That is, or was, my grandmother Beatrice. I called her grandmom. One of the only photos I have of her. She was not considered the beauty of her sisters . That probably was my Aunt Millie or even my Aunt Rose. A very strong willed woman with a spine of steel. I look at her and see so much of my late father, and as I age, even myself. Especially as my hair grays.
I have written about my Italians before. They are very definite parts of my DNA. And the time I spent with my Italians as a child is burned in my brain. I loved my familial old people on both sides.
Even grandmom, except she was an acquired taste. I think she wasn’t so good with kids. But as an adult I enjoyed visits with her by myself. Without the stress of the fractured relationship my father had with his sister and brother. But that is a story for another day.
These Italian women were pretty amazing cooks. As a little girl I’d go to market with them and spend time in the kitchen. Especially at Millie and Josie’s house. They lived on Ritner Street in South Philadelphia. My grandfather Pop Pop who died when I was pretty little was also a good cook. He made a mean chicken salad. And grandmom made pizzelles among other things.
Aunt Millie and Josie had a little corner grocery store they preferred that I think they called “Anthony’s”….I have no idea of the actual name but I remember the old fashioned store with tall shelves of goods behind equally tall counters with glass front cases. And bins of whatever fresh or seasonal produce was available.
Then there were the trips to the Italian Market, only when I was growing up we called it 9th Street. I went to 9th Street with my parents and great aunts.
I loved that market growing up. Hawking fish and fruit and vegetables on the street. The original DiBruno Brothers, with it’s long and narrow store with sawdust on the floor and giant barrels of pickled things and meats and cheeses hanging from the ceiling and in the glass front cases. Buying meat and fresh made sausage at Cappuccio’s where family lore has it, my grandfather fabricated the abattoirs.
And at different times of year there was livestock in pens. Not to be forgotten were the old spice ladies in the spice store sort of across the street from DiBruno’s. I don’t remember the name of the store. What I remember is having to add up the totals of what you were buying because those little old ladies didn’t bat an eye when they would add on and additional dollar or two to the totals!
So I have these memories. Things were bought fresh, cooked fresh. Way before Whole Foods, Wegmans, and other than the Reading Terminal Market or Lancaster Central Market. Having your recipes in your head as you went to market, and you also cooked seasonally. DiBruno’s only had the little salted anchovies at certain times of the year and ditto with the fish mongers and smelts.
Intermingling Italian and English when shopping on 9th Street and Intermingling Italian and English in my great aunt’s kitchen.
Now that I have set the table of my past and sort of growing up pfoodie memories, I bring you back to today. I still like shopping fresh when possible and cooking seasonally in my own kitchen. The voices of my childhood kitchen experiences still live in my memories and sometimes I hear the long quiet voices if I am making gnocchi or Sunday pasta sauce. (Go ahead, click on the epicurious link as it’s one of my recipes and won me an Italian basket from them in a contest in 2005!)
I will admit as a native born Philadelphian I have always rankled at the Philly of it all. To me it’s an unattractive diminutive. Our city, America’s birthplace of freedom has a lovely name. Phil-a-del-phia. It glides off the tongue. Why shorten it? There is no Baltimore-ie or New-y York-y so why Philly?
Sorry, not sorry, just a pet peeve.
Then there is the whole mispronunciation of Italian foods by non-Italians. I will stick to that and not even get into the gravy vs. sauce of it all. I call it tomato sauce. My great aunts and grandmother alternated between “gravy” and “sauce” but they were Italian, so papal dispensation.
Not so much leeway for pretend Italians who also make lovely food names sound like fractured and murdered Pig Latin. It’s like nails on a foodie chalkboard to me.
“Mozerel.” No, it is mozzarella. It’s a lovely cheese and a lovely name. Say the name.
“Proshoot” it is, for the love of God, prosciutto. Another lovely Italian food with a lovely Italian name, not a twisted basketball term.
But then there is the third one so often butchered. “Gabagole” or “Gabagool“. Don’t you mean, capicola? See how easy that was to say? Don’t gobble, pronounce it correctly.
If you go to Italy, they are NOT going to butcher the words. I have mainly heard this slang in the Philadelphia area, which almost makes sense, like it’s a perverse dialect or a bad accent that led to mispronunciation.
What does this have to to with edible PHILLY? Page 22 of the Fall 2018 print edition (I do not see it online yet.) The article is The Butcher & The Chef by Alexandra Jones. Totally interesting article until she lost me at page 28 at the end of the article. And there it was. GABA freaking GOOL.
So here I am, venting my Italian spleen. If you want to dish on Italian foods, cook Italian recipes…please pronounce things the right way. Write them the right way. Not like Pig Latin was murdered.
I am watching Christine Blasey Ford give her opening statement. As women we are all wired differently, but in my humble opinion this this woman is not lying. She is telling and reliving her truth on national television. (CLICK HERE not sure if link will change.)
When as a country do we stop blaming and shaming victims of any form of assault? This woman has been the target of harassment and death threats since she came forward? She and her family have had to MOVE OUT of their home? Her email was hacked this week?
She says “my responsibility is to tell the truth.”
I have watched the emotions run across this poor woman’s face. I will note that while not consistently a Senator Diane Feinstein fan, I thought she was magnificent this morning.
I also thought Senator Chuck Grassley was a veritable tool in his opening remarks. He has been a tool consistently throughout. Senator Patrick Leahy just made me tear up when he said to Dr. Ford “We owe you a debt of gratitude…bravery is contagious.”
“Access to equal justice for all is what was at stake in 1991, and it’s what’s at stake now,” said Hill, now 62 and a professor at Brandeis University.
A friend of mine recently said on Facebook:
For me, the striking thing about the reports of the (alleged) actions and behavior of Kavanaugh & peers in the 80’s is how utterly unsurprising and familiar the stories are and how much I took such behavior for granted as normal throughout my high school, college, and twenty-something years.
Philadelphia’s Main Line prep schools are not very different from those in the suburbs of DC. In the 80’s …we marinated in a pretty formidable testosterone stew, and the drunken, groping party scene among the schools was the reality I knew. For the most part I stayed out of the fray, but certainly had moments in the heart of it all – it may have been luck that I wasn’t assaulted, but I’m aware of female peers who were and who still feel the impact today, even if they never reported anything. I’m familiar with some of the men I was told were perpetrators, who now are stable, engaged, contributing citizens who may not remember or even be aware of the impact of their actions years ago.
When I arrived at my traditional, predominantly male college, the drunken, groping fraternity party scene didn’t faze me since it corresponded to the social scene I knew, and was one in which I willingly participated. As in high school I mostly avoided assaults that some other women experienced, until the one time that I, dead sober on a weekday night, bumped into a male friend who was wasted, who wasn’t convinced that I didn’t want to hook up with him, who pinned me to the ground until I managed to push him off and run away. It’s just about the most scared I’ve ever been around another person – I can imagine the feelings of fear and panic and lack of control that Christine Blasey Ford may have felt – and avoided him for the next few weeks, yet I never went to campus police and may have only told one or two people at the time. Later the guy apologized to me profusely and sincerely. I believed him that he had scared himself as much as he had scared me. We remain friends and is someone I like, admire, and appreciate to this day. Not every woman at college was so fortunate.
Pledge season involved a lot of male nudity; it wasn’t unusual each spring to find myself on the dance floor with some drunken, naked guys (who by that point may have become so numb and inured to public nudity they didn’t think twice about stripping down). I thought it was adventurous and funny; in retrospect now I can imagine how unsettling or upsetting it may have been for others at the fraternity party. From my perspective at that point, that’s just the way it was – that was normal.
Looking back at this culture through the lens of 30+ years of maturation and experience, I feel a little like the proverbial frog in boiling water – if I had been dropped in, I might have jumped right back out, but having been immersed in it as it slowly heated up, I never noticed that anything might be amiss. For whatever reasons – obliviousness, immaturity, desire for social acceptance, preponderant male power and privilege, entrenched social mores – it rarely occurred to me to question what we then accepted as the norm. Others may have been more mature or enlightened far earlier than I. It’s taken me longer to wake up and recognize it as unhealthy and harmful. Waving your penis drunkenly in someone’s face (it’s surely happened somewhere, whether officially witnessed, reported, and documented at Yale in the 1980’s or not) is not funny or acceptable. It’s boorish and threatening, and also probably really unattractive. (Sorry guys – penises are usually pretty ugly!)
So there’s no real moral to my tale, just an observational outpouring based on my experience as a white, heterosexual, overly-educated woman of privilege who has lived primarily in affluent parts of America. The issues that have been raised by Me Too, Why I Didn’t Report, Time’s Up, and ongoing stories that shed light on the pervasive nature of sexual misconduct, assault, and crimes in our culture are bigger and broader than just my tiny little slice of life.
The stories being told by the women speaking out against Brett Kavanaugh, though, speak to a specific milieu I recognize. He may well be an intelligent, accomplished professional, a man of faith, a pillar of the community, and a devoted husband and father, but he could also have been an asshole as a teenager, especially when drunk, who casually and cavalierly exercised his entitled belief that girls were prey to be conquered or trophies to be won while glorying in his alpha male dominance and sexual prowess.
I don’t know him and I don’t know if that’s the case, but, if true, the actions outlined by his accusers fit a profile that I find fully believable and very likely possible. For this and many other reasons it really chaps my hide that a bunch of desiccated, crotchety, superannuated white guys are trying to force through a vote without some semblance of sensitivity to the nuances of the situation. There is nothing easy here, and it burns me up that the response by some of those elected to lead our country is to say, essentially, “hush now – stop making a fuss over nothing and let us go ahead and do what we want.” Wonder how a younger generation of men may ever have picked up the notion that they might be entitled to casually and cavalierly conquer, belittle, and suppress women while glorying in their alpha male dominance. It shouldn’t be normal.
Thinking about all the parties from high school forward and thinking about times even as a young adult in my early 20s having to dodge this total tool who tried to trap me in someone’s parents’ bedroom coming out of the bathroom at a party I completely agree.
Being slammed up against a wall of a bedroom like that was not sexy or fun, it was terrifying.
All I remember about that were thoughts racing through my head that I had to get out of there and telling myself I couldn’t afford to panic. I was able to knee the guy in the crotch to get away. I can still see the draperies, the coverlet and canopy of this now long gone proper Main Line master bedroom. I can tell you the bathroom I used was the interior master en suite bathroom in the back of the bedroom.
Most of us have stories like this from our single days. The funny thing is I don’t actually know many women who don’t have at least one of these stories, if not more. Most of us, myself included, have multiple stories. Suffice it to say, it was an experience I had as a teenager which propelled me in my twenties to just get out of that room.
Being raised by mothers who just expected us to be good and proper girls, did not actually prepare us for the reality of it all growing up. And how many of us had mothers we felt we could truthfully discuss these issues with? I love my mother but I know I couldn’t discuss it with her. I still couldn’t.
Back then, women/girls were blamed first. It was always “what did you do?” not “Oh my God, what can we do to make this right?” Even today, the initial knee-jerk reaction is to blame the women/girls first instead of listening.
Not all of us want to talk about these incidents. Because back then if you talked about them it was also whispered that you were “fast” or “easy”. The guys in this equation were just sort of patted on the back and sent on their way. It was expected, and almost condoned behavior. Just “boys being boys” only it never felt that way if you were on the receiving end.
I also remember the stories of college girls when I was a freshman who were supposedly “trained” by fraternity brothers when I was in college. “Riding the Train” of course today would be called gang rape. Back then it meant they all lined up and took turns. They would ruin a girl’s reputation but what they in fact did was commit gang rape. These things were whispered about, not reported. We learned whom to avoid and what parties we probably should avoid. But the “boys” persisted.
Stories range from attempted assault to rape. And then there are all the women who won’t talk about what happened to them. Ever. Or not for decades. Some women deal with it in therapy or somehow push through it. And there are those who never dealt with these issues and what happened to them has continued to play a part in their now adult lives. Because as a society we don’t deal with these patterns of behavior, they persist to future generations. Maybe you will disagree with me, but those are personal observations.
And I don’t think as a society we can judge people for waiting however many years before they come forward. These were traumatic events and they have triggers. People can bury these things in their subconscious for years, until there comes a point in time or something triggers a memory and they all come flooding forward. And then it’s like these women have to live it all over again because they didn’t deal with it in the first place. And a lot of the times they didn’t deal with it in the first place because as a society we’ve only just started becoming supportive. As a society, we did not used to be so supportive.
Jessica Knolls’ book Luckiest Girl Alive comes to mind. It is kind of the way it was, although factionalized. Here is a New York Times article discussing the impetus:
….She is no longer dodging those questions. On Tuesday, Ms. Knoll published a raw and chilling essay describing how the gang rape depicted in her novel was drawn from her own experience in high school, when she was sexually assaulted by three boys at a party, and then tormented by classmates who labeled her a slut.
“I was so conditioned to not talk about it that it didn’t even occur to me to be forthcoming,” Ms. Knoll said during a recent interview at her publisher’s office in Midtown Manhattan. “I want to make people feel like they can talk about it, like they don’t have to be ashamed of it.”
Anyway, I think these women deserve to be heard. I also think they should not be judged about how long it took them to come forward.
Societally, this is something that women are NOT supposed to talk about in public.(Just Google #WhyIDidntTell And while there are a lot of people who have used the #MeToo movement for personal gain, and there are plenty of women who were not truthful and cried wolf, it has also given a lot of women a voice that is long overdue.
I will also note I have a problem with women who cry wolf. Women who fake it in this category are reprehensible. They make it more difficult for actual victims of abuse to come forward and even be heard. Sadly, my gut reaction to this whole scenario now unfolding on a national and international stage is still that I believe these women.
If you ever experienced anything like what these women are recounting, sorry not sorry, you know. You know because you experienced what has been pshawed off for far too long in this country as if not acceptable but almost expected as a rite of passage.
There is a recent Huffington Post piece that I think should be checked out:
Watching these proceedings as they unfold today I am struck by the two lines of questioning: legal questioning by the legal expert Rachel Mitchell constantly interrupted by some absurd five-minute rule by I can’t desacribe as other than politics.
Dr. Ford was asked one of the things she remembers most, remembers vividly. She responded the laughing. Sorry, I remember being a teenage girl and right or wrong, and while boys might block it out, or compartmentailze it away, girls remember the laughter.
Being laughed at or about is something you do not really forget. You grow up, you move on (or should if you can), but you do remember. We learn from our own personal histories just like we learn from actual history. However this shakes out, we need to be different in this country. It’s not about the political correctness police running amok, it’s a question of respect.
Whatever happens today, I hope it’s not another Anita Hill scenario. For both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, put the politics down and get to the truth. Waht an ugly time we live in.
9/24/18 UPDATE: Friday night came and went and although I called Amazon Logistics , the retrieval driver never showed up for all the packages. So on Saturday my husband and I decided to get all the packages we could possibly get to their intended owners and correct addresses. People came to pick them up, a few we dropped off.
In between all of this I made more phone calls to Amazon Logistics. They requested of this Amazon delivery hub in King of Prussia three times to come pick up these packages over the weekend and no one ever showed up. And I will note someone asked me why I just didn’t give these to a UPS driver or a USPS person, and the reason is simple: these packages that are going specifically via Amazon’s own drivers are not allowed to be given to the post office or another carrier.
By the end of the weekend all but two packages found their way home. Then today I found out something I had ordered for our son for his birthday at college was just never delivered by… Wait for it… A dedicated Amazon Logistics driver in another state! So while I had them on the phone about that package and getting it re-delivered we also went over my weekend experience as an Amazon delivery hub. This logistics person who was in Ohio also has now put in a request for Amazon to send a retrieval driver to pick up the remaining two packages from me.
I have to also note that ironically a lot of people gave me a hard time for doing this, like why was I bothering? I was bothering because it’s a good thing to pay it forward, and as someone who has had Amazon packages go missing, I also know how frustrating that is.
The nicest part of this whole experience has been meeting more neighbors. We’re a little spread out here, so unless you have kids in school with their kids or go to their church you don’t necessarily meet a lot of your neighbors.
I came home this afternoon to this giant gray bag is sitting in the middle of my street. We parked the car and walked over and this is what it is – a giant heavy bag of other people’s Amazon packages!
I just spent 20 minutes on the phone with Amazon Logistics and they are sending someone to pick it up. However, I don’t understand how someone could drive away leaving an entire bag sitting in the middle of the street?
I guess I understand now how Amazon packages go missing. I have heard of people stumbling across things like this but never believed it.
Thanks to Gerhard’s Appliances in Malvern we have a working refrigerator at last! Aesop says the moral of this story is #ShopLocal
The other day I wrote about why no one should purchase a paper clip from Sears. As I write this their giant white, nonfunctioning, unlovely Kenmore paperweight is still sitting in the house waiting for freaking Sears to come and get it.
This all started August 31 when my husband and I ordered a new refrigerator from Sears because the old one while less than 10 years old was dying (Samsung in case you are wondering and the parts and repairs IF you can get the parts are VERY expensive.)
On Friday, September 14th Sears delivered the refrigerator. Now mind you, you have to pay extra to get it into the kitchen and they unbox it, but the do not hook it up.
Within FIVE minutes of the delivery truck leaving we discovered GAME OVER. We were the proud owners of a broken yet brand new refrigerator with scratches on the front and elsewhere. Now the scratches I could have lived with and covered up with appliance paint, but a broken brand new refrigerator? No, couldn’t live with that at all.
For the past week we have been making call after call to Sears. Two days ago I got super irritated by the volume of ridiculous calls to the Phillipines and called the remnants of the corporate offices in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. As luck would have it I got the same man who was snarly with me on the phone last week, the one time I was able to get someone in the United States on the phone.
And yes I recorded the call. Why? Because unless you experience the vortex of hell known as Sears “customer service” you do not understand.
Yesterday (coincidentally?), after sending my little AV project around to Sears and Consumer Reports and media outlets like magic a person from the U.S. who worked for Sears called my husband. Did we want a new refrigerator?NODid we want the giant white Kenmore paperweight repaired?Oh come on! Are we being punked? We were already told in no uncertain terms by the Phillipines that wouldn’t happen so NO just come and pick it up. And REFUND OUR MONEY.
Well apparently, they are sending people to pick it up. I won’t hold my breath as to the speed. But what has been SUPER ANNOYING is they took our money in under five minutes via an electronic sales transaction on their website, yet they sit ON our money and have full use of it while we have custody of their sucky broken GIANT white Kenmore paperweight.
I will further note that I had to get Lite Movers of Wayne, PA (can I rave about them for a nanosecond? They are AWESOME and we highly recommend them!) whom we had to pay to remove the dying Samsung to the curb since Sears also no longer removes dead/dying appliances to come back last Friday to move the GIANT BROKEN WHITE PAPERWEIGHT out of the kitchen!
Yeah O.K. Sears, you aren’t inconvenient, time-wasting, frustrating, or money wasting AT ALL are you?
Doesn’t seem like a fair trade does it? Doesn’t seem like Sears did anything other than waste our money, cause us to spend MORE money and gave us the lovely gift of appliance shopping PTSDdid they?
I have to ask can I charge Sears rent for the space in my home the GIANT WHITE UNWORKING KENMORE PAPERWEIGHT is taking up as tomorrow is ONE WEEK since they dumped it on us? (But I digress)
Meanwhile, we needed a refrigerator. Last Friday afternoon my husband ordered another refrigerator from AJ Madison whom I had never heard of. By Saturday morning he had an email saying oopsies they would not be able to deliver until some time in OCTOBER.
(Did I mention this has been going on since around August 31st? Actually beforeif you count the attempted repairs on the dying Samsung which after a couple of hundred dollars and the inability to find parts was stopped.)
I will admit I had the full housewifey meltdown at this point. Yes, yes I did.
So we called up Gerhard’s in Malvern and Angela took tremendous care of us in about ten minutes. Ten minutes. Delivery included. Beat everyone else’s price AND they do installation and remove dead appliances.
Yes that set my housewifey heart all a flutter, I kid you not.
And today? They showed up when they were supposed to, their delivery guys were wonderful. They installed it, help me set it up, removed all the packaging and the dead Samsung and like Lite Movers, didn’t scratch a wall or mark a floor.
The moral of this story is Sears still sucks and SHOP LOCAL.
Actual text message I received from a friend who lives in one of the neighborhoods across Boot Road in West Chester and the retirement communities and Giant
The text message you don’t EVER wish to receive. Active shooter.
As in person with gun or guns.
Near where several of my friends lived….in multiple municipalities.
Yet that is what a lot of us lived for a few hours in Chester County last night. I had several friends, good friends on lock-down or shelter in place in East Goshen, West Goshen, and Willistown. Kind of surreal. Like watching a live episode of Law & Order unfold in neighboring municipalities.
Shooters shooting up schools and every place else is NOT what you think of living around here…until last night when shooting up nursing homes became a thing.
As NBC10 Philadelphia and others like Daily Local reported (video and article HERE) this guy, this unbalanced man named Bruce Rogal must have snapped and first went after his ex-wife in West Bradford and shot AT her six times (he missed thank God), drove to Bellingham, one of the retirement communities in East Goshen near the Giant on Boot Road and then proceeded to shoot and murder his elderly parents, William and Nancy Rogal. Nancy Rogal was an artist. She was as per the Inquirer featured in a 2008 show at the Chester County Art Association.
Those poor people were in their 80s. May God have mercy upon their souls.
I guess retirement communities and nursing homes are going to have to consider getting metal detectors like a lot of schools now?
Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan released the following statement:
Investigation Into Retirement Community Murders Is Ongoing
Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced that the investigation into the deadly shootings at the Bellingham retirement community and the death of the suspect is ongoing. The suspect, Bruce Rogal, age 59, killed his parents in the Bellingham retirement community in East Goshen Township on Wednesday, September 19, 2018, at approximately 6:15 p.m. The suspect attempted to kill his wife in West Bradford Township earlier in the evening at approximately 5:30 p.m. This activity appears to have been triggered by a divorce decree received by Rogal that day.
The murders and attempted murder set off an intensive manhunt for Rogal. The media put out warnings, identifying information, and photographs of Rogal to the public. The Chester County Regional Emergency Response Team responded to Rogal’s home to search for him. Pennsylvania State Police (“PSP”) Troopers eventually observed the suspect driving his 2002 Honda Odyssey on Strasburg Road. Rogal led the police on a high speed chase back to his wife’s home, where he had shot at his wife earlier in the evening. Shots were exchanged during the pursuit.
Rogal’s vehicle eventually crashed into his wife’s residence. PSP, the Chester County Regional Emergency Response Team (“CCRERT”), and municipal police departments all were at the scene. CCRERT members approached the vehicle and discovered that Rogal was already deceased in the driver’s seat of the vehicle, with other firearms still in the vehicle.
The investigation into Rogal is ongoing pending review of multiple crime scenes, autopsies, interviews with the involved Troopers who discharged their weapons, and additional investigative tasks. There is also an ongoing investigation with family members into the circumstances leading to Rogal’s attempted murder of his wife and the murder of his parents.
District Attorney Hogan stated, “Chester County law enforcement worked cooperatively and swiftly to bring this situation to a close. Virtually every law enforcement agency and other first responders in the county and region either assisted or volunteered their assistance during the tense hours of this manhunt for a killer. The citizens of Chester County can take comfort in knowing that when dangerous situations like this take place, their police and first responders are prepared. We will continue to investigate this matter and provide additional information when the investigation is complete.”
This case was investigated by the Chester County Detectives, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Westtown/East Goshen Regional Police Department, Chester County Regional Emergency Response Team, and multiple assisting agencies. The Chester County Department of Emergency Services, the Coroner’s Office, and numerous fire companies and EMT services played critical roles in securing the scenes and assisting law enforcement. Anyone with further information should contact Chester County Detective John O’Donnell at 610-344-6866.
* * * * * * *
Approved for release:
Thomas P. Hogan
You will note, I am not posting a photo of the shooter. I just. CAN’T. I keep thinking of the terror his ex-wife must have felt, and the final moments of an older couple living in a retirement home. His parents. Family shattered in an instant.
The police, state troopers, and all first responders did a magnificent job last night. This was a welcome to crazy town situation to be sure.
I do not know what is known about this man Bruce Rogal. I have seen chatter back and forth on Facebook especially that say he was a local guy, went to Henderson High School, got married, got divorced…don’t know if he has children, don’t know why he delaminated but as uncaring as it might sound, as a woman I am glad he is no longer among the living because now at least his poor ex-wife won’t have to look over her shoulder for the rest of her life.
But I think this begs the question of when we are all going to lay down our politics and self-righteousness and have a real conversation about better mental health resources and sensible gun control in this country?
I am not saying that so I can start getting hate comments, but we as reasonable human beings have to ask how a man with issues like that GOT A GUN??? I know the arguments on both sides of the gun control debate in this country but I have to ask, while everyone and politicians are hashing this out, why aren’t there at least mental fitness exams for those who wish to possess firearms?
For almost thirty years I was active in Republican politics. Most recently I spent ten years as a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago. I am a Texan in exile. While a college intern at the Texas Legislature I met a young Rick Perry, fresh off his switch from the Democratic Party. As a donor and volunteer for a Republican PAC in Houston I volunteered for Republican state and local campaigns. From 2009-2016 I wrote the GOPLifer blog. My book, The Politics of Crazy, is a distillation of ideas from the blog. After the 2016 Republican National Convention, I resigned my position as a precinct committeeman and left the Republican Party. I now maintain a new blog, PoliticalOrphans.com.
We deserve peace where we live. People should not be able to just go shoot up people anywhere. But until we convince our elected officials on a national stage to stop pontificating and start governing responsibly in a bi-partisan manner, it won’t happen.
Our mental health resources aren’t where they should be either thanks to the continuing crisis of healthcare, politicians (whose benefits we as taxpayers fund but I digress), and big pharma who think pills fix everything. Pills do not fix everything and there needs to be more comprehensive care resources available to people from all walks of life and all socioeconomic levels.
And domestic violence? Does this play a part here as well? I have to wonder because some of the media outlets have posted this at the end of their coverage like NBC10 Philadelphia did:
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HELP: The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or 800-787-3224 (TTY) provides people in distress, or those around them, with 24-hour support.
Today, anyone related to this Bruce Rogal either by family or other kinds of relationships will have to start to pick up the pieces and move on. And mourn their dead. No family should be torn apart by this.
Here is some of the coverage on this hideous event:
After a bitter, three-year divorce proceeding, Bruce Rogal’s marriage of 24 years ended Tuesday, with a formal ruling from a Chester County judge…He then drove 20 minutes away to the retirement community where his elderly parents lived and gunned them down, a violent outburst that betrayed the financial support they had provided for him for years….Rogal and his wife, identified in the paperwork as Catherine Christian, married in 1990. They have one son, Walter, now 27…..James Oley, who lives a few yards away, said Rogal’s minivan crashed into the front of the home. Then he heard the rapid fire hail of gunshots from police who had been tailing Rogal.
Rogal’s vehicle dented the front of his ex-wife’s home, he said. Afterward, Oley said he received a text advising people to stay inside, and soon another that declared the scene safe.
“Everyone is still in disbelief, just soaking it in,” Oley said. “But I think we all feel pretty fortunate nobody in our street was harmed, given those bullets were found from his weapon on both sides of the street and a couple houses were hit.”…Christian also was granted a protection from abuse order against Rogal around the same time the divorce was filed. It expired two years later, in June 2017, records show….The complaint filed in their divorce hints that an extramarital relationship led to their marriage’s dissolution. Rogal, 59, had started seeing another woman in 2011
Meet our giant white paperweight. Sears delivered a BRAND NEW BROKEN, yes BROKEN refrigerator. They refused to come back and pick it up even though we called within MINUTES of the truck leaving our driveway.
Today was just a day.
Our pretty Samsung refrigerator went on life support and repairs would have been easily more than half of a new refrigerator so we opted to replace it.
We have always done the bulk of our appliance shopping over the past few years from the Sears Outlet online. My husband liked dealing with them…I had no issues until today, either.
Let’s back up to we ordered the new refrigerator. Nothing fancy, a Kenmore side by side with ice and water on the door. We figured we would go with something we thought could get repaired in case of an issue.
Up until a few years ago, when you got a new appliance, they took the old appliance away. Not anymore. So we had to hire our favorite movers (Lite Movers of Wayne, PA and they are awesome) to come move the dying fridge out of the house pending pick up from PECO who does appliance recycling (it has to run when it is plugged in still, which the old one does.)
Fast forward until today. They came to deliver the Sears refrigerator. What they will do now is unbox it and move it into place, the rest is on the customer. It was quite the ordeal to get everything moved and prepped and ready as ours is an older home.
The delivery guys couldn’t have been nicer. They unboxed it and pointed out a scratch in the white door. That was no biggie as it was nothing a little appliance touch up paint couldn’t cover.
The delivery guys plugged it in and were on their way. Then I went to open the refrigerator door. It would not open. The freezer door opened fine, but the refrigerator side? BROKEN. Son of a bitch we just paid to have a dying appliance replaced with a broken appliance. Yes, I am cursing, it has been a very special day.
Immediately we are on the phone to Sears. Only you CANNOT get a person in the US on the phone. All people in offshore call centers reading from scripts that tell you that they “completely understand” how you are feeling. Uhh no, you couldn’t possibly understand. Trust me.
After four frustrating calls where all I get is the Philippines and they can’t help and they want me to talk to the outlet store in Norristown, PA. Norristown isn’t going to help me, I ordered ONLINE. Oh and they keep mispronouncing my name. Which is incredibly offensive after the 6th mispronounce in one conversation.
These helpful offshore call center employees of Sears may be fluent in English to a point, but they are not native speakers. English is a second language and they just aren’t comprehending what is being said, and can’t go off script. They also can’t (or maybe it’s won’t?) transfer your call BACK to the U.S. Every other cheap American company which utilizes offshore labor has the ability to transfer you BACK to a U.S. call center if that is what you want, even Comcast, which I think has some of the absolute worst customer service ever.
I go to trusty Google and Google the corporate offices of Sears. Aha! An actual address and phone number with a recognizable U.S. area code.
But no. You dial and you get…the Philippines. So I keep dialing. ONE time out of about two dozen calls I get someone in Illinois. I think they were related to the Seinfeld Soup Nazi of days gone by they were so rude. “You listen to me,” the operator says. “I am going to talk and then you can speak. You are going to listen to ME. I am not listening to you.”
I try to explain to the operator I would like to speak with someone in the Executive Offices specifically having to do with serious customer service issues. The operator told me that essentially those people would not speak with me. I can’t remember the exact phraseology but it was probably the rudest switchboard operator since they first were handling one ringy dingy. They were so bad I wished I had recorded the conversation. I ended the call and tried calling back to get someone, anyone to help me.
Yeah…. so….. no…. just more Phillipines. (And you know why these call centers are in off shore and third world countries, right? It is so they can pay employees super duper low wages and get away with it. Cheap labor.
So I started looking around for other people to speak with. They say Eddie Lampert is the CEO or President or Chairman of the Board. Only you can’t speak with him or anyone in his office, all you get is a voicemail in Illinois that never calls anyone back. I have to wonder if anyone listens to it. There is also this chick, Leena Munjal
Senior Vice President, Customer Experience and Integrated Retail. She is unable to come to the phone as well. Very busy important people. Me the peon should just know better, right?
So I kept Googling. Apparently Mr. Fast Eddie Lampert is just a hedge fund guy. Yep, just another hedge fund guy picking the carcass of a business clean for their own profits, right?
Hedge funds have been failing over the last year at the fastest rate since the financial crisis in 2008. Some crashed and burned after sudden reversals. Others quietly liquidated.
Then there’s Edward S. Lampert’s ESL Investments. It hasn’t failed, but may be setting a benchmark for slow, painful declines thanks to its outsize, long-term bet on two venerable retailers, Sears and Kmart.
Last week, Sears Holdings, the parent company, said what was becoming increasingly obvious to most investors, not to mention anyone who’s been in a Sears store lately: “Substantial doubt exists related to the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”….Mr. Lampert was a Wall Street wunderkind, a Goldman Sachs intern whose intellect, ingratiating personality and prodigious work ethic attracted the patronage of some of America’s most prominent and successful investors…founded ESL in 1988 with $28 million in seed money …
Did I expect to get anyone to speak with me? No, but it has been the day from hell with Sears so what did I have to lose? I was kind of curious as to what they would say.
Years ago, I worked for a couple of years for a now-defunct hedge fund. So I knew whomever answered the phone would be snotty pants the receptionist. She did not disappoint. She was superior to little old me in every way…on the phone.
Whatevs. I admit I was unpleasant and irritating. But in my own defense, I have a dying refrigerator outside pending pick up for disposal, and a giant white albatross paperweight of a broken yet new refrigerator in my kitchen, which I now have to pay to have moved out of my kitchen so Sears can retrieve it. I cook, I like a neat house and everything looks like hell in a hand basket.
Apparently it is too much to ask to have a WORKING REFRIGERATOR DELIVERED BY SEARS!!!
I now know no more Sears for anything. I understand why so many Sears and Kmart stores have closed. I understand why people said to me we should have called Queen, or D & K, or Gerhard’s or another local appliance store…or even Lowe’s or Home Depot.
Sears sucks. I hope the hedge fund prince of an owner enjoys his lovely estates. I hope someone involves them and Sears in a giant class action lawsuit some day. For the crappy customer service alone and the inability to talk to anyone pleasant in the U.S. they deserve no less.
Don’t buy a paperclip from Sears.
Sign me disgusted by yet another U.S. business that is being killed by a hedge fund.
I am not even sure where to begin this post, so I am just going to dive in.
Suicide and depression.
NO NOT ME!
It’s the topic swirling in my mind since I was asked if I knew someone who had died over the past few days. Someone who had been clinically depressed and had committed suicide.
She was not someone I knew personally, but she was one of the thousands of members of my gardening group. She loved gardens and gardening. I am so sorry that gardening and other joys in her life like her children couldn’t keep her on earth for the people who loved her.
Suicide is something that touched me for the first time as a teenager and freshman in college. A boy whom I knew (and who was actually a cousin if a high school classmate) jumped out a dorm window a couple of floors above me. I remember it was the night before parents weekend started.
I still can remember waking up in my dorm room on the first floor to all the flashing lights and sirens. He was there, on the grass, outside my window a little bit away from it. The dorm was in like an “L” shape back there, so there was this bit of an open grassy area back there. I remember the student led memorial service with Genesis song Follow You, Follow Me crackling on a stereo in the quad area where the service was. I can even remember where I was standing.
I didn’t understand why then, I don’t understand today. Have I thought about what it would be like to NOT be here? Yes, when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. I was newly diagnosed, not staged, and that combination of emotionally numb mingled with terrified. What I realized that fateful day was how badly I wanted to survive and live. So while I understand why suicide happens, I also don’t understand because I am not made that way.
I think of all of the women I know. Many I have known since early childhood. Some have had amazing and extraordinary lives and careers, others like myself, more regular lives. We have lived our lives. Sure we have all had regrets along the way, it’s what makes us human. Sorrow, joys, life in technicolor sometimes more black and white…but we live on. I am grateful for my friends.
Are our lives what we expected as children? Honestly? I don’t think so because I don’t think life is made that way. We have the paths we thought we would take, and they are often quite different from the paths we end up on. But we are alive and kicking.
As an adult, a friend from growing up lost their younger sister to suicide. It has been just two years since that horrible event. The younger sister left behind her own young family as well as her parents and sister and other relatives. To watch a family grieve like that was raw and awful. It breaks your heart.
So when I heard this recent news I was thinking about this topic no one wants to discuss. I am going to share something written by blogger Lynn Getz who blogs under Be Like a Mother. She also has a talk show type of a program called Mom to Mom on Radnor Studio 21. She had interviewed the person who died recently. Lynn’s words on Facebook this week were so heartfelt and eloquent so I am sharing the message she shared here, in the hopes it can help others to pay this forward:
One of my other projects was a local public television show called Mom to Mom with Lynne Getz, which focused on connecting local moms to local resources. The show gave me a chance to feature many of the wonderful women I met through networking and showcase their businesses in the hope of helping other local mothers connect with them.
On one show I interviewed a local mom, Heidi Diskin, who was finding power in her pain of dealing with depression and bipolar disorder by sharing her experience through her Silent No Longer Foundation. Heidi was passionate about ending the stigma around mental health, advocating for more focus on it as brain health, and giving help and hope to those affected by depression and anxiety.
Yesterday I learned that Heidi lost her battle with this disease.
When I learned of her passing, I went back and watched this episode, listening again to Heidi’s words of advice about being proactive, getting a “check-up from the neck-up”, and knowing the signs of depression in others so that you can reach out and help them.
Heidi’s mission was to #endthestigma and speak openly about mental health. We need to talk about depression, and how it affects brain chemistry, making people believe they are not worthy and not needed. YOU ARE! We need to talk about how it tells you that no one will miss you, or that your kids will be better off without you. IT’S LYING! We need to know that depression and anxiety aren’t character flaws, they are diseases and must be treated as such. We need more people to speak out like Heidi did.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. If you or someone you love is suicidal, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
And in honor of Heidi, and all the brave souls who fight so hard against their brain disease, please take the time to watch Heidi’s episode, share her story, and reach out to that friend who has been on your mind that you haven’t heard from in a while. Know the signs of depression, and do not be afraid to ask for help or help someone who may be fighting this battle silently. For Heidi, and the nearly 45,000 other Americans who die by suicide each year, we must be silent no longer. https://youtu.be/OmpnjSbPQHY
Again, I did not know Heidi personally. But I have known women like her. And I know they feel isolated and alone, even if they aren’t. We need to take the stigma out of depression and mental illness. Maybe if we can have more open community conversations about this, we can all be the better for it.
It’s 8:45 AM and 8:46 AM the moment of silence at the World Trade Center Memorial in NYC begins.
17 years ago today, everything changed. 2983 people lost their lives.
On February 23, 1993 there was the first attack on the World Trade Center. 25 years ago.
The years move away from the dates, but we never forget. They are literally dates which live in our minds in infamy. To paraphrase FDR, who was in his time, referring to Pearl Harbor.
The photo this post opens with is one I took this summer and it is the controversial 9/11 Memorial in New Jersey. Known as the “teardrop memorial”, it is located in Bayonne. I think it has a kind of strength and beauty to it.
On the anniversary of 9/11 in 2012 I was invited to ride in my friend Barry’s American flag hot air balloon over Chester County. As we left on our hot air balloon flight when I looked down this is what I saw:
This is what they were looking at and what I saw looking up:
I am forever grateful to my friend Barry because this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that was deeply meaningful and I shall never forget it.
In the last 17 years our country has gone through crazy times, perhaps none more so than today. But we have to take a moment and pause and remember all those Americans who lost their lives for our freedoms. Because even if they did not die on a battlefield or in combat, they died for all of us.
I will close with a reader’s editorial I wrote for the then editor of Main Line Life, Tom Murray. Folks in Chester County will remember him as the editor of The Daily Local before he passed away.
I wrote this piece in 2006:
Sept. 11, 2006, is the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and United Airlines Flight 93’s crash in the field in Shanksville, Somerset County. This date has special significance to every American, and intense personal significance to far too many individuals who lost friends and loved ones.
But September 11, wasn’t the first time terrorists visited the World Trade Center. In truth, Feb. 26, 1993. was the date of the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. I worked in New York at that time at an office located downtown in the financial district.
On that day, I had accompanied an office friend to the World Trade Center to grab an early lunch and to check out some stores in the shopping concourse. We were back outside the Trade Center buildings, getting ready to cross the street, when suddenly the ground shook and moved. I remember that we were looking directly across the street at Century 21, a department store in Lower Manhattan. Then something happened that rarely happens in New York: Everything went eerily still and quiet. We looked up at what we first thought were snowflakes beginning to float and fall from the sky. After all, it was February. Then car alarms began to go off one by one like the cacophony of many distorted bells. The snowflakes, we soon discovered, were in reality ashes.
People began yelling and screaming. It became very confusing and chaotic all at once, like someone flipped a switch to “on.” At first, we both felt rooted to the sidewalk, unable to move. I remember feeling a sense of panic at the unknown. We had absolutely no idea what had happened, and hurried back to our office. Reaching it, we were greeted by worried coworkers who told us that someone had set off a bomb underground in the World Trade Center garage.
I will never forget the crazy kaleidoscope of images, throughout that afternoon, of all the people who were related to or knew people in my office who sought refuge in our office after walking down the innumerable flights of steps in the dark to exit the World Trade Center Towers. They arrived with soot all over their faces, hands and clothes. They all wore zombie looks of shock, disbelief and panic.
Of course, the oddest thing about the first terrorist attack on New York City is that I don’t remember much lasting fuss about it. I do remember that President Bill Clinton was newly sworn into office, but I don’t remember him coming to visit New York after the attack. Everything was back to normal in Lower Manhattan in about a month, maybe two. After a while, unless you had worked in New York, or lived in New York, you simply forgot about this “incident.”
So, on the morning of 9/11, as I pulled into my office building’s garage and listened to the breaking news on the radio announcing that a plane had struck the World Trade Center, tears began to run down my face unbidden. I knew in my heart of hearts what happened. I said to myself, “Oh no. They came back.”
I remember picking up my cell phone to call my father, whom I knew to be, at that time, on an Amtrak train bound for New York City. I remember him telling me it was fine and he’d be fine. I wanted him to get off in New Jersey and take a train back to Philadelphia. But the train was already pretty much past all the stations and getting ready to go into the tunnel to New York. That very thought terrified me. To this day, I still do not understand why Amtrak did not stop those last trains from going into New York City as the news of the World Trade Center attacks first broke.
I next remember getting in the elevator and getting off on my office floor to find people clustered around television sets and radios. And the news kept getting worse: first one plane, then a second, then a third, and then a fourth.
The images and news just didn’t stop. Camera cuts from lower Manhattan to Washington to Somerset County. They are images that have to be ingrained in everyone’s mind forever like indelible ink.
It took a couple of days for my father and brother-in-law (who had already been in New York on business) to get out of the city, but eventually they got home safely with many stories to tell of what New York was like in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. A lot of people weren’t so lucky. They never saw their loved ones again after that fateful morning. Many people in the Philadelphia and greater Main Line area lost friends, coworkers and loved ones.
On September 11, I knew people who were lost, but fortunately I didn’t lose any loved ones. I remember for a brief time it seemed we were all a little nicer to each other, and politicians actually seemed to come together as one and grieve as a nation grieved.
But here we are five short years later. I have only seen the site one time where the World Trade Center once stood proudly. That was about a year after the attacks. I remember a distinct pit in my stomach and looked away from the car window. This past June I was in Washington, and had the same intense, awful feeling in my stomach as we drove on the highway past the Pentagon.
Life must go on and time can’t stand still, but all in all I can’t help but wonder: What have we learned since about our country and about ourselves? Five years after 9/11 what have we learned and what have we forgotten? What do we need to remember?
As of a few short days ago, Pennsylvania’s Superior Court dismissed the SLAPP suit I have been a named resident in for quite some time. It has been over the Bishop Tube site in East Whiteland Malvern/Frazer. The original suit was filed June 27, 2017 in the Court of Common Pleas in Chester County by the site developer.
In August of 2017, Judge Sommers, the judge who presided over the case in Chester County dismissed the suit. After that, an appeal was filed by the developer’s attorneys in Superior Court.
I have no idea if there will be an appeal by the plaintiff up to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Almost a year ago the Superior Court appeal was filed. It was filed right around the time PA State Senator Larry Farnese held a press conference I could not attend on anti-SLAPP legislation. I sent in a statement. Here is part of what I said then (in italics):
As children we are taught how the founding fathers of this great nation fought, bled, and died for our rights and freedoms. Yet today, in a modern world, it feels like we still must fight against injustice and for our very freedoms and, in my opinion, freedom of speech and expression is particularly threatened. As a native of Philadelphia, the birthplace of our American freedoms, I find that deeply troubling.
As a blogger, I have been aware of SLAPP suits for years. This year, I became embroiled in one, in Chester County, where I live. The suit is over the potential development of an old factory site in Malvern, East Whiteland Township known as Bishop Tube. I am a resident of East Whiteland Township.
I had written about the Bishop Tube site on my blog. I am not the only one who has ever written about it or ever has had questions about it. The site has also been written about in newspaper articles off and on for many years. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“PA DEP”), there is TCE contamination on this site. (Reference the PA DEP website’s Bishop Tube page).
I am a breast cancer survivor who underwent breast cancer treatment and, as a survivor, a site like this should be a concern in my opinion. As a resident I should also be able to express my opinions and/or ask questions. SLAPP suits are an invasive, fearsome kind of thing. Finding oneself in the middle of something like this feels like you are being bullied and harassed. It can also be unbearably costly. Frequently the suit bringer hopes this is what will defeat you.
Mostly, it makes you wonder about the good and honor of human kind.
Caring about where you live is not wrong, it is democracy in action. When people take an interest in where they live, it is a powerful force. It is rarely easy for the residents involved, and I think it does take great courage.
Our American freedoms are a real thing, not just lofty ideals tucked away in a 200+ year-old vault. Think about that as we are also on the eve of 9/11. Never forget September 11, 2001. This is yet another date in the annals of U.S. history which will live in infamy. Remember all those souls and first responders who lost their lives. They lost their lives because of our American ideals and freedoms even if they were not lives specifically lost on a battlefield in combat.
I can’t believe tomorrow it is 17 years already since 9/11.
I will close with saying thank you to Maya van Rossum and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and their amazing lawyers, Mark L. Freed and Jordan B. Yeager of Curtin & Heefner LLP. I will also thank my own attorney, Samuel Stretton of West Chester.
Our inalienable rights as Americans exist for good reason. Hopefully this issue is now at a close, but again, who knows? We live in strange times.
Here is the media coverage thus far along with what the Delaware Riverkeeper has said: