Jazz musician Richard Kraus discusses the challenges involved with choosing a career in music.
Marie and Michael Garzone will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary April 19, 2013. The secret to happiness turns out to be surprisingly simple.
On the Same Sheet of Music
The deep bond between the pair of opposites is evident at first meeting. Mrs. Garzone is a warm hostess but retains a faint perfume of old World reserve. Charming Mr. Garzone drums on the table as he listens, affectionately touches her shoulder from time to time, and makes sly jokes:
The Garzones do not so much finish one another’s sentences — rude interruptions would breach their longstanding rule of mutual respect:
Rather, conversing with the Garzones is more like dancing with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in perfect sync.
This sixty-year verbal pas de deux not only looks effortless, its notes fall pleasantly on the ear. Yelling and profanity have never had a place in the Garzone household. Mr. Garzone described a scene he witnessed in a local parking lot, with a annoyed mother calling her preschooler a name.
While he didn’t intervene, the incident clearly disturbed him. He worried aloud about how these habits would affect the child’s relationships with others as he grew up.
Simple Courtesies Create Peace
Respect extends to not making plans with others without checking first, even when Mr. Garzone’s friends tease him about “checking with the wife”.
Most importantly, presenting a united front for the children is the first rule of good discipline. Both felt it was important to reach an agreement about childrearing matters first, then talk to the children.
A Legacy of Parental Sacrifice
The Garzones feel they have opposite personalities, but their backgrounds and shared values made it easy for them to get along from the beginning.
Both are Italian-American, but Mrs. Garzone’s comfortable childhood in Italy ended abruptly with World War II. Her separated parents communicated in code through a sympathetic Italian-American soldier:
Mrs. Garzone’s parents would have preferred to return to Italy in peacetime, but deferred to the wishes of their children who wanted an American life. Mrs. Garzone’s father warned his adolescent children that despite what they heard in Italy, money did not grow on trees in America. They would have to be prepared to work very hard and learn English. Mrs. Garzone and her older brother accepted the challenge and the family never looked back.
Seven years later, the Garzones met at work, married, and settled in Newark. It was an elaborate sit-down wedding at a newly opened Italian restaurant — not a “sandwich wedding” as many of their peers had to make do with. Instead of homemade wine, the guest were served American martinis. The couple honeymooned in fashionable Miami, Florida, making new lifelong friends with other couples they met in nightspots like the Vagabonds.
“We didn’t care what it cost,” Mr. Garzone said with a wave of his hand. “We guys, we had the love of our lives!”
The good times gave way to difficult ones. When the children came along money was tight. Illnesses in the family meant extra caregiving duties after work. Like couples today, the Garzones seemed to know exhaustion and scrimping firsthand. But the rule of mutual respect has guided them through.
“Rules — to say we have rules is too– but, it’s more –what we like,” Mrs Garzone explained. Her husband readily agreed, “It’s the way we like to do things. When the grandchildren come over, anybody — just respect it.”
The first Neanderthal discovery in France in 1908 was hoped to be the “missing link” proving Darwin right. Paleoanthropologist Marcellin Boule depicted “La Chappelle-Aux-Saints” or “the old man,” as a bent-kneed, wild-eyed, fur-covered hulk fitting Europe’s popular notions of what a cross between man and ape might look like.
The fossil himself was aged, showed much trauma and disability, and suffered from arthritis. This individual became the type specimen for Neanderthals, and Boule’s well-meant slander stuck.
The later discovery of sophisticated cave paintings at Lascaux and Altamira were attributed not to Neanderthals, but to us, Homo sapiens sapiens. Modern Homo sapiens and Neanderthals shared a simple toolkit and apparently engaged in similar behaviors for many millenia in Europe until the Upper Paleolithic Transition, about 60,000 years ago. The paintings, reed flutes, Venus figurines, and deadly new hunting weapons of the Upper Paleolithic were contrasted with the supposedly slow and doomed Neanderthal.
New Images of Neanderthal Man
But cave paintings at recently discovered El Castillo predate human occupation of Europe, suggesting Neanderthals were capable of art and self-consciousness on a par with humans.
New techniques have allowed the mapping of the Neanderthal genome. Similarities in DNA sequencing between Neanderthals and Asians and Europeans — but not Africans — indicate that perhaps significant interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans took place.
Origin Wars and Modern Politics
Such arguments reflect broader debates about human origins that were sparked by human genome mapping a decade ago. US archaeologists tend to subscribe to the Out-of-Africa hypothesis that all humans evolved from a recent African ancestor as recently as 120,000 years ago.
Multiregionalists, like most Chinese paleoanthropologists, point to more recent Asian fossils with very primitive features, not easily explained away as extinct side branches of the family tree.
Sensitivity Makeover for Whom?
Donna Haraway has described both space and the jungle as “tropes,” narrative spaces in which we project our deepest hopes, hatreds, and fears. Science fiction and nature narratives, including our own primal past, reflect our own self-image back at us.
Debates now raging over Neanderthal behavior are a step beyond his early depiction as savage brute. The new Neanderthal is artistic, spiritual, and willing to form relationships with humans. We should heed Haraway’s observations: Neanderthal makeovers serve many other purposes than science.
Spoofing on the political correctness of the offended Geico caveman below, Geico reminds us that even corporations have deeply vested interests in controlling the definitions of savage and civilized.
For Republicans courting evangelical votes, reproductive rights are supposed to be a safe target. Safe because the youngest and most fertile among us neither read newspapers nor vote.
But recently Republicans have risked challenging not just access to abortion, but contraception. Women’s groups fought back. The result was a draw.
But to our surprise feminism is cool again. At work, in government, and at church/temple, progress is slow. At home, while gender equity is harder to measure, young people are making some very deliberate new choices.
Gender Wage Gap Persists
In signing the Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act of 2009, President Obama not-so-helpfully restores us to a pre-2007 status quo. Again women can sue, but legal standards for proving pay discrimination are still so high employees have a difficult and costly time of it.
Equal pay was guaranteed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but the wage gap between full-time men and women workers has stalled around 77 cents for several years.
Research clearly shows occupational segregation — not lack of education, not taking time off to raise children –is the root cause of the gender wage gap and the racial wage gap. Employers still hire on the basis of gender and race, and “girl” and minority jobs pay lower wages.
Few Seats in Government
If Shelly Adler prevails in the New Jersey’s 3rd district this year, she’ll be the sixth woman ever sent to Washington by our state. In the Senate, only 39 out of 2,167 senators have ever been female; in the House, merely 237 out of 10,346.
Female representation in Washington is holding steady in recent years at about 17%. Parents, not schools, are responsible. When parents fail to vote or otherwise engage, kids also abdicate their political voices. In addition, men rather than equally qualified women are urged to run for office by colleagues and political parties.
Few Cracks in the Stained-Glass Ceiling
Anglicans and Methodists are ahead of many other denominations in electing women as bishops and primates.
But the voices of “spiritual abuse” victims — those whose human rights are violated, sexually or otherwise, by spiritual leaders or by fanatical parents — are growing louder. Elsewhere, Islamic, Hindu, and other feminists of faith struggle against abuses of girls and women in the name of religion.
From laity to leadership, women are inventing new spiritual practices and reforming the traditional ones. Some women walk away from religion, others work to reform it from the inside. Either way, religious practice and dialogue worldwide has changed dramatically in just our lifetimes.
The Male Feminist Revolution
Couples struggle to hold on to each other, relinquishing old “shoulds” that tear relationships apart. That they succeed is perhaps our society’s best hope.
Today, men change diapers, cook, and see a wife with a larger paycheck as a valuable member of the home team. Despite many sad exceptions, young people are more thoughtful, more responsible than at any time in history about parenthood. Emotionally and financially, young people prepare for parenthood as both free choice (thanks to women’s health care) and grave responsibility. That’s feminism’s gift, and political ground worth holding.
Cosmopolitan magazine has advised women on beauty, fashion, lovemaking techniques, and surprisingly accurate and relevant medical and career advice for over half a century now. Reading the affectionate New York Times obituaries of its longtime editor in chief, Helen Gurley Brown, I wondered who American women would be without her.
Brown was a homely hillbilly girl who came to rival Marilyn Monroe as a symbol of American glamour and freedom. Unlike Monroe, HGB was also a self-made publishing tycoon , a female force to be reckoned with even in the Madmen era. Sex and the City is entirely an homage to Brown’s life and influence. Hugh Hefner idealized bachelorhood for men and conflated sexual prowess with consumerism in a way that drew liquor, electronics, and tobacco advertisers to create Hefner’s Playboy empire.
HGB accomplished this backward and in high heels, in the politically much trickier terrain of female sexual and financial autonomy.
Helaine Olin has criticized Brown’s “do-me feminism” as a view that sees prudishness as the main obstacle to women’s equality, rather than an political or economic system that ruthlessly exploited women’s labor and sexuality while denying them full citizenship. Olin cannot forgive Brown’s silence on sexual harassment and the wage gap.
Every single month since I was born, HGB has beckoned us from the newsstand to join her in her idealized magic Manhattan. She invited us to become as wealthy, as independent, as wildly desirable as she. HGB, channeled through Cosmo, interrupted the culture’s steady admonition to girls and women to put themselves last, introducing what is for most women a healthy counterbalance of self-absorption.
HGB is breathless and relentlessly positive in tone, power sister and coach. Self-analysis is amply aided through Cosmo quizzes to test how we compare to others in all sorts of personality traits — sensuality and extroversion much encouraged. In a world in which being female is not always fun or even safe, Brown’s gift has always been to remind us of its joy.
Interestingly, fundamentalists hate Brown with a passion they do not feel for Anna Wintour, Vogue’s longtime editor. Although feminists continue to dismiss Brown’s apolitical and frothy message of sexual liberation, hyperfeminism, and consumerism, she is forever lumped with second-wavers like Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan as a despised “women’s libber.” Brown’s infamous slogan, “Nice Girls Do!” expresses her conviction that women have a fundamental right to enjoy sex exactly as men are expected to do — for enjoyment, with a series of freely chosen partners over the course of a lifetime.
Brown’s message was and is a radical one. She expects women to postpone marriage, perhaps indefinitely. She expects women to leave their parents and live alone. She expects that women will work and will have career aspirations just as men do. The money that women make belongs only to them and they are expected to spend it on themselves, for their pleasure. Women have begun to do these things in the ensuing era, against the protestations of family, educators, male partners, and religious and political authorities. HGB spoke to working class and middle class girls and women as no other feminist has been able to do since Betty Friedan.
My entire family is rooted deep in the Bible Belt, where I was born and raised and starved for something — anything — to read. While Good Housekeeping, Redbook, McCall’s, and Ladies Home Journal accumulated in my grandmother’s house, dispensing all the parenting and cooking advice an preadolescent could ever need, my own home had three magazine subscriptions. My father’s Playboy would appear, but my mother read exactly two magazines. These were New Woman, a popular tome of liberal feminism, and Cosmopolitan.
My ideas about adult sexuality and gender relations took form in this oh-so-1970’s triangle of reading material, because what else was there? In our community, all sexuality and all human reproduction was experienced under a rigid and homophobic code of absolute silence. So was violence.
Oprah once interviewed a classmate of mine who described a horrific childhood of rape and molestation by her father, preacher and shepherd of the many Baptist flocks in town. Today the preacher reads his Bible in jail, but justice is a dream for so many others. A few men continue to main and murder women with startling impunity. The bravest and most positive woman I know lives in semi-hiding in a trailer among her rescued dogs and cats, unemployed and disabled from a beating she received from a boyfriend. He walks free. There are hillbilly OJ’s who retain custody of children after murdering their wives. Without a body, how can they be prosecuted?
Like other women of my generation, I had never heard of Our Bodies, Ourselves, but I got a good sex education from my spiritual guide, HGB. True, its breezy confessional tone was too light to prompt us to break our silence. A veneer of print and leopard print effaces, even denies, so much about the life of girls. Cosmo’s promise of a happiness and self-fulfillment we had only to claim has other dark shadows. HGB’s Manhattan was so simple and clean compared to rural North Carolina, where women seemed to work all the time and yet never scrape enough together for the clothing and makeup Cosmo promised as reward. Cosmopolitan, like all commercial media, is driven by pitiless advertising interests. Perhaps too, we wasted time fretting that we were not thin enough, or pretty enough. Few parents had the money in that time and place to waste on a girl’s braces.
Jesus could not have cared less about the shouting, the whippings, and worse. In fact, He endorsed them, in the distracted sort of way God seemed to manage my girlhood universe. Honor your father and your mother. Neither the Lord nor our mothers could seem to exercise their purported authority to stay the shouting, the whippings, the demanding hands of the fathers and stepfathers who went too far.
Southern public prayer is the truest American folk poetry. White people’s rap. It’s a soaring oratory that still, for me, opens heaven up a wistful little crack. Every few years, I go home to the south and share a meal with the old folks, and they send up what is so aptly called grace at our table. But this is the deal: it is men, always, who pray for the group. A little girl’s prayers are silent, private, often only tears. HGB’s optimism about womanhood, sexuality, the future I might claim someday, was like food and water to me in the 1970’s. You would put down your Bible mystified, but you would close your Cosmo far happier than you when you opened it. The fundamentalists who still hate HGB should really know: my Savior called me pussycat.
This article reports the intriguing news that Neanderthals, long believed to be incapable of producing art, may in fact have painted some of Spain’s oldest examples of cave art. Neanderthals are extinct, but their stock is currently “up” while Homo sapiens is “down”. I have long taught that Neanderthals have little to no genetic relationship to humans, and that Homo sapiens was the first to create art during the Upper Paleolithic Transition no earlier than 60,000 years ago. Examples of this art are the well-known cave paintings of Chavet, Altamira, and Lascaux, and many others — not just doodling but breathtaking and sophisticated charcoal drawings of animals. But now we see paintings ascribed to humans may actually predate human settlement in Western Europe. Longstanding ideas about our cognitive superiority and uniqueness among all other animals are being questioned at every turn. I do find the article difficult to read and understand, even for an anthropologist. What cave is attributed to Neanderthals, and where? Just this one? Is 15 millenia really the clearest way to describe the new date? Can’t there be better science reporting?