Here’s a child abuse situation – yes, child abuse – that’s so far out it’s staggering.
Apparently a shrew of a teacher at Seth Boyden Elementary School in New Jersey’s South Orange-Maplewood School District is so far out of touch with reality that she forcibly removed a hijab from a little second-grader’s head! A hijab that is a symbol of the child’s religion.
This is mind-blowing on a whole list of levels. Doesn’t this teacher know that there’s freedom of religion in this country? If she doesn’t, where has she been her whole life? How did she get to be a teacher in the first place? Isn’t she aware that the psychological abuse of children is wrong? Doesn’t she know that her actions show a profound level of bias which makes her look like an idiot?
And above and beyond everything else, what is a grown woman expecting to gain by humiliating the child in such a manner in the first place?
I can’t see how a seven-year-old in a hijab would constitute the disruption of a second-grade class.
What else would such a teacher object to? Does she have a bug up her butt if a little boy wears a yarmulke, too? Is she offended by a child wearing a saint’s medal or cross or Star of David on a chain? Is it all religions she objects to, as some of the militant atheists do, or is it just the Muslims? If this teacher belongs to a religion, does she target whoever she encounters that belong to a different one?
Whatever else is going on in the head of this “teacher,” and I put the word in quotes deliberately, she must simply be yet another mindless control freak who gets off on playing God.
South Orange-Maplewood School District, have some balls! Don’t hesitate. FIRE THIS HORRIFIC EXCUSE OF A WOMAN!
So much is always said about how beautiful the weather was on September 11, 2001. It was an absolute jewel of a day, sparkling and gorgeous. I remember walking to the subway absolutely astonished by the crystalline loveliness of it.
There was a reason for that, though most people who were in New York City then probably have forgotten about it. The night before, September 10th, there was a monumental deluge.
It was horrendous, too. It was the kind of driving rain that was falling practically sideways. Using an umbrella didn’t help. Nothing helped. I was waiting for maybe 20 minutes to half an hour for the express bus from Manhattan to Brooklyn, wearing a denim jacket over my blouse and slacks, and that didn’t help one bit either. I was totally saturated straight down to my underwear by the time I got on the bus.
Normally I made a habit of sitting on the right side of the bus every night since my stop was one of the first and there was always plenty of room. My reason for this was simple: I wanted to see the lights of the World Trade Center when we rode past it. Every night, that’s what I did, I looked up from whatever book I was reading when the bus reached lower Manhattan to check out those wonderful lights.
But that night was perhaps the very first time I didn’t bother to sit in a seat on the right-hand side of the bus aisle. That night I was soaked to the bone and sat, or rather dropped, in the first seat available – on the left. Well, I’ll just look at the lights when we pass the World Trade Center anyway, I thought. Meanwhile, air conditioning was blasting on the bus. It was freezing. Taking off my saturated denim jacket wasn’t going to help. It would only remove an extra layer. I kept it on and was in a rare state of weather-related misery. There are only one or two nights every year in New York when the weather is beyond unbearable and that was one of those nights. I tried to read my book but I was soaking wet and freezing cold and utterly uncomfortable…
And I missed the Trade Center.
I couldn’t believe it even as it happened because I always, always looked up to see it.
That night, though, I didn’t…
Well, I’ll be sure to sit on the right side and see it tomorrow, I thought to myself.
Except tomorrow was September 11, 2001…
The sun never shined so brightly as it did that morning because the city had been given a thorough cleansing the night before with all that torrential rain.
The beautiful morning didn’t stay beautiful for long.
Recently I came across a copy of my old high school transcript – and wow, was I ever shocked!
I am not an athlete. I never had any desire to be an athlete, either. In particular, I don’t have much use for team sports. They always bored me. You have the ball, you throw the ball to someone else, and then you have to get the ball back? Please! I’d rather sit in history class and actually learn something than put up with nonsense like this. I did like individual or fitness sports like track or slimnastics, but even with those I wasn’t exactly the class star.
And as it turns out, there’s a phyical reason affecting all of this. My feet don’t just have low arches. My arches are almost nonexistent.
This might have been enough to get me out of the Army had I ever been drafted, which of course I wasn’t, but it wasn’t much good in gym class. Jumping around just wasn’t my thing. I’m lucky I didn’t break something.
However, during the time I spent at my wonderful high school, Scotch Plains-Fanwood High in New Jersey, I only missed maybe four days of school in three whole years. I was always getting a nice letter from the principal at the end of the year congratulating me on my excellent attendance record, since there were lots of other kids who played hooky or cut class regularly, and they were a problem.
I did not like gym class, but hey, I went. I never, ever cut a class in the three years I was at the high school. Not even a gym class, though putting up with it was a misery.
Still, I showed up. I wore the required gym class dress code. I didn’t love it, but I was always there.
So when I found my high school transcript, I was in shock to see that I had been given letter grades in gym. That they counted as part of my grade point average. What?!! And that all those awful grades I’d received in gym class had brought my grade point average down to an embarrassingly horrible level!
Ladies and gentlemen, this is wrong! This is dead wrong! This is grading kids, first and foremost, on the genetic hand they’ve been dealt! I would even go so far as to say it’s a form of discrimination.
It brought to mind another gym class I had been in, years before high school, in the seventh grade at St. Bart’s, where I couldn’t do some kind of a jump for a fitness test. Good God, how the teacher yelled and yelled at me! I believe it was some test where you had to jump five feet forward or something, and they measured it. They actually measured the kids’ jumps.
Well, I couldn’t jump the full five feet. I only made it as far as, I don’t remember just what it was, probably something like four feet seven inches or whatever. I tried and tried. I fell short. I just couldn’t get there. It wasn’t for lack of trying.
I can still remember how the teacher railed on about how “horrible” I was just for not being able to do this useless stunt. If I could have pulled it off, I would have, if only to shut her up.
Getting back to the situation that existed later at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, I believe that affecting the grade point averages of smart, decent students who just don’t happen to have been born with the wonderful physical or muscular structure of, say, a Simone Biles is absolutely outrageous. Kids can try, they can persist, they can work at it, but take it from me, if they have something like bad arches, folks, then they have bad arches – period. It’s going to affect their gym performance. That’s not about their attitude or motivation. It just is what it is.
Gym classes should be Pass or Fail. They shouldn’t bring down a student’s average. It’s outrageous such nonsenes was ever allowed, and I hope it’s no longer the case at SPFHS.
As for the sort of adults who need to make careers out of sitting there measuring kids’ jumps, or judging their cartwheels, or rating their ability to kick a ball, and yell, scream or downgrade them if they find them in any way lacking, well, don’t even get me started on what I think of that. But here’s a hint. I’m filing this blog post under the category of “Corruption.” :-). May they take a nice flying leap over that!
I had to go to the foot doctor a week and a half ago for a laser foot pain treatment. I thought today was the day for the second one. And I was actually looking forward to the appointment because just when my feet had started to feel a little bit better, on Tuesday, I fell.
Actually I think I fell and also flew along an egregiously uneven sidewalk. I landed on both knees and somehow also managed to twist my ankle. So yes, I was definitely looking forward to today’s appointment. I also ordered two pairs of specialized shoes from the doctor so that maybe next time I could prevent the foot pain from happening and could hardly wait to pick them up.
And, as the doctor’s office is not far from my favorite department store, JC Penney, I was hoping that once I had the appointment I might just take a short walk, or better yet a cab ride, over to JC Penney to shop for about ten minutes. I haven’t been to JC Penney since the end of 2019, in the pre-Covid Era. I needed items from three different departments and could not wait to get over there.
I get up. I look up the hours for JC Penney.
I find out that my nearest JC Penney CLOSED DOWN! What?!!!
Okay, so the doctor’s office is also near a Uniqlo. I looked up the hours of that particular Uniqlo.
They have ALSO closed down!
Well, at least I could still go for the pain treatment, since I need it. I leave the house. I manage to schlep to the express bus stop. The bus can’t leave me near the doctor’s office, I’m told. Oh, no, not today. Today, the buses are rerouted because Park Avenue in Manhattan is being shut down so that people can walk in the street over there instead of on the sidewalk.
Why the heck do people have to walk in the street on Park Avenue? That big wide boulevard isn’t enough?
So the bus leaves me, instead of at my stop, a few blocks away on what I call Mendicant Avenue because it’s full of beggars. If it’s lousy enough to walk along there when your feet don’t hurt and you can run, trust me, it’s worse when they do and you can’t.
Two beggars and an addict that was talking to himself later, I get to the place where I had some breakfast the last time, right next to the doctor’s office. Last time, it was great. Today was another matter. Today most of it landed in the garbage can.
I go into the building where the doctor’s office is. His office is dark, but the door is open. I go in.
Nobody is there. I take out my trusty little phone and check my calendar.
I’ve got the wrong day for this appointment!
At least whoever left the door to the doctor’s office open did so because by then I needed the bathroom key. It’s there. I find it. Feeling like a bathroom key thief, I go to the ladies room, expecting some kind of an alarm to go off any minute. It doesn’t. There is still nobody in the doctor’s office when I go back in to replace the key. There’s a package lying on the floor in front of the front desk that looks like it might just contain somebody’s newly ordered pairs of shoes. It is definitely big enough to hold two pairs. Hmmm. I need my new shoes. I bend down to examine it, hoping it will have my name on it somewhere.
Even if it did, I’m not a thief, and it’s bad enough I just momentarily had to swipe a bathroom key. The last thing I’m going to do is take off running with that box of shoes. An alarm would go off for sure.
I leave the office and go downstairs to tell the guard that the doctor’s office is deserted, open, unlocked, and that maybe somebody needs to be called about that because it’s just not kosher to have an unlocked anything in New York City. I go to CVS, which is near the bus stop to go back home. There’s a few items I need to get, maybe six.
I find two of them, check my transit app, and see that my bus will arrive in 5 minutes, with the next one due in 56 minutes. Again, I’ve got foot pain, and it’s bad enough I had to walk to the express bus stop, walk from Mendicant Avenue, and all that, so I don’t want to be standing out there for 56 minutes in a once beautiful neighborhood where so many stores have shut down due to having no customers in the pandemic. I hurry to check out the two items and go wait for the bus.
Every time I check the app it says it’s coming in 5 minutes.
If you were a chronic and incurable pathological liar, would you write a memoir?
That’s the biggest question I have after watching MISHA AND THE WOLVES on Netflix. It’s a documentary about a bizarre Belgian woman, Misha Defonseca, who claimed she’d lived in the woods with a pack of wolves during the Second World War. She wrote a book about her experiences decades later — except they weren’t really her experiences. Her real story is probably more likely to be MISHA AND THE WOLVES SHE NEVER MET, unless perhaps she paid a childhood visit to a zoo.
Word is already out that her book was bullshit, but beyond saying that, I don’t want to give away the chilling particulars. The documentary is worth seeing and it will reveal everything that happened, not to mention everything else that didn’t.
You have to wonder about Misha. An interviewed relative says she was “always delusional,” but was she? It’s telling that she claimed to have one surname in the American version of her book yet deliberately used a different last name for the French edition. Did you know that Belgium has three official languages, Dutch, German and French? Misha was clearly aware that the French book was going to be made available in her native Belgium. Would a truly delusional person have the good sense to use a fake name in the French book while knowing it could be read by people in Belgium who would recognize her, and reveal her true story, had she used her real name?
Of course not!
That tells me Misha knew exactly what she was doing: perpetrating a colossal fraud…
One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the use of “mental illness” allegations by wrongdoers. But they never use them while they’re doing something illegal or amoral, oh, no! The terms don’t get bandied about until after the perpetrators are caught, every time. Un-freakin’-BELIEVABLE!
I’m a firm believer in the old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
For that reason, when the pandemic hit and the lockdown began, I didn’t join the chorus of moaners and complainers who were determined to make themselves more miserable over it than they had to be. Instead, I made myself comfortable, stayed inside the house and started writing a new children’s book.
The story came to me out of the blue one day. What would happen if there was a child languishing in the foster care system who was thought to be a foundling – but turned out to be a missing child from another state? A practical little girl who had already been shuffled between several foster care placements and tried her level best not to be noticed…then turns out to have a wonderful family that’s been looking for her for years?
The result is NOW AND FOREVERMORE ARABELLA, and it’s available now!
Arabella was never supposed to be kidnapped. She was stolen along with a car as a toddler. Her father left her for a just few moments in order to get medical assistance for her pregnant mother who was going into a painful premature labor. It’s the mistake of her dad’s lifetime because it results in Arabella being lost for nine years.
But who stole that car in the first place?
Why did no one in the foster care agency manage to figure out who Arabella really was?
And now that she’s back with her parents and adorable sister in Florida, why is a nearby house giving Arabella the creeps?
Find out when you read NOW AND FOREVERMORE ARABELLA. Available here as an ebook with print book availability to come:
On Tuesday I went to Midtown Manhattan for the first time since 2019, and oh, was it ever great to be back there!
It’s not my first visit to Manhattan at all since the pandemic, but since I no longer work in or have any reason to visit Midtown, I just haven’t been up there.
It was interesting to be back. Yes, I found, the rumors about all the store and restaurant closings are true: a lot of buildings are shuttered or for sale. But there’s also lots of new construction going on, with construction sheds all over the place, like these. That’s Tiffany’s on the left and Prada on the right:
Here’s a building where I used to work at Orion Pictures Corporation. It’s 9 West 57th Street, but shot from the 58th Street side:
I wonder what they’re going to build on the property that now lies vacant on West 57th Street. A lot of new projects are in the works!
There’s still horses and carriages in Central Park, I was happy to see. They’re so wonderfully old New York!
Here’s the fountain outside of the Plaza Hotel. Nice to see so many things have not changed!
This little guy was for sale at an art gallery. I’m not sure I’d want this in my apartment, but it sure is cute:
Here’s a restaurant that is still in business. One thing the pandemic brought to New York that I love is all of the little outdoor eating spaces! A European friend says now we’re more like Paris.
And here’s me, happy as a clam at high tide to be back in one of my favorite neighborhoods in New York City!
Highland Mills, a hamlet in New York state, was the site of actress and burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee’s country retreat, a 14-room house set on a vast piece of land. The house is the site of the alleged suicide of an art student by the name of Genevieve Augustine (sometimes also spelled Augustine.)
Gypsy’s mother, Rose Thompson Hovick, was living in the house in Highland Mills in 1937 when Genevieve was found shot to death in one of the bedrooms. But that’s getting way ahead of the story.
To back up, yet to also get even further ahead of the matter at the same time, Gypsy’s mama Rose Thompson Hovick became notorious five years after her death in 1954, when the 1959 musical GYPSY: A MUSICAL FABLE premiered on Broadway. Note the addition of that “fable” line in the title. It was added at Rose Hovick’s other daughter June Havoc’s insistence because the show was 75% fictionalized by playwright Arthur Laurents. He took the story of the real Rose, by all accounts a charming and persuasive, if flawed, woman who had put her children on the stages of vaudeville in the 1920s, and turned her into a bizarre steamroller of a mother who wanted to be famous and lived through her children. It made for a brilliant, dramatic script, and don’t get me wrong since I love the show, but it’s just not what really happened. Yet try telling that to most fans of the show, who believe Laurents’ altered version without question.
Me? I have no problem asking questions. I wrote my book, MAMA ROSE’S TURN, primarily using the letters in the Gypsy Rose Lee archive to present the actual story. I also used newspaper articles, official government documents, interviews with Thompson and Hovick family members and people who had known Rose, June and Gypsy, as well as family members of Genevieve Augustine.
Genevieve’s death was declared a suicide by the coroner of Highland Mills, but those who think they know the “real” story of Gypsy’s mother wouldn’t leave that alone. It’s no doubt due to Rose’s out-of-control portrayal in the 1959 musical that, after the fact, people tried to connect Genevieve’s death way back in 1937 with the idea of Rose as a murderess since she was shown as a steamroller as of 1959. It didn’t help that Rose, late in life, was a lesbian; that led to a weird set of persistent rumors that “Mama Rose killed her lover Genevieve because she made a pass at Gypsy Rose Lee,” twisting it into a lust story.
I am a big believer in the saying it is what it is, and here’s what it is, folks: Gypsy Rose Lee was not in Highland Mills that night. She was in Hollywood, California. She was under contract out there to make movies.
If Gypsy was in Hollywood, California, Genevieve couldn’t have made a pass at her in Highland Mills, New York. If Genevieve didn’t make a pass at her, mother Rose couldn’t have gotten jealous. If Rose didn’t get jealous, she would not have allegedly picked up a gun. You get the general idea.
Furthermore, lots of the documents in the family archive, written by Rose Hovick herself and other of her relatives, tell of Rose’s affair at that time with a woman named Connie. Not Genevieve. Connie.
It is what it is. Not what it isn’t.
Yet my research into the case brought to light some very disturbing other details about poor Genevieve. She had let a friend, one “Kay Ray,” stay with her in her New York apartment and the friend turned on her. Genevieve ultimately went to stay with Rose Hovick in Highland Mills and was working as her chauffeur. Kay Ray wrote to Gypsy, hoping to get Genevieve fired. It didn’t work. Genevieve wrote to Gypsy to complain about Kay Ray’s letter. Unfortunately Ray’s letter was not in the archive because I bet it would have been a real piece of fiction. After Genevieve died, Kay Ray wrote Genevieve’s father a crazy missive – “Don’t do anything without talking to me first!” That didn’t have any effect on him, so then she was writing to Genevieve’s mother. Meanwhile, keep in mind that first, Kay Ray had written to Gypsy Rose Lee to get Genevieve fired. Can you believe this? Kay Ray was all over everything to do with Genevieve Augustine, even after the girl was dead!
Ultimately there was an inquest in to the death and Kay Ray managed to cast herself in a starring role at that, too, taking the witness stand. However, once again, her efforts came to nothing. I can only imagine what she got up and tried to pull on the witness stand. The death was declared a suicide and that was that.
Now here’s an intriguing fact. The newspapers of the time described Kay Ray as a “designer.” I went through newspaper archives galore to try and find out more – and found nothing. She’s not mentioned anywhere before the death of Genevieve. She’s not mentioned after. She’s all over this case and then fades into the mists of time…leaving a lot of blank spots where the Kay Ray truth ought to be.
I detail the whole story – and more – in my book, MAMA ROSE’S TURN. But I’m wondering, still, who was Kay Ray? What was her game? Does anyone know? If you do, you can write to me through the Contact page on my website, right here:
You’ve heard that somewhere a village is missing an idiot? Well, somewhere else a jail is missing a rapist.
It’s hard to believe, but Bill Cosby, accused of multiple rapes of women he had drugged to the point of unconsciousness, has been set free from jail on a technicality. It’s astonishing that technicalities can trump rapists. I could go on and on there, but I’ll spare you, since you get the idea.
His COSBY SHOW co-star Phylicia Rashad tweeted a staggering thing: “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!” Amid numerous calls for her to resign, she followed that by issuing an apology. Rashad is a dean at Howard University and apparently the university is in an uproar about it, as well they should be.
However – and I am not excusing Rashad’s ludicrous remark or Cosby’s criminal behavior when I say this – I think there’s something else that probably needs to be taken under consideration. A serial rapist could never get away with being a serial rapist if he’d been obvious about it. These offenders know how to fly under the radar. I would not be at all surprised to hear that Cosby was wonderful in his treatment of Rashad and the rest of his co-stars on his shows, deliberately – the better to camouflage what he got up to when he wasn’t at work. Again, I’m not excusing anything here, just saying. These offenders are skilled at hiding their true selves. If they weren’t, they’d have been caught sooner.
Still and all, Phylicia Rashad should have had more sense than to make such a remark in the face of so many women all having told the same sordid story about her former co-star (from Hell).
Meanwhile, I said this in blog posts before and I’m going to say it again, just in case there’s any gal out there somewhere who may need to hear this: if this guy invites you to his home or hotel room to “discuss helping you with your career,” don’t go inside his door, ladies. RUN!
People are outraged over a situation in Volusia County, Florida, where two children escaped from a group home, broke into a house, found guns in the house, and had a stand-off with the police using the guns.
Well, they’re right to be outraged. After all, the children in question are a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl. She wound up wounded by the police; I believe she fired one of the weapons at them first. So, yes. It’s bad. It’s crazy. And those children are far too young to be picking up firearms, yadda, yadda, yadda…
According to the sheriff of the county, there’s more.
The home, the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home from which these two little ones engineered an escape, has been a major problem for a long time. The authorities were summoned to the home 289 times last year and 89 more times this year – so far.
Read that again, if you will. The authorities were summoned to the home 289 times last year and 89 more times this year – so far!
Cases like this one never cease to amaze me, and not because the children ran away from the home, picked up guns and had a stand-off. No. What throws me for a loop is the way that where kids are concerned nobody usually seems to bother taking a good close look at the facility where they ran from in the first place.
There were 289 reasons to take a closer look at that place last year and 89 more reasons to wonder just what the hell was going on there this year, and you’re going to tell me that nobody involved with child welfare has bothered to take a closer look? Not even when the cops were called to the place THREE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-EIGHT TIMES since January 2020?
What, exactly, has been going on at the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home that caused those two children to even feel they had to run away to begin with?
What made the children think it would be better to pick up guns and point them at the police than to have to go back to that facility?
Does nobody ever realize that when children get that desperate, there’s a lot more to the story that needs to be brought to light, especially when there have already been 378 reasons for the cops to be called to that home?
I hope the wounded girl comes out of the hospital, where she’s been taken after being shot by the cops, in one piece. I don’t normally make excuses for this kind of behavior involving guns, but in an instance like this, given the home’s godawful track record, I’d say maybe she’s not the villain they’re making her out to be. More and more stories have emerged about vicious levels of abuse in situations where children are allegedly being educated in religious schools, private day schools, and boarding schools, even despite the fact that the children’s parents are not living under a rock and are paying those schools tuition. The schools are run like laws unto themselves, even when there’s parents who are paying customers.
This is a case where the kids have been stuck within an obviously bad facility, presumably without their parents paying anything or monitoring whatever is going on. Who knows what may have been happening there? Maybe this girl turned into a little fighter for good reason.