Tuesday, February 26, 2013

If you had a chance to vote...

Animal lore      What I’m about to write has lots to do with a blue fox. Although I spent most of yesterday before realizing that, I finally figured its place in this story. But I’ll get to that in a few minutes if you’ll allow me to follow what may seem to be a discursive path.

It starts in Brooklyn. My partner and I rode thirty-two minutes on express subway #5 that exited two blocks from Brooklyn College. On that clear, spring like day, people were everywhere. One instructed us, “Take that street and turn left at the corner. Student Center’s right there.”

Since neither of us had ever been to Brooklyn or what appeared to be its main avenue, Flatbush, we felt as if we were on an adventure. I’d suggested that we investigate Brooklyn College and find out whether anything was being done in the wake of its controversial BDS, anti-Israel panel to prevent a similarly tainted event from happening again at the college since it had not been designed to promote beneficial dialogue. (please see: Brooklyn College to Launch Inquiry into BDS Event – Tablet ... The BDS panel hosted by Brooklyn College last week and co-sponsored by its political science department continues to spark controversy, almost a week after the event ... www.tabletmag.com/scroll/124189/brooklyn-college-to..)

Indeed, I was reminded of the PSM/ISM debacle I attended at Duke University; it was almost like a public lynching of Israel’s character. (please see: Duke News & Communications | Palestine Solidarity Movement ...On Oct. 15-17, 2004, the Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM) held its national conference at Duke University, sparking extensive discussion on campus.today.duke.edu/showcase/mmedia/features/psm/index.html) Among training sessions offered only to those who had pre-registered (none of the protesters had, but I did), one taught how to stealthily take over a student newspaper and use it to generate propaganda.

In essence, I wanted to find whether the unholy intent of the Brooklyn BDS was a match for that of the PSM conference. If so, I wanted to join with those who spoke out for truth and who would insist that Brooklyn College desist from having similar events.

Fortunately, two seconds after we spotted the Student Center just across the street, we turned our heads to the right and saw a plain but sizable two or three story building; its name, Hillel, was very familiar to me. We entered.

They were busy, not crowded, just busy. As we looked around, a young man, about 5’ 7”, inquired, “Can I help you?” He, Igor, had a Russian accent.

I explained that, although I was from Virginia, one of my daughters had been an exec with Hillel at Ohio University. I mentioned that my other daughter spent time with Hillel at the University of Virginia. “Since I was near here, I wanted to find out about the BDS panel.” I told him I wanted to learn about what was being done to prevent a recurrence.
Igor was very helpful. He told me that both the Rabbi and the Hillel Director had approached the administration. Talks were under way. Despite my curiosity about their outcome, I wasn’t able to speak to the Rabbi (“He’s out.”) or the Director (She’s in a meeting.”) That was O.K. At least something was being done. We said goodbye and headed for the Student Center.

As tourists without a child seeking admission, we weren’t allowed in. I shrugged; it didn’t matter. I’d found what I’d wanted to see.

Also, we were hungry. Minutes later, on Flatbush, we found a tiny restaurant, Bake and Things. For $11.50, we had curried boneless chicken roti with sides of spinach, pumpkin, and okra. Our meal was handed to us on paper plates with plastic utensils.
We sat on stools looking out of the window next to the front door. There was only room enough for three more people to eat next to us.

From the accent of the young cooks, I knew they had to be Caribbean. “Which islands are you from?” I asked.

“Trinidad. Tobago,” they answered, without looking up.

Our food was delicious. We told them they’d given us a good reason to visit. And we were telling the truth. They’d given us more than we could eat.

Satisfied, we strolled down Flatbush. On either side of us were people speaking patois, enjoying the day. Although many businesses were boarded up, that part of Brooklyn seemed a friendly place. There were no skyscrapers to block the sun and clouds. No one was yelling at or threatening anyone. I felt at home.

“And our little excursion, including lunch and subway fare, has cost us less than $22!”

I never thought I’d say that in New York. Instead, I was more accustomed to what I knew I’d see in Manhattan. Everything was so big there. Even the movie theater we went to that night contained enough screens to show twenty-five movies at once!

After Brooklyn, we went on a movie mission to find why Stephen Spielberg lost the Oscar to Ang Lee, director of Life With Pi. I’d wondered whether Pi’s reported gross of more than $570 million could be true. (China Leads Overseas Box Office for Fox’s LIFE OF PI ...According to the Los Angeles Times, 20th Century Fox’s LIFE OF PI, directed by Ang Lee, has generated $570.9 million in worldwide box office sales ...
sparkam.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/china-leads-overseas...)At 7:45 p.m., we slipped on our 3-D glasses to find out.

Well into the first hour, I felt as if I were watching an updated fairytale version of Old Man and The Sea. By the end of the second hour, I’d forgotten about writing a letter of protest to Brooklyn College. My time would be better spent, I thought, writing a letter of apology to Spielberg. He deserved to win and his Lincoln deserved to be in a different category than a survivalist film.

Why was I so certain?

Because of the blue fox. Unfortunately, a former member of my family bought one thinking it would make a wonderful indoor pet. For two long days (until I found a man with a private zoo who wanted it), the fox lived in our laundry room in the basement. Although our blue fox weighed less than ten pounds, the smell of its excrement was acrid.

Only cartoon animals don’t smell. Unless Pi’s tiger wasn’t real, he wasn’t one of those. Indeed, the way Pi handled his tiny boat, metaphorically, didn’t measure up to Lincoln’s command of his ship of state.

                                    B.Koplen   2/27/13

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