A Day at an Orphanage
A caravan of vans sets out from St. Monica's
Church early one Saturday morning last month, for the El
Hogar orphanage in Tijuana—a parish affiliation
for the past 20 years. And we're on board.
We have been meaning to make one of these
scheduled quarterly trips for a few years now, but something
always seems to crop up or get in the way. Like our own lives;
with their attendant commitments. Like the day-to-day hassles
on one side, and those "can't-miss" entertainment
events on the other. But finally, here we are. Somewhere in
And this is no Disneyland; no Universal Studio
tour. And yes, of course... "we're not in Kansas
On unpaved streets with no names, dotted
by hovels and shacks that people call home, and with
stray dogs of mangled fur—and ribs exposed—wandering
in search of food, the poverty and squalor have a physicality
all their own. It hits you in the face in that same kind of
way, that a heat wave does when you step outside from an air-conditioned
room. We knew we would be in for some unsettling sights; we
didn't expect to have to pause to catch our breath.
Approaching the front gate of the orphanage
therefore, we further braced ourselves for what might next
be in store. But from the time we stepped across that threshold,
until our departure some six hours later, it would be one
of the more uplifting experiences of our lives; unforgettable
on so many levels, large and small.
It was a day of simple games from a simpler
time and place.
We got down and dirty and played Dodge Ball
and Kick Ball with many of the older kids. Pieces of broken
plywood served as bases, and anything hit in the area where
the laundry was hanging, was still in play!
In the absence of high tech in their lives,
some of the younger boys, played a game of the lowest tech
This is a game we hadn't seen since our childhood
days on the streets of the Lower East Side, when we had holes
in the knees of our dungarees, and our mothers were
calling us out of tenement windows to come home for supper.
For the still younger set, there were arts
and crafts— brightly colored mugs with joyful themes.
It was a day of music.
They entertained us with a 40 minute recital
(the theme from Titanic and "Memories"
from Cats, included) on piano, keyboard, guitar and
flute. They are all seemingly schooled to varying degrees,
in the world of music.
It was a day of spiritual resonance, what
with a mass in a "toy" church nearby, with hand-painted
—now faded—folk art windows. And all to the accompaniment
of the voices of angels, singing in their mother tongue.
It was a day of the sharing of food among
In lieu of fishes and loaves, there are barbequed
burgers and franks. And all the while the starving dogs gather,
outside the gate looking in. And we could not help but contemplate
the question: can one ever attend to the animals when children
are so in need? The answer, at least on this day, was yes.
There was enough for all.
It was a day of cultural observation and
By way of illustration: during the whole
time we were there, we did not see even ONE of the 60 kids
on the premises — ranging in ages from two to about
18—act up or misbehave in any way. Could the same be
assumed of any gathering of 60 middle class American
kids? For whom a hardship is often defined as, not getting
the latest video game sensation for Christmas?
And of course, it was a day of thanksgiving:
"There but for the grace of God—or the fickleness
of fate—go I."
In short, it is clear, that the joy of this
day, would come from nothing we brought through that rusty
gate… but from everything these kids and their caretakers,
provided on the other side.
A little too saccharine a sentiment?
You had to be there.
What Took Them So Long?
"Her life story will no
doubt be turned into a bad movie"
POSTED: 9:43 p.m. EDT, March
16, 2007 CNN
"Anna Nicole Smith movie in
"LOS ANGELES, California
(CNN) -- Filming will begin in Los Angeles early next month
on a motion picture about the life of Anna Nicole Smith,
CNN has learned.
Producer Jack Nasser of All-Media Productions told CNN on
Friday that his company is in the process of casting the
lead role in the film, which could be released as early
He told CNN the untitled Smith biopic is
intended for a theatrical release..."
Is it too early be talking about the 2007
Oscar for Best Picture? Because, seriously, how can
this one miss?
Remember folks you heard it here first: Oscar
winner! And as Larry King used to say in his bygone USA
Today columns—that had the depth of a sneeze—
"You'll thank me later."
Another "Walking Poem"
A reader casually mentioned last month, that
many of our poems seem to be inspired by observations we have
made while on a walk. And while we hadn’t noticed that
before, there's probably a great deal of truth to it.
Case in point, another still "walking
The Death of a Snail
I crushed a snail underfoot. I said "Sorry."
I was walking the dog — so small and all —
who in God's name could see it?
It happened almost as I stepped out the door.
The dog was straining at the leash to go pee.
Snails are sometimes on that path, I know.
But usually only after a downpour.
This time, it was merely, a morning mist.
So the scene, so to speak, was missing from some sense
of muscle memory or reality. Sort of like
when collateral damage occurs in a skirmish;
something short of what is called war.
Sorry, sometimes, civilians get hurt. It happens.
Who'd expect that they'd be in that place at that time?
You would think they would put out feelers to see if it's
I crushed a village under force. I
I was taking the platoon out — so small and all
who in God's name could see it?
It happened almost as I stepped out of camp.
The dog was straining at the leash to go pee.
Looking Back at Look, Looking
In the process of a very moving experience
(to a new house) we began unearthing all the stuff we
have been collecting and amassing all these years. That this
STUFF has reached unmanageable proportions, is in itself,
one of the reasons for the move. Anyway… from out of
the catacombs of one of the closets, we exhumed an old copy
of Look magazine.
For the uninitiated (i.e. those under 40)
Look was, to quote Wikipedia:
"A weekly, general-interest magazine
published in the U.S from 1937 to1971 with more of an emphasis
on photographs than articles."
To quote us:
"It was the Avis to Life magazine’s
Hertz; the Salieri to Life's Mozart."
Ah, but this was not just any copy
of Look. This was a special January 16, 1962
issue entitled: The Next 25 Years.
Subtitled: How We Will: Live, Work, Dress,
Travel. Play, Eat. And
by the way, its circulation at the time, was a mere 7,000,000
This was a fun re-discovery, because we have
always enjoyed looking back on predictions. We guess it boils
down to five basic reasons:
So Many Are So
Wrong—some, amusingly so.
- This one
is right out of The Jetson's:
boats will only faintly resemble today's pleasure
vehicles" says the Scott Division of the McCulloch
Corp. "They will be able to travel through
air, on and under the water and double as camping
you gotta' watch out for when pigs fly. They could
cause an accident.
for you New Age types
out there, this is really cool:
are now accustomed to air conditioning…scientists
foresee new environment controls. These may include
the addition of negative ions in the air to make us
learn faster and better, perhaps speed healing after
positive ions work better? Just asking.
Krafft Ehricke (of General/Dynamics/Astronautics)
had this to say:
"During this decade,
NASA hopes to land a man on the moon. This will
happen in 1968."
on Doc! Only off by a year. But then, eschewing that
old saw, "Quit while you're ahead,"
he goes on
25 years, a spaceship twice the weight of a jetliner
will carry three or four men to Mars (a relatively
hospitable planet), along with food and oxygen for
several months and fuel to get home."
The Unintended Ironies
- Right time :-)
Wrong place :-(
This was predicted in an area labeled Home
down TV, radio and tape machines will help make
this new education widely available..."
pocket-sized, battery operated color-TV receiver
combined with a stereo radio set will fit in a case
only slightly larger than the shirt pocket transistor
radio of today."
called an iPod …it's
called a cell phone.And
no, they will NOT be used for studying. They will
be annoyingly used in public for diversion. Often
while in the process of driving what we still call—
same thing, by the way, was once predicted for Television;
that it would be used as an implement for studying
and learning. (Forbes 1946)
thing that we have never seen predicted anywhere,
was the dumbing down of the culture; that
our appetite for pure unadulterated escapism and entertainment
would become insatiable. That people would be voted
off an island! Or fired! Or otherwise humiliated.
Right on the air.
electronic devices are always predicted to become
aids for educational and intellectual advancement.
- And you wonder
why the Feminist Movement was born?
a section entitled For Your Home,
there was this stultifying piece that speaks volumes
to a sociological mindset, that one would have
associated with the 1860's, and surely not a time
as recent as the "hip" 1960's.
husband's announcement that he is bringing five business
friends home in 25 minutes will pose no problem for
his wife. Her push-button combined freezer-oven...
will need only her index finger touch. ... a complete
meal will be ready for serving in 18 minutes. In the
seven minutes left, she sets the tables and prepares
beverages. Dirty dishes? An ultrasonic dishwasher
cleans them in seconds."
could not foresee its own irrelevance and subsequent
demise just about 10 years after this
heralded 25th anniversary, "prediction
reminded us of our reaction years ago when we
heard that clairvoyant Jeane Dixon had died: Couldn't
she see it coming?
The "Wow" Factor:
When they are right on, they can make the
hair on the arms stand up:
Robert Moskin: (Look Senior Editor) wrote
25 years, it is likely that man will create life in
a test tube."
is the great scientific revolution of the era immediately
ahead of us. It overshadows even the more publicized
race into space."
Ben-Gurion, the Prime Minister of Israel:
image of the world in 1987 as traced in my imagination;
The Cold War will be a thing of the past."
The "Eerie" Factor:
people speaking and being spoken about,
regarding a future they won't see.
will be risk and burden and hardship; for the challenges
of the sixties, the constant threats to freedom, the
opportunities for chaos and crisis."
Martin Luther King who had six
more years to live:
hope that world peace will have become secure, not
only because a balance of terror
will have paralyzed mankind, but because most of the
world's people will have realized that nonviolence
in the nuclear age was life's last chance."
cannot help but be struck by his use of the word "terror"
which is just not a word that was used or considered
much in that era.
certainly no one (not even Ben-Gurion) was talking
about the Middle East back then.
woman who could still be in the limelight in 1987."
And from Marilyn herself:
been on a calendar, but never on time."
was fired during the filming of her last movie later
that year, for being chronically late or absent from
the set. She would be dead by that August.
To See What Was Conspicuous By
The most astounding thing to us,
has always been the complete absence of any long past
predictions regarding the role that technology, specifically
in the form of computers, would play in our every
day lives. Not to mention the invention of the
Internet, which was not on anyone's radar! (Even
Leonardo DaVinci missed this one, come to think of
Ultimately, and by extension,
it makes one wonder what else lies out there awaiting
discovery, that no one can now envision, just a few
decades down the line? Or how about the things of
which we now speak with such conviction, that will
be shown to be utter folly, 40, 50 years hence? Or
what is to become of the rites, rituals, passages
and institutions that many of us hold so dear?
To quote Thomas
One never know;