Ten Places In The United States That I Have Been To And Will Return

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Ten Places In The United States That I Have Been To And Will Return

“America ….. is the land of the richness of life, of the fullness of every hour in the day, the country which gives you the sense of carrying out a huge amount of activity, even though in fact you achieve very little, the country where solitude is impossible.” Italo Calvino

America is big and there is so much to see in the land of the free and home of the brave. The geography, climate, wildlife and people are extremely diverse. We have a brief history compared to Europe and the UK but it is interesting. Here are ten places in no particular order that I love to visit.

Washington DC is the capital of the country and our political center. That might not sound like the place to be be right now but it’s beautiful in the spring with the cherry blossoms in bloom, and in the fall with the leaves changing color. DC is a walkable city if you stay downtown.You have to do the basics. First there are the monuments – Lincoln, Washington, Martin Luther King, Jefferson and WWll. You can see them at night as well. Get your Capitol and White House Tour tickets before you come. It’s fun to just walk down the National Mall and see all the museums and monuments. The Smithsonian Institution has 19 museums all over the city. I also like Newseum, the Holocaust Museum, National Portrait Gallery and my favorite the National Gallery Of Art. Union Market has an amazing food scene and the food in DC is eclectic and delicious. If you have kids, the FBI and the Mint are fun to see.

People from Los Angeles love San Francisco. Their rich people are techies not Hollywood types. It is geographically tiny and you can walk everywhere.  Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge is cool.  Riding the cable car is an excellent way to see the city.  Taking the ferry to Alcatraz Island is interesting.  You can walk along Fisherman’s Wharf which is really touristy. I dont recommend eating there.  Swan Oyster Depot is better for seafood. San Francisco is a foodie city so there are many  great restaurants. Go to the largest Chinatown in the US for dim sum and Japantown for sushi. The Ferry Building which has been converted to a market and food court is a great place for lunch. I love the newly renovated San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art. There are many interesting neighborhoods with walking tours. Bring a jacket- even in summer.

Amelia Island is a quiet barrier island, located in the Northernmost portion of Florida, not too far from the Georgia border. The island is one of the Sea Islands, a chain of coastal barrier islands stretching from Northeast Florida to South Carolina. It is great place to relax with southern hospitality. Amelia Island offers 13 miles of quiet, secluded beaches. The setting is quaint and beautiful, with many historical inns, beautiful seaside homes, hiking trails and a few resorts.The weather is mild year-round with an average winter temperature in the 60’s. You will find that the area is not overdeveloped, but rather reminiscent of the old days in Florida.

Chicago, Illinois has the the hospitality of a midwestern city with the  famous architecture and multiculturalism of New York. The food in Chicago is first class and the Art Institute is one of my favorite museums. The elevated Bloomingdale Trail and the Lake Michigan bike paths are fun when the weather is nice. I also liked the Architecture Cruise given by the Architectural Foundation which is a fun way to see the famous buildings. Chicago is home to the comedy club Second City (think SNL) and Steppenwolf Theatre Company (think Broadway). The best time to visit is spring and fall. 

The Big Island is also called Hawaii. I love the Kona side with its volcanic landscape and black sand beaches. The Hilo side has a lush tropical landscape and is definitely a day trip. Yes Hawaii is expensive because it is an island and everything has to be shipped in. If you have never seen an active volcano, go to Hawaii Volcano National Park. Stay after dark to see the glow from the Caldera. I usually never leave the black sand beach.

 As an ex New Yorker, when I visit New York City, I want to see and do it all. It’s a frantic schedule even for a New Yorker. It’s impossible to see it in one visit and you have to resign yourself to see and do what you can. The lines for the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Empire State Building are long so get there early. If you are interested in the World Trade Memorial, get your tickets before you go.Times Square is always crowded with tourists. Get tickets for you shows in advance or go to TKTS booth in Times Square for discount tickets to day of shows. See a concert or ballet at Lincoln Center. There are walking tours in every neighborhood so pick neighborhoods that interest you. I grew up in Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn and recommend both as a way to relax in the city. The HIghline is an urban walking park which runs from 34th Street to the Meatpacking District, built on old elevated train tracks, is lovely on a nice day. NY is filled with excellent museums so budget some time for those. The Met is one of the biggest museums in the world and  has something for everyone so I recommend that. I love the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim. Food is a whole blog. NYC is filled with amazing restaurants and many different immigrant cultures who bring along great food. When I return, I must have pizza and egg rolls from any family run place, cannoli from Venero’s, bagels from Ess A Bagel and a hot dog from Grey’s Papaya . NYC was my last plane trip in the old world so I am particularly nostalgic. 

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Plan to be amazed by the intense color of the red rocks and the night skies filled with stars. There is a magical , spiritual quality to Sedona, Arizona . Sedona has a moderate climate and though it is hotter in summer and snowy in winter, you can really visit anytime. The natural beauty and energy vortexes make hiking, dining, spa and  personal growth experiences even better.

Boston, Massachusetts is one of the most historic cities in the United States. I have been there many times and love the food, museums and the fact that is a slower paced city than New York.The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile walk through historic Boston. It takes you through all the major sites and monuments relating to the city’s founding and the Revolutionary War. The trail passes through Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall so plan to stop for lunch.There are beautiful neighborhoods with their own vibe and history to walk through. I love the North End which is the heart of Boston’s Italian community. It involves waiting on a line for cannoli at MIke’s Pastry. You might also want to see a Red Sox game or visit Harvard. Museums in Boston are free to students which is another thing I love about the city.

A new England summer vacation had never occurred to me until my daughter went to camp in Maine. Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts is not actually a place to lie out on the beach for eight hours with a drink in hand.The weather can be iffy. There are great restaurants especially if you are a fan of lobster and sea food. The Vineyard is divided into six towns each with their personal vibe, so explore them all, by foot, bike or if it’s raining –  car. If you bring a car, make sure to have a car reservation for the ferry in advance or purchased from a resident. 

I love skiing in Park City, Utah. Growing up as an East Coast skier, the incredible Utah powder is so wonderful. Whatever your level of skiing, you will find runs in Park City. I love Deer Valley. The resort is consistently ranked at the top when it comes to grooming, service, access, on-mountain food, lodging, dining, and kid friendliness. Park City was founded in 1884 after the silver boom of the 1860s, and its mining heritage plays a strong role in defining the Western flavor of the charming little downtown scene. There is an abundance of restaurants and bars to choose from. It is also the host of the world famous Sundance Film Festival which takes place in January every year. 

Sty safe,

JAZ

Ten Places That I Want To Visit In The US

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Ten Places That I Want To Visit In The US

“The major advantage of domestic travel is that, with a few exceptions, most domestic locations are conveniently situated right here in the United States.” Dave Barry

I have not traveled much around the US. Other countries and cultures have always been much more interesting to me. Since we can’t go anywhere else right now, I made a list of the places I want to see in my own country. 

Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Grand Canyon is one of those places that everyone should see at some point during their lifetime.I have always been fascinated by geology and  it is a bucket list place for me. I’ve wanted to go on my birthday but it is supposedly freezing. There are so many ways to see the canyon that I get overwhelmed thinking about it but I will get there one day for sure. 

Marfa, Texas

I have been wanting to go to Marfa. The best way is to fly to El Paso and then make the three hour drive through nothing to Marfa. It is a hippie art town in the middle of Nowhere,Texas. It is all about the location, the art and the food. It sounds like it is totally my thing.

Kauai, Hawaii

 I have been to Hawaii many times but we always went to Maui or the Big Island. I have never been to Kauai and it is supposed to be the most beautiful island. There is something about lush, overgrown landscapes that I love. The old South Pacific movie was filmed  there.  It looks less developed than the islands I visit. The next time I go to Hawaii, that is where I will be. 

Big Sur, Carmel  and Monterey, California

It is crazy that I live in California and have never been to Big Sur and Monterey. Ii is a windy road trip and I get car sick so there is a reason- but still I could take dramamine.  The photos of  Big Sur are spectacular and how have I not walked down Cannery Row in Monterey? I’m a huge Steinbeck fan. (Big Sur)

Civil Rghts Tour – Atlanta, Selma, Montgomery, Birmingham (Georgia and Alabama)

I don’t think I can ever really understand American History without seeing the struggle of African Americans in the deep South. I want to see first hand the places, the memorials and the museums. When I was very young, my mother volunteered for Dr King. We grew up making posters for her marches for Civil Rights. When I was eight, I won a prize for a poster I made for her, that said “Arrest Discrimination-It’s Wanted For Murder.”  It is sad that after all this time, it is still true.  We can’t fix yesterday but the more of us that acknowledge and see the history, the more chance we have for reconciliation.  We are not the promise land but we have to do better.

Austin and Dallas, Texas

Austin looks like a city with a lot to do when it comes to art and culture and of course South by Southwest film festival. Live music is a lifestyle in Austin and it has become a foodie city as well. It seems to be a place people love and that is good enough for me. I am a history buff and I want to see the Texas Book Depository in Dallas where Kennedy was shot.The sixth floor has been turned into a museum which tells the story. I also want to see the  new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, Cowgirl Museum, the Arts district and try some Texas barbecue. (Austin)

Zion, Brice and Yellowstone Parks (Utah and Wyoming)

Zion is the most visited National Park in Utah and one of the most popular parks in the country.  Pine trees dot the landscape in clusters and towering red rock cliffs rise on either side of the canyon. Carving through the center is the clear Virgin River. It’s supposed to be breathtaking and crowded. The landscape at Bryce Canyon National Park is filled with pillar-like red rock formations  which makes it one of the most unique landscapes in the world. I’m a huge fan of red rock landscapes all over the world and can’t wait to see it. Yellowstone is the oldest National Park in the world. It is weird that I have  been to geothermic parks in Iceland and New Zealand and have not seen Old Faithful and the geyser basin. I’m a little embarrassed that I have not been there yet. (Brice)

Niagara Falls, New York

Growing up in New York, Niagara Falls was a road trip. But we were not a road trip family. As a young adult it was not on my radar of cool places to go.  I have been to Iguazu and many beautiful waterfalls in Iceland and feel that I have to go to Niagara as well. The Niagara River lies on the border of Canada and The US. I want to see this epic power of nature on both the the American and Canadian side and I am prepared to get wet. 

Nashville  and Memphis Tennesee

Memphis is the home of Elvis Presley and where Martin Luther King was shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. There is a Civil Rights Museum that tells the story.  I like music so why wouldn’t I want to see a place nicknamed “Home of the Blues” or “Birthplace of Rock and Roll”. Nashville is also named the Music City and it’s the home of the Grand Old Opry. This trip is going to involve a lot of street art, fried chicken, biscuits and barbecue. (Nashville)

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

I have seen tons of movies, photos and parodies of Mt. Rushmore. I’ve seen special monuments in other countries but not ours. I’m expecting to be awestruck. It is a feat of art and engineering and right now I feel a need to see our Founding Fathers.

Stay safe,
JAZ

America

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America

“We can’t all be Washingtons, but we can all be patriots.” Charles F. Browne

Did you ever have to write that essay about what America means to me in school when you were growing up? Here is what I would have written.

I was brought up to believe that I was so lucky to live in a country of great opportunity, where we all can thrive with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I was taught that I lived in the greatest country in the world, filled with a powerful police force and military who risked their lives to protect us.

America was the country of freedom of speech, freedom to educate your children and freedom to be whatever you wanted to be – to make something of yourself. It was the freedom to go to a doctor or dentist to stay healthy, the freedom to practice any religion, to love who we wanted to, to pursue any career that we chose and to make our own decisions.

This is why I have always cherished and respected the land I live in. I know that life in other countries is many times worse than it is here.

America should not be about division or hate, as it has seemed in recent times. America is not perfect, and we have many improvements to make, but we can better ourselves together.

I was always proud to be an American and have voted in every presidential election since I was able to. To me America is a land of freedom, democracy, equal rights and the rule of law. America is a land where the majority rules, but the rights of the minority are honored and protected. America is the leader of the “free world” and an advocate for democracy, human rights and responsible environmental footprints at home and abroad. America stands at the forefront of the fight against tyranny and oppression wherever they may occur. These are the principles and ideals that make America great, and that makes me proud to be an American.

This election season, I encourage every American to think about what America means to them, and then vote to support and uphold those principles and ideals.

Stay safe,

JAZ

Best Take Out Meals I’ve Eaten So Far

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Best Take Out Meals I’ve Eaten So Far 

“It’s easier to be faithful to a restaurant than it is to a woman.” Federico Fellini

Cooking and takeout during the pandemic became both sustenance and escapism and still involves a lot of conversation. Being at risk, I’m not comfortable in restaurants  with masked and gloved waiters, unmasked patrons and tables closer than six feet apart.  It’s hard to order a lot of my favorite foods as takeout- because things become soggy, mushy or dry out quickly.  Restaurants are struggling to survive so I am trying to support them. Here are some of my favorite takeout foods in no particular order that travel well.

Spicy Tuna#2   Yumi Sushi

The first time I ate here, I asked for recommendations from Midori, my now favorite waitress. She said to try the Spicy Tuna Roll number two. One day the chef was eating wasabi chips and wondered about incorporating them into a sushi roll and the result is a salty, delicious, addicting roll. Everyone I introduce it to becomes addicted as well. All the food is good,  Whenever I am in Beverly HIlis, I want spicy tuna #2. It makes it home easily to Venice. I usually have a few.  https://www.yumisushibh.com

 Margarita Pizza   Pizzana

The margarita pizza at Pizzana got rave reviews from the late Jonathan Gold. I couldn’t eat gluten for a while and I have to say that their gluten free, vegan cheese pizza was satisfying. But now I feel better so I cheat once in a while and have the regular margarita pizza. You can order  it half cooked and heat it up at home . Getting a reservation in Brentwood was rough in the beginning, Now they have two locations and plenty of takeout, so it is much easier to enjoy their food. https://pizzana.com 

Achiote Chicken Taco   Valle

I’m obsessed with the Achiote chicken taco with salted cabbage at Valle. Valle took over the former MTN space on Abbot Kinney in Venice.  It is Oaxacan Mexican food. They make tortillas from scratch. I order extra and have them for breakfast. I do this on Uber Eats and the food comes fast and it is not soggy. Their guacamole is delicious and fresh and their chips are also homemade and perfectly salted. The other dishes are good as well. But right now for me, it all about the chicken taco. https://vallevenice.com

 Chinese Chicken Salad Chin Chin 

Chin Chin Chinese Chicken has been in my life since I moved to LA. My children grew up eating it and I brought it to every school event. This combination of shredded iceberg lettuce, chicken breast, scallions, carrots, toasted almonds, and brown and white crunchies mixed in a red ginger dressing always hits the spot. It travels well and you can even leave it unmixed in the refrigerator for a day if you have to. It’s a perfect takeout food. https://chinchin.com

 Gluten Free Zucchini Bread With PB and J And Kreation Juice  Kreation

I’ve had a hard time with gluten free bread. It is usually expensive and bad tasting or so sweet  and white that it feels unhealthy. As a treat I love to have the gluten free zucchini bread at Kreation with Peanut Butter and Jelly. PB and J is my favorite food. It is an American classic. It is said that the average American will have eaten at least 2000 PB and J sandwiches by the time they graduate from high school.  I mix their yellow Serenity and  green Margan juice together to go with It. It always feels like a special morning when I get to start my day off with this.  https://www.kreationjuice.com 

 Cold Soba Noodles   Yabu  

Yabu serves really delicious Soba noodles. I recently discovered  this in my quest for good takeout so I have not eaten in the restaurant yet. I also love the light fried tofu. Soba is a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour  and is particularly difficult to make by hand. There is a Japanese tradition to eat  soba noodles on New Year’s Eve to wish for health and long life and I am going to incorporate that into my life now that I have found a good place to eat it.  Till then we will enjoy the takeout. http://www.yaburestaurant.com 

Sushi Bento Box Shunji

Michelin star, Omakase restaurant Shunji  started making sushi bento boxes when they were allowed to open for takeout. We found that the 48 dollar sushi box is more than satisfying though sometimes we add some uni for a treat. If you eat it as soon as it gets home, it holds up pretty well. The sushi still feels super fresh. We are regulars now. http://shunji-ns.com

Pastrami Sandwich  Daughter’s Deli

I am also addicted to the Pastrami Sandwich at Daugher’s Deli. Daughter is the daughter of Langer’s Deli, a restaurant in DTLA that has been there forever. It serves the most famous pastrami in Los Angeles. The sandwiches are lean, delicious and a normal size so you don’t feel like it is a super splurge to eat it. I don’t live near there so i have not had it as much as usual during the pandemic but when I am in West Hollywood  – I am there. The sandwich holds up for takeout and the bread doesn’t get greasy.  I  get the Noi – just pastrami and mustard on gluten free rye bread and I am happy. (I was hungry)  https://www.daughtersdeli.com

Pretzels and Brownies Spero Bakery

Food photography has taken on a whole new dimension on Instagram. The Pandemic has forced people to find creative, safe solutions for take out food.  More chefs and bakers are selling food on Instagram by posting on the app and taking orders. Spero has expanded to other desserts but right now for me its the brownies and pretzels. Its so easy and they deliver on Wednesdays and Saturdays all over LA. @sperobakery

Stay safe,
JAZ

Drive Through Art In The Time Of Corona

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 Drive Through Art  In The Time Of Corona

“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.” Elizabeth Edwards

Drive through attractions are an innovative solution to the social distancing challenges presented by  Covid 19. Drive In movie theaters are making a comeback.

The Van Gogh Exhibit in Toronto, Gogh By Car, is an immersive drive through experience of art, light, sound, movement and imagination. It sounds like fun.

We had our first drive through art experience this past weekend. The Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, Hyundai, and the Hollywood Palladium got together and developed a plan for something special. Driven: A Latinx Artist Celebration was free with online tickets.  

Now that the pandemic has closed public restrooms (not that I even want to use them),  going anywhere involves liquid intake planning. It did not help that it was 110 degrees in Hollywood and I could have used some water.

Our tickets were for 12:00 pm on the first day of the exhibit. I believe it was the first time slot. Lesson one about a drive though art exhibition would be don’t go on the first day so they can iron out the kinks.

It took us fifty minutes to get there after a large morning coffee. We then had to wait forty five minutes. Even though they said you cannot leave the car, I got out to try and walk my dog. At least one of us could pee.

When we finally got in there, it was really cool.

I’m a fan of Hispanic Art so the paintings were interesting to me.

The artwork was by Judth Hernandez, Denise Lopez, Steffano Alvarez, Carlos Almaraz, Diana Gomez, Patssi Valdez, Chiachio and Giannone, Norbert Rodriguez and Delmer Mejia.

There is a playlist that you can access on your radio while driving through the exhibit.

It was such an inspiration to see the way that the artists and curators have demonstrated resilience and creativity by pivoting to a drive-through experience during this challenging time.

. Drive ins are the perfectly distanced social events. I hope there will be more of these.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Neither Snow Nor Rain…..The US Postal Service

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Neither Snow Nor Rain……The US Postal Service

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds’. Herodotus

I grew up with this quote. It summons up visions of brave postal workers trudging through inclement weather conditions.  For more than a century,  it’s been synonymous with the tireless work the postal service does to make sure you get your junk mail, magazines, and birthday cards on time. 

This quote was inscribed in the NY Postal Building in Manhattan  in 1912. Architect William Mitchell Kendall was a classics scholar in both architecture and words. It comes from Herodotus, Book Eight of the Persian Wars. Herodotus was impressed with the fast travel of the Persian couriers.

When the Constitution established the postmaster-general position, the Founding Fathers were worried about how to get the new nation’s increasing volume of mail delivered. A system had been developed in the colonies, in which merchants, slaves and Native Americans would pass letters and parcels from person to person until they reached their destinations. That soon gave way to  mail carriers who traveled via horse and stagecoach and later locomotives and airplanes.

In January 1913, one Ohio couple took advantage of US Postal Service’s new parcel service to make a very special delivery: their infant son. The Beagues paid 15 cents for his stamps and an unknown amount to insure him for $50, then handed him over to the mailman, who dropped the boy off at his grandmother’s house about a mile away. People who mailed their children weren’t handing them over to a stranger. In rural areas, many families knew their mailman quite well.

It has always been  a system of trust. Today, though email and Amazon have replaced a lot of their job, it  is still our most trusted organization.

The 2020 election will definitely not look like any other election in American history.  A record number of states will allow for expanded early voting options including vote by mail.  Although mail balloting, sometimes known as absentee voting, has been around since  the Civil War, it has come under new scrutiny this year as Trump has claimed that this type of voting is open to fraud.  This is not true.

 What we should be worried about, is whether Trump’s Post Office can handle the influx of ballots with all the recent budget cuts. There are tight deadlines on when ballots must be received. Most require the ballot to be postmarked on or before Election Day and they must be received by the Board of Elections within 7 days of the election.  The mail is already backlogged. Imagine what it will look like with a hundred million mail in ballots.

Make sure you vote as early as possible. If you can, go to the post office instead of putting it in a blue box (which is as sanitary as anything else you touch), drive to the mail-in location, or drop it off the day of at your polling place. Don’t wait until the last minute. This year we need to work with the Postal Service,  like the  Founding Fathers did in the colonies to make sure letters got to their recipients. “We are Americans. We get the job done.” (I have to stop rewatching Hamilton).

Stay safe,

JAZ

Ten Hamilton Quotes

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Ten Hamilton Quotes

“ What (you might be asking) can a Broadway musical possibly add to the legacy of a Founding Father–a giant of our national life, a war hero, a scholar, a statesman? What’s one little play, or even one very big play, next to all that? 

But there is more than one way to change the world. To secure their freedom, the polyglot American colonists had to come together, and stick together, in the face of enormous adversity. To live in a new way, they first had to think and feel in a new way. It took guns and ships to win the American Revolution, but it also required pamphlets and speeches–and at least one play.” Jeremy McCarter, Hamilton -The Revolution

Watching Hamilton from my bedroom during a pandemic was very different than seeing it on Broadway.  Broadway will remain closed for the rest of the year. I can’t imagine what my mother who went to the theatre six nights a week after her kids grew up, would have done during this. She loved to be in the “room where it happened” and passed that love on to her family.  She certainly would have been enjoying all the “live theatre” on TV and would have loved this production.

 Hamilton was as innovative as it was traditional. It wasn’t a reinvention but a reminder of the character of the American people. It is a work that celebrates patriotism and diversity. Right now pride in America and optimism is at an all time low. When the world has turned upside down, you have to figure out what comes next. “Who will tell our story?”

Here are ten life quotes from Hamilton by Lin Manuel Miranda. 

“Talk less. Smile more.”

“I’m not throwing away my shot.”

“How on earth did you do that with the same 24 hours a day that everyone else gets?” 

“Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see” 

“I’ll make the world safe and sound for you. You will come of age with our young nation. We’ll bleed and fight for you, we’ll make it right for you. If we lay a strong enough foundation, we’ll pass it on to you. We’ll give the world to you.” 

“We’re immigrants. We get the job done”

“Change requires hope.” 

“We push away what we can never understand. We push away the unimaginable.”

“I stop wasting time on tears. I live another fifty years. It’s not enough!”

“You have no control. Who lives, who dies, who tells your story.” 

Stay safe,

JAZ

Don’t Defund The Police – Fix Them – And This Time Make It Stick

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Don’t Defund The Police – Fix Them – And This Time Make It Stick

“In my own lifetime, I want to see the fighting cease. In my own lifetime, I want to see my sons enjoy the fruits of peace. While I’m still here, I want to know beyond a doubt that no one can lock us in or lock us out. We have climbed higher. much higher than I thought we’d climb. It’s a long journey, and even though the end’s in sight, there’s not much time.  I want to know we haven’t built on sand, in my own lifetime “ Sheldon Harnick “The Rothschilds”

The Police  Force is considered to be the most corrupt of governmental  institutions world wide. Fundamental systemic changes, including anti-corruption reforms, are needed in countries all over the world to prevent police abuse.

George Floyd’s death is the latest in a long series of brutal encounters between the American police and the people they are supposed to serve.

We need to make meaningful changes to address police misconduct.  When something calls attention to their faults (like murder), they implement change for a while. As public attention shifts and politics moves on, the police reform efforts eventually stop. 

We need to get rid of qualified immunity. Qualified immunity is a judicial doctrine that protects officers who violate someone’s constitutional rights from civil-rights lawsuits unless the officers’ actions were clearly established as unconstitutional at the time.  Just throw it out and make them as accountable for their behavior as the rest of us are.  They have clearly abused that privilege.

Police officers should keep better records of what they do and how they do it. Why were they in a high speed chase down the freeway? Who got injured along the way? etc. They looked like an invading army during the protests and many instances of unnecessary brutality and meanness were reported. Was any of that investigated? 

The most important thing to spend money on is better police training and screening. Train parking enforcement to deal with most traffic violations. Get rid of traffic cops.  If I get stopped outside of Beverly Hills and West Los Angeles, police act very differently. I did not need four officers with guns surrounding my new car because it didn’t have a front license plate at the time that law changed.  When I yelled at them for doing that and scaring my daughter (and me), they took forty five minutes, to write up the ticket. (Yes, I know what white privilege is but once I am in a non white neighborhood, they think I am Hispanic or Muslim).  Screen for psychological disorders, racial and  gender prejudice, homophobia, bullying, depression or violent, angry personalities. Get rid of stop and frisk and racial profiling.

 Police see the worst of humanity, the most depraved, and they do so at risk to their own lives. I think they are so used to thinking everyone is a bad guy and might have a gun and kill them, that they lose their humanity.  They treat certain neighborhoods as war zones and seem to forget human beings live in them.

 Police are rewarded  for “collars” (arrests – yes I’m obsessed with watching Law and Order) and how many traffic tickets they give in a month. What if they got rewarded equally for people they helped and the kindnesses they did in a community? What if they got rewarded for the humane way they dealt with lawbreakers?  They seem to have a problem telling the difference between an African American man walking home from work or a student running  home from college and a criminal. So it is best if they find a better way of dealing with arrests. Make their pension not a guarantee but based on constant re – evaluation.   

This “Blue Wall Of Silence” has to stop. This is the informal rule among  police officers not to report on a colleague’s errors, misconducts, or crimes, including police brutality. It has to be part of a new kind of training.

 Somewhere during the quarantine of the corona virus and the protests against police brutality, an African American friend sent me a picture of her brand new grandson. We have to do better. We have to fix this and keep at it this time. No more slacking off when things quiet down. 

Stay safe,

JAZ

Why Didn’t The Police Stop The Looting?

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Why Didn’t The Police Stop The Looting?

“Until you guys own your own souls, you don’t own mine. Until you guys can be trusted every time and always, in all times and conditions, to seek the truth out and find it and let the chips fall where they may—until that time comes, I have the right to listen to my conscience, and protect my client the best way I can.” Raymond Chandler, The High Window

In April 1775  Major John Pitcairn upon reaching Lexington and finding the colonials, in what he perceived to be an “unlawful armed assembly,” ordered the colonials assembled  to “Lay down your arms, you rebels, and disperse!” He was “reading them the riot act.”

In England before the American Revolution, almost all felonies were punishable by death. That is  no longer the case. Crimes such as theft, burglary and robbery no longer carry the death penalty, and are generally punished by imprisonment or by some form of probation. 

The death of George Floyd, a black man suspected of passing a suspicious $20 bill at a grocery store in Minneapolis by a police officer was inhumane and also illegal. It set off protests, looting and riots across the country. 

Experts say that looting is a side effect of the condition causing the protest. But this time in Los Angeles, it looked different. Splinter groups broke off from the peaceful protests and began rioting and looting.

There was a lot of twitter chatter about going to Beverly Hills to loot. The footage was disturbing, It looked like criminals with hammers and kids of all races who had been in the house too long and were laughing at the smashed  windows, taking photos and grabbing stuff. It was like a release valve had opened up. No police and no parents. “Where are the jewelry stores?” was heard throughout the video. 

I can’t speak for the whole country because this time I watched Los Angeles News. In the Fairfax Melrose area, certain stores were targeted and then it became a mob mentality, free for all of looting and fires.

The looting of Downtown, Santa Monica and Long Beach was even more disturbing. It went on for a long time and there was definitely the realization that no one was going to stop them. It was organized with cars circling the areas and people running in and out of the stores and cars. 

We received an email that a protest in Venice on a main shopping street was being organized by looters and the one on the beach was organized by protestors. 

Small businesses shouldn’t have to pay for the anger caused by the police. We all support the protest. The business owners quietly cleaned up the glass and opened their doors with sparse merchandise  to empty streets. Their businesses were already pummeled by the corona virus. We don’t know how many of them (us) will recover from all of this. Please support small businesses in your neighborhood. They need your help now.

It looked like the police did not want to put themselves in harm’s way or to hurt someone else over loss of property. The police backed off and let the looters have at it. After all, it was only someone else’s property or livelihood that was destroyed or stolen.

Stay safe,

JAZ

Living In the USA-Deaths, Pandemic, Riots, Protest

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Living In the USA-Deaths Pandemic Riots Protest

“Race doesn’t really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Black folks don’t have that choice.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

I really believed the world was getting better with prejudice and racism. It looks better than the world of my childhood. Change is slow.

 But I’m wrong. It is not only these isolated, violent incidents that has made me sit up and take notice. Traveling, having friends and now family with different skin color has forced me to re-examine my beliefs. My hope is that our life experiences are universal now, but they are not.

 I believed that having a black President had changed things. I wished my mother who volunteered for Dr King could have seen this. But the hate it unleashed, which continued to be fanned by the  president we have now, is frightening. 

Those of us who ”don’t see color” (because we don’t have to) are forced to when we see a photo of a white cop killing a black man for no reason. George Floyd joins an ever-growing list of Black names who died unnecessarily while police performed their ostensible mission of protecting their community.  It’s a list of names too long to fit on this page. Each of whom was a person, with loved ones, dreams, and lives to be lived.

The photos of the people wearing masks while they are rioting or protesting, in the middle of a dangerous pandemic, makes me believe we have hit rock bottom. We seem to have a president who doesn’t care about our health or our safety.  Maybe we have all had enough. Maybe we can finally start to see what is really wrong in the world and can begin to change it. The path toward justice is always long and hard. We continue to fight for what is right no matter how bleak it seems, because that is what good people do.

Stay safe,

JAZ

PS. A family member’s business was broken into and badly looted tonight. Another family member was locked in their store watching burning police cars and the looting of neighboring small businesses.The videos were disturbing. Young  people – black, white, Hispanic and Asian were breaking windows, laughing, taking selfies and looking for the expensive stores. They were carrying shopping bags not protest signs. Looters are not protestors. Looters take advantage of a situation for personal gain.They are not looking for justice. They are looking for free stuff.