Thursday, August 25, 2005


I ran across this little tidbit in the news that made me giggle. I giggled because I have a sick sense of humor, and because I got to say, “AHA! It happened to somebody else!”

(08-11) 19:20 PDT LONDON, United Kingdom (AP) --

Some people bring flowers. But when Melvyn Reed's three wives showed up to visit him at the hospital, they brought the unexpected end to his years as a bigamist.

British police confirmed Thursday that after Melvyn Reed's marital affairs took a turn for a worse as he recovered from triple bypass surgery — all three of his spouses had turned up at the same time, despite his efforts to stagger their visits.

Media reports say that the wives quickly realized that they were all married to the same man.

The 59-year-old company director from Kettering in central England turned himself in May, telling police he was married to three women at the same time, and confessing to bigamy, illegal in Britain, London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service said Reed was with his attorney when he turned himself in and confessed in Wimbledon, south London.

He pleaded guilty July 19 to two charges of bigamy and was given a four-month suspended sentence and ordered to pay $126 in costs, police said.

It wasn't immediately possible to reach Reed or his three wives. Reed's lawyer, Laurence Grant, also could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Metropolitan Police said Reed married his first wife, Jean Grafton, in 1966, then left her without divorcing her. He went on to marry Denise Harrington in 1998, then married Lyndsey Hutchinson in 2003.

The Metropolitan Police said Harrington and Hutchinson have since sought advice on getting their marriages annulled. But media reports say lawyers have advised the women that their marriages were never valid.

Okay, so yes. Like Melvyn, there is bigamy in the family history. We found out by chance, when asking my grandmother Alice about the names given to the boys in the family. The same two or three names kept getting used over and over again – yet I happen to know my grandfather had about nine brothers – therefore at least nine family names to choose from. So my grandmother starts running through the names and she gets to the name “Blank”. (yeah, yeah, I’ve removed the actual name – fill in your own damn name)

“Blank is a FABULOUS name! Why isn’t anyone else named Blank?”

“Well. . . ” she said, and then used that whispering conspiratorial voice that only people born at the turn of the century can really use with any degree of credibility:

“Blank was a bigamist.”

“What!?!?!” “Oh we must know. Family scandal, how delicious!”

Well, it turns out that Blank got his girlfriend in the family way – scandal enough in those days. The consequences of his libidinous tendencies were that he had to give up a well-paying job, marry the girl and move her to another part of the state so as to avoid the inevitable wagging of tongues over the very premature birth of a child that people were sure to notice had they stayed in town. After that child was born they had two more -though it was not the happiest of marriages.

Along came that War to End All Wars. Blank and the rest of the brothers went off to serve. It being a war, not everyone came home when it was over. Blank was one of them. They never found his body, so the wife had to wait the requisite seven years before she could apply for the insurance money – which she did.

One day, there was a knock at the door of my great grandmother, who opened it to see a woman standing there.

“Hello. My name is Mrs. Blank and we need to have a talk.”

Deary me. Well, it turns out that Blank wasn’t killed in WWI – but simply moved to New York when it was over and didn’t tell anyone. He married again and had three children. Suffice it to say the second wife was rather perturbed to find out about another wife out there – trying to collect the death insurance, no less.

It happens in the best of families.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Anyone See a Parallel???

Maybe it's just me . . .

I think it is safe to say that Tom Cruise just isn’t all that concerned with his media image these days. One could hazard a guess that he’s gone all loony – what with his creepy jumping on couches all willy-nilly like a monkey; conducting a creepy romance in public rather than private in a really creepy way – right down to his creepy proposal/press conference of marriage . . .there are not enough ways to say “Ew” here.

Until today.

According to today's San Francisco Chronicle, (so it must be true): "Tom Cruise reportedly will splash out millions of dollars on an "Arabian Knights"-themed wedding when he marries fiancée Katie Holmes."

Now, correct me if I’m wrong – but The Arabian Nights (not Arabian Knights) were a series of stories told by Queen Scheherazade that started on the eve of her wedding to the King Shahryar in an effort to stay alive. You see, that rascal the king respected women so very much that he married one every day, only to have the bride executed on their wedding night. He would marry again the following day. Scheherazade proceeded to delay her execution by entertaining the king with exciting folk tales – stringing him along by telling only one per night, then promising to tell another the following night. According to legend, she kept this up for one thousand and one nights – thereby saving her life when he determined he could not live without her stories (there’s some job security for ya). The best known of these stories are Aladdin, Ali Baba, Sinbad the Sailor - and the stories are considered as an entity to be among the classics of world literature. Now, I’m not sure if it was Tom or the Chronicle that wasn’t clear on the correct spelling of the title of that classic collection – but would it be correct to call it irony that Cruise has selected a theme for a wedding that pays homage to a woman desperately attempting to stave off being executed by her powerful husband?

Just curious . . .

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Money, Money, Money

I have been watching and listening to the tragic goings on (for everyone on either side of the issue) with respect to the evacuation of the settlement at Gaza Strip – I have friends and acquaintances who are Israeli and who are Palestinian – so I refuse to take sides on this most heated of events. What I do instead is wonder at the history of our people, namely the American people, when it comes to telling folks to get out of the way because they would like their land – which could be argued as one small influence in the occupation of Gaza many moons ago, since it was a preponderance of Americans deciding to move to the homeland who settled there in the first place. Years later, that no longer matters because those born there are citizens through and through – it’s their home and it’s all they know. Who is right and who is wrong is a non-issue – but instead a tragedy for everyone that no one seems able to fix to the advantage of everyone or anyone involved. And of course there is the way in which we are receiving news about this event. I wonder at the way in which our American news media reports heavily on that which effects the economically advantaged – and yes, Gaza is a mighty Tony area of prime beachfront real estate for all who live there – and there is a huge population there – my point is that stories about what happen to low income residents anywhere in the world that happen to get displaced via governmental negotiation or flat-out takeover – get little attention.

For example, Chavez Ravine got airplay on PBS decades after the fact.

Now THERE is a bit of L.A. History with respect to the displacement of citizens that has bugged me for years –

Chavez Ravine was a tight knit community of Mexican Americans, named after Julian Chavez – one of the first L.A. County Supervisors in the 1800’s. There were three neighborhoods – Palo Verde, La Loma and Bishop. They had their own schools and churches and maintained a small-town life within the larger urban metropolis that is Los Angeles proper. It was known as “the poor man’s Shangri La.” That should tell you right there that they were doomed. Poor and Happy are not states of being that should be encouraged to co-exist. In 1949, outsiders who viewed the area as an eyesore, earmarked Chavez Ravine as the location for the Los Angeles City Housing Authority to build a multi-thousand unit public housing project. Residents of Chavez Ravine were told that they would have first choice for these new homes which would include newly rebuilt playgrounds and schools. Under the power of eminent domain, they were paid little, if anything for their properties and were told to evacuate or be forcibly removed by marshals.

Enter McCarthyism or the “Red Scare” of the 50’s. Supporters of the public housing plan viewed it as a good opportunity to provide improved housing for poor L.A. residents. Corporate businesses that wanted the land for their purposes used the Red Scare tactics widely used at the time to characterize the project as a socialist plot. Frank Wilkinson, assistant director of the L.A. City Housing Authority and the man who personally promised the evacuated residents of Chavez Ravine that he would do right by them and that they would have first pick of the new homes, was brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee, lost his job and was sentenced to one year in jail.

The housing project never happened. The land was eventually sold on the cheap to the Brooklyn Dodgers, who built Dodger Stadium, removing the last of the families that had refused to leave. Anyone protesting the removal of the remaining residents for the building of the stadium was accused by public figures (like Ronald Reagan) of being "baseball haters." April 10, 1962, Dodger Stadium officially opened.

NOW – years later, rumors abound that at least one wealthy developer has designs to raze Dodger Stadium in order to move the baseball stadium to downtown nearer to Staples Center and the new hub of activity that is building up and around downtown. The proposal for the land where the Stadium sits? Yup. High-end housing to match all the other aesthetically-challenged high-end apartment buildings going up all over town in place of what stood there before. Anybody seen those Canary yellow aparments over at Hollywood and Western, or those baby-shit yellow “Palazzo” apartments over by Park La Brea? Ew. (Incidentally, Park La Brea was originally government subsidized low income housing for returning WWII vets – now privatized, repainted and high-priced “luxury apartments and townhouses.” Where’d the vets go?)

Apparently there is a tragic shortage of luxury housing in Los Angeles. Little, if anything, is said in any of the papers however about the former low-income residents from any of these places that meet the wrecking ball who are being displaced to benefit the Hollywood Re-Beautification Project.

Ah, Capitalism.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I Think When I Quit Smoking I Substituted Cigarettes with Cheese

These and other stories are forthcoming.

And yes, I smoked for years. Manpants and I quit on the same day three years ago and suffice it to say I believe without a doubt that I have successfully managed to substitute my pack a day habit with a brick a day habit of fine aged sharp cheddar. Recently, I found my self succumbing to the "fake smoke", i.e. those herbal cigarettes that actors that don't smoke use when they have to smoke in movies. Man. No tobacco or nicotine, but it sure felt great. I admit it. I love the act of smoking.

A dear friend of mine on another post ran across this little tidbit, and boy howdy, some of it rang familiar....

Anyone out there suffering from BLOG DEPRESSION? Oh yes. It's real. The pamphlet says so, so it must be true. READ HERE.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

An Important Diversion from My Usual: A Bit of L.A. History

Tis a summer of anniversaries, as the Catharine Chronicles have reminded us of late – especially here in the City of Angels.

Today marks the 40-year anniversary of the 1965 Watts riot.

On August 11, 1965, "the Endless Summer of the avant garde ended abruptly" when what started as a routine traffic stop escalated into a five day riot that left 1000 people injured and 34 dead. It started when a Los Angeles police officer flagged down motorist Marquette Frye, "whom he suspected of being intoxicated". When a crowd of onlookers, tired and frustrated by what seemed to be yet another racially motivated harassment, began to taunt the policeman, a second officer was called in. "According to eyewitness accounts, the second officer struck crowd members with his baton, and news of the act of police brutality soon spread throughout the neighborhood. The incident, combined with escalating racial tensions, overcrowding in the neighborhood, and a summer heat wave, sparked violence on a massive scale. Despite attempts the following day aimed at quelling antipolice sentiment, residents began looting and burning local stores". An estimated $200 million in property was damaged and/or destroyed.

"Although city officials initially blamed outside agitators for the insurrection, subsequent studies showed that the majority of participants had lived in Watts all their lives...

The Watts Riot was the first major lesson for American public on the tinderbox volatility of segregated inner-city neighborhoods. The riot provided a sobering preview of the violent urban uprisings of the late 1960s and helped define several hardcore political camps: militant blacks applauded the spectacle of rage; moderates lamented the riot's senselessness and self-destructiveness; and conservative whites viewed the uprising as a symptom of the aggressive pace of civil rights legislation.

The Watts Riot changed California's political landscape and damaged a number of political careers, including that of Governor Pat Brown. The liberal Brown lost his office to challenger Ronald Reagan, in part because Reagan was able to successfully pin the blame on the incumbent for the riot."

It was of course, neither the first conflict between minorities and the police, nor the last.

Sources: Eric Bennett: Encarta, Mike Davis, "City of Quartz"

Monday, August 08, 2005

If You Think You’re on the Top of the World – Be Careful. The Toilet Seat Might Just Break Under Your Ass.

More about that later.

Bless me Bloggers for I have strayed. It has been weeks since my last….whatever you want to call it.

I have been on an emotional holiday. That’s what people who haven’t taken a vacation in twelve years do. Go a little mad and find alternatives to Aruba in their mind. During my emotional holiday, I have managed to torture Manpants only a little bit. I’ve been doing a fair amount of cooking. I find cooking a therapeutic way of meditating that is far more productive than staring at a lit candle while chanting “OM.” Everyone gets to eat the results of the meditation – so that’s just darn practical all around. I have painted our bedroom a lovely sage green with accompanying nifty faux finish treatment on the closet doors – I figure that if I literally paint my way out of the corner I figuratively got myself into, I’ll feel better. I have, of course, been working at my day job and through this wacky activity called exercise, I have been attempting to get my 40-something self in fighting-form shape for my impending birthday and the start of the Fall semester at school. I have been busying myself by avoiding probing questions about how long it is going to take me to get through college, since the: “I-work-for-a-living-and-go-to-school-at-night-so-it’s-going-to-take-me-longer-than-the-average-independently-wealthy-or-parentally-financed-non-working-person-I’ll-send-you-an-announcement-when-I-graduate-if-I-don’t-die-of-disbelief-or-fall-off-the-wagon-and-show-up-naked-on-your-doorstep-nursing-a-magnum-of-champagne” response seems to put people off just an eensy bit. I participated in a Spin-a-Thon for a charity to benefit an arts program for the LA school system. The event raised enough money to run the program for another full year, so it felt mighty nice to be a part of that. I have, in addition to the aforementioned, been watching re-runs of McMillan and Wife, McCloud and Hawaii Five-O – none of which aged well and are just awful teeVEE entertainment, but Jack Lord’s hair makes me giggle and Susan Saint James was the Téa Leoni of her day.

Which brings me to the word/topic of the day, which is: CONFIDENCE. Doesn’t Téa Leoni seem to just drip with it?


1. A feeling of assurance, especially of self-assurance.
2. The state or quality of being certain: I have every confidence in your/my ability to succeed.

Of, relating to, or involving a swindle or fraud: a confidence scheme; a confidence trickster.

The trickster part of the definition is what I seem to get more of – at my own expense. Which is where the whole toilet seat thing comes in . . . yes. It happened to me. Pinched me first - not in a good way - then just broke in half and knocked me off the toilet - arms and legs flying.

I firmly believe that this is God’s way of constantly reminding me not to take myself too seriously. . .

. . . and that bathroom humor will always reign supreme.