Tuesday, March 17, 2009

May Book Release

Just heard from the boss-woman, first week of May for I AND I - Bob Marley. 

Give me a shout if you want to pre-order a copy.



Friday, March 06, 2009

Race and Old People. And Ultimately ... Freedom.

Give me a break! I mean, fine... lie to your kids and tell them there IS a Santa, or that everything is going to be just fine, or that you never smoked pot. But come on! I hear so many people, particularly conservos in the midst of their dogmatic rants, talk about how racism is no longer a problem any more in America and how it is just a sensationalist tactic of liberal radicals. 

For those of you who might agree, I suggest that you go look up any news article online that has even the slightest thing to do with race. Then follow this very simple recipe for discovery: Simply scroll down! Comments. The secret revealed. I have found myself reading post after post of America's true feelings and it disgusts me to my core. Now, I will admit that most people who take the time to comment on some random news article online may have more in common with the elderly Bobby Fischer than with a level headed passerby. But still, it is unsettling to say the least when you can actually FEEL the venom spewing out over their keyboards. 

Try this one for yourself: A bus driver in Kalamazoo was beaten by a teen and it was captured by the camera. Well, it was obviously offensive for me to watch it and I wondered how our society is going to survive the next generation with little bastards like this who think they are so far above any rules that they can beat the hell out of a middle aged bus driver woman in front of God and everyone. But amazingly, my horror only got worse when I scrolled down. Though, I already knew what I would find "down there" and it came as no surprise. The comments ranged from the inevitable murderous calls for the teen's life to be taken, to the seemingly innocent pronouncement that (and I swear that this is a direct quote) "it doesn't matter if the kid WAS white. He obviously talked like he was black and that is enough for us to know he was no good."   

Ok. People get impassioned when they see injustice. No doubt. So do I. But this rapidly spreading trend of ANONYMITY as a way of declaring our true feelings is bringing racial issues to a focal point. If these comments are out here in SUCH VAST NUMBERS then they reflect a decent chunk of our general society. You will not only find comments like these in Detroit or New York, but also in Phoenix, Bakersfield, Kalamazoo, and in lots of tiny little towns across the nation. 

So....who do I blame for the racist tensions? I blame old people. Yep. Sounds small minded, huh? Hear me out, though. I have always honored my elders and will do so until I die, but there is a point where we need to let their traditions die with them. Specifically traditions that are burdens and weights on a people. I blame old people because I work with kids and kids DO NOT MAKE THIS STUFF UP! They are taught it. They are taught that blacks are probably criminals and that mexicans are probably illegals and that arabs are probably terrorists. They are taught that America is going to burst into flames because gay marriage will bring down God's wrath on us all. They are taught unless we take our country back, America is going to be overrun with mulatto criminals, pillaging the very soul of our decent, god fearing country. 

I admit that I am taking a sensationalist route here, but I want to make a point. Of course, it is not really old people who are to blame. We know ourselves through our elders and they are the bow that sends us flying out into the world.  And, the truth of the matter is more about human nature. And, if all the old people disappeared the youth would create their own prejudices. No question about it. It is going to happen. A Korean student breaks up with your sister so nowyou  hate Koreans. A Swedish exchange student tries to stick gum in your hair so now you loathe northern Europe. Fine by me. Those are problems that are easy to fix. They mostly fix themselves when you meet another Korean who is nice to you (and your sister) and you discover firsthand that "I guess it's not all Koreans who are like that one jerk." Those are prejudices that the world can deal with. What we have not been able to rid ourselves of is that of the PASSED DOWN PREJUDICE. Because what happens when you hear your grandpa tell you something? It becomes precious. Especially when he dies. Then you cling to things he has said as special because he was special to you. And if what he said to you was, "Niggers have no place in this town," then we have a big problem. And, of course, I know many friends and family who have told me that their grandpas and grandmas and uncles and fathers did, in fact, say that very thing. 

 From "old time religion" to "the good old days" - we need to wake up and cast off the logic of a generation whose time has (respectfully) passed. We need to wake up into the new era of NOW. If you hold onto beliefs merely because your parents did then you are only carrying it for them and not forming your own. And that does nothing for you! If it is a religious belief that you are carrying from your parents, what good is it to you unless it is YOUR religious truth? Therefore you must decide for yourself what you will believe, and allow that to evolve as YOU gather information into your own head and experiences into your life. You will be the only one responsible for your own actions and your own life, so why allow the past generation to cripple what you are capable of? Please! Please go out and live your own life. Come to your own conclusions. Draw upon the wisdom of the aged for sure. They are an invaluable source of wisdom and insight, but draw the line there. Then you go out into this world on your own and discover what it is that you believe.  What you find may shock and surprise and fulfill you beyond your wildest imaginations. 

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Tomie dePaola is the MAN!

Ok, not to get too sentimental or sappy, but who doesn't love Tomie dePaola? I have loved his books since I was a gleam in me daddy's eye. And I have been a warm recipient of his charming smile since I was a pup, running around while my dad got portfolio reviews from him so long ago. And now, I am grateful to be his friend and enjoy quality time (often at...yes, the bar) with this great Children's Book hero. 

Well, this is it. The topping on the sundae:  On Tomie's blog he recently came out with his very own ABC's. Click here to check it out! I am going to steal just the Y and share it here because I simply cannot resist. 

"Y:  Y is for young illustrators. Tomie likes the work of young writers and illustrators Jarrett Krosoczka, David Ezra Stein, Jesse Joshua Watson, and many others."

Thank you Tomie! You are, of course, on all of our TOP TEN lists as well and I am grateful to be in your top 26.