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Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peters Broadway Barks 2008

Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peters Broadway Barks 2008

I picked up “City Tails” the other day, it’s this NYC local free pet paper. You may find this at most pet stores here in the City (and other major cities). Anyway, I was reading this interview with Bernadette Peters, who was talking about this program that she and her fellow diva, Mary Tyler Moore partnered up to form, called Broadway Barks. Broadway Barks hosts an annual star-studded animal adoption event that benefits animal shelters throughout the New York City area. They hold it in the famous Shubert Alley (A famous theatrical thoroughfare between 44th and 45th Streets, just west of Broadway, it was created by the space between the back of the Astor Hotel and the Shubert and Booth Theaters. The alley was fenced off for many years, used by actors in the two theaters as a cool place to spend intermission and, at one end, served as a terminal for a New Jersey bus line. To hide the unsightly alley from pedestrians on the sidewalks, a row of large theater posters were put on the fence. The posters stayed even after the buses left and the walkway was open to pedestrian traffic. After the demolition of the hotel and the erection of a skyscraper in its place, the famous alley was widened and, still featuring a row of posters.) With the help of this umbrella organization, shelters work together for the common good of these homeless animal, instead of euthanasia, there are placed with people who will love and nurture them.

The article focused on Peters’ new book entitled, Broadway Barks. The story is written by Bernadette Peters, with mixed-media collage illustrations by Liz Murphy.  Broadway Barks, is “a warm and appealing story of loss, reunion, and nurturing“, according to Amazon.com. It also includes an exclusive CD featuring a reading of the story and an original song written and sung by Bernadette Peters. All the profits from the book will go to helping shelter animals.

That’s cool.

-Cara

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anne sullivan and helen keller

[Helen and Anne]

When I was younger I found the story of Helen Keller interesting, but she never really grab my attention. Anne Sullivan, on the other hand, did. There has always been something about her I was drawn too. Maybe the hardships she suffered and the fact that she didn’t give into it. She pushed and achieved more than those who suffered little and those who suffered greatly.

Anne’s personal story remains relatively unknown. Although some of her letters still exist, it is primarily through the the words of others, that we know of her life.

Anne grew up poorer than poor in Massachusetts. She was the eldest of five children, and one of the only two of whom reached adulthood. When Anne was 7 years old she developed trachoma, a bacterial infection in her eyes. This infection went untreated. She had almost no usable sight and after numerous operations on her eyes, at the age of 15, success, her vision was restored.

Her father, Thomas Sullivan, was an alcoholic and her mother, Alice Chloesy Sullivan, died from tuberculosis when Anne was 9 years old. At first, Anne’s siblings, Mary and Jimmie, were sent to live with their uncle, and Anne remained with her father. A few months later, Jimmie and Anne were sent to the Tewksbury Almshouse (February 22, 1876), an institution that housed the poor and needy. Anne was 10 years old at the time and any semblance of a childhood she might have had ended upon entering Tewsbury. Mary (whom she never saw again after being sent to Tewksbury), on the other hand, was sent to live with an aunt. Supposedly, she didn’t end up in the institution because she was easier to handle than Anne and Jimmie. Anne had strong opinions, and expressed them passionately and poor Jimmie suffered from a tubercular hip, both were too high maintenance for the aunt I suppose.

When Anne and Jimmie arrived at Tewksbury, Anne wanted them to remain together and made it known. As a result, both siblings were sent to the women’s ward, where inmates were physically and/or mentally ill. Jimmie’s condition resulting from a tubercular hip weakened him and he died a few months later. Anne was all alone in this horrible place and in life. Imprisoned in an institution where complaints were made to the state in regards to cruelty, sexually perverted practices, and even cannibalism.

Anne, during an investigation of Tewksbury by the head of the Perkins School for the Blind, pleaded with him to allow her to go to Perkins. He agreed, and Anne excelled in this new environment. It was because she did so well that a teacher at Perkins recommended she become a governess to the unruly deaf and blind six year old Helen Keller. Helen’s parents, Kate and Arthur Keller, had contacted the famous inventor and educator of the deaf, Alexander Graham Bell in Washington, D.C. for help. He, in turn, had put them in touch with the Perkins School for the Blind, and so began the relationship between Anne and Helen, that lasted throughout Anne’s life.

Alexander Graham Bell once said about Anne’s teaching skills, “You were at least not hampered by preconceived notions of how to proceed with your little pupil and I think that an advantage. You did not take to your task standardized ideas, and your own individuality was so ingrained that you did not try to repress Helen’s. Being a minority of one is hard but stimulating. You must not lay so much stress on what you were not taught by others. What we learn from others is of less value than what we teach ourselves.”

In 1904, Anne and Helen bought a farm and seven acres of land in Wrentham, Massachusetts. In Helen’s 1955 biography, “Teacher: Anne Sullivan Macy“, she wrote that these were probably some of the happiest days of their lives.

In 1905, she married John Albert Macy, a young Harvard teacher (11 years her junior) and literary critic at the magazine “A Youth’s Companion”. Not long after they married, she burned her private journals for fear of what her husband might think of her. I am curious what such a strong woman would have to hide for her husband… Their marriage lasted only a few years and seemed to be more of a business arrangement (he was Helen’s manager and editor) to aide in getting Helen published, than a marriage. In the end, it is thought that jealously of Anne and Helen’s relationship was the reason Macy eventually left. For years after they separated (they never officially divorced) Macy would contact Anne for money, until eventually he faded out of the picture.

This picture shows Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan Macy, and Polly Thomson, with dogs Darky and Helga, circa 1931.

[Helen, Anne, and Polly]

In the fall of 1916, Anne stopped working for a period of time as a result of pleurisy and incorrectly diagnosed tuberculosis. On November 20, she and Polly Thomson (Polly started working for Anne in 1914 as her secretary) traveled to Lake Placid, New York without Helen in order for Anne to recover. While they were there Anne spotted an advertisement about traveling to Puerto Rico and immediately bought two boat tickets for her and Polly. Anne’s five months in the islands was one of the happiest times of her life.

Here is a letter from Puerto Rico she wrote to Helen in 1917,

Dear Helen:

I’m glad I didn’t inherit the New England conscience. If I did, I should be worrying about the state of sin I am now enjoying in Porto Rico. One can’t help being happy here, Helen—happy and idle and aimless and pagan—all the sins we are warned against. I go to bed every night soaked with sunshine and orange blossoms, and fall asleep to the soporific sound of oxen munching banana leaves.

We sit on the porch every evening and watch the sunset melt from one vivid color to another—rose asphodel (Do you know what color that is? I thought it was blue, but I have learned that it is golden yellow, the color of Scotch broom) to violet, then deep purple. Polly and I hold our breath as the stars come out in the sky—they hang low in the heavens like lamps of many colors—and myriads of fire-flies come out on the grass and twinkle in the dark trees! Harry Lake says that a beautiful Porto Rican girl went to a dance in a gown ablaze with fire-flies which she had imprisoned in black net.

Did you know that in tropical skies the stars appear much larger and nearer to the earth than farther north? I didn’t know it myself. Neither Polly nor I have ever seen such stars! It is no exaggeration to say they are lamps—ruby, emerald, amethyst, sapphire! It seems to Polly and me, if we could climb to the bamboo roof of our new garage, we could touch them. We lie on our cots and gaze up at them—the shack has no windows, only shutters and our view is unobstructed—we say over and over the names of stars we know, but that doesn’t help us to identify these. Is that long, swinging curve the Pleiades? We are ashamed to be so ignorant. If we could get hold of a book on astronomy, how we should study it here!

Do you remember the big globe in the rotunda at “Perkins?” Well, the moon looks as large as that sometimes, and often it is girdled with pearls as large as oranges, like the metal circle the globe hangs in. And several times we have seen it lighted as by lightning.

The place has cast a spell over me. Something that has slept in me is awake and watchful. Disembarking at San Juan was like stepping upon my native heath after a long, distressful absence. I will tell you more of these strange experiences anon.

Love to all,

Affectionately,

Teacher.

I really like that letter.

Anne, Polly, and Helen remained together, working and living until Anne’s death on October 20, 1936. Polly remained taking care of Helen after Anne’s death.

Anne some time before her death dictated the following excerpted message to Polly,

“I wanted to be loved, I was lonesome. Then Helen came into my life, I wanted her to love me and I loved her. Then later Polly came and I loved Polly and we were always so happy together, my Polly, my Helen. Dear children may we all meet to-gether [sic] in harmony.”

In Nella Braddy Henney’s book, “Anne Sullivan Macy“, Anne is quoted as saying, “How often I have been asked: “If you had your life to live over, would you follow the same path?” Would I be a teacher? If I had my life to live over I probably should have as little choice of a career as I had this time. We do not, I think, choose our destiny. It chooses us.”

Anne used her amazing abilities to bring the world to Helen and to bring Helen back into the world. In doing so it also opened up a world for Anne far from the place she began this life. It is true, we do not choose our destiny it chooses us, but I also think it is a person of strength who chooses to follow their destiny, instead of taking the simpler route.

That ended up being a few days of research and writing in between life, but more than worth it.

-Cara

Growing up in North America the US was always the bad sibling and Canada the good one. You hear about how beautiful the land still is, how they are more open minded, a place where draft dodgers found their refuge from the evil American government, that Canada is not all about the insane capitalism worshiped in America, and how still in this day and age people don’t lock their front doors, so imagine my surprise when cruising the Rainforest Action Network I came upon this action alert, Help Free Political Prisoners in Canada!

Political Prisoners in…Canada? I don’t believe it! I decided to do some investigating, here’s what I found…

On March 17th, 2008, Chief Donny Morris and five other band council members (five men and one woman, KI councilor Cecilia Begg, who sits alone in the Thunder Bay District Jail. A jail which has had three aboriginal deaths in the last four years.) of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation were sentenced to six months in prison by Justice Patrick Smith of the Ontario Superior Court in Thunder Bay, for contempt of a court injunction which prohibits them from interfering with a mineral exploration program by Platinex Inc., where they have lived in the Boreal forest for over 5,000 years.

The KI6 and tribe believe that according to the Adhesions made in 1929 of Treaty 9 it is their right by law to defend their land from Platinex Inc. In 2005, Platinex, prepared to drill on land it had staked a claim pursuant to Ontario’s mining laws, land covered by Treaty 9. KI First Nation members protested on the site, preventing the drilling. Plantinex sued for damages and sought an injunctionto prevent further protests.

KI First Nation, then received an interim injunction. The injunction was granted on the condition that the parties negotiate toward an agreement that would allow Platinex to drill. Ontario joined as the “intermediary”, between the two parties, but no agreement was reached.

Justice Patrick Smith lifted the injunction last May and imposed an agreement, proposed by Platinex and Ontario. This proposal pretty much ordered KI First Nation members to allow Platinex onto their land to drill. When they did not submit, they were found in contempt of court and have been jailed ever since.

What they KI First Nation did was defend an agreement enforced by the Treaty No. 9 to share the land as equals and to protect their land in accordance to their spiritual beliefs. The results was they were inprisoned. Watch out Canada you’re sounding more and more like America here. I enjoy thinking right above me is a place, that if need be, I can run to escape the evils of the U.S.A….don’t ruin it for me now.

Below I listed the KI demands, which I discovered in an article on Canadian Dimension‘s website, by Matthew Brett, an anti-war activist and freelance journalist based in Montreal.

THE KI DEMANDS:

With consultation between the exiled Council members and the Council in Kitchenuhmaykoosib, we take a strong stand on the following:

1. No Parliamentarian, be it federal or provincial member, is allowed in the Homelands of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug;
2. No more free entry to Kitchenuhamaykoosib lands by Platinex or any other mining entity including First Nations mining companies;
3. Ongoing blockade will be more protected and secured in order to protect our KI Homelands;
4. Assembly of First Nations must abandon the partnership agreements with the mining industry in Canada;
5. All First Nation political territorial organizations in Ontario do not speak directly for or on behalf of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, but their support on the issue is welcome;
6. Ontario must respond to our proposal made with our brothers and sisters of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, to establish a joint panel on mining on First Nations lands.

These demands don’t seem so bad when you look at the history between Native Americans and North Americans, but I will not get into all of this here.

If you feel that injustice is being done, there are ways to get involved. First, the Rainforest Action Network has set up a letter to the Ontario government, where you just enter your information and click! Second, send this entry to everyone you know to educate people on what rights violation are occurring towards the KI First Nation. You can also email Premier McGuinty here.

I will leave you with a photo (and thought) I saw on the Free the KI6 site.

Amen.

-Cara

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Reason 62 from, 101 Reasons Why I Am Vegetarian:
In what is still the most comprehensive study of diet and life-style ever made, the China Study found that the consumption of relatively small amounts of animal protein is linked to chronic disease. The findings from this grand epidemiological study are especially compelling because they allowed meaningful comparisons between populations with similar genetic backgrounds, yet with nonhomogeneous diets. All together, the China Study provides the ultimate vegetarian vindication.

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