Monday, September 21, 2020

The Life and Times of Lesley Gore



"With songs like "It's My Party," "Judy's Turn to Cry" and the indelibly definant single "You Don't Own Me," all recorded before she was 18 - Ms. Gore made herself the voice of teenage girls aggrieved by fickle boyfriends moving quickly from tearful self-pity to fierce self-assertion."

- John Parles, New York Times obituary, February 16, 2015

When Lesley Gore passed away in 2015, the headline on her New York Times obituary called her "the Voice of Teenage Heartache."  Lesley's music struck a chord with teenage girls of the early 1960s.  They identified with the lyrics of her songs because she expressed their .adolescent angst.

Lesley Gore was born Lesley Sue Goldstein on May 2, 1946 in Brooklyn, New York, to a middle-class Jewish family.  She was the daughter of Leo Goldstein and Ronny Gore.  Her father, Leo, owned the Peter Pan swimsuit and underwear manufacturing company. He later became a prominent brand licencing agent in the clothing industry.  Soon after Lesley's birth, the family changed their surname to "Gore," her mother's birth name.  

 Lesley grew up in Tenafly, New Jersey, wanting to become a singer.  As a child, she sang the latest hit songs in front of her bedroom mirror.  When Lesley was still  a junior at the Dwight School for Girls, an independent preparatory school  in Englewood, New Jersey, her vocal coach recorded a demo featuring Lesley's piano and voice recordings.  Those domos reached jazz composer and record producer Quincy Jones, who worked at Mercury Records.  When he received the tape, he was impressed.

Jones became Lesley's mentor and her friend.  He recognized 'her potential for stardom and produced her March 30, 1963 recording of "It's My Party." "He released the record within a week when he learned that the Crystals were also recording the same song.   It's My Party" was a smash hit and 15-year-old Lesley, still a high school junior, had herself a number one single in the United States.  It sold over a million copies and was certified as a gold record.  Mercury Records wasted no time in signing the teenager to a five-year contract, which was renewed in 1968.  

"It's My Party" was the first of a string of other hits for Lesley, including its sequel, "Judy's Turn to Cry," "She a Fool," "You Don't Own Me," "That's the Way Boys Are," "Maybe I Know," "Look of Love," and "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows."  In November of  1963, Lesley's second studio album, Lesley Gore Sings of Mixed Up Hearts was released.  It did not sell as well as her debut album, It's My Party, although it featured "She's a Fool," "You Don't Own Me" and an early version of "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows."

"Lesley recorded "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows," a Marvin Hamlisch composition, in May of 1963.  Although originally released for Lesley Gore Sings of Mixed-Up Hearts, it wasn't released as a single until later, to coincide with Lesley's performance of the song in the 1965 film Ski Party.

On October 13th, 1963, Lesley appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, where she performed "It's My Party" and "She's a Fool."  Also featured on the Sullivan show that night were Tony Bennett, Frank Gorshin and Bob &Ray.

In 1964, Lesley sang "Judy's Turn To Cry" live on the musical variety show Shindig, hosted by Jimmy O'Neill.  She appeared on Shidig again on April 7, 1965 and sang "The Look of Love," "Gee Baby I'm Sorry," and "All of my Life."  Other guests on that same show included Marvin Gaye, Tina Turner, The Righteous Brothers and Martha and the Vandellas.

In 1965, Lesley performed "It's My Party" on Hollywood A Go-Go, a Los Angeles-based music variety show that ran in syndication in the mid-1960s.  The show was hosted by Sam Riddle, with music by The Simmers and dancing by the Gazzarri Dancers. 

 In 1964. Lesley came out with a feminist anthem  "You Don't Own Me." eight years before Helen Reddy released "I Am Woman."  In 1971, Helen sang "I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore  . . . "  In 1964, Lesley sang "You don't own me, I'm not just one of your little toys . . . And don't tell me what to do, don't tell me what to say . . . "

"You Don't Own Me," written by John Madara and David White, was a change of direction for Lesley Gore.  It presented a more confident, independent side of the pop star.  She was moving beyond her image as a voice for teenage girls with boyfriend problems.  In 2010, Lesley told The Minneapolis Star-Tribune that when she first heard "You Don't Own Me." she "thought it had an important humanist quality."  "As I got older," she continued, "feminism became more a part of my life and more a part of our whole awareness, and I could see why people would use it as a feminist anthem.  I don't care what age you are, whether you're 16 or 116, you should be shaking your finger and singing, 'Don't tell me what to do.'"

Lesley Gore graduated with honours from Dwight School in June of 1964, and continued making singing appearances after high school   At the height of her career, however, Lesley turned down a Broadway play and a television series in order to further her education.  She enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, New York, where she studied British and American English literature.  She chose to do so because she thought it would be "very foolish of me to leave school to go into such an unpredictable field on a full-time basis."  

While attending college. Lesley Gore did not stop performing entirely.  She gave some concerts on weekends or holidays.  She also guested on television occasionally.  She appeared in the 1965 beach party film The Girls on the Beach in which she sang three songs: "Leave Me Alone," "It's Gotta Be You," and "I Don't Want to Be a Loser."  In 1966, Lesley made her acting debut  in the final episode of TV's The Donna Reed Show in which she performed "It's My Party" and "We Know We're in Love"  The episode, entitled "By-line -- Jeff Stone." (Season 8, Episode 27, Air Date: March 19, 1966), is about Jeff Stone's  (Paul Peterson) attempt to have a song he's written performed by someone big in the music business.  That's where Lesley Gore, playing herself, came into the picture.

Lesley appeared in two consecutive 1967 episodes of Batman, the television series starring Adam West and Burt Ward.  She guest-starred as Pussycat, a henchwoman of the villainous Catwoman, played by Julie Newmar.  The first of the two episodes is entitled "That Darn Catwoman" (Season 2, Episode 40, Air Date: January 19, 1967) and the second one is entitled "Scat! Darn Catwoman" (Season 2, Episode 41, Air Date: January 25, 1967).  In the January 19th episode, Lesley lip-synched to the Bob Crew-produced tune "California Nights," another Marvin Hamlisch composition.  "  In the January 25th episode, she lip-synched to "Maybe Now."


Lesley Gore on Batman, 1967


Lesley with Burt Ward as Robin on Batman

Lesley graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature.  That same year, she became politically active by supporting Robert F. Kennedy's presidential campaign.  For most of her life, Lesley was a advocate for progressive causes such as the abolition of the death penalty and the advancement of rights for women and gays.

Lesley's music of the early 1960s went out of fashion during the latter part of hat decade.  However, she kept working in movies, on television, and in theatres and clubs.  After her contract with  Mercury Records ended,, she began writing her own music, which she hadn't done earlier.  Lesley was changing and maturing, and the material that  publisher were sending her was too similar to her early hits of the 1960s.

In 1970, Lesley relocated to California.  She also signed with Crewe Records, reconnecting  with Bob Crewe, who had produced her 1967 album California Nights.  From 1970 to 1971, Crewe released four singles with Lesley, including a duet with Oliver.  Unfortunately, however, Crew experienced financial difficulties and went bankrupt.

 In September of 1972, Motown Records  released Lesley's album Someplace Else Now  The album contained songs that Lesley wrote herself  or with lyricist Ellen Weston, an actress who starred in television series S.W.A.T..  Lesley and Ellen collaborated on over 60 songs together over time.

Lesley worked with Quincy Jones again for a 1975 album called Love Me by Name, which contained her own compositions and included guest performers such as Herbie Hancock.  Neither album had much impact. 

In 1979, Lesley left California and returned to New York City, where she continued to perform her oldies.  She also appeared in musical theatre, including a Broadway production of the hit musical revue, Smokey Joe's Cafe.  In 1982, Lesley's album, The Canvas Can Do Miracles was released.  It was an album of various pop hits of the 1970s.  

Lesley co-wrote a song entitled "My Secret Love" for the 1996 film Grace of My Heart.  The film has a subplot about a young singer named Kelly Porter (played by Bridget Fonda), who is a closet lesbian.  The character is partly based on Lesley herself.

In 2004, Lesley Gore began hosting the PBS television series In the Life, which dealt with LGBT issues.  The following year, in an interview with the cultural website AfterEllen (AfterAllen.com), Lesley told Ellen DeGeneres that she was a lesbian and that she had been in a relationship with high-end jewellery designer Lois Sasson since 1982.  She stated that she had been aware of her sexual orientation since the age of 20.  She described the music business as "totally homophobic," but said she never had to pretend to be straight.  "I just kind of lived my life naturally," she declared.  "I didn't avoid anything.  I didn't put it in anybody's face."

Lesley's 2005 album, Ever Since, her first album of new material since 1975's Love Me by Name.  It contained cabaret-style songs and a remake of "You Don't Own Me."  On July 30, 2011, Lesley was a headliner at the "She's Got The Power! A Girl Group Extravaganza," an outdoor concert at Damrosch Bandshell, Lincoln Center, New York.  The concert was advertised as "a celebration of the Girl Group sound and the women behind the unforgettable hits."

On February 15, 2015, Lesley Gore died of lung cancer at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.  The next day, her partner, Lois Sasson, confirmed the 68-year-old's passing.  Lois told Closer Weekly that "it came pretty fast."  She stated that in January, Lesley "had a pain in her back - she went for an MRI and we found this horrible tumor on her spine."  Prior to her illness, Lesley  had been writing a memoir and a Broadway play based on her life as a teenage singing star.


ND NOTES

Lesley younger brother, Michael Gore, was born March 5, 1951 in Brooklyn, New York.  He and Lesley composed the ballad "Out Here on My Own" for the soundtrack of the 1980 film Fame.  Michael composed and produced 'On My Own," while Lesley provided the lyrics. "Out Here on My Own" received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song in 1981.  As it turned out, Michael and lyricist Dean Pitchford won the Oscar for Best Original Song for Fame's theme song.

As of this writing, Michael Gore is 69 years old.  Besides his work on the musical film Fame, Michael also composed the theme and score for the 1983 hit movie Terms of Endearment, starring Shirley MacLaine and Debra winger.  

Michael Gore

* Lesley performed in the October 1964 all-star concert show, the T.A.M.I. Show, which featured a number of rock and roll and R&B musicians from the United States and Britain. The concert was held at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.  It was later shown in  theatres across the United States.


* Despite being a famous pop star in the 1960s, Lesley Gore was not a wealthy woman when she died.  Manhattan court files reveal that she left $50,000 to Lois Sasson, her longtime partner.  In her five-page will, filed in 2012, she bequeathed her entire estate to Sasson.  If Sasson predeceased her,. the inheritance would go to her brother, Michael.  At the time of Lesley's death, her mother, Ronny Gore, was her only other survivor.

 Of the size of Leley's estate, Lois Sasson told The Post, "She didn't understand money, she didn't understand business, but she was a great artist and a magnificent human being."  Sasson went on to say that Lesley "was a big star star in the 1960s and they didn't give you royalties."

Lesley Gore in later years

SOURCES: The New York Times; "Lesley Gore, Teenage Voice of Heartache, Dies at 68," by John Parles, February 16, 2015; Alma, (heyalma.com), "Lesley Gore: The Jewish Feminist Lesbian Pop Star Ahead of Her Time," by Amy Salitsky, November 13, 2016; Page Six, "Lesley Gore leaves meager $50K estate to longtime partner," by Julia Marsh, April 1, 2015; Closer Weekly exclusive, "Lesley Gore's Partner Reveals New Details About the Singers Sudden Passing," February 24, 2015;  "Lesley Gore International Fan Club Biography 2015; Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (MDb)

- Joanne

Saturday, September 19, 2020

No, Donald Trump! Canadians do not want the U.S-Canada border reopened now

 Donald Trump has stated that the Canada-U.S. border will reopen soon.  Yesterday (September 18, 2020),  he claimed that "Canada would like it opened."  "You know, we want to get back no normal business,"  he added.  That same day, Canada's Public Safety Minister, Bill Blair, announced on Twitter that closure of the border has been extended until October 21, 2020 (It was set to expire on September 21st).  "We will continue to base our decisions on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe," Blair wrote.

In a July 2020 IPSOS poll, more than 8 out of 10 Canadians surveyed said that they want to keep the U.S. Canadian border closed until at least the end of 2020.  That' was over 80 per cent back in July.  I bet the percentage would be even higher now.

If Trumps thinks reopening of the border is going to happen any time soon, he's wrong!  Canadians do not want the border reopened until the virus is under control.  It is certainly not under control. now, thanks to the negligence, indifference and incompetence of Trump and his supporters.  As I write this, the number of deaths from COVID-19 in the United States is 198,000.  That number will soon reach the grim milestone of 200,000.  Those are the cold, hard facts,  However, the American president's first concern is getting himself re-elected.  

Trump puts the economy before human lives.  He fails to understand that the economy will not improve until people feel safe and protected from the virus.  For him "business" comes before health and well-being.  Trump also does not understand that the stock market is not the true measure of the economy.

Canada's record with regard to COVID-19 is much better, but there has been a resurgence of new cases here lately.  We do not need or want Americans coming across the border and spreading the virus further.  We simply cannot afford to put more human lives at risk.  That is why reopeinig the border anytime soon would be foolish and immoral.  

The tragedy is that Donald Trump was aware of the deadly virus back in February.  His words on investigative journalist Bob Woodward's tape prove that he knew.  Trump's voice on Woodward's tape is clear and distinct.  He can be heard telling Woodward that the virus was "deadly." Yet, he failed to act quickly and decisively.  If he had done so, many lives would have been saved.  This was a dereliction of duty of epic proportions.  The president of the United States failed to protect American lives and he should be held accountable for that.

The Canada-U.S. border should not be reopened until the virus is under control in the United States.  That will not happen unless and until Joe Biden is sworn in as president on January 20, 2021.  This is a matter of life and death.  The choice is as stark as that.  So, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must remain firm that our border with the U.S. will remain closed until he COVID-19 is contained there.                          

- Joanne                                                                    

Monday, September 14, 2020

Some Good News in Terrible Times

Do you need a break from all the doom and gloom?  With COVID-19, climate change and the horrors of the Donald Trump presidency, it's time for some good news to brighten up your day.  Yes, these are the "worst of times," to quote Charles Dickens, so Number 16 will provide you with some much-needed relief from all the bad news.  It will not make COVID go away, but it is designed to make you feel better.


MONTREAL-BASED COMPANY HELPS DEVELOP DRONES FOR HUMANITARIAN AID

Polytechnique MontrĂ©al, an engineering research company, has partnered with other researchers who are developing technology to assist humanitarian workers.  Since 2017, the company has been collaborating with Solutions Humanitas to develop an interface for remote-control autonomous air vehicles (UAVs).  These drones will be able to inspect and gauge the safety of damaged buildings in real time, provide 3D images of the disaster site, and first and foremost, transport medicines or emergency kits. 


TEXAS TEACHER BUILDS GARAGE LIBRARY

Jennifer Martin, an elementary school teacher in Austin Texas, built a library in her garage.for students who do not have access to a nearby library (Most of her students live a fair distance (24.14 kilometres, 15 miles) from the closest public library).  Martin's garage library has more than 1,500 works and is based on the honour system.  It was designed as a temporary solution until the reopening of the neighbourhood school library.  


CHINA PLANS TO REDUCE SINGLE-USE PLASTIC 

China, one of the world biggest users of plastic, has announced plans to change course.  By the end of 2020, a ban will take effect on the production and manufacture and sale  of disposable foamed plastic tableware, straws and plastic cotton buds.  Non-degradable bags will be banned in majors cities in the country by the end of 2020 and in smaller cities and towns by 2020.  By 2025, non-biodegradable plastic products at hotels and the plastic packaging of courier deliverers will be banned. 


SOUTH AUSTRALIA BANS SINGLE-USE PLASTIC PRODUCTS

In order to protect wildlife on both land and sea, the state of South Australia has passed legislation banning non-biodegradable single-use plastics such as cutlery items, beverage stirrers and straws. Due to the pandemic, the law is not scheduled to take effect until 2021, and there are exemptions for medical needs.  It is the first state in Australia to ban single-use plastics.


FOR THE FIRST TIME, A UNIVERSITY IN NEW JERSEY CELEBRATES A GRADUATE WITH DOWN SYNDROME

On May 8. 2020, Anna Rose Rubright graduated from Rowan University in New Jersey.  Due to COVID-19, she had a virtual graduation on Zoom.  Anna has Down Syndrome, a genetic disorder causd by abnormal cell division. It impairs physical and intellectual growth and affects facial features.

The special speaker at Anna Rose's online graduation was Stephen M. Sweeney, the President of the Senate of New Jersey.  Sweeney is the father of a daughter, Lauren, who was born prematurely with Down Syndrome.  He credits Lauren with inspiring him to launch his career in politics.

 Anna Rose received an audiovisual licence.  The young graduate aspires to become an entrepreneur and launch her own production company. She enthusiastic about radio and is eager tell stories to others with Down Syndrome.  



TWO HOMELESS MEN HAVE CLEANED UP LITTER ON THE CALIFORNIA BEACH FOR THE LAST FOUR YEARS

Every morning at 5 a.m., Dave Hendon and Marc Gervais, clean Ocean Beach, California for free.  The men live in the area in their van.  They clean the beach for the benefit of their community, picking up trash and removing glass.



A COUPLE OF JOKES TO MAKE YOU SMILE




What do you call a pig that does karate?

A pork chop.


What's the best thing about Switzerland?

I'm really not sure, but its flag is a big plus.


- Joanne

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Victoria Woodhull: The First Woman to Run for President of the United States

Victoria Woodhull

"American history holds few women - or men - to rival the daring of Victoria Claflin Woodhull.  During the 1870s she defied every double standard against women.  Along with being the first woman to run for president, she was the first female broker on Wall Street, the first woman to run a newspaper, and the first to address Congress.  But her American pedigree comes not from "firsts" but from her spirit - a blend of grit, honesty, and faith in the future." 

- Bruce Watson
The Attic, "Victoria for President -In 1872"


In the 19th century, Victoria Woodhull was considered outrageous and unorthodox.  She was very radical for a woman of her era.  Some of her beliefs are still regarded as "off the wall" in contemporary 21st century society.  She described herself as a "medical clairvoyant" and was raised by her parents to tell fortunes. She was a magnetic healer (one who uses different types of magnets to help improve overall health), and a member of the spiritualist movement of the 1870s.

Victoria was also a self-proclaimed advocate of "free love," by which she did not necessarily mean promiscuity.  She defined the term as the freedom to marry, divorce and bear children without the interference or restrictions of society or of government.  At a time when divorce was frowned upon, she believed hat women had the right to escape bad marriages.  Her views were shocking to people of the Victorian age.

Victoria Woodhull was a leader of the American suffragette movement, but her greatest claim to fame was that she was the first woman to run for President of the United States,  In 1872,  she was a candidate for the U.S. presidency under the banner of the Equal Rights Party, which supported women's suffrage and equal rights for all..  On May 10th of that year, the Equal Rights Party held its convention in Manhattan, New York City.  Clad in a black dress and blue tie, Woodhill walked to centre stage and accepted her party's nomination. 



Frederick Douglass, the noted abolitionist, social reformer, writer, orator and statesman, was nominated as Victoria's running mate.  Douglass, a former slave, believed in the equality of all persons and he actively supported women's suffrage.  He he never attended the Manhattan convention and some historians say he ignored the nomination.  Others contend that  he declined it.  However, a public letter he supposedly wrote declining the nomination has never been found.  The fact remains that without his approval, Frederick Douglass became the first African-American nominated for the office. of Vice President.


Frederick Douglass
On election day, November 5, 1872, Victoria's name appeared on the ballot in some places because, at that time, political parties printed their own ballots in newspapers and passed them out at the polls.  According to newspaper accounts written years later, Equal Rights Party ballots were handed out at some polling stations.  Although Victoria Woodhull did receive some popular votes, it can't be determined exactly how many people voted for her because her votes appear not to have been counted.  She didn't receive any Electoral College votes, not even the vote of Frederick Douglass, who had been named as an elector.  Douglass and his fellow New York electors cast all of the state's votes for the incumbent, Republican Ulysses S. Grant, who easily won re-election.

Victoria never really had a chance to be elected president.  Her candidacy was an uphill battle, but it was still highly symbolic.  It attracted much attention to the issue of women's rights.  It was historic because, for the first time, a woman had the audacity to run for America's highest office.  Some historians, however, do not consider Woodull's bid for the presidency to be legitimate because she was only 34 years old at the time, not 35 as required by the Constitution of the United States.  Newspaper election coverage, however, suggests that her age was not an important issue in the 19th century.

Victoria Woodhull was born Victoria California Claflin on September 23, 1838 in the rural pioneer town of Homer, Licking County, Ohio.  She was the sixth or seventh of 10 children, three sons and seven daughters.  Three of Victoria's siblings (Delia, Odessa and Hester) died in infancy, and six of them (Margaret Ann, Maldon, Mary, Hebern, Utica, and Tennessee Celeste) survived to adulthood.  Her family was dirt poor and eccentric.  Her father, Reuben Buckman "Buck" Claflin was a conman, a veritable snake oil salesman.  He was also an abusive man who reportedly beat his children without provocation.  One of Victoria's brothers, Maldon, ran away at the age of 13 and never returned.

Victoria's mother was Anna Roxanna Hummel Claflin, known as Anna or Annie.  Annie was a homemaker and she reportedly helped to make "Tennessee's Magic Elixir," which the Claflin family sold through agents.  She has been described at different times as the niece of a wealthy saloon owner, and as the illegitimate daughter of a maid.  Annie spoke with a German accent.  She met Buck in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, where he was a guest in the house where she worked as a maid.  They married in December of 1825.

Victoria was especially close to her sister, Tennessee Celeste Claflin, commonly known a Tennie.  Tennie was some seven years Victoria's junior and the youngest of her siblings.  Although Tennie's exact birth date is unclear, she is widely reported to have been born between 1843 and 1846.  Her biographer, Myrna MacPherson, cites her date of birth as October 26, 1845.

Victoria received very little formal education.  She spent much of her youth with her the Claflin family's medicine show, telling fortunes and selling patent medicines.  Victoria's father, Buck, was accused of burning the family's rotting gristmill in order to collect on the insurance policy.  Although claims that he committed fraud and arson have been disputed, Victoria was forced to leave home and school with  her family.  Buck was driven out of the town of Homer by vigilantes and the town raised funds to assist the rest of the family in their departure from Ohio. The family continued to make a living through false medical cures and fortune telling.  Buck, who was always searching for a good money-making scheme, put his daughters to work, contacting spirits, selling elixirs, giving massages and offering cures for ailments ranging from cancer to asthma.  

When Victoria was only 15 years old, she eloped with Canning (or Channing) Woodhull, although according to some accounts, Woodhull abducted her to marry her.  They wed on November 20, 1853 in Cleveland, Ohio  Woodhull was a patent medicine salesman who claimed to be a physician at a time when such credentials were loose or non-existent.  Before long, Victoria discovered that her husband was an alcoholic and a philanderer.  

The Woodhulls had two children.  They were Byron (born December 31, 1854 in Chicago)  and Zulu (or Zula) Maude (born April 23 or 26, 1861 in New York City).  Byron Woodhull was intellectually disabled.  According to Victoria's first cousin, Byron suffered brain damage, the result of a a head injury while a toddler..  Victoria and Tennie claimed he may have been adversely affected by his father's alcoholism.  Byron was unable to speak and was not capable of working.  He remained in the care of various friends and relatives for his entire life.

In 1860, Victoria Woodhull and her family relocated to New York City, where the Claflin clan resided, and Victoria and Tennie tried to established themselves as mediums.  While in New York, Victoria and her sister made the acquaintance of wealthy railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt.  Vanderbilt was a recent widower and a septuagenarian.  Victoria and Tennie became his spiritual advisers and they helped him contact the spirit of his deceased wife.  Vanderbilt, in return, financed the sisters'investments on Wall Street, where they began to cash in on the stock market.  

In 1863, Buck Claflin  rented a room in Ottawa Ohio.  He billed himself as "The King of Cancer" and promoted Tennie's healing powers.  In June of 1864, police raided the Claflin hotel clinic and the family fled.  The Claflins were charged with nine crimes, including disorderly conduct and medical fraud (quackery).  Tenniie was charged with manslaughter when her "treatments" did not succeeded in curing a woman, Rebecca Howe, who had breast cancer.  The family never went to court to face their phony cancer cure.  In 1864, in order to stay one step ahead of legal proceedings, and in search of new clients, the Woodhulls and Tennie moved to Cincinnati, then to Chicago.  

Between 1863 and 1866 (most likely 1864 or 1865), Victoria is believed to have divorced Canning, in Chicago, Illinois (Divorce records were destroyed in the The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and no newspaper accounts of the divorce have been located).  She could no longer tolerate his drinking and womanizing.  He had become increasingly distant from the family, only coming home to ask for money  It had been Victoria who worked and supported the children.  

The legal status of Victoria's second marriage, to Colonel James Harvey Blood, is confusing and somewhat murky.    On July 10, 1865, Victoria married Colonel Blood in a Presbyterian ceremony in Hamilton County, Ohio.  Colonel Blood was a soldier in the Union Army in Missouri during the American Civil War.  He had also been elected as city auditor of St. Louis, Missouri.  James and Victoria applied for a marriage licence in Dayton, Ohio.

It seems, however, that James Blood was still married to his previous wife, Marry Ann Blood.  Dr. Mary Sparr, Victoria's sister, used this information to try to blackmail Colonel Blood into giving her a large sum of money under the threat of having him charged with bigamy.  On July 9, 1866, Mary Ann  Blood divorced her husband in Chicago for adultery.  On July 14, 1866, James and Victoria applied for a marriage licence in Dayton, Ohio, where Victoria always claimed she wed Colonel Blood.  The original record was destroyed by fire, but a microfilm copy remains.  The marriage was a common law one, not a statutory one, because the minister forgot to file the return.

In 1868, Colonel Blood and Victoria settled in New York City, along with Tennie and other family members. On February 10th of that year, the Chicago Tribune reported that Victoria had divorced Colonel Blood in the Chicago Recorder's Court for the cause of adultery.

Col. James Blood
On April 2, 1870, two years before the election, Victoria Woodhiull announced her candidacy for the American presidency in The New York Herald  Since women were not allowed to vote until the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, she was not permitted to vote for herself.  

On January 11, 1871, Victoria Woodhull became the first woman to address a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.  She had spent months in Washington, D.C. advocating for women's suffrage. She succeeded in persuading  Benjamin Butler, an eminent Republican, who would later chair the committee, to deliver her "Woodhull memorial" in person.  Accompanied by suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Isabella Beecher Hooker,, Victoria contended that the 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S, Constitution implicitly gave women the right to vote.  For example, the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, granted citizenship to all persons "born or naturalized in the United States," which, Victoria argued, included females. 

Not only was Victoria an activist for women's rights, she was also a fierce advocate for labour reform.  Furthermore, she and Tennie became the first women to own a brokerage firm on Wall Street when they opened their own brokerage house, Woodhull, Claflin & Company, in 1870.  Still, they never gained a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, something no woman would be able to achieve until 1967.

The sisters used their profits from the brokerage to launch Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly, which began publication on May 14, 1870.  They were among the first women to found a newspaper in the United States. 

Below is the front page of the June 3, 1871 edition of Woodhill and Claflin's Weekly.


Victoria lived a very colourful life.  She was controversial, unconventional and no stranger to scandal.  Just four days before the election of 1872, U.S. federal marshals arrested Woodhull, her spouse, Colonel James Blood, and her sister, Tennie, on charges of "publishing an obscene newspaper" and circulating it through the United States postal service.  Their paper, Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly, had published a detailed narrative of the alleged adulterous affair between  prominent preacher Henry Ward Beecher and Elizabeth Richards Titan, in more detail than what was regarded as  proper during that era.

The influential Reverend Beecher was Congregationalist minister and pastor of the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, New York.  He was the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin.  Elizabeth Richards Tilton was the wife of Beecher's friend,and fellow abolitionist, Theodore Tilton.  As a result of the Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly article, Tilton, a newspaper editor and poet, filed charges against Beecher for "criminal conversation" (adultery) with his wife and sued for a $100,000 judgement.

In 1875, Reverend Henry Ward Beecher went on trial.  It was one of the most sensational court cases of its era, and it captured the interest of the American public.  The trial ended with a hung jury, after which Theodore Tilton moved to Paris, where he spent the rest of his life.


Henry Ward Beecher

It is most likely that Victoria Woodhull had no personal grudge against Henry Ward Beecher, especially since he was an advocate of social reform and woman's suffrage.  She published the Beecher article in order to highlight the hypocrisy of powerful men of her era.  Her association with the Beecher scandal only added to the sensational coverage in the press of her run for the presidency.  After their arrests, Victoria and her sister were detained in the Ludlow Street Jail  on and off for the next month.  Thus, the first female candidate for the presidency of the United States spent election day 1872 in a prison cell.  She did not get the opportunity to even attempt to vote.

Victoria and Teenie also faced libel charges over another article in Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly that accused a Wall Street trader of getting getting to teenage females drunk and then seducing them.  The sisters were found not guilty, but faced a barrage of criticism from  the press.  One of their harshest critics was Harriet Beecher Stowe, who called Woodhull a "vile jailbard" and cartoonist Thomas Nast, who dubbed her "Mrs. Satan."

By the time of the Beecher trial, Colonel James Blood and Victoria Woodhull had gone their separate ways.  On September 18, 1876, they legally divorced again.  A number of newspapers reported that Victoria had divorced Colonel Blood in Brooklyn, New York, at a special session of the Supreme Court.  A dissolution order was filed on October 6, 1876, according to Victoria's account in Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly on January 29, 1881.

Colonel James Blood further muddied the waters regarding his marital history.  According to Blood's testimony, he and Victoria Woodhull were legally divorced in 1868 in Chicago. and "remarried" The remarriage was most likely not a statutory one, but they continued to live together until they were legally divorced in Brooklyn in 1876.  While they were together, Victoria and Colonel Blood referred to each other as husband and wife. When Victoria remarried, she stated that she was the widow of "Dr. Woodhull" and was divorced from Colonel Blood.  When Colonel Blood remarried, he claimed that he had only been married once and described himself as a widower.

In 1877, Victoria and her sister, Tennie, found themselves bankrupt.  In August of that year, the financially strapped siblings left  the United States and began a new life in England.  There is evidence that the move may have been financed by the heirs of the recently deceased Cornelius Vanderbilt, who didn't want the sisters around during a squabble in court over the family his $100 million estate.

Victoria delivered her first public lecture at St. James Hall in London.  At one of ensuing lectures, a well-to-do banker named John Biddolph Martin was in attendance.  The two began seeing each other.  They wed on October 31, 1883, despite opposition to the marriage from Martin's family.  From that time on, Victoria became known as Victoria Woodhull Martin.  From 1892 to 1901, she published a magazine, The Humanitarian, under that moniker.  


John Biddulph Martin in 1886

During her years in England, Victoria remained active in the British suffrage movement and devoted herself to conserving the English home of George Washington's ancestors.  She also became an automobile aficionado.and provided financial support to the people in the town surrounding her estate.  In 1892, she travelled to the United States in order to run for president again.  She founded an agricultural school and during World War I, she volunteered with the Red Cross.


After John Biddolph Martin's death in 1901, Victoria gave up publishing and retired to the English countryside.  She died in her sleep on June 9, 1927.in Bredon's Norton, Worcestershire, England.  Her death certificate states that died of myocarditis, a disease that causes inflammation and damage to the heart.  She was 88 at the time of her passing.

Victoria Woodhull was daring and outspoken.  Her views on love and marriage were considered quite radical during the nineteenth century.  She grew up with an abusive father and a family of grifters and quacks.  She made her historic run for the presidency 148 years ago.  A century has passed since women won the right to vote in the United States.  Yet, there has never been a female president or vice president.  When that finally happens, it must be acknowledged that Victoria helped pave the way for female presidential and vice presidential candidates such as Geraldine Ferraro, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.  She often said, "They cannot turn back the rising tide of reform.  The world moves."


END NOTES:

* Victoria Woodhull was a proponent of eugenics, the idea of improving the human race by selectively mating with people with specific desirable traits.

* Victoria's sister, Tennessee Celeste 'Tennie" Claflin died in England on January 18, 1923 at the age of 78.  On October 15, 1885,  at St. Mary Abbpt's, Kensington in London, Tennie married Francis Cook, chairman of Cook, Son & Co. drapers.  Cook was also Viscount of Monserrate in Sinitra in the Portuguese Riviera.  Soon after the marriage, Queen Victoria created a Cook Baronetcy.  As the wife of a n English baronet, Tennie held the title of "Lady Cook."  Following her husband's death in 1901, Tennessee Claflin founded a short-lived bank called Lady Cook & Co.

Tennie Claflin

* Victoria never had the opportunity to cast a vote when women in the United States were finally permitted to vote in the election of 1920.  She was residing in England by then.

* Victoria's disabled son, Byron,Woodhull  spent the final years of his life in England.  He was supported financially by his mother.  After her death, his sister Zula took care of him, with the help of others.  Byron died on January 17, 1832 in Hove Brighton, Sussex, England.  Zula Woodhull wrote a play and edited her mother's journal, The Humanitarian.  Zula never married and she died in England in September of 1940.

* Colonel James H. Blood remarried after his divorce from Victoria Woodhull..  On August 18, 1885, he wed Isabella Morrill (formerly Fogg) in Jersey City, New Jersey.  Colonel Blood died on December 29, 1885, his 52nd birthday, after striking gold while on a gold mining expedition in Akantem, Gold Coast.

Woodhill and Claflin's Weekly ceased publication on June 10, 1876.

* Victoria Woodhull had a falling out with other suffragists, including Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who had supported her enthusiastically at the time of her congressional appearance.  They were not pleased about Victoria's political ambitions and they felt she was getting too much attention.  As a result, Victoria was not invited to speak at suffrage conventions after her first run for the presidency.  Susan B. Anthony even advised British suffragists not to meet with her.  In a letter, Anthony wrote that Victoria and her sister, Tennie, were "considered lewd and indecent."


SOURCES ehistory. The Department of History, The Ohio State University, "Victoria Woodhull: Feminist - First Woman to Run for President of the United States," by Maggie MacLean,; History, Art &Archives: United States House of Representatives, 'The First Woman to Address a House Committee"; Victoria Woodhull: Spirit to Run the White House,  Frequently Asked Questions About Victoria Woodhull, Answered by Mary L Shearer; Commonplace Fun Fact website, "It's Pretty Bad When Your Own V.P. Won't Vote for You," March 16, 2016,; History.com website, "9 Things You Should Know About Victoria Woodhull," by Jesse Greenspan, September 23, 2013 (Updated August 22, 2018); Wikipedia


- Joanne

Monday, August 10, 2020

The Toronto Maple Leafs: 53 years and counting . . .



Although I am a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, I was somewhat relieved when they were eliminated  from Stanley Cup competition last night by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Okay, okay, I know what you're thinking, but wait just a minute!  Before I am accused of being disloyal, let me explain my position.

 As every Leaf supporter knows, the Blue and White have a notorious 53-year record of futility.  They have not won the Stanley Cup since 1967.  They are the butt of countless jokes.  If they had won this year, their victory would have been tainted.  An asterisk wold be forever beside the team's name as the winner of  the "COVID Cup."

This year's Stanley Cup playoffs are surreal. We haven't seen anything like this before, and I hope we won't see anything like it again.  The tournament is being played in August in the midst of a wretched pandemic.  There are no fans in the arena and the players have not the usual amount of training needed after a long layoff.  The playoff format is complicated.

Once again, it's "wait 'til next year" for Leaf fans.  The team has some great talent in players such as Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews and John Tavares.  I am not as impressed with William Nylander.  So far, he has not earned his hefty salary.  Perhaps the Leafs should have let him sit out the whole 2018-2019 season rather than make a last minute deal with him.  At any rate, I think the Leafs have  invested too much money in those four players, to the detriment of the rest of the lineup.  If I could remove one of those players from the payroll, it would be Nylander.  If they traded Nylander at some time in the near future, they would free up a lot of cap money to build a more well-rounded team.  In December of 2018, William Nylander signed a 6-year $45 million deal   He received a ten-team modified no-trade clause in the final year of his contract.  So, he can be traded at the right time and in the right circumstances.

Nylander

Sure, there would be a certain risk in trading Nylander.  He may become a star for some other team.  However, something is lacking in the Toronto Maple Leafs as they are currently constituted.  They will not win unless the dynamics are changed.


- Joanne

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Meditations at Home During the Pandemic #7



This is the seventh in a series of reflections while I am at home during the COVID-19 pandemic

Hello to readers from around the world.  Greetings and well wishes from Toronto, Canada.  It is August now and the pandemic rages on, especially in the United States.  This has been the strangest summer of my life.  I will always remember it as the COVID summer.  I haven't been going out much except for shopping, drives and picnics in secluded areas.  I have also attended small, socially distanced gatherings in my sister's backyard.

I try to avoid stores as much as possible, especially the ones that are not properly supervised.  Many people don't bother read signs or simply ignore them.  In a store in my neighbourhood, there is a sign instructing people to wait for someone to exit before entering.  I stood and watched people just enter the store without waiting for someone to leave.  PEOPLE, PLEASE READ SIGNS, FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS AND WEAR A MASK!

Frankly, I do not enjoy wearing a mask.  Marks are uncomfortable and they make breathing difficult after a time.  However, I would rather where a mask then end up on a ventilator with COVID-19.  I also do not want to infect others.  As I've written before, freedom does not mean I have the right to endanger others.

Movie theatres and restaurants are opening up here in the Greater Toronto Area, but i still don't feel comfortable inside.  I have dined in an outdoor patio, spaced 2 metres (6 feet) apart from other patrons.

I wear a mask to protect myself and others.  I will continue to wear one until this horrible pandemic subsides.  Yes, masks are uncomfortable.  Yes, I wish I didn't have to wear one.  However, I'd rather wear a mask than contract COVID-19 or infect someone else.  It's a pain, but it's necessary.  I also know that if there is a second wave of the virus, we may face a strict lockdown again.

What's happening in the United States of America is truly a tragedy.  COVID-19 is clearly out of comtrol in America and its president has no plan as to how to deal with it.  Words can't describe how much I abhor the policies of Donald Trump.  His values are not mine.  I've been counting the days until November 3rd, when I hope the American people overwhelmingly vote him out of office.  

As of today, the COVID-19 death toll n the United States has surpassed 160,000.  That's a staggering number.  Think about it.  Over 160,000 human lives have been lost to this deadly virus in the U.S., which has a population of more than 328.2 million.  So, what did the great American leader say about this tragedy?  When questioned about the death toll, Trump said, "it is what it is."  It is what it is?  People are suffering and dying and all Trump has to say is "It is what it is."  The man lacks empathy and compassion  Have you ever heard him say that he is heartsick about the COVID deaths?  Have you ever heard him offer his condolences to their families?

Here in Canada, there have been about 9,000 COVID deaths, out of a population of over 37.6 million.  The majority of the deaths have been confined to the two most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec.

I urge people to heed the advice of scientists and medical experts.  Above all, don't listen to Donald Trump.  Faeebook and Twitter, to their credit, have restricted Trump's accounts due to "harmful" claims.  He has been posting misleading information about COVID-19.  

I agree with the people who say that once this pandemic has run its course, we can't just go back to normal.  We have to move ahead to better than normal, or as Joe Biden puts it, "Build back better."  We must tackle climate change.  It hasn't just disappeared because of the pandemic.  We also have to work toward a fairer society and lower the gap between the wealthy and lower income earners.  There is so much to do, but we must do it.  New leadership in the United States will definitely help as we move forward.  

Donald Trump is running the United States government as if it's a reality show.  The American electorate should cancel his show due to low ratings.  It's been on the air far too long.

Wherever you are in the world, take care and stay safe.  A vaccine is on its way, by as Dr. Anthony Fauci, we still have a long road ahead.  However, he predicts that there will be 18 vaccines by the end of 2021.  I pray that next year will be a better year for the human race, beginning with Joe Biden's inauguration at high noon on January 20th

This pandemic has not only taken a physical toll on people.  It has taken a terrible toll on our mental outlook; but as the song goes, It's been extremely difficult, but we can't give in to apathy and despair.  "We shall overcome."  We have to.


Note: This will be the final installment of my COVID reflections until late September or early October.


- Joanne

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Why You Should Buy Canadian

Number 16 presents a guest column.  It is an opinion piece by Wanda Cakebread about the importance of buying Canadian products.

- Joanne

WHY YOU SHOULD BUY CANADIAN



IN LIGHT OF ALL THE JOBS AND COMPANIES THAT ARE BEING CLOSED DOWN AND RELOCATED...THIS IS DEFINITELY SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT...

Shopping in Home Depot the other day for some reason and just for the fun of it I was looking at the garden hose attachments. They were all made in China ... The next day I was in Home Hardware and just for the fun of it I checked the hose attachments there. They were made in Canada ! Start looking...In our current economic situation, every little thing we buy or do affects someone else - even their job. 

A quote from a consumer: "My grandson likes Hershey's candy. I noticed, though, that it is marked Made in Mexico now, instead of Smiths Falls , Ontario. I do not buy it any more." My favorite toothpaste, Colgate, is made in Mexico now. I have switched to Crest. You have to read the labels on everything.

This past weekend I was at Wal-Mart. I needed 60W light Bulbs. I was in the light bulb aisle, and right next to the GE brand I normally buy was an off-brand labelled, "Everyday Value". I picked up both types of bulbs and compared the stats - they were the same except for the price. The GE bulbs were more money than the Everyday Value brand but the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that GE was made in MEXICO and the Everyday Value brand was made in - (get ready for this) - Canada at a company in Ontario.  Their Equate Products are also made in Canada, and are very good..

Just to add my own experience on buying Made in Canada , I was looking for canned mushrooms that were made in Canada and could never find any, so I would buy fresh. But recently I found Ravine Mushrooms - made in Canada with a little red maple leaf on the can. A little more money but when I opened the can I looked at mushrooms that look like real mushrooms, not a mushroom that looks like it was cleaned in bleach.

Another product I no longer buy is Del Monte or Dole canned fruit. Del Monte is packaged in Taiwan and Dole is now a product of China . Why should we pay for their fruit when our growers are left with fruit rotting on the Trees. E.D. Smith is still made in Canada Buy theirs, at least you will know what is in it and have some quality control.

By the way, all pickles with the President’s Choice label and the No Name yellow label [Superstore] are made in India .. Think about it. Water from the Ganges is used... Yes, THAT Ganges , the one that the people use as a toilet. 

So throw out the myth that you cannot find products you use every day that are made right here. My challenge to you is to start reading the labels when you shop for everyday things and see what you can find that is made In Canada. The job you save may be your own or your neighbour's'! (Your children and grandchildren, also).

If you accept this challenge, pass it on to others, so we can all start buying Canadian, one light bulb at a time! Stop buying from overseas companies! (We should have awakened two decades ago.) Let's get with the program. Help our fellow Canadians keep their jobs and create more jobs here in Canada! BUY CANADIAN! Read the labels .Support Canadian Jobs . Brighten your day.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Language Corner: Redundant expressions


According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the noun "redundancy" is defined as "a superfluous repetition; an act or instance of needless repetition."  It involves the use of two or more words that mean the same thing.  English language speakers often use redundant expressions.  There are some obvious ones such as "That's the honest truth."  Isn't the truth honest?  Another one is "tuition fee."  Tuition is a fee.  It is only necessary to say "tution.'  Then, there's "bare naked."  Doesn't "bare" already mean "naked."

We pepper our speech and our writing with common redundancies such as "free gifts" and "foreign imports."  So, if you want to clear the clutter from your speech and your prose, avoid the following redundancies.


LIST OF REDUNDANT EXPRESSIONS


actual facts (When is a fact not actual?)

advance preview  (Does a preview ever come after?)

circle around (There is no way to circle except to go around.)

cease and desist (Cease and desist are synonyms.  Both words mean "to stop.")

empty space (Are there any full spaces?)

live studio audience (Is there a dead studio audience?)

frozen tundra (According to Merriam-Webster, tundra is "a black mucky soil with permanently frozen subsoil.  Therefore, tundra, by definition, is frozen.)

join together (Can something be joined apart?)

final outcome (Every outcome is final.)

end result  (Is there a beginning result?)

future plans (Do plans refer to the past?)

general public (Is the public non-general?"

little baby (Are babies huge?)

assemble together (Can you assemble apart?)

unexpected surprise (A surprise is always unexpected.  Otherwise it wouldn't be surprise.)

bald-headed (If you are bald, your head is bald).

added bonus (A bonus is extra.  It is always added.)

false pretense (Can a pretense be true?")

difficult dilemma (Is there an easy dilemma?")

revert back (Revert means to go back.  The "back" isn't necessary.  It's the same as saying "go back back."


My last example is very appropriate during these times.  It's "global pandemic."  A pandemic, by its very nature is global.


- Joanne

Friday, July 10, 2020

Meditations at Home During the Pandemic #6


This is the sixth in a series of reflections while I am at home during the COVID-19 pandemic

Hello to readers from around the world.  Greetings and well wishes from Toronto, Canada.  It is July 10, 2020 and I have been at home for almost four months now..  Restrictions have been eased somewhat in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), but we are still limited in many ways.  Public transit is running and the wearing masks on buses and subways is mandatory, as it should be.  I still don't feel comfortable enough to use public transit and I haven't done so since the COVID-19 crisis began.  Restaurant patios are now open, but I choose to avoid them too.

I am pleased to report that I have finally had my hair cut and styled.  I felt satisfied that my hair salon adhered to all public health procedures and that correct protocol was strictly followed.  The salon was very well sanitized and I was required  to answer a series of questions before my stylist was permitted to proceed with my appointment.  I would have preferred to wait for safer times to get my hair styled.  It's not ideal to have to wear a mask while you're getting your hair done, but it's necessary right now.  The reason I didn't wait any longer is that I felt sweaty and unruly in the summer heat.  I had an opening to get my hair trimmed and I took advantage of it because businesses may be shut down again during a second wave of the virus.

I have not purchased any new clothing since I've been at home.  I am sadly in need of underwear and summer attire.  Some stores are open, but I've been trying to avoid indoor areas as much as possible.  They are hotbeds for the virus.  I have no desire to buy clothes online, as I need them to fit properly.

Once this crisis finally subsides, there will be residual effects, some of which I deeply regret.  It seems that we are back to using plastic, because thanks to the virus, stores are not allowing reusable bags.  This is a a horrible occurrence for our oceans and our marine life.  We should shun the use of plastic.as much as possible.  Our environmental crisis has not gone away because of the pandemic.  In fact, once the virus threat subsides, we must focus even more on fighting the effects of climate change.  That does not mean,, however, that we should just toss our environment concerns away because of the urgency of dealing with COVID-19.

I am also concerned about the detrimental effects of the coronavirus on small business, one of the life bloods of our communities.  Huge companies will survive this crisis and they will prosper post-COVID-19.  Small shops and businesses are fighting for their very survival and many will not last through this time of upheaval.

Let me be clear and candid.  This crisis has been an absolute nightmare for the whole world.  So far, t 2020 has seemed like a bad dream.  The only problem is that we can't awaken from it.  The horror is very real and we have to deal with it.  COVID-19  will remain a serious threat until a reliable and safe vaccine is made available to the masses.  It will not, as Donald Trump has stated, magically disappear one day.  We must remain vigilant.  We cannot afford to be complacent and let down our guard.

This is crisis is not over by a long shot.  The virus has not yet run its course and we all must be prepared for a second wave.  However, I'm just grateful I haven't contracted the virus and neither has any member of my immediate family.  I'm also grateful that I am in Canada, not south of the border, where Trump and his cohorts have completely lost control of the situation.  I feel sorry for Americans who are suffering and dying needlessly due to their president's recklessness and apathy. Back in February, while speaking at a campaign rally in South Carolina, Trump referred to a "new hoax."   He accused Deomocrats of politicizing the outbreak of the coronavirus, comparing it to their efforts to impeach him.   He likened the virus to the common flu.  On May 8th, he claimed that the United States "is the world leader" in responding to the virus.  As of today, the United States has recorded about 136,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Why does anyone still listen to this man?  How does he get away with it?  It is unbelievable that he has walked away from his many crimes, lies and misdemeanours, from locking migrant children up in detention centres, to obstruction of justice, to the Stormy Daniels affair etc. etc etc.  I've got to believe that the American people can no longer abide all the death and degradation in the United States and that they will finally hold their leader, Donald Trump, to account for it.  How much longer can America wallow in the mire before rising up and taking charge of its destiny?  How much longer can Americans stand by and watch the piecemeal destruction of a great nation?

The world and the United States need a fresh start in 2021.  I urge American voters to remove Donald Trump from office on November 3rd and replace him with Joe Biden.  The former vice-president is not perfect, but he is infinitely more decent and more conciliatory than Trump.  He knows how to work with others and he is empathetic.  He will set a much better example than Trump and he will listen to medical experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci for advice on dealing the COVID-19.  Joe will also take climate change seriously.

I believe that there is some kind of social media campaign, inspired by Trump, his supporters and most likely the Russians, to portray Joe Biden as having dementia, or being totally incoherent.  Some people I have spoken to actually believe that nonsense and they contend that there is not much difference between him and Trump.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I remember how Hilllary Clinton was maligned during the 2016 election campaign.  An acquaintance of mine revealed to me that she had been told that Hillary was "evil."  Whatever one may think of Hillary, she is not the devil incarnate.  If she were president right now, the United States would be in far better shape and the number of COVID deaths in American would be substantially less.

The 2020 election is absolutely critical to the survival of American democracy. If Trump somehow remains in office, the consequences will be dire.  America, you have one last chance to save your country from the ravages of Trump and Trumpism.


Take care and stay safe.  My thoughts and prayers are with you all..


- Joanne

Sunday, July 5, 2020

America on the Brink: The Aftermath of a Tragic 4th of July in the USA


"If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child.  If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother.  If there's an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.  It's that fundamental belief, I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper - that makes this country work.  It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family.  'E plubum unum."  Out of many, one.

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spy masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.  Well, I say to them tonight - there's not a liberal or conservative America - there's the United States of America.  There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America.  The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats.  But I've' got new for them to.  We worship an  awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around out libraries in the Red States . . .



- Barack Obama
From his Keynote Address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention



What has happened to the values that Barack Obama brilliantly set out in his memorable speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston?  What has become of America since Obama left office in 2017?  Where is the hope?  Where is the unity?  Where is the national sense of purpose?  Why has America's standing in the world fallen so sharply?  What has happened to America's ideals?  What has happened to its democratic principles?

Donald J. Trump and his enablers, such as Mitch McConnell and William Barr, have happened.  The Trump administration has taken America to a dark and dangerous place, a place where it has never been before.  America is on the precipice.  It faces enormous challenges, and a long road to recovery in 2021, provided Donald Trump is no longer president.


Yesterday, on Independence Day, the nation marked its 244th birthday amid a virus that is growing out of control and severe racial unrest.  America is on the brink and something has got to give.  The situation is comparable to the Civil War of 1861 - 1865 or the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.


I've been carefully following the 2020 American presidential election campaign.  I've been a keen observer, even though, as a  Canadian, I don't have a vote.  As a citizen of the world, however, I certainly have a crucial stake in the outcome.  The world has suffered enough with this horrid pandemic.  Four more years of Donald Trump will be an added nightmare and a real setback for global harmony and for the environment.

One of the most important duties of a national leader is to unite the country.  Trump has done nothing but sew the seeds of division.  If Abraham Lincoln was the Great Emancipator, then Donald Trump is the Great Divider.  He has divided the United States along racial lines, economic lines and partisan lines.  He has divided rural and urban Americans, college-educated and non-college educated Americans, native-born Americans and immigrants.  He has even divided America from other countries with his "America First" policy.  He has shunned traditional European allies such as Germany and France.  He doesn't understand that the United States cannot separate itself from the rest of the world.  We all share this planet.

Trump's crassness and his lack of compassion have been sadly evident since he assumed the office of the presidency of the United States.  These qualities have  been especially evident in his approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.  To date, An estimated 230,000 Americans have lost their lives to the deadly virus, and their purported leader refuses to take take the crisis seriously.  He has declared that one day it will magically go away.  It will suddenly disappear and everything will be wonderful, never mind the people who have suffered and died.  His re-election is more important to him than any individual human life.

Trump's followers think that wearing a mask and social distancing means giving up their freedom.  That is a fallacy and they have a warped notion of liberty.  Freedom has limits.  It is not absolute.  Thy do not have the freedom to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theatre.  They do not have the freedom to spread the COVID-19 virus and endanger the lives of innocent people.  Despite what their  Dear Leader says and does, they do not have the right to put their fellow human beings at risk of sickness or death.

The virus is out of control in the United States.  This should never have happened, and it wouldn't have happened if Trump had taken the situation seriously from the beginning.   Now he's putting lives at risk by holding rallies without social distancing or masks.  He's trying to drown out the voices of respected physicians such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, an immunologist and an expert on infectious diseases.  How can Donald Trump even presume to think he is as knowledgeable as Dr. Fauci in dealing with the virus.  Tell me, where and when did Trump receive his medical degree?

Donald Trump refuses to treat the pandemic as a health crisis.  As always, he views the world with dollar signs in his eyes.  He looks at it with his own self-interest in mind.  He only sees it as an economic crisis that he can readily fix as long as the stock market is bullish.  He will not face the fact that this pandemic is far from over.  The virus is spreading rapidly across the United States.  Yew, the crisis will end someday, but it's not over yet, not by a long shot.  Donald Trump is deluding himself and misleading his followers when he says otherwise.  The rest of the world knows how poorly the United States has handled COVID-19.  That's why European countries will not open their borders to Americans.  That's why we Canadians are also fearful of opening our border to our southern neighbours.

That is also why the November 3rd is so important.  I do not exaggerate when I say it is the most significant presidential election in American history.  It must be fair and free.  Mail-in voting must be accepted and allowed.  For the sake of the world and for the sake of American democracy, Donald Trump must go down to electoral defeat or he must resign.  I shudder to think what will happen if he holds on to power.

Joe Biden is leading by a comfortable margin in the polls, but November is still months away.  Something could change drastically or Trump could play some dirty tricks, with the help of his good friend, President Vlladimir Putin of Russia, to whom he is greatly beholden.  He will not criticize Putin even though the New York Times received intelligence (largely corroborated)  that Russia paid  bounties to Islamic militants in Afghanitan in return for killing American soldiers.  This is a disgrace and it is nothing short of treason.

Americans cannot afford to be complacent.  Americans must remain vigilant.and keep a watchful eye on Trump and dictator Putin.  In the coming months, I will will watch history unfold with great anticipation  I am writing this because I am extremely concerned about the state of the world.   I don't have a vote in the U.S, election, so this is my outlet.  It is the best way I can express myself and my strong concerns.  Frankly, I am terrified for the future of humanity if Donald Trump wins reelection or if he refuses to let go of the reins of power.


- Joanne

Thursday, June 25, 2020

"Media" is a plural noun



Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) was a Canadian academic and philosopher.  A professor of English at the University of Toronto, McLuhan  became internationally renowned for his studies on the effects of the mass media on human thought and behaviour.  He didn't live long enough to investigate the effects of the internet, but it would be illuminating to have his research on that subject.  Wouldn't it be fascinating to know McLuhan's views on the internet's impact on society?

McLuhan

McLuhan coined two memorable phrases during his lifetime; they are "global village" and "the medium is the message."  He didn't say "the media is the message."  That's because "medium" is singular and "media" is plural.  However, people seem to prefer using "media" as a singular noun.  I think that the term "the media is" comes easier to the tongue than "the media are," probably because "media" doesn't end in an "s".  It doesn't sound plural. 

I frequently hear "the media is" and I  often read "the media is."  Here's the problem.  If "media" is used as a singular noun, than what about "medium."  Can there be two singular forms for the same word?  That is the issue with words derived from Latin. 

Singular Latin words end in "um," and are pluralized with an "a." These include words such as "datum" and" stadium."  The singular of "data" is "datum."  However, people rarely say "datum."  The plural of  "stadium" is actually "stadia," but people prefer to say "stadiums."  It's obvious that we want our plural nouns to end in "s."  Although we can tack an "s" on to "stadium," the same can't be done to "medium."  "The mediums are" just doesn't sound right.  Yet, use of the phrase "the media are." is becoming increasing less popular with English speakers.


- Joanne

Monday, June 22, 2020

The rally and its consequences


Have you noticed that Donald Trump has become so unhinged these days that he has begun to sound like Richard Nixon?  He has started using Nixonian expressions such as "law and order president" and "silent majority."  We all know what happened to Tricky Dick.  Mr. Law and Order covered up some Watergate-related crimes and he was forced to resign.  However, as bad as Nixon was, I still consider him a far better president than Trump.

Donald Trump must be in a foul mood right now.  He held a party and it was not well-attended; but why should it have been?  How many people are so stark-raving mad, so addle-brained, that they would risk their lives to cheer on a president who doesn't really care about their well-being?  Case in point: As a condition of registering for Saturday's campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Trump  supporters had to agree not to take legal action if they were to come down with the COVID virus.  The red flags were there, but some people just didn't want to see them.

Why would anyone support a man who has displayed little respect for human life, a man who has placed himself and his desires above everything else?  Who would die for he sake of Donald Trump's re-election other then some extreme right-wing zealots.  There will be deaths, however.  Even though attendance at Trump's hate-filled rally was much lower than organizers had expected, many people will die or fall ill.  There is no other way to say it: Donald J. Trump and his Republican cohorts have blood on their hands.

I'm not being overly dramatic or hyperbolic. That is the indisputable truth.  That is the reality for those who were foolish enough to attend a rally in a 19,000 seat arena in the midst of a pandemic. Fortunately, Tulsa's fire marshal told NBC News that only 6,200 people filled the general admissions sections of the BOK Center.  Still, 6,200 people can really spread a virus.  That's why the rally should never have been allowed to take place.  Health and safety are more important than pleasing the president.

Are die-hard Trump supporters as brainwashed as the followers of Jim Jones, who committed mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana in 1978?  Are they willing to jeopardize their lives for Donald Trump because they equate him with "America."  It's insanity.  It's also extremely tragic.  The people who attended that event will selfishly spread the virus to other human beings, many of whom have no connection to Trump or the rally. By the way, six Trump rally staffers have already tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

In Tulsa, Donald Trump declared that he had instructed his administration to slow down testing because too many cases had been uncovered.  A White House advisor later said that Trump was kidding around.  I think that he was being series, but even if he were just joking, a president should not make light of  COVID-19.  His words were completely irresponsible, especially because some people take them to heart.  They listen to him.

If I lived in Tulsa or surrounding area,, I'd high-tail it out of Dodge as quickly as possible.  Tulsa can really be compared to Dodge City because, ever since a  "constitutional carry" gun law took effect in 2019, some Oklahomans have been allowed to carry a firearm in public without a licence.  In fact, most Oklahomans 21 and older can now carry concealed or unconcealed firearms without having undergone background checks or training requirements, except for undocumented immigrants or those convicted of a crime.  To me, that is craziness of the highest degree.  It's comparable to being permitted to drive a car without driver education or a driver's licence.  It can only lead to unnecessary deaths an bloodshed.

I believe that that most Americans are decent enough to be disgusted and repulsed by the behaviour of their president.  The majority want their country to return to sanity and are appalled by what three years and five months of Donald Trump has done to America and its standing in the world.  There is only one chance left to rectify this situation before it's too late.  There is only one opportunity to save the United States from four more years of Trump and further descent into darkness.  That last chance will be on November 3, 2020, provided this president allows a free and fair election, and provided he accepts the results.  That's why it's incumbent upon Americans to make sure they vote.


- Joanne