Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Banned Books Week

"First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Social Democrats, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Social Democrat. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Jew, Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me." - Pastor Martin Neimoller

I know this book is about the Holocaust, but there are two points I want to make by quoting it. The first is that when we talk about banning books we don't feel are appropriate, we forget about the slippery slope. The questions are, where do we draw the line and whom do we trust to pick the books to ban? There are books I don't want my 12 year old reading although I would have read them myself at 12. But I defend his right to pick up anything he can find in a public library or bookstore and reading it when my back is turned. If something disturbs him, he can come to me and talk about it. My second, less important point, is that the Nazis didn't just burn people, they also burned books.
A couple of years ago, I was at my son's school during parent teacher conferences. The parent in line ahead of me was asking the teacher to censor a book her daughter was going to read in class. She had highlighted passages she feared would disturb her daughter and suggested that the teacher paste over the lines some lines of her own creation that were safer. I was truly stunned. My son wasn't in the class reading that book but I told the teacher that I absolutely would have insisted that my son be given the unedited version of the book. Unfortunately the teacher was young and new to the school and didn't seem to have the strength to stand up to this mother. I feel sorry for her daughter. Imagine living a censored life!
Banned books are a funny thing. A fellow blogger wrote about kids passing around the list of books banned by the Catholic school nuns and reading more of them than of the ones on the approved list. When I tried to look up a list of banned books just now, I was reminded of trying to read Lady Chatterly's Lover as a kid because I had heard of its sexual content. At the time, I found it a huge disappointment. Apparently what was considered prurient by the previous generation, didn't mean much to a 70's preteen. My mother had far more lurid books on her shelves than Chatterly and I can tell you I read them all. As far as I can tell, none did me any harm. I noticed that one of the books I read back then is still on the often banned list today.
The kind of content that is "controversial" nowadays seems to fall into a few themes:
sexuality (duh), homosexuality, profanity (as if every 5 year old in this country doesn't speak fluent four letter words), death (I guess our kids won't learn about suicide until it happens to a kid in their high school or to someone in their family), rape and molestation (ditto), anything not Christian, anything leftist in leaning, anything containing the "N" word--sorry Mark Twain, and books about magic and the occult (begone foul Harry Potter).
Well, I need to get to work and then out scouring the bookshelves for a few banned books to read. I hope I inspire you to read one or two yourselves.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Junk Yard and Junk Yards

Junk Yard

Back to some urban photos. The cold weather, she is a coming!


Mountains of Miracles

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Photo Fiction

Old photo

I found this fascinating old photo in a bookstore and couldn't resist buying it for a writing prompt I was doing. The prompt was to write a letter based on the photograph. Here is what I wrote:

Dear Uncle Al,
Mom and Dad got a new car last month. They'd been saving up forever. You should have seen how proud Dad was the first time he fired the thing up. He wore his Sunday church outfit even though it was only Saturday and honked the horn so loud I think all the neighbors must have looked out their windows at us.
Mom didn't drive, of course, because she never learned how but she looked pretty proud too sitting in the driver seat. She was all dressed up too even though they only drove around the block.
Mom says all us kids are going to learn to drive when we're old enough, even the girls. I can't wait! I'm almost 15-1/2 so it won't be long now.
Well, last week we drove to church and the car just wouldn't start up again. Some of the guys helped push the car into the street a ways and somehow it started up again. It made an awful wheezy noise like Grandpa when his lungs get bad. Dad looked pretty worried. Mom told him it was all right. Cousin Bill is studying to be a mechanic over at the gas station and will fix it for free.
That's about all the news. I start back at school next week. I'm not sure if I won't quit school when I'm 16 and look for a job. I hear one of the factories in Gary is hiring. Mom got kind of mad when I said that so don't tell her I told you. You know how much we need the money, especially with Mom expecting again. Anyway, Mom is looking at me like it's time to do some chores.
Your Nephew, Eddie

The Mad Hatters?

London Hatmaker
London Hatmaker

Parisian Hatmaker

Hats Aplenty
Hat display at the Portobello Market in London

Other than baseball caps, we Americans are clearly lagging in the hat department.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Falafel Ace

A falafel restaurant in Le Marais, the old and now rejuvenated, Jewish quarter of Paris.

L'As du Falafel

Friday, September 11, 2009

Back to Chicago Photos

Derelict Clock

Sometimes it pays to just point your car wherever the whim takes you. I found this old industrial park, I didn't know existed. What a wonderful clock tower this is! The clock says "Central MFG District." It makes me think of that old song, "My Grandfather's Clock," I learned as a kid:

But it stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.
Ninety years without slumbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
His life seconds numbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
It stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A couple of black and whites

From my photography class. Here are a few of my favorites. Photography is hard!

Abbey Road
Abbey Road, London

Phat Boyfood
Chicago, Illinois

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Backyard Buddies, or Is It Bunnies?

The Better to Eat You with My Dear

What the Cat Was Watching

My closest neighbors.

What's Up Doc?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Time for a Treat

Time for a delicious treat in Paris.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Quelle heure est-il a Paris?

Le Temps a Paris

What time is it in Paris?
More from my clock collection:

Quelle heure est-il