Sunday, November 30, 2008

Maymont's Otters Entertaining My Baby

Not even a cute little baby can upstage the otters at Maymont. Jasper took in the turtles and the intimidatingly large fish. The whole thing was dizzying for the little guy, especially the backflips and curliques of our neighborhood otters. If you haven't visited in a while, this video will bring back some memories.

Whenever we walk Jasper to the Nature Center, he falls asleep before we get there and he misses out on the exhibits. Today was no different. As we approached the parking lot, Jasper was starting to slump over in the stroller. Karen and I kept yelling his name and waving our arms to keep him awake. Finally, Karen picked him up and carried him into the dark tunnel that begins the parade of aquariums. Slowly, Jasper perked up until he finally arrived in front of the otters. He definitely followed them with his eyes, but as you can see in this video, he lagged behind most of the time. Hence, I point out the bubbles trailing behind as Jasper's consolation prize.

Here's a much longer shot of the otters and Jasper:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Clap Hands Little Man

These days, when Jasper wants to impress, he makes a bee-line for the clappins. For months, he's been transfixed whenever he saw/heard us clapping. Every thing he sees, he smacks like a drum. And now he's started putting his own to hands together and watching our response.

Here you can see that Jasper tends to hold one hand steady while swinging his other hand (dominant hand, maybe?) Awe heck, just go ahead and watch the video. But don't get a crick in your neck. We probably shouldn't have turned the camera on its end.

Has anyone seen Jasper's lower lip. He seems to have misplaced it. Or, maybe this is a cabbage patch doll in place of my baby.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Whole Fish (Baked in Salt) pt. 2

Too often, Thanksgiving takes us through familiar culinary paces, a tired turkey routine and other half-hearted traditions. A total bore, that I usually eat too much of all the same. But not this time. While watching my in-laws reenact the usual dishes, I pursued my own inspiration by attempting salt crusted whole fish for the first time. Check out the previous post showing my preparations for the event.

This pictorial story could serve as a "how to" on salt crust fish baking, but before you go out and mimic my technique, read closely for the many details that I wish had gone differently (and the numerous links in the previous post). In the end, I was glad to have given this a shot and I'm sure I'll be doing it again soon. Next time, I want to use a larger fish and a larger pan. Two at once in a small pan is a tough scenario for a first-timer. The lighting for these shots was awful (and flash doesn't help food fotos much - see sauce pic below), but thanks to Karen for taking pictures while my hands were covered with salt, oil, and fishiness.

I stuffed them with lemons, rosemary, thyme, garlic cloves, peppercorns, fennel seeds, and as many olives as I could fit in each cavity. That's the Royal Dorade on top and the Branzino on bottom. Both are just over a pound. In case I needed to pick them up out of the salt, I put down a little parchment cut-out like a fish beneath each of these guys. They got slathered in the sauce (described below) before burial.

I almost didn't have enough salt to cover the two fish. In retrospect, I don't think I needed that layer on the bottom, at least not that thick.

While the mound baked for 30 mins, I stirred my olive oil together with fresh lemon juice, parsley, (no sage), rosemary, and thyme, capers, garlic clove, a few dashes of white wine vinegar, and some lemon zest. Actually, I did this over night, but I adjusted the juice/oil ratio to get the flavor right at the last minute. Karen says it was almost as good as D'aqua.

The finished product doesn't look much different than it did when it went in. One recipe said to cook until the salt turns golden brown, but that makes no sense. It's 15 minutes per pound of fish (at the most). I stuck a thin bladed knife in to test the temp against my lip, a la Eric Ripert. That's the hole there. To my surprise, the salt was rock hard, just as the recipes say. The knife was HOT. And the edge of the salt was in fact golden brown. (for those cooking along with me, I used egg whites in the top layer of salt, but I hear you don't have to)

After hacking through the scalding hot igloo made of salt, I found these two fishies. They were super hot and it was a real pain to excavate them without getting salt on the meat. The high sides of the pan didn't help. I'm sure it gets easier with practice, but... next time less salt and a bigger pan with low sides.

The skin comes right off, either with the salt or after you take the salt off. One time, on Iron Chef, Bobby Flay put parchment on both sides to make clean up and plating quicker and easier. I think that's cheating, but maybe I'm just determined to get it right according to the traditional method before incorporating shortcuts.

I coulda swore I buried a couple fish in this here pile of salt. Seriously though, this is what was left after I transferred them to another plate where Karen and I could de-bone without four pounds of salt in our way.

Here's the dish as it went to the table. That's the dorade in the front. We decided we liked it best (firm "chicken-y" meat that's a little sweet and nuanced). The branzino (at the top of that pic) was very mild and maybe slightly overcooked. Perhaps it didn't need as long as the dorade, but they were both buried and resurrected at the same time (another miscalculation). The olives from the fish cavity were extra succulent. Both fish, as predicted, were unbelievably moist. Hey! Ya know what that dish of fish needs? "Good quali-y oli-oil," says Jamie Oliver. Don't mind if I do. Happy un-Turkey Day, yall.

Moments after this picture was taken, Jasper soiled three diapers in five minutes and everyone got a little less hungry.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Whole Fish (Baked in Salt) on Turkey Day

Every year, my in-laws get spiral cut ham for Thanksgiving dinner and I'm generally left to fend for myself. To make the meal special for this ovo-lacto-pesca vegetarian, I decided to try the salt crusted method of cooking fish. I've done a lot of planning and gathering of supplies. This right here is basically all I need to bring with me to the in-law's house tomorrow:

If you don't know what I'm talking about when I say "salt crusted," just picture a fish buried in a big mound of salt, kinda like you would bake a fish fillet in a sealed parchment/foil pouch (and it steams while it's in there). They say there's nothing like the moistness of salt crusted fish. Here are a few sites that have inspired me so far (some of them have pics of the bizarre-ness):
My first big decision was to pick out a fish. But, since you want the freshest possible fish for this preparation, it's hard to know who's gonna have what on the day before Thanksgiving. I called PT Hastings. I visited Tan-A. And I was prepared to go to that awesome place at Hull and Belt Blvd (can't remember the name). But, I wound up going with the sure thing: the otherwise prohibitively expensive Yellow Umbrella on Patterson (price was less of an barrier considering the occasion, and the fact that they speak English - but for red snapper or rock fish/striped bass, hit up Tan-A). It was really an easy choice, since Matthew Tlusty (of Limani fame) has sorta endorsed the Yellow Umbrella as the best/freshest fishmonger in Richmond (supplied by the same distributor as Limani - RIP). I went with a Branzino (lupe de mar, the one in the back) and a Royal Dorado (the fatty in the front - which I can't find any info about online).

The only other time I've had fish baked in salt was Branzino at D'aqua in DC and we liked it a great deal. One of the best parts was this sauce they drizzled over top of the meat when plating. At Karen's request, I'll be trying to duplicate that sauce. All we know is that it had EVOO, lemon juice, lemon rind, and herbs. I'll be adding some capers in my rendition and maybe a couple other things. The most important component was surely "good quality oli-oil," as Jamie Oliver says). So, since it's a special occasion, I splurged on the pictured bottle of Lucini from Kroger. It's really fruity and peppery, almost as good as my favorite EVOO from California. I'm so glad that it lived up to the hype, because there was a wide variety of brands and prices at the store (including some Rachel Ray yummo crap).

I'll be cramming the insides of the fish with lemon slices, fresh thyme, garlic cloves, parsley, rosemary, olives, peppercorns, fennel seeds, and probably some crushed fennel seeds. Hmmm, maybe that's too many of the ideas from those links above. It's up in the air, really. This is a "before post." I'll bring my camera to the spiral ham fest and amuse myself by documenting my cooking process.

Come on back later in the week! (here's Part 2)


“Royal Dorado” (or Tsipoura or Aurata/Orata or Gilthead seabream) is extremely moist with a mild sweet flavor, firm and flaky flesh. For way too much info about this fish, click here, or here for a recipe.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pizza from the Home (Depot) Hearth

Karen asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I said, "a pizza stone." Then, I thought about it and surfed the net and changed my request to "a rectangular pizza stone." After scoping out the models on Amazon, with their varying sizes, I said, "a 16 x16 pizza stone, cuz ya know, I like big pizzas." Each time I updated Karen I worried that she'd already bought my present. She hadn't.

A little more surfing and I discovered that any hardware store would have ceramic tiles of all sizes (virtually the same as the product sold as a pizza stone). All I had to do was find an unglazed and untreated one in the size I wanted and bring it home for cheap. I called Karen one more time and asked her to hold off while I looked into this option. The retail pizza stones run from $20-50 (not including the $70 All-Clad model). At Lowe's, the tile isle was comparatively cheap and the options were dizzying. I didn't bother the staff with my confusing request ("You wanna do what with a floor tile?!?!"). Luckily, they had a natural stone tile or two (or several dozen, actually). I chose a 18 x 18 square to bring home in the hopes that it would fit into my cheap-ass Hot Point gas oven. Instant brick oven effect!

For me, the biggest catalyst in my decision to create a hearth for baking was the crust at Tarrantino's Pizza. The bottom of the crust is divinely crisped (same effect at 8 1/2 - and neither of them have brick ovens!). I want that. My pizzas suck in the crust department, even when I do them right on the rack (okay, if I grill the crust, then they're good). The solution is a piping hot rock to slide my pizza onto. It will absorb the moisture and sear the dough, to make it crisp and chewy. In the picture above, I achieved the crispy bottom crust effect and it was just the first time using the "pizza stone." Definitely a good sign.

Anywho, there's another story to be told about how I have a lot of work to do on my pizza dough technique (the yeast didn't activate much and I over kneaded the dough). But, I'm too excited to share the news about my new pizza stone for under $10 and the beginning of my new pizza making journey. Two more dough balls in the fridge. Any suggestion on how I should top them?

Monday, November 24, 2008

No Carrots. No Green Beans. No Acorn Squash.

We've been having a lot of fun feeding Jasper his first solid foods. Thanks to a few good books, we've been confidently preparing our own organic baby food for pennies on the dollar compared to the jarred stuff from the store. Successful feeding modeled here.

The routine goes like this:

  1. Pull out a cube of frozen veg and microwave it briefly (testing temp with one of those indicator spoons).
  2. Slide him into the high chair and put a toy in front of him.
  3. Wrap Jasper's neck in a bib and endure his frustrating grunts.
  4. Prepare a dessert of yogurt or baby oatmeal mixed with pureed bananas/pears.
  5. Shovel spoonfuls of veg into Jasper's hungry mouth while making cooing sounds and goofy faces.
  6. If he rejects the veg, try some dessert (usually yogurt), and then switch back.
  7. Continue until the food is gone or he won't open his mouth anymore.
  8. Try to wipe Jasper's face without making him cry.
Thus far, Jasper has basically loved everything we've given him (after the first few bites). Sweet potatoes, mmmmmmm. Pears, aaaaahhhhhh! Butternut squash, oh yeah.

However, there are a few foods that Jasper rejected initially and then agreed to eat while furrowing his brow. He seems to have set some rules, although we're breaking them every chance we get.

No Carrots. No Green Beans. No Acorn Squash.

My next project is to feed Jasper this entire pumpkin.

A Kitchen Renovation for $129

A better way to describe this would be, "in lieu of a kitchen renovation, get this for $129." The story is that Karen and I have had designs on a new kitchen ever since we bought our house in 2005. Every time we put money in the savings account, we both fantasize about a continuous grate stovetop, or a built-in pantry, or soapstone countertops. Alas, the economic conditions for a major renovation haven't come about. In fact, the housing market has probably stifled the value of our house, and Karen's hours got cut at work (with her boss currently hatching plans to eliminate her position all together), and then there's Jasper's future expenses. It's probably not prudent to drop $7-10k on a chic canteen.

Nonetheless, we must progress. Despite all of the external factors, Karen and I are hellbent on improving the quality of our lives, incrementally, at least. So, to tie us over for while, we decided to upgrade a kitchen accessory that that would be more user friendly and maybe counteract the dumpy feeling that is creeping into our cookhouse (probably due to the black burlap backsplash that's bubbling up and becoming soiled).

It happened at Ikea. We were carrying a fussy Jasper through a throng of shoppers and Karen and I both nearly had a nervous breakdown. We planned on looking at the faucets, but had missed them in the confusion. At this point, we were trying to choose between stopping to feed him or abandoning our energy efficient light bulbs and $5 tupperware and heading home. We chose to feed him and collect ourselves and we were even ambitious enough to go back and peek at the faucets. It was an act of defiance, more so than fortitude.

At Lowes and other stores, the fancy modern faucets are usually over $200 - a real turn-off. But at Ikea, the designs were mostly attractive and reasonable.* We agreed that a single handle would be key, considering that we've often got Jasper in the other hand. The tall arc of the nozzle allows us to get the Brita pitcher under it easily, and stock pots, and the dog's water dish. One night last week, after Karen and Jasper went to bed, I spent some time huffing and puffing under the sink, taking out the old faucet and affixing this new one. Ever since, I've been walking around with a sense of accomplishment. The thing works beautifully. Every time I use it, I am reminded of the importance of periodic upgrades, no matter how minute.

* the link takes you to the model with the pull out nozzel (for an extra $30)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jasper says Da-Da, Stands on His Own

It was a week of firsts for Jasper Diego Guard. On Wednesday, he was given a box of toys. To see inside of it, he pulled himself up. Now, he's doing the same move every time he gets a hold of anything.

Shortly after chowing down, the little guy started babbling. One of his favorite sounds now is "Bla-bla-bla." Karen has been responding to him by saying "Da-da." On Saturday, Jasper considered this response for a moment before delivering his rebuttal, "Da-da-da." We're counting those first two as Da-da, in other words, ME! (kind of a leap there)

When we say Da-da to him, Jasper lights up. I tap his chest and say his name and then tap mine and say Da-da and watch it sink in. Now, he's starting to reply in kind and we're loving it. All the books say that if you stick your tongue out, your baby will then do the same. Not Jasper. His tongue stays in his mouth for some reason. But, Da-da is coming out all over the place.

Moments like these make me forget about all the fussing and wailing.

(for those of you wondering where all the clever food blogging has gone, I don't have a good explanation... school, work, baby, household budget cuts, not going out to eat or cooking anything too exciting. I'm sure I'll find more time over the holidays)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dems Wrecking Democracy in RVA?

I've waited for a week to let the Obama afterglow wear off so I could bring up a critique of this past Nov. 4th election (and I even posted about food to appease my fellow foodies). The topic here is the influence of the local Democratic Committee in Richmond's City Council, School Board, and Mayoral elections. In short, I think it sucks. To put a finer point on it, my experience with this (and previous presidential elections) leaves me with the impression that the Democratic party is undermining democracy in Richmond. As a voter who went straight down the line recommending that we unseat incumbents and install new leadership from Pennsylvania Ave to Broad Street, I found myself going upconfronted with an ally and an obstacle to accountability in the form of the local Democratic Committee.

Important points:
  • Local candidates should forget party affiliation and talk about the job at hand.
  • Richmond needs to promotes early voting and/or make the poling places more organized and less of a playground for the entrenched political machines.
  • The Democratic Committee of Richmond needs to STOP MEDDLING IN LOCAL ELECTIONS.
  • The "Virginia as battleground state" phenomenon may be harmful to Richmond's local government and school system.
  • Steps should be taken to ensure that local candidates earn every vote they get, rather than riding the wave of state and national campaigns (banning sample ballots, maybe).
  • Schedule Richmond City Council and School Board races on any year BUT the same Tuesday's in November when we elect a new president (duh!).

As you may or may not know, candidates for local office in Richmond generally do not declare a party affiliation. However, since nearly 80% of Richmond City residents vote Democrat, it's pretty much a non issue. That is, unless there is a presidential election going on. Then, running as a Democrat and billing oneself as THE ONLY Democrat option on the ballot, becomes very important to local candidates, and getting elected on one's merits takes a back seat. It's an unfortunate distraction when school board candidates try to equate their opponents with George W. Bush and the neo-cons in order to come out on top (meanwhile, both candidates are lifelong Democrat-voting civic activists who could be engaging the public about meaningful issues).

To give you an illustration of when this tactic proved especially effective, and was actually true for once, BillPantele came from behind in the 2nd district City Council race to beat Tom Benedetti by labeling him as a Bush supporter in 2004, because he worked as a fundraiser for the Republican party. Pantele's election-eve attack ad mailers featured Benedetti's picture alongside Bush's and the saying "The Apple doesn't fall far from the tree Bush." You'd have to see the pretty design to believe it (and you'll see that I'm not claiming that my household is exempt from participating in such partisan behavior).

The maneuver of trying to "out Democrat" your fellow Democrats isn't the real transgression against voters that's being perpetrated here. Sure, incumbents are often impossible to unseat once their operation generates enough money, favors, and loyalty to manifest a formidable political machine. That's an election reality all over the country. Signs appear everywhere. Opponents' signs mysteriously disappear. Businesses start brandishing enormous expensive placards that make the challenger look amateurish. Palms are greased behind the scenes. It's a fight, no doubt about it. But, we need to protect against short cuts and impertenant attacks in favor of our democratic principles. We're trying to hire the best public servant for the job here.

And then there's the circus of election day...

In many Richmond districts, the polling places on election day are swarmed with campaign workers. A quick survey will probably show incredibly lopsided representation of incumbent/Democrat-backed vs. the challenger: seven to one, ten to two, four vs. none. To a voter just hoping to spend 10 minutes there while voting, it almost seems like the election were "brought to you by" the incumbent candidate or the Democratic Committee backed candidate. And they generally do their best to give the impression that their information is official and unbiased, handing out Democratic Committee sample ballots like they were instruction manuals. Hey, if you were doing a good job in office or running a convincing campaign, would you need to resort to cheap tactics and circumvent a substantive discussion of the issues?

Of course, with Democrats generally being in power in Richmond, their information is somewhat official and helpful when it comes to the state and national races... but not the local elections. That's where it gets nefarious.

The content of the campaign workers materials gives the best indication of undemocratic behavior in Richmond's local elections. In Richmond, each candidate hopes to get endorsed by the Democratic Committee. With this valuabledistinction , a candidate can put their name on the local Democratic Committee sample ballot that so many voters use to vote a straight ticket, often without any knowledge of the performance or platforms of the candidates for municipal office. As every voter on their way into the voting booth is handed one, two, and sometimes three or more Democratic Committee sample ballots, it becomes pretty clear that the playing field is not level. Feelings of party loyalty are at acrescendo on voting day, especially during presidential elections. And so, if a local official wants to compensate for lackluster performance, or a series of public debacles, or simply coasting and not campaigning, then it's a big relief to simply ride the coattails of the top of the ticket Democrats.

These aren't big "what if" scenarios. The school board and city council elections are currently set to take place every four years, at the same time as the presidential races. From here on out,the presidential race will cast a long shadow over our local elections and without attention on the local issues to be decided by voters, the local Democratic Committee will virtually decide each race before the voting actually takes place. The impact of the significant surge in voters who are
uninformed about the local races has been significant. On November 4th, I heard some campaign workers for Dwight Jones saying that even though their candidate was endorsed by the Democratic Committee, his opponent BillPantele was advertising his own name on Democratic Committee sample ballots (or were they just look-alikes? not quite sure). Does this offend you? Should it? Maybe more candidates should have thought of this move. (I determined my mayoral vote before the endorsement, although that's irrelevant).

So, what is the criteria for endorsement by the local Democratic Committee? I have a guess, largely based on my own observations. TheDems are trying their best to activate their base on national election day. So, they throw their support, and their get out the vote funds, to the candidate with the best capacity to turn out scads of likely Democrat voters. For this reason, established names likeincumbents, or School Board candidates who are virtually appointed by their City Council rep (the Robertson/Smith ticket, anyone) become obvious choices for
Democratic party support. And merit has nothing to do with it. A track record of community activism, service to the constituents, and professional performance have little to do with the Democratic endorsement. Even if the school system is maligned for every day of your term in office, the Democratic Committee will overlook such things as the education of Richmond children, so they can continue to build their brand. The public interest seems like just an afterthought, half-heartedly pursued between election seasons.

Does this sound jaded? Well, that's what it feels like to have a democratic victory tinged with undemocratic electioneering.


Since this rant is totally unpolished and didn't benefit from my full attention (baby-work-school taking precedent), let's get into the meat of this topic in the comments, shall we?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti

After posting about ful medamas, Egypt's national dish, I've been craving the stuff intensely. On Saturday, I decided to put myself in Abraham's capable hands over at Mediterranean Market on Meadow Street. At the counter, I was greeted by Mus, Abraham's gregarious partner. After describing my favorite Philadelphia food, Mus nodded and pointed at the pictoral menu on the wall. There was a picture of glistening fava beans on a bed of lettuce among the other 20 or so featured dishes (um, I've been meaning to talk to you about the food fotos, dude...).

Mus went on to tell me about how the ful is eaten in Syria and how it is spelled "foul" (um, yeah. I should talk to you about that too...). I described the smooth consistency of the ful beans that I'd grown accustomed to. The diced jalapeno peppers, melted butter topping, and french bread. Mus viewed this description with some suspicion (especially when I told him that it was an Ethiopean interpretation of the Egyptian dish). He urged me to try his version, with olive oil, onions, tomatoes, cumin on top, and a piece of toasted pita bread. Deal. Lemme have it.

While I waited for my dish, I picked up a bag of dried fava beans and a jar of tahini. Mus gave me some advice for cooking my favas.
  1. Soak for 24 hours
  2. Boil for at least an hour with garlic and salt
  3. Put it in the fridge in a sealed tub, still soaking the brine
  4. Take servings out from time to time to make dishes
How long can I leave them in the fridge, two weaks?

"Eh... not quite. Then you'll have to change the - "

Chang the water?

"No, the beans!"

Okay, so I guess I'll be eating quite a few fava bean dishes this week.
The "foul mudammas" dish (as spelled out on their menu) came out and I took it back to my house. On my couch, I opened the foil container and observed the mashed means swimming in olive oil. Soft diced onions were among the beans and tomatoes were sitting on top. The smell of garlic was intense. With plastic fork in one hand and pita bread in the other, I started scooping and chewing my way through the dish. The strong musky flavor of the beans were rivaled by the aromatics and the tough skins of the beans were largly pliable, if not ready to disintergrate. Together with the generous olive oil and the toasty bread, the dish was quite good. It's in a different ball game from the dish I had in Philly, but it's just another take. Mus had never even heard of ful being treated as a breakfast dish. "It's an anytime thing." Street food, he said. Everybody does theirs differently (link to fat free ful bean dish). Speaking of which...

I simmered my beans for a good long while today (pretty pic of boiling beans to come when camera agrees to release said photos). They already taste good. I can't wait to spread them among my menu for the rest of the week. If I try to do them up Abyssinia style, I'll probably saute onions in lots of garlic, with cumin and maybe a little harisa and then add some of the beans and give it a whack with the immersion blender (to smooth it out, but still leave some chunks here and there). The rest is a matter of plating, but the oil/butter and diced pepper topping is going to be about as crucial as an absorbant bread for scooping.

I'm really looking foward to it. Oh, and a nice chianti.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Spotlight on The People United

The Obama victory lit a fire under Americans that will change the political playing field forever. But, how? We can't sit back and predict. We can only continue in pursuit of the campaign's promise. It seems like it's being said everywhere that all boats will rise among progressive movements with this electoral sea change. Now, anything is possible. Continuing the spirit of social change, I want to share some recent words from a grassroots Virginia group, The People United. If you're looking for ways to continue organizing for change, here is one among many opportunities:

Let’s Keep Making History, The People United Election Follow-up

To all who worked hard to elect the first ever African-American president, we offer our congratulations. Likewise, to everyone who works hard outside of the arena of electoral politics to address the plethora of injustices that confront our communities, we congratulate you on the important role you have played in awakening the hunger for change that we see all around us. As Obama himself said when visiting Selma, Alabama, he “stands on the shoulders of giants.” Giants like Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Anne Braden, Martin Luther King Jr. and Bernard Lafayette. These giants built the grassroots movement that found a distant echo in yesterday’s election.

Against all odds, in this election, we see Virgil Goode, the racist Congressman whose stranglehold on Virginia’s fifth Congressional District looked unassailable until now, in a fight for his seat that is still too close to call. This was due in no small part to the tireless efforts of people like Rhonda Miska, who took a month of her life to work full-time plus without pay on the campaign of Tom Perriello. We also witnessed the defeat of Thelma Drake, who once had Tom Palumbo arrested for simply trying to deliver a petition to her office. We know that Tom and others took precious time away from their anti-war and G.I. rights organizing in Tidewater to make this possible.

The McCain campaign was in many ways an attack on the Left in this country, continually bringing up William Ayers and Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and using the labels community organizer and Socialist as a smear. Record numbers of people turned out at the polls to not only register their discontent with the status quo, but to also affirm the value of social justice. Thousands upon thousands of volunteers staffed phone banks and went door to door talking to their neighbors to turn out this vote. Fear did not prevail. We recognize that this, rather than simply in the results of the election, is where we find the real power and potential in this moment. We also recognize that moving forward from this moment, the tasks before us are largely unchanged. We know that together we can build on this new sense of the possible to create new avenues for popular involvement in the decisions that affect us.

The hateful and violent racism we heard from the crowd at McCain rallies represents a vocal and well-organized minority that will continue their work. A report by the Southern Poverty Law Center documents the rise of hate groups and nativist organizations, showing that many have offices here in Virginia. If you remember that the Reagan years were boom times for the peace movement, you’ll understand that an Obama presidency will breathe new life into white supremacist movements. We need to be organized in our response. Engaging white communities around the importance of multiracial organizing for change will be a critically essential task in these coming years.

Plans continue full steam ahead to build a privately-run, 1000-bed immigrant prison in Farmville, where investors will profit from locking up people whose only crime is working to support their families. Obama has yet to articulate a position on our brutal immigrant detention network, and the targeting of immigrants will continue. Join us for the regional meeting in Richmond this Sunday as we gather to strategize our way forward in responding.

We celebrate the victory that was achieved yesterday and we recognize that it’s the swell of organized communities from below that has always turned the tide towards real justice. Today, it is more important than ever that we continue our work to build a diverse, grassroots movement for social justice.

Continuing in the struggle with you, we are The People United.


Regional Meeting to Strategize Resistance to Farmville Prison
Sunday 11/9 at 6:00 pm
Sacred Heart Church - 1401 Perry St. - Richmond, VA

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

14 Rewards for Voting for Change

He never seems to see it coming.

Oh, the vexing plastic butterfly on a stick.

Splish slash, I was takin' a bath.

Stop looking at the... avocado tub from the 70s.
D'you wanna remodel our bathroom?

Enough with the nudie shots, already.
I might run for office one day.

Amuse bouche.

The mysterious vanishing bottom lip.

Three courses for $0.25 at Jasper's restaurant week:
sweet potatoes, vanilla yogurt, frozen banana (all organic).

We went to Belle Isle with this contraption (pulling my hair all the way)

I soiled my other costume.

He's about to push Frankie down the slide.