Saturday, January 29, 2011

Egypt -- a people's protest

This is so incredible--I am watching live coverage of what's going on in Egypt. Seventeen police stations were looted and all the weapons were stolen. So the police, who were attacking the demonstrators, are gone. The army arrived and was cheered by the protesters. What is amazing to me is that at this point the army has not attacked the protestors or the looters in the wealthy areas. The protestors are sitting on the tanks. Soldiers are talking and mingling with the protesters.

Two days ago, digital media and TV were cut off by Mubarek, but the protest goes on. A reporter said there are hundreds of thousands people in and around the main square. Some of them are camping out.

Mubarek refuses to leave and has appointed two of his old guard as Vice Presidents, which is to the protesters simply a reshuffling of the deck, so no one is leaving. And since the army has not attacked, there is a peaceful protest. In the sixties and seventies, I always said that when the police arrived, we knew there would be trouble. This seems to prove that.

The people want freedom of speech and free elections.

We have seen these relatively peaceful (48 people have been killed) protests succeed. The whole world is watching and several governments have publicly supported peaceful protests and more freedom and free elections in Egypt. They have not said directly that Mubarek must leave--and politically they can't. The biggest unknown is who would replace Mubarek and would his government support the peace agreement with Israel.

Israel is appropriately silent. They have the most to lose if the peace agreement is not upheld by a new government. If the muslim brotherhood takes power--they are the largest organized political party in Egypt--the peace agreement probably goes. The other question is what would happen to access to the Suez Canal, through which 35,000 ships passed last year.

Despite those unknowns, I am so heartened by this. I thought the army would brutally repress the people, and they still might, but they haven't yet and that is so amazing.

Power to the people takes on meaning in this protest. All of it resonates so fully with the protests we had in the sixties. The issues are not the same. We wanted to stop a war. But we were also fighting for the right to peacefully protest. We were repressed by the police and the national guard, but we kept on. Yemen and Jordan also have protests, which no one is reporting in any depth. Tunisia has already succeeded in getting rid of their president. I hope these protests produce more freedom for people in all of the Middle East countries. As a woman, I identify fully with women's struggle for equal rights in the Middle East. Women fought for 100 years in our country to get where we are now. They deserve the same rights we have.

Dec. 6 book reading--I couldn't upload the video here, but it's on FB

I couldn't upload the video of the reading I did at Katerina's during my book launch. I did upload it successfully to my Facebook A Sixties Story page, so you can see it there. The camera work is shaky at first, but then it settles down. Katerina is on after I read--don't miss her. She's great. And she was so wonderful to let me have my book launch at my favorite jazz club.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fourth graders remember the I Have a Dream speech ... don't miss this

These fourth graders are wonderful. This brought tears to my eyes. Dr. King would have loved this tribute to his words.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

2011 a new year

Our old year moved into the new with a soundtrack provided by TV concerts. Bette Midler, the Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra and a symphony helped us ring in the new year. It was a great evening. We realized it was our twelfth New Year's Eve together. Our first was the one when 1999 went to 2000. As Mark says, our love spans the millenniums.

Mark and I are so looking forward to his retirement at the end of February. We say it'll be a lifelong weekend from then on. It's been a long time coming. Fifty years of working and saving and putting money in social security and now we will have time to enjoy it. Chicago is such an amazing city. We have so many free and affordable things to do--and so many that are a worthwhile splurge.

We had a taste of it this weekend. Friday night we saw the Mikado at the Lyric's fabulous opera house. We so enjoyed it. Even from the top of the top balcony, acoustics are great and the staging and costumes are easy to see. We thought Stephanie Blythe stole the show. It was funny and smart. We always go to the free lecture earlier. I'm new to opera, so the information is welcome. If you go to, you can hear and see parts of this wonderful production.

More enjoying Chicago on Saturday. We stopped at the Fine Wine Brokers for their Saturday wine tasting. It was so informative and we got a couple of special wines and one for the great dinner we had at Due Lire. We had a little time so we stopped at the Fiddlehead Cafe for an after-dinner drink.  Then we saw The King's Speech and really enjoyed it. As one who hates public speaking, I was on the edge of my seat through this courageous king's battle to overcome his stammer. I recommend it. And it was good to see the Davis Theater theater lobby crowded. We went to the 7:30pm showing and it was packed.

People have been getting in touch with me with their sixties stories, which I've so enjoyed. It makes me feel like I was right to want to keep the sixties alive by writing about them. The more people write their stories down or tell them, the better people will know about what happened. Not only do we all have stories of crazy adventures, we have the memories of what we believed in. As a friend of mine says, we changed the dress code and a lot more than that. Among other things, we wanted to create more tolerance for each other's differences in this land where tolerance is a cornerstone of what it stands for.

It's discouraging that these days, tolerance towards each other's differences of opinion seems to be very hard to find. I woke up this morning to the news of the horrible shootings yesterday. It seems surreal that during the same day we enjoyed so much, so many lives were shattered. No reason could ever justify this. Only a crazy person does these things. But a crazy person can get ideas from things that are said--and some violent things have been said in politics lately. In this country, where we should be able to disagree with each other without killing each other, that seems to be blurred of late, particularly in the extreme right wing and fundamentalist rhetoric. The price of intolerance is too high.