Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Subway Blindness Syndrome

In the past week, as I rode the NYC subway, I have given my seat up for:

  • One elderly woman late at night
  • One tired looking middle aged woman early one afternoon
  • One woman holding a baby on a Sunday afternoon
  • One man wearing a baby in a front carrier later on the same Sunday afternoon
  • One old and shaky man early in the morning during the previous week
  • One very pregnant woman later that same day
  • One mildly pregnant woman the following afternoon

And these are only the incidents I can recall.

The point of this list is not to brag about my amazingly compassionate nature or to pat myself on the back, God forbid. I hardly think of myself as saintly or extraordinarily considerate for my deed.

The point of this is to state that, in each instance, I was surrounded by scads of seated people, many of them much younger than me.

There were groups of loudly giggling girls. There were packs of tough young guys. There were people of my age in professional attire. There were young women in lycra with yoga mats on their laps. There were tourists and natives alike; parents with children, couples, solitary riders.

And while many of the aforementioned people were thoroughly (and disturbingly) captivated by some electronic device (iPad, iPod, iPhone, etc...) therefore oblivious to anything around them, many were not. Some stared stolidly ahead of them. Some stared stonily at the person in question who unquestionably deserved a seat more than they, or would at least have appreciated the offer to sit.

In each instance I waited a count or two just to see if anyone else would react. In one instance, that of the visibly exhausted middle-aged woman (just a few years older than me, I think) I worried that my offer might offend, so I let two or three stops pass before I spoke out. Yet in each instance, my offer of a seat was gratefully accepted.

Even though it's been a while, I well remember the subway blindness syndrome that suddenly afflicted my fellow passengers when I was pregnant, remember staring down teenage boys and girls, to no avail. (It was my freelance observation that the teen girls were the absolute worst, followed by youngish professional men.)

I remember holding onto a pole or strap with my belly practically in someone's face, yet somehow invisible.

I recall the profound gratitude that swept over me when a seat was offered.

Like littering and seat-hogging and loud cellphone conversations in public and cab stealing, subway blindness syndrome really gets under my skin. It is a selective affliction, of course, a willful obliviousness, a defense, an excuse, a reason not to compromise one's comfort.

It makes me want to yell, to shake my fellow riders out of their selfishness, to don a prophet's robe and preach from a hilltop or street corner or subway platform.

Instead, I react by example, hoping that someone else is paying attention and feeling shamed -- or inspired -- into giving up their seat next time...before I do.

Monday, January 23, 2012

It's Not My Bag, Baby

For the space of nearly two decades, the space between my maple dresser and the west-facing wall of my bedroom has served as a cubbyhole, bin, repository, open air closet and erstwhile storage area for an assortment of handbags -- some commodious as duffel bags, others modest as sandwich-size baggies and every size in between.

Predominantly black, of course.

Accompanying the handbags in this pile were tote bags from such far-flung places as the Berlin film festival and a flea market in Ireland, those ubiquitous recycled shopping totes from such local emporia as Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Urban Outfitters and nearly a dozen trademark glossy black and white Sephora bags in a variety of dimensions, bearing mute witness to my consumer habits.

There were also three $12 faux fur handbags purchased from Old Navy more than a decade earlier, a set in red, black and leopard print that accompanied me to scores of parties and never failed to elicit rave reviews for their blend of whimsy and elegance. There were ironic fake vintage lunch boxes from fifties/sixties TV shows ("I Love Lucy," "Lassie" and "The Munsters") that I employed in lieu of grown-up evening bags and as repositories for my keys, lip gloss and other essentials for synagogue services on Shabbat and holidays...lest I be seen toting a regular workaday purse on the Sabbath.

There were a few actual evening bags -- the tiny silver embossed bag I saved from my mother's discard pile when she recently cleaned out her Great Neck home, a black crocodile clutch from my late mother-in-law, a velvet handbag from Nine West I swore I had never seen before and therefore must have snagged on sale at a place like Woodbury Commons in a fugue state induced by retail overload.

There were stylish bags I had utterly forgotten about -- a crazy Zebra skin satchel from Loehmann's accented with red patent leather, a microfiber backpack purchased in Paris several years earlier, a handsome Italian leather number my sister had bought in Italy and never used, a lush suede bag my mother had purchased from TJ Maxx, complete with tags, never worn.

The pile of bags has bothered me on and off but like so many other household projects, it took a backseat to other pressing items: work, family, exercise, hosting, cooking, travel, haircuts, manicures, the need to have a full extracurricular life. If our Amsterdam Avenue apartment wins praise for anything, it is for its laissez faire, eclectic style, which blends vibrant walls, artifacts of our travels, an insane amount of books, movie posters, unique (and cheap!) artwork, nutty chachkas and cool cast-off furniture with the best of Ikea and Bloomingdale's warehouse...together with the somehow charming domestic detritus of a family of five.

The west and northfacing views of the Columbia University campus also have something to do with our apartment's appeal. So do our Pomeranians, Alfie and Nala, whose sheer cuteness serves as a visual distraction.

I make no secret of the fact that though I am an avid cook and host, I consider cleaning (and most household projects that take more than, say, 10 minutes) a vast waste of my time and talents. Even when we could not afford to do so, we have had a cleaning lady in because I cannot abide a dirty home and hate doing laundry.

Though I recoil from filth (click below to read the rest of the post)...

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Eighteen Minutes

It's been a week, the kind of week that makes you want to shout "THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY" if only you could find enough strength to speak above a hoarse whisper.

Or, if you are of the observant Jewish persuasion -- "THANK GOD FOR SHABBAT!!!"

That's where I'm at right now, sleep-deprived, working at home in my goth nightie (a faded black Converse sundress that I got at Target and should have discarded centuries ago), red woolen lumberjack shirt, thermal socks and Zabar's baseball cap, thinking of the weekend that looms before me.

Passing the front hall mirror as I just returned from locking the door after HOBB, I note that I look homeless yet happy. Cold air from the building hallway whooshes into the apartment with the opening of the door and I feel reluctant to combat the elements, consider staying inside for the day, watching a few episodes of Law and Order on Netflix, cooking for Shabbat in a leisurely manner, perhaps taking a long hot bath with lavender oil.

But as quickly as this joyfully slothful vision appears to me, it is stamped out vigorously because the entire point of Shabbat is to have it serve as a counterpoint to the crazy stressful kinetic nature of the workweek.

And this Shabbat holds special relaxation potential as it is our second pre-empty-nest Shabbat in as many weeks. With Middle Babe spending the weekend at the Long Island home of her Gentleman Caller and Little Babe attending the Junior Shabbaton at SAR High School (and Big Babe residing in Berlin) HOBB and I will be alone. Again. Last week saw us lingering over a delicious dinner, reading like old married people (which I guess we are) and then having a killer Scrabble tournament that lasted for hours.

HOBB fell sleep before we played out but in case you are wondering, I was winning by nearly 100 points.

To unleash the full power of Shabbat, a frenetic Friday is an invaluable asset. Therefore, I'll be springing into Yiddishe hausfrau mode in minutes to cook (fresh tuna, sauteed green beans, spinach souffle, baked apples). Afterwards (we're talking 30 minutes, max. I am the original speedchef. I have domesticity A.D.D.) I'll be dragging myself out of my gothic nightie and into workout clothes for a turbo workout. Following a midday conference call, I plan to head to the ICP to catch the Weegee exhibition -- Murder is My Business. At 3:15, HOBB and I are planning to meet at the Met to see the new American Wing and hear The Asphalt Orchestra. 

We plan to grab a cab home at 4:40 (the start of the 18 minutes*) so we can be home for Shabbat.

More than anything, it's the fresh tuna and Scrabble that I cannot wait for. And the reading. And the coziness. And the empty-nest feeling.

Thank God it's almost Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom!
*After the start of candlelighting, there is an 18 minute "emergency" extension in which to perform necessary tasks that are not otherwise appropriate for the Sabbath, aka, riding in a taxi crosstown. Yes, I'm taking liberties with the concept of "emergency." I'm not Orthodox but I am observant and doing the best I can to uphold the law of Moses and still lead a life that makes sense to me.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Matza with Anthony, Flea, Chad and Josh

It is late in the evening of the day that Big Babe went back to Berlin after a three week visit to the Urban Bungalow. It was a period of intensity and hilarity, of conflict and connection, of sweet sibling bonding and new fellowship, especially between my two sons, separated by a daunting gulf of eleven years.

In my iconoclastic eldest child I discerned a diffuse dissatisfaction during this visit, a grumpy touchiness that signaled to me that he was possibly paused between stations along his life's journey, contemplating the next leg of the adventure.

He was tired on the drive to the airport and so I kept my conversation gentle. Yet when we hugged goodbye outside the Continental Airlines terminal at Newark, I found myself telling him to think about coming home soon for the first time since he left the U.S. to live as an expat American in Berlin.

After four years and much creative and entrepreneurial productivity, I believe it is time for this chapter of Big Babe's European adventure to draw to a close. It is not that I am ideologically opposed to his living abroad; I simply see his path as leading back home, at least for now. There is a process of professional education and building that needs to take place. Berlin, more than any other city I have visited, facilitates a form of long-range slackerdom. It is too easy to drift there, stoking a low-grade ambition, living comfortably in that exciting, low-cost cultural mecca.

As critical as I am about the American impulse towards overachievement, I want my son to be reanimated by the quest to succeed wildly in his chosen profession -- arts journalism.

Arriving home, I put myself on a marathon of productivity, playing catch up on some of the pressing tasks that took a backseat during the time of Big Babe's visit and the holiday season itself, which brought a great influx of family members. Once I was satisfied that I had set the requisite number of plates spinning, I set upon a dreaded task: getting American Express to reschedule my non-refundable/non-changeable flights and hotel for my January 25th trip to Charlotte, NC with Little Babe to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers perform to April 9th, when the band will be performing in Greensboro.

This switch had nothing to do with my personal preference. Instead, it was dictated by Anthony Kiedis, the band's frontman, who broke his foot so completely that, as a result, the band had to postpone its performances for two-plus months in order to him to recuperate.

As my flights and hotel were purchased through Amex Thank You points (which has ten million pages of rules about the complete and utter non-refundability/non-adjustibility of tickets) I spent about half an hour screeching insanely earlier in the day when I learned about Kiedis's injury... and that the January 25th concert in Charlotte, NC was postponed for April 6th, aka the first Seder night and Shabbos to boot.

Emerging from the shower, Big Babe came running out of the bathroom in a towel to see why I was carrying on so. The reason was that I had saved up 61,000 Thank You points for this adventure. The reason was that had I meticulously planned every last aspect of the trip for maximum fun with Little Babe, whose RHCP fandom got me into their music to begin with. The reason was that just earlier in the day, I sent article pitches out for a story about my impending adventure. It was supposed to be the last word in awesome, a mother/son road trip to remember. Now, everything seemed to be evaporating before my eyes.

Yet I harbored hope that some compassionate Amex agent might hear my plight and declare Kiedis's broken foot an act of God and therefore completely beyond my control, which indeed it was.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Red Hot Chili Mess

File this under really sucky karma.

While visiting Spin's website half an hour ago, I learned that the Red Hot Chili Peppers' American concert tour was FREAKING POSTPONED because Anthony FREAKING Kiedis broke his FREAKING foot.

The reason I am freaking out is because I had two FREAKING tickets to the January FREAKING 25th concert in Charlotte, FREAKING North Carolina for me and Little Babe.

Moreover, just this Monday, I sent a FREAKING article proposal to a major FREAKING publication to do a road-trip article. I also spoke with the RHCP's FREAKING press agent in LA. I am attaching said proposal below.

Adding insult to injury (oy, now I have to get my plane tix refunded and hotel refunded and concert tickets refunded) the new FREAKING concert date is April 6th, which has the distinction of being not only the FREAKING first night of Passover BUT also Friday night, aka SHABBAT.

To paraphrase John Goodman, I am "Shomer Freaking Shabbos!" and that presents one FREAKING problem for me.

In other words, I cannot go on April 6th. In other words, I have to see if there are available tickets elsewhere. In other words, I want to run screaming down Amsterdam Avenue.

At this moment, I do not want to ruin Little Babe's day so I'll wait to share the news with him when he returns home.

In the meantime, there's probably a story in this....

And I am really sorry, TMZ, for using your picture without permission. I'm just really freaking out.

Oh, and here's my article pitch:
On January 25th, I will be attending the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert in Charlotte, NC with my 16-year-old son, a rock musician. Yes, we are journeying from Manhattan to Charlotte for this show. Yes, I am taking him out of his private school for two days. Yes, everyone thinks I am a terrible mom with an age-inappropriate crush on a rock band.  

My proposed article deals with my belated awakening to the RHCP through the fandom of my son Judah, now renamed Jude in his too-cool-for-school adolescent phase of life. I only started listening to their music in earnest two summers ago, after Judah returned from a teen trip to Israel where his friend Joe Teglasi turned him on to their music. 
Suddenly, my classical cello-playing kid had taught himself electric guitar and bass and heretofore unheard songs filled our Morningside Heights apartment: "Aeroplane," "Soul to Squeeze," "Wet Sand," "Dosed," "Otherside." The serious fascination with the Peppers started, for me, when he played Stadium Arcadium (the double album, not the song) for me and now I am a full-fledged fanatic who runs four miles every day to their music, sings their songs at Karaoke bars, cooks to their music, belts out their songs while driving and analyzes their lyrics as I would a literary text...or page of Talmud.  

I am riveted by their harmonies, their personalities and the evolution of their band. I thought I would not survive the 2009 departure of John Frusciante but Josh Klinghoffer has filled the void. As a contemporary of Anthony Kiedis and Flea, I want to talk with them about turning 50.  
Though I do not think that "I'm With You," their latest album, is anything approaching a masterpiece, there are moments of RHCP transcendence therein. As with all enduring romances, I continue to love the band despite the disappointing tracks. In the course of my article, I hope to identify just what I find so compelling about the Peppers' music. I also intend to capture a phenomenon that is specific to my generation of parents, namely, our willingness to be influenced by the culture of our kids. My RHCP road trip is a manifestation of intergenerational cultural openness that simply did not exist in my parents' generation. The prospect of my mom and dad inspired to attend a Talking Heads, Ramones, Squeeze or even an Elton John concert with me is an hilarious thought. 
I intend my Peppers piece to be culturally compelling, lively and insightful, "On the Road" meets "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" meets "Thelma and Louise," minus the drugs, sex, female bonding and death. But mom/teen son bonding will be part of this story. In advance of my trip, I reached out to the RHCP's press agent in LA who tells me he can get me an interview with the band after the show...with an assignment from a solid publication. 
What I am proposing is an offbeat, funny, touching and thoroughly memorable mother/son road trip to the Red Hot Chili Peppers January 25th concert in Charlotte, NC, complete with photographs and possibly video from the concert for the website. With advance planning, we should be able to videotape my interview with them, which would also include my son. 
I hope you think that the NAME BLOCKED OUT is a good venue for such a piece of writing.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Riding in Cars with Boys

One month ago, Little Babe broke his hand in a bit of teenage drama that I will leave for him to tell one day, if he so wishes. This morning, the cast he has worn for the past three weeks came off, together with the metal rod that had been inserted into his hand to allow his metacarpal bone to fuse and heal. Had he not told the orthopedic surgeon at the ER that he was a musician, surgery might not have been recommended. But when the bone didn't set at the hospital, we were referred to a hand surgeon who works with members of the New York Philharmonic.

Because of his injury, HOBB and I have been picking our sixteen-year-old son up from school to spare him the draining bus 'n subway shlep back from SAR High School in Riverdale. As we live just opposite Columbia University on Amsterdam Avenue and W116th Street, this is hardly a major imposition on us. Door-to-door, barring traffic, the journey is typically less than 20 minutes.

Little Babe's easygoing yet wry disposition never fails to make the journey entertaining. Armed with his iPod and the auxiliary cable, our trips home have been somewhat like being inside a DJ's sound booth or what I imagine a date with Fresh Air's Terry Gross to be like. Playing his favorite songs by The Red Hot Chili Peppers, David Bowie, The Talking Heads, Cake, Pink Floyd, the Kinks and a host of other bands whose music I actually like, the time is spent singing, talking and often laughing.

When I picked him up from school last night, I was aware of the completion of this small chapter in our lives wherein our mature and self-reliant youngest child reverted to a state of dependency upon us, for at least his transportation home from school. As we drove down the West Side Highway, Cake's "Wheel" was playing.

"Man, I love these lyrics," Little Babe exclaimed. "They are completely insane! Especially the third verse." I paused to listen:

In a seedy karaoke bar
By the banks of the mighty Bosphorus
Is a Japanese man in a business suit
Singing, smoke gets in your eyes
And the muscular cyborg German dudes
Dance with sexy French-Canadians
While the overweight Americans
Wear their patriotic jumpsuits

I laughed, agreeing that the lyrics were indeed insane.  "Listen to the horns," my son further instructed me.

I listened to the horns. They were great, lending the song a sly Klezmer quality. "Wheel" featured a fusion of cynical and lyrical qualities, rock 'n roll for a cerebral, sophisticated 21st century teen. I could see why he loved the song. The concluding wail, "Why you say you are not in love with me?" repeated over and over, lodged inside my heart.

Passing Fairway's uptown location on 12th Avenue as we eased off the highway "Wheel" gave way to "Comfort Eagle" whose beat can only be described as the percussion equivalent of pure testosterone. I made a note to add the song to my workout playlist; it was funny and irreverent and sharply snide, a critique of the recording industry, it seemed.

"Did you catch that synth?" he asked me, my instructor, my youngest son.

I smiled. Because I was listening with him, there was no chance I would miss the synth.

This morning I drove Little Babe to school after his rod was removed. After the procedure, he had spent not less than 10 minutes scrubbing his hand and arm to rid it of the "cast smell." The car smelled like Axe Shock. Mock-sternly, I told him that the end of the period of his teachers' compassion had arrived; there were assignments to write, tests to take now that he had command of his right hand again. While we spoke, Cake's "Sheep Go to Heaven" was playing. There was something about these days that called for Cake's go-to-hell funk and horn-driven madness.

When we arrived at school, Little Babe pulled his iPod from the auxiliary cable, kicked the front door open with his right foot, grabbed his knapsack from the back seat, shut both doors, bending to give me a salute and a sweet half-smile. It was quiet in the car with him gone. I sat for one minute longer than I needed to, watching my youngest son enter his High School, the period of his broken hand behind him and everything looming ahead.

Then I pulled my own iPod out of my gym bag, plugged it into the auxiliary cable and headed for the West Side Highway with the music of The Red Hot Chili Peppers playing way too loudly for any sane adult, the percussion of "Hump De Bump," acting like sonic testosterone, pumping straight into my bloodstream, the smell of Axe Shock faintly discernible, the memory of these past three weeks lodged inside my heart.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Hearing Occupy Wall Street with a Jewish Ear

READERS: Here is my second Jerusalem Report article on Occupy Wall Street. I hope that my reporting corrects some of the misleading views of the demonstration.

Demonstrating Jewishly

Jewish activists in the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Judaism movements aim to 'reoccupy values.'

Simchat Torah in Zuccotti Park
Photo by: Courtesy/Liz Nord
BY ORDER OF NEW YORK Mayor Michael Bloomberg, city police raided the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) demonstration November 15, storming Zuccotti Park, evicting the protesters, and clearing the area.

To Daniel Sieradski, founder of the Occupy Judaism movement, the ad hoc group of Jewish OWS activists who had organized Jewish events, including Kol Nidrei services, at the site, the desolation of the area that had held the tents and the energy reminded him of nothing less than the exile of the Jewish people from their land.

Passionately, he wrote in the November 16 online edition of the New York-based “The Forward”: “Occupy Wall Street is in exile. Her benches, once bountiful, lay barren. Her sidewalks – a wasteland. Where there were tents bustling with life, there is breeze. As the Book of Lamentations wonders, ʽHow does the city sit solitary that was full of people?ʼ”

Using the portal of Jewish history and liturgy, Sieradski posed the question “how does the city sit solitary” and presented the solution: “As Jews we know: Exile is not nearly the end.”

Although Zuccotti Park was the “ground zero” for both OWS and Occupy Judaism, Jewish participation in the movement has not been restricted to the park. Congregation Ramath Orah in Morningside Heights hosted a contentious public conversation at the synagogue in early November featuring Sieradski and Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz, an educator involved with the tent protest movement in Israel.

Congregation B’nai Jeshurun has inaugurated a series of public programs directly inspired by the protest. “Occupy Wall Street is putting on the table one of the most important conversations that this country should have about values, our relationship with money, the dream of America and where we want to go,” congregation rabbi Marcelo Bronstein tells The Report. “We don’t believe in blaming Wall Street, or in class warfare. We believe in the fact that this is a tremendously important conversation. We want to reoccupy values.”

A heavy spirit hung over the former encampment at a Rosh Hodesh celebration in late November. Following the service, most of the participants dispersed, since there was nothing else to be done – no petitions to sign, no drum circles to join, no ragtag protesters to feed. A lone demonstrator held up a poster, worn and weathered.

About that Ackerman Girl...

Hell hath no fury like a pissed-off NYU student.

Check out the email trail of Sara Ackerman, who attempted to refuse the ethnographic assignment her Society and Cultural Analysis professor, Caitlin Zaloom, gave her at the famously pricey downtown Manhattan college. After the fact, Ackerman launched a very public crusade against the professor, who allegedly "forced" her to fulfill her academic obligation. She also takes on the "unappealing underbelly of NYU bureaucracy" in her correspondence. Ackerman's efforts have earned her indefinite academic suspension from NYU. Just yesterday, she kvetched posted on her Facebook Wall that NYU has  (unsurprisingly) terminated her student email address. 

The offending assignment: to go to Zuccotti Park and report on Occupy Wall Street.

Ackerman's refusal was based in her stated fear for her safety but from her screed, it seems she also had some political disagreement with OWS. But she did actually go and in one of her emails, to NYU President John Sexton, she describes the following:

Although it went against my core values, moral beliefs, and also made me feel unsafe, I ultimately did go to Occupy Wall Street with my class group——-two other young girls, who are quite attractive and thin, and don't look particularly physically fit enough to take on a potential predator, rapist, paranoid schizophrenic, etc.——just to see if I was being as melodramatic as Professor Zaloom made me feel I was.***I won't go into detail here, but let me just tell you that if anything, I had previously underestimated how awful Occupy Wall Street was, and I left the park feeling as though I had escaped an extremely dangerous—-and even, life-threatening—-situation
As someone who has reported on OWS for the Jerusalem Report (also, see the post above with my most recent article), I have to wonder at her description. Grungy is probably the most accurate description of the encampment. Life threatening? Um....hardly, unless you are fatally allergic to the sight (and scent) of people who have not showered in a month. Actually, come to think of it, I was followed by a guy who taunted me with "F*(k You!!!" for about 20 minutes for passing on the opportunity to share my email address with him but I was no more threatened by him than by the prospect of impending rain.

Taking full advantage of the existence of the Internet, Ackerman makes her long, rambling and disturbing emails available to the public through a website called NYULocal.

She seems to imagine herself as conducting some sort of expose against Professor Zaloom and NYU. The only problem is that what emerges is the portrait of someone who is seriously deranged.

She calls for the firing of her professor, proclaims that she "knows people" and threatens the university with exposure via the media:

****President Sexton, you have already been alerted to all other details of the situation via the emails I have been cc'ing you on over the last 3 months, and you have yet to do anything for me.****Now would be a good time to step in—-unless of course, you still think that I am bluffing about going to the press—remember, I know people—close family friends, in fact—who work for:1. WSJ2. The NY Observer3. NYT4. The Washington PostI have already written the op-ed, and a draft has been approved by one of the reputable newspapers listed above.

In this op-ed, I name you, Dean Richard Kalb, and Mary-Louise Pratt——all those people who are meant to have some power to check on Professor Zaloom, and all of you have profoundly failed in this regard.
What Ackerman does here is such profoundly CRAZY PERSON behavior that reading the emails, I found that I was holding my breath. Yes, I can understand why observers of this situation have branded her entitled or spoiled. In her emails, she paints herself not only as the nightmare student but as a future employee or girlfriend/spouse whose default mode is vindictive attack. Obviously, any attempts to brand her undoing specifically ethnic are deplorable, as Jewish girls, even affluent ones, hardly have the monopoly on entitled, obnoxious behavior.

Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I will say that the poor kid has flipped out completely. The irony, of course, is that she has proven herself to be far crazier and possibly dangerous than any of the OWS denizens.

In her quest to take a principled stand, Sara Ackerman has become a public laughing stock. The drama is reminiscent of the moment when Britney Spears shaved her head and had her very public meltdown and the media was there to record every pathetic moment. The difference here is that Ackerman is training the camera on herself and asking everyone to tune in. In addition to the public emails, she is masterminding much of the publicity through her Facebook Wall, which weirdly features links to the cornucopia of articles and blogs that proclaim her utterly batty.

As the mother of two college graduates, I watch in complete bafflement, wondering WHERE ARE HER PARENTS? Why haven't they trundled her off, far away from a laptop or Internet access in an effort to staunch the bleeding out of her reputation as a sane person? Have they even seen her Facebook Wall? If they are not "friends" they should send her a request ASAP because she seems to be building her FB friend list right now in an effort to promote her cause. Ackerman's Facebook Wall is simply chilling. Upon it, she is chronicling her own undoing, losing it more and more every day. Perhaps she hasn't noticed but she has very little support from her "friends." Only a few have publicly offered support.

There have been some anti-establishmentarian, Obama-hating sorts who are giving her a cyber High Five. Their encouragement reminds me of the bloodthirsty cheering that goes on at cockfights. With friends like these...

To quote the concerned young person who granted me access to Ackerman's wall, only a short while ago "she appeared perfectly normal." Now, a whole community of flesh and blood friends -- many of them Greater New York area Jewish Day School alum -- are watching the slo-mo car wreck that is Sara Ackerman's life.

The good ones care. Everyone else is simply gawking.