Saturday, April 14, 2012

Language Barriers

East Boston, Mark Morelli © 2009
Language Barri-ahs
by Norah Dooley
(Thanks to Mark Morelli for his photo)

When I first met my husband who hails from Eastie ( Boston) he was
telling me about one of his best friends.  We were about to meet Ralphie for the first time and he said I should understand that his friend had a "whopped sense of humah"  - Since his friend was, like myself, of Italian distraction, I took my then BF  to task for using an ethnic slur to describe the man's wit. "Anyway," I said, "What is a Wop sense of humor ? And why is it past tense?

Ahem. My bad.  He meant 'warped' - as in twisted, perverted, weird.

Skip ahead some 25 years... My husband returns to pick us up from a parking garage in East Boston and apologizes to our daughters for his delay .

"It was like a wazone in there!" he explains.

Our teenage progeny ponder and confer amongst themselves. They are stumped. I am convulsed with laughter.  They ask..."Is that some East Boston slang, dad?  Like scheeeevy* or gravone*? Was it cheesy? Like a calzone? All closed or locked up? What?"

No, says he.
It was like Baghdad, Afghanistan. You know - it was a 'war zone' in the garage.

Sometimes, even a regional dictionary cannot help.

Now that we have stretched our minds, maybe we should go stretch out
and do some powah-yogher, right?

scheeeevy*= ( It.) schifoso = lousy, crappy, disgusting
gravone*= (It.) cafone = poor peasant or ill mannered

 In case you need a translation of Bawstin-ese I love this site.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Racism Kills, Fear Kills and Guns Kill

In response:
It is very bad in Boston (63 in 2011)  & believe it or not, Cambridge has a tense scene with The Heights & The Coast (opposite housing east & west of mass ave central square... young who see themselves as soldiers in a war where a kids can get a gun for $50.00 in a 1/2 hour.

Another innocent citizen in a hoodie. Armed with Skittles.
So true, Sebastian. We lived in Central Square (Area 4) Cambridge when it was a 'war zone' (1978- 2006) and our one block was like Sweden or Switzerland in WWII - a place of relative safety; a violence free zone for kids and families of all races and backgrounds.

"young who see themselves as soldiers in a war where a kids can get a gun for $50.00 in a 1/2 hour"

I have to wonder -  who promotes this 'war' and a culture of violence and why? Is it just a matter of "taste" and giving the consumer what they want? If that were so, why is there a billion dollar industry that 'shapes markets' for the producers of all consumer goods? Does art only reflect life or... do big interests have big reasons to foment fear and hate?  Whether or not you believe it is intentional,  the big entertainment industries and the gun manufacturers certainly profit by the violent culture that is promoted in the main stream.

Does this make me a "conspiracy theorist" ? So be it. Garrison Keillor on Prairie Home Companion used to have a spoof company advertise on his show called the "FearMongers". 

Aristophanes, an ancient Greek 'Jon Stuart', lampooned the profit motive behind wars in his play Peace ( 421 BC).  In his comedy Hermes tells a gathering of citizens why Peace had left them many years earlier - she had been driven away by politicians who were profiting from the war.  And the goddess of peace herself explains that she had tried to come back several times, but each time the Athenians had voted against her in their Assembly. In the play the spear polishers, shield makers and jar makers - all doing a booming business in war time, tell why they had voted  against Peace and in narrow, short term profit, self-interest.

People have been aware and clear on the connections and complications of violence for centuries.
 It is not just 'human nature' to be violent.  It is also all too human and natural to make money on others misery.

Luckily it is equally human and very effective to:
speak truth to power,
stand up for justice 
with eyes our eyes open,
for peace.

Where do criminals and teens get guns?

Most shootings on America’s streets are committed by criminals and juveniles who do not have a 2nd Amendment right to own  guns but obtain them through a thriving illegal gun market. The
most common ways felons and youth obtain guns:

Federally licensed gun dealers who sell to prohibited purchasers
Gun shows where criminals and ANYONE can buy guns without background checks
Straw purchasers recruited to buy guns on behalf of prohibited purchasers

There is an “Iron Pipeline” of illegal gun trafficking  and it is supported by the gun manufacturers.

We can stop gun trafficking. Together.