertime cocktail. Another of my favorite new things is carrot sticks sprinkled with lime juice and salt. It is offered during socializing, before meals and with cocktails at bars. Much better than chips or nuts like in the states.

The comic: We returned home last night around 2am to a living room full. A friend of Ziad and Ghallia's (his girlfriend who also lives here) were helping build a facebook page for a friend, Edmond, who was recently sentenced to a month in prison for showing his Superman underwear during a fundraiser for children's heart disease. There are all these old laws on the books that are starting to be enforced. Their friend is so sad and so scared to go to prison. Ziad and Ghallia are organizing a protest on Wednesday outside the courthouse where he has to face the judge again to get the sentence thrown out. I of course was very drunk and played the fool when I returned home. But that's just the way it goes. Hopefully I will attend the protest on Wednesday. Since his joke included boxer shorts, there is a thought of asking everyone to bring a pair with them to show the absurdity of the situation.

The movie star: I have been so lucky to be invited to friends' families' homes for lunch over the past week. Lunch with family is a several hour affair with a large roast, many sides, dessert, and coffee. On Friday after meeting Ghallia's mother and Aunts for a second time my food coma lasted hours where I was questioned by many if I was ill.

Ghallia's father passed away three years ago from a sudden heart attack. Her parents had gotten married when they were really young and her mother was devastated. She had a very hard time dealing with the lost of her spouse. After some time passed her kids pressured her to move on and since they are very wealthy and she didn't have to worry about money, this was an opportunity to follow dreams that had been interrupted by raising a family. She had always wanted to act. So through a friend of a friend she landed a part in a local movie that went to Cannes last year. Ghallia's mother strutted her stuff on the Cannes red carpet and has made three other films.

She is now mulling around an idea to produce a film of her own. She has had 50 young men offer marriage to her since her husband died. Maybe this is exaggerated, maybe not. She is quite charming. And she wants to make a film about the mindset of young men who like older women. I think its great!

One of Ghallia's Aunt's recently had a stroke that ended up taking the lower part of left leg. She is speaking but sometimes only nonsense. I've had this conversation many times over the past seventeen years, but sometimes the worst thing about a stroke is surviving it. Ziad said that Ghallia's aunt is really struggling with having to depend on other people for her very survival now. She was independent before, lived alone and didn't exactly need people to do things for her. Now she lives with her sister and can't even go to the bathroom by herself. It was tough to see her though she was obviously happy.

Of course I can't help but think about mom's stroke in 1996 and her most recent one that took her life. (Not that everything brings me back to that anyway) In 1996 mom struggled so much with being told to give up her car keys while her brain healed and not being able to communicate after having taught English for so many years and being such an avid reader. But there is some peace that she doesn't have to do that again. Meeting Ghallia's Aunt though did remind me that it could have been much worse.

Refusing to end on that note . . . . One thing that I do love about the city is the coffee shops. It is very much a cafe lifestyle. Tomorrow I will start taking photos of the shop I love the most, including the mobile carts, which are really just large bookcases on wheels with storage on the bottom half and an espresso machine on the top part. I have yet to see a bicycle coffee cart though.


Ciao
Reneé Claire

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Because Comedy is Not a Crime

Of course a case of civil liberties emerges within the house I am staying in Lebanon.

-------------------------------------------------

Support Lebanese Comedians Rawya Al Chab and Edmond Haddad claim back their Freedom of Speech!

We’re going to Jail, Stay tuned!

On November 30, 2011, Comedian Edmond Haddad and Actress Rawya Al Chab were sentenced to serve one month in jail. In the name of the Lebanese people, the sentence was based on Article 532 of the penal code.

It referred to an opinion press article published days after Rawya, Edmond and many friends hosted a charitable comedy night on December 23, 2009. Their “crime” using on stage “indecent” “humor” “terminology” and “gestures”.

The Money collected was donated to the Brave Heart Fund.

Today, Rawya and Edmond face their Appeal hearing in order to claim back their freedom of speech!

Because Comedy is not a crime.
Because Justice was based on tabloids’ reports.
Because We do not live under Taliban yet.

Prison might be fun, but it’s a matter of principle… We count on YOU to spread the word; to friends, colleagues, neighbors… Join us and show your support at Court: Wednesday April 25, 2012 at the Beirut Justice Palace (Adlieh) at 9:00 AM.

 

We are asking folks to bring a pair of boxers for the comedians to sign. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Little Langston

My favorite poet is Langston Hughes. I, don't really like poetry at all, I find it full of ego and patronizing, but I like me some Langston. I reread my Langston Hughes reader often. It is full of coffee stains and pen strokes and highlighter marks and post its to direct me straight to my favorites, even from afar. I brought some poems with me to Lebanon. Here are a couple I read today.

Summer Night
The sounds
Of the Harlem night
Drop one by one into stillness.
The last player-piano is closed.
The last victrola ceases with the
"Jazz Boy Blues."
The Last crying baby sleeps
And the night becomes
Still as a whispering heartbeat.
I toss
Without rest in the darkness,
Weary as the tired night,
My soul
Empty as the silence,
Empty with a vague,
Aching emptines,
Desiring,
Needing someone,
Something. 

I toss without rest
In the darkness
Until the new dawn,
Wan and pale,
Descends like a white mist
Into the court-yard.

Cross
My old man's a while old man
And my old mother's black.
If ever I cursed my white old man
I take my curses back.

If ever I cursed my black old mother
And wished she were in hell,
I'm sorry for that evil wish
And now I wish her well.

My old man died in a fine big house.
My ma died in a shack.
I wonder where I'm gonna die,
Being neither white nor black?

Also, we should do something about that climate change thing. It might make our coffee disappear, which would be bad for my future business endeavors, and my tolerance for other human beings, which is already low. on the good days.

Tomorrow is a hike in the Cedar forest, lunch at Ziad's parents house, a puppet show, and maybe some sunset yoga by candlelight on a rooftop terrace (of course its some hippey from California that hosts). I also bought a new camera battery so lots of photos to be taken soon!

Ciao,
Renee Claire

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Wallet, The Wedding, and The Walrus


The wallet: I arrived in Lebanon on Wednesday afternoon. It wouldn't be a trip if there wasn't some chaos. I lost my wallet somewhere between Washington DC and Beruit. Luckily it was in Germany, where there is no such thing as chaos and the wallet (a beautiful tan hobo might I add) is being mailed back to NOLA today. A stewardess found it. Because I am smart and was going to Lebanon and basically more terrified than usual I separated out my passport and $500 in cash (my bribe money to get myself on the first plane out of here in case another war starts) in a different place. So all I lost were my LA ID, some credit cards, $40 and my moms' prayer cards (which we have hundreds of anyway, but would have been nice to have them here with me).

The city reminds me of a unique mix of Lima and Barcelona. The driving is mad, but nothing compared to Bangkok or New York City. Hussein has crazy road rage, but like all men won't admit it and then yells at me when I mention that maybe chasing another car at 120 kmph flashing his lights waving his fist and screaming obscenties in Arabic isn't the best use of our time together. But then again maybe me giggling during this doesn't help the situation either.

Hussein calls this the city of unfinished business. Almost every street and building look like they are in the middle of being built. Streets have ghosts of construction past and if there were traffic laws you wouldn't be criticized for not recognizing them. Whole families on motobikes go the wrong way up streets and cops chat up women while tens of cars run red lights in front of them. The military with very large machine guns are posted all over the city. Seems the people don't trust the police so the military is indefinitely deployed, including on regular protests of mothers mourning the lost of their sons in a city square. Thousands of boys were kidnapped during the war in the 90's and have yet to return. The mothers of these sons host weekly protests for information. It is very similar to the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina. We drove past them on the way from the airport. The military was in full riot gear ready to pounce.

The wedding: We arrived at Hussein's family's house yesterday afternoon. I slept till noon, if you can believe it. Not knowing that Hussein had already made plans for us to leave the house early that day. Oh well. When do I ever sleep till noon?! Anyways, he is from the south and in the mountains. His family house is rather large and has an amazing view. His father has built a second floor for Hussein to return to when he has finished traveling and settles down. I don't see that ever happening. But his father is waiting for Hussein to built it out how he wants it, so the house has become a permanent construction site. In the distance you can see an old castle built by the romans and taken by the crusaders. I think its a museum now and foreigners need a special pass in order to visit. At the top you can see into Isreal and Sryia. I'm hoping to visit this weekend. His family moved from Sarafand on the Mediterranean to Kfar Tibnet 12 years ago. The wedding of his sister was in Nabatieh at this super cool reception hall.

 We were the first to arrive at the wedding so the family could welcome everyone. Immediately men of the family were asking if Hussein and I were already married. That is if they spoke to me and shook my hand. Many men refused to shake my hand and put their hand over their heart instead, but the women were all very friendly. I think more shocked to see an American at their small (300 people) wedding reception in the mountains. People were in all kinds of dress. From the fancy ball gown to silver lame and hot pink headscarves to jeans and dirty t-shirts. Once everyone arrived the couple was brought in through a crazy dance performance with smoke and a dance floor that rose up to better show off the dancing newly married couple. It was amazing! Of course, my camera battery is dead and I didn't bring a charger. Will search that out today. I forced Hussein to give me his phone so I could take photos with that. He didn't want me to take any photos, but I very sternly said listen buddy hand it over or get hurt.

All of his sisters and brothers (there are 7 siblings total) were super friendly to me and made sure I was never alone when Hussein went to say hello to other family members. All spoke some English. His parents have forgotten a lot, but we communicated anyway. The youngest brother is 16 and wants to travel after high school and very excitedly asked if they would see me again as we were headed out. The youngest sister is studying graphic design in college but wants to be a photographer. And the oldest sister is married with two kids and one on the way. Everyone is full of joy. They laughed and teased each other and made jokes constantly.

So the wedding continued with dance performances of traditional Lebanese dances with swords and lots of colorful tulle and fancy music. And of course with the strobe multi-colored lit up dance floor that also rises to the ceiling. It was basically like being in the middle of a Lebanese Saturday Night Fever. There were even indoor fireworks that surrounded the couple as they danced in the air! I was very nervous that her enormous (and very heavy) wedding dress was going up in flames. Remember: there is no such thing as indoor fireworks. I can't believe I forgot my camera charger!!!

Today Hussein has an exam, which he is studying for right now. I will probably go for a run, but there are for real hills here. Not sure the plan for the next couple days. Maybe a hike in the mountains. I also met a guy from Houston who has been living in Washington DC for the past 8 years on the plane into Beruit. He recently quit his job and was moving to Lebanon to be with his reporter girlfriend, but she broke up with him right before he arrived on Wednesday. His ticket was already bought and he had already left his job, so he came anyway. He was so sweet. When I realized I lost my wallet, he offered to stay with me until my friend arrived and wanted to give me cash to get by. He waited with me while I contacted the airline  and walked out of the gates with me.  Amazing how you always run into sweet people when you need it. Hopefully we will hang out this weekend. I'm interested to see how he is doing.



Ciao,
Reneé Claire

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Impossible

I'll admit I never thought I would see the day when Aung San Suu Kyi would be elected to office AND give her Noble Peace Prize speech. I guess I'm the asshole here. 

Arrived in Lebanon earlier today but not without the organized chaos that follows closely behind me. Somewhere between Washington DC and Beruit via Frankfort I lost my wallet. Luckily I had kept all of my cash and my passport in a different place. Thank you years of traveling solo. Besides being able to say "this little cafe reminds of that night I spent in Sophia wondering in the snow looking for a hostel", I know how to protect some things in case other things go missing.  Oh well.

So sleepy. Must go to bed.

Renee Claire

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I think Beau is finally starting to adjust to his new home.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Resurrection Day!

oh Cops for Christ . . . I had a neighbor growing up in Coral Springs, Florida that called my parents when I flipped him off. In classic Blanchard family style, they called me out of my room and questioned me about the incident and then started laughing. Surprise I didn't grow up in a house with much structure or discipline. He then later waved hello one Easter morning yelling Happy Resurrection Day. He use to hold Cops for Christ meetings at his house. s.c.a.r.y.

Anyways, sometime late last year I posted a blog about the differences between men and women in the workplace. I talked about how its common for women (or just me) to think that we are just lucky to be where we are, that we don't have any special talent or skills or that we've fooled the folks around us into believing that we do have talent or knowledge or skills. Completely the opposite of men who often times believe that every word out of their mouth is pure brilliance. Here is another good article from a Facebook engineer who is saying something similar.

And my favorite for the day about how people who have low effort thinking often hold conservative politics.


Friday, March 30, 2012

It's Coming Together

I had a very successful week! I was able to pull together some crucial first steps in the new business. But what a long road ahead! I just sipped an iced coffee that tastes like blackberries. I mean really tastes like coffee with actual blackberries floating around. So yummy. And I found myself a coffee mentor! He is super stoked about the ideas I have to get my feet wet before I open any brick and mortar. You'll have to wait until I have the plans drawn up to get a peek. So excited.

This is not how coffee in my shop will be made, but interesting if hiking (or biking) for a weekend:



On the other hand . . . what do you think of Michael Vick?


Ciao,
Renee Claire

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Room with No Name

I'm slowly seeing the fog lift from the last month and am beginning to feel the strength to reorganize and reprioritize my home and work and future plans. For so many years I've spoken about opening a gathering space where friends and family of my local neighborhood could sit, talk, and strengthen the fabric of our community. A place where I can offer young adults their first job, have a place to read, and a space where activists (accidental or not) could hold meetings and develop plans, where new artists could showcase their work, and where you could check out a new book or reread one of your favorites. Where I could sit on a porch or backyard patio and sip on champagne with my friends and wear big hats and laugh way too loudly. 

I'm finally starting down the road to open this space. I'm looking at somewhere in the next three to five years to open a small tea room in the St. Roche neighborhood of New Orleans. The neighborhood is just starting to be revitalized and the long time St. Roche Market is finally starting to be rebuilt. I think this is the perfect time for both me and the neighborhood. And I'm looking forward to all the hurdles creating this community space will bring me.

Get ready, you will no doubt have a role in making this possible.
Renee Claire

Monday, March 19, 2012

Catherine Ann Broussard Blanchard passed away peacefully in her sleep from a stroke on February 29, 2012 in her home in Lighthouse Point, Fla. Cathy is loved by her two daughters Christie and Renee, her mother Claire, siblings Harvey Jr., Paul, Steve, and Mary,  the father of her beloved children Carson, her faithful and loyal Maltiz-Yorkie Beausoliel, and her many customers and friends. Cathy was preceded in death by her father Harvey Broussard Sr. in 2004.

Cathy was born in New Iberia and attended both Mount Carmel and the University of Southwestern Louisiana. Soon after graduation, she taught English at Lafayette High School and Cathedral Carmel High School in Lafayette.

Cathy blazed a trail for women in the insurance industry by becoming the first woman State Farm agent in the state of Louisiana in 1983 and then the first woman manager in the state of Florida in 1987. Cathy opened her first insurance agency office on Willow Street in Franklin in 1983. She loved being an entrepreneur, growing her business and taking care of her customers. She took pride in helping the families that walked into her State Farm office. Cathy and her family moved to South Florida in 1987 where she has since resided. Cathy had recently retired in 2010 and enjoyed traveling back to her hometown in Louisiana, visiting family and long time friends. She loved books, New Orleans jazz, traveling to new places and laughing. The New Orleans Saints have always been a source of pride for Cathy who was looking forward to attending another Jazz Festival this coming April with her two daughters and son-in-law. 

In lieu of flowers, please help to protect women’s health by donating to Planned Parenthood of Louisiana 4018 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 7011

A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, March 17 at 2 p.m. at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, 2514 Old Jeanerette Rd., New Iberia.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mardi Gras 2010!

Or as others referred to it, Mardi Gras 2012, but of course I yelled out Mardi Gras 2010 this past Tuesday believing it was true until someone reminded me of reality. Its official I have yet to escape a jumbled two year adventure.

Below are some photos of Mardi Gras 2012.

The Hunter pre-Mardi Gras

Uber Hipster boy enjoy's Muses

Jen and Cassi


Melissa, Story, and Renee

Muses . . . Melissa's first parade



Huey Longs at Chewbaccus pre Renee biking into a parked car during  Endymion (aka pre several jack and ginger/manhattans at Bridge Lounge)


She's getting ready!

Happy Lundi Gras!

Mardi Gras morning


I think this dude tried to make out with Story

le Mercredi Soir Krewe  . . and their plus ones


He gave me a skull with a penny in it!


St Ann's parade in the Bywater


The French Quarter . . . the only place where two flamingos find one another in a crowd


The End of Mardi Gras . . . stumbling back to the Bywater looking for vegan food and resting on bar stools along the way

Georgia Just Wont Take off Her Costume two days later!

Also, sad to say . . . but Renee Claire is going on hiatus for a while. I am up to new adventures and will return once I'm sufficiently exhausted. . . . or no longer exhausted. I haven't decided.

Ciao,
Renee Claire