Thursday, October 08, 2009

Footnote to Use Your Noodle to Advance the Cause

See comments below responding to first two readers. Further on comments follow to Readers Three and Four. lee

Lee Drury De Cesare

See comments below from readers. I have already responded to Reader One. Now let me respond to Reader Two on the transportation issue.

The first time I heard of the transportation fiasco, a former school-bus driver headed the division. I have nothing against upward mobility but oppose upward stupidity when it involves tax money and schools' well being. The key to climbing the job ladder in the school system is to demonstrate belly-up loyalty to Ms. Elia and the Keystone Kops board. If I mistake not, an administrator named
Davis recently got the boot from lack of harmony with Ms. Elia.

The pricey consulting firm that the School Board brings in when there pops up a problem that exceeds the unqualified, meagerly credentialed coterie of dumb-cluck buddies, sycophants, and no-talent family members that the administration and board have hired in their jobs racket with bloated salaries in inverse proportion to their IQ. This choreograph trips ROSSAC's and not-a-clue board members' bringing in the
Calvary: pricey consultants, many of whom themselves are dumb but rapacious specimens who set up firms with a shingle on the door and rapacity within also don't know their ass from their elbow. These specimens can't answer a problem that exceeds the lower-quartile brain pans of the resident board-and administration mess-ups. Birds of a feather will flock together.

The transportation-meltdown consultants rode in on their jetliner steeds at taxpayer expense, toured the disaster area of transportation, and composed a recommendation summary that said, in effect, 1. get scheduling software and 2. have more convenient places to park the buses.

These shallow insights were not deep stuff. The head of transportation, had she read industry journals, could have discovered this solution herself.

The price of this consultant Romper-room analysis in an report filled with grammar-punctuation errors cost a bundle: I have forgotten how much, but rest assured it was substantial.

Ignorant taxpayers coughed up funds that subsidized endemic ROSSAC and board stupidity.

Word circulated that the power brokers in ROSSAC advertised--an epochal act--and got a professional guy in the job to head transportation.

I hoped that he was doing ok. Evidently not. He must not have shown sufficient humility to Ms. Elia.

April Griffin claimed to be responsible for insisting on the outside hire, but only whimpered when Ms. Elia claimed credit and said this was an example of how ROSSAC and the board advertised jobs to coincide with its faux equal-opportunity claims.

I thought that buses were running on time after the new guy took over, but your email says that there has been a Saturday Night massacre for some reason that has escaped the somnolent press's attention as usual. I would like to know details if you can provide them.

You are wrong to say that I endorsed the guy you cite for the School Board. I think I asked him to answer a candidate questionnaire, for which I asked all the candidates. The challengers answered. The incumbents did not.

I learned my lesson tardily when I endorsed and gave money to Susan Valdes and April Griffin in their School Board races. That gesture was my own pissing-in-the-wind mistake, which I rue. I won't repeat it.

Susan Valdez signaled the real reason--partying on the taxpayer's dime--why she had run for school board by spending $50,000 in one year flying around the country probably in First Class to pick up the Cracker Jack awards the school national bureaucracies shovel out to each other to signify how swell and important the civic and intellectual pygmies are who bungle the running of schools across the country.

Instead of "cleaning up the schools" as Susan promised, she instead treated herself to $50,000 tax money subsidized travel larks, one trip of which I heard was to
Las Vegas, not one of the country's bastions of education. La Valdes did these obscene deeds while the poor children in the county couldn't participate in class activities for lack of supplies supposed to be provided by their poverty-stricken parents.

Meanwhile, La Susan holds forth on the board dais no matter the topic on "saving every penny of taxpayer money" and any other irrelevant, moldy cliché she can dredge up from the shallow store of her understanding.

April Griffin started out with a brave request to have an item's involving no-bid hiring of a former administrator as consultant for some school project. She took the unprecedented step of asking that it be pulled off the agenda for discussion. This pulling off the board and administration conveyor belt the narrative of secretly arrived-at decisions that whiz by on the Consent Agenda on board nights with all the secrets of the gauche deals that board and administration hammer out in secret Star Chamber confabs represented an unprecedented chance for taxpayers to have a smidge of open government for a change and see and hear how their money funnels into the crooked power game that the board and administration play with public tax money.

April's request to see the behind-the-scenes product of board and administration misuse of tax money brought from Carol Kurdell, who has hunkered on the board since the Cretaceous Epoch and who rarely speaks except during election time, a rebuke for April's being "disloyal to the staff."

Ms. Candy Olson, who had savaged Mr. Erwin eighteen years before when he came to the board for help with his discovery of theft and graft in the schools, echoed La Kurdell. La Candy had told Erwin that he had "better have solid proof of his accusations," not that she was concerned about his discovery and move with all deliberate speed to investigate it. She evinced no curiosity about his charges--perhaps because she knew the circumstances first hand. La Olson joined Ms. Kurdell in her condemnation of Griffin's asking for an item to come off the agenda as lese majeste against the power structure in a rare instance of open government in the public choreographed and disguised agenda show biz of the board.

Ms. Olson is noted in the gossip mill for stories about her getting jobs for such people as an exotic dancer for convincing cops to pass up a traffic ticket on one of her family for drunk driving and who struggles for public-servant dignity weighed down by the piteous story of her judge or lawyer husband's email to the Ye Mystic Krewe dingdongs that announced his coming out and "never being happier" before their divorce, consummated in Sarasota, as I recall.

If Ms. Olson were not such a rabid supporter and participant in the corruption that goes on in the crooked purlieus of ROSSAC, one might feel sorry for her.

Griffin has the guts of a butterfly, hence shrank back in terror from these attacks by collaborators Kurdell and Olson, morphed into board Valkyries to protect the corruption corporation they help run. So Griffin slunk away, subdued by two of the dumbest women to pull frocks over their heads in Hillsborough County, to subsequently morph into a roll-over team player that very night. To help protect the corruption franchise, La April later went with Motel 8 Jennifer Falliero on a secret piney-woods diplomatic mission without portfolio to Ms. Smith, of the Alafia principal's debacle's getting bad board-and-administration publicity from an unusually alert press.

These two Disrelis manqué convinced Smith to resign the job with the apparent promise that the board and administration would take care of her. These two savants should take over Indo-China's diplomatic bog to clean things up over there.

Administrators never get fired unless they violate Ms. Elia's lust for constant praise; they just get moved around. Teachers' formula for this racket is "Mess up to move up" in ROSSAC.

I heard Griffin at a board meeting that the Alafia parents attended en masse--about 12 by my count; they gave me one of their Alafia tee-shirts-- sitting in the back of the auditorium waiting to speak out only to have Griffin come from the board dais to the back of the auditorium where they sat to convince these Alafia parents to call off their mike comments before the board to complain about the situation after La Elia's papal visits to Alafia to harangue PTA parents to keep Smith as principal. Griffin said it would injure the schools. La Elia had failed to budge these PTA hearties from their goal of getting rid of Smith, even when Elia pledged to send Smith and her assistant principal to Eckerd for make-over seminars on how to be human beings at $4500 a pop.

Compare that solicitude to the Professional Standards crucifixion of teachers on manufactured or peripheral charges to keep them mute about school affairs' board and administration mess-ups.

Roll-over Griffin succeeded. The Alafia parents didn't speak before the board because of April's pleas that they would harm the school system; they instead deputized an ass kisser spokesperson whom humility overcome at the high honor of presenting himself at the mike to the anointed board and delivered a message of obeisance flavored with flapdoodle to these "public servants" and Ms. Elia.

Board and Elia ate it up and knew they were home free. These are the kind of ga-ga citizens they want at the board during citizen comment time.

I have pledged since April and Susan made a fool of me never to endorse or support school board candidates. They speak bravely about reform on the hustings at campaign events, get elected, and then embrace the ancient patterns of corruption that characterize the board's and administration's running of the schools. April and Susan have done so with a bang.

Lawyer Gonzalez requested to speak and weighed in with a resounding endorsement of no-bid contracts. Demosthenes could not have topped his echoing praise of no-bid buddy-family-collaborator chits. That chance for this member of the bar's chance to endorse the procedure that violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights act comes from Dr. Lennard's giving Le Gonzalez the board-attorney job with a wink and a nod and no advertising six years ago in a no-bid maneuver due to the retiring long-serving attorney's worn-out synapses in the service of writing briefs that provided Jesuitical justifications of board malefactions.

Keep me apprised of the transportation tumult. I think it is representative of the way the board and administration solve their problems with Saturday Night Massacres a la Richard Nixon mode.

My fervent wish is to see the day that people trashed in such explosions of administrative and board cruel and unethical petulance will slough off their fear and come forward to hold press conferences in the lobby of the ROSSAC building and to harangue the board in the three meager minutes the administration and board allow citizens to speak to the public past the board and administration to the Public TV cameras.

Ms. Kurdell has shut down my free-speech rights to comment on agenda items tagged as audience participation. She confiscates my sign-ups. The board and administration don't like what I say, so I must be doing something right.

You are a good writer, a rarity in the ROSSAC panoply of marginal literacy. Best of all would be for you to start an anonymous blog on this area of transportation corruption and lay it all out on a non-stop basis. Suzy Creamcheese, the ur school blogger, is anonymous because she, like most teachers, fears for her job. Teachers note how Steve Kemp was crucified for having a blog. He was the most recent poster boy for the wages of exercising his free-speech rights.

Steve Kemp just survived the Professional Standards gauntlet that included a false charge of child abuse that the Sheriff threw out the day Special-ed Area 5 supervisor Ron Smiley filed it. This false charge gave pretext to the administration's keeping Steve on suspension for over a year. The board and administration have gotten away with such outrages for years, so both were quite nonplussed that somebody challenged their corrupt behavior. They don't have a script for that.

What Hamlet said he was reading when Polonius questioned him--Words, words, words--makes revolutions. If a person can write--and you can--he or she possesses the power to impact the kind of crime and incompetence that characterizes this board and administration.

I am just one little old granny of ten with deficient upper-body strength who ekes out what gains she can effect against the avalanche of corruption that infests the school board and administration.

Blog anonymous revolution is as easy as pie. Go to and join us slender crew who fight corruption with words and use all the energy we partisan bloggers have while living ordinary lives that include all the things that average people engage in besides revolution.

I bet you want to know what happened to Ms. Smith, the Alafia malignant principal rejected by the school's parents.

Ms. Elia produced her a make-work job in an economic downturn with some gimcrack title and convoluted rationale.

La Smith makes about $60,000 a year for her featherbedding nest, equivalent to her principal's salary and twice that of beginning teachers.

Professional Standards would have crucified and put the ravaged body on display of a teacher in the lobby of ROSSAC for the kind of malfeasance Ms. Smith engaged in had she not enjoyed immunity to punishment that the board and superintendent assured because of her administrative status.

Once more into the breach,

Lee Drury De Cesare

I have not been sitting on my hands. Today I wrote a state legislator who grew up with my children to pittypat over to the FBI office and urge the boys to investigate our case against the school board. I told him to go in person and to be masterful and persuasive. Do the same with your state legislator. If you are afraid of retaliation from the ROSSAC Gang, get your mother to do the job. Mothers will kill to help their children. Helping their children is what mothers live for. lee

Response to reader 3: you are just jealous because I am so smart and cute. Your referring to my drinking cocktails insults a Georgia girl. We drink only from gallon jugs of moonshine until we are pissy pants drunk. It's de riguer in the Georgia outback from whence I emerged. I may have written the quote you attribute to me about voting for Brand X because "anybody was better than April." I changed my mind after I heard Brand X had close ties to Ms. Elia. It's every woman's right to change her mind. And don't try to change the eternal rules of gender privilege or I shall send you bed without your dinner.

Comment to Reader 4. Candy Olson is a puzzle. I have a feeling she has a lot of pain behind her mask and clings to the school board job and its connection to the administration as some kind of life line. That attachment is even more firm now that she is divorced, had to sell her South Tampa Beach Park house, and move into a condo down near the Hyde Park shopping area according to my Beach Park buddies.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

News, News, News

See new comment at the end. lee

Tampa FBI Enclave Gathers to Ponder Corruption Charges Against the Hillsborough County School Board; J. Edgar Hoover's Ghost Hovers Over the Group in the Upper-right Ionosphere. He's Wearing a Red Moo-Moo.

I can't copy and paste from my Microsoft Outlook Congressman's email until my number comes from the publisher to authenticate it.
So I can't put on my blog the message from Congressman Bill Young saying that he had sent my corruption complaint to the Tampa FBI.

I hope he sent the copy of my email to FBI Director Mueller too, the one saying I wanted Jacksonville or Miami FBI to investigate the charge because the FBI in Tampa was too cozy with the Bay Area power people.

That'll get the Tampa agents defensive. Defensive is good. Defensive agents will give my complaint more attention if they find out I have sent a copy to my congressman and to their director.

Let's set on our FBI eggs and see what hatches out. lee

Reader log-in:

This is wonderful! Maybe you will finally get these crooks! I bet if the FBI really does investigate Hillsborough's schools a lot of people would go to jail, but I bet it is like you say. The local FBI is probably friends with the power people in Hillsborough. Let's hope not. Maybe some of the board members will end up in jail as they should. The fact that they misuse taxpayer dollars to hire friends and family is horrible. That is stealing from children. Are they ashamed? No. They sit on that dais and think they are important when they are nothing but common criminals who belong in jail for ripping off the area's children.

4:08 AM

We mustn't jubilate. My years of experience in working for civil and women's rights attest that moving the government's dormant ability to solve such problems takes patience and persistence.

Follow-up is important. Nudging the bureaucracy along ranks pivotal. I must think of ways to do that chore. Suggestions are welcome. A zillion heads are better than one.

Anything from practical to bizarre gets my attention. Usually nagging is the tried-and-true mode to get the train started. I excel in that. After 53 years of marriage, I merit a Nobel in nagging.

Four women so far have won a Nobel this year: that unprecedented number gives girls growing up today role models to compete with venerable and stinky status of being dingdongs and sex objects. I think of my granddaughters always, always my granddaughters.

Bottom line: let's put this FBI project on our watch list. I shall keep pondering ways to push it along. Pitch in and write me your ideas or enact them yourselves.

Once you get started in this work, you see projects everywhere. Evil is a growth industry.

Meanwhile, I rev up to file with the Florida child-abuse agency for endemic child mistreatment that Steve Kemp's cooked-up case reveals in the Special Ed leadership and board's and superintendent's collusion in this abuse.

The new head of CTA has signed on to my blog readers' list. His name is I forget. His role I don't. He has a lot of flossy degrees, including having graduated summa cum laude. Who hasn't? I did. And I did it with four little children under six hanging on to my skirts in libraries and lecture halls for the usual four years in the challenging academic purlieus of NYC.

I bet Mr. CTA didn't attend a demanding university or college or have children clinging to his pants legs while he got his multiple degrees. Women have to be twice as good as men to achieve anything. So I say to the new CTA administrator, bring it on.

The CTA has lain in bed so long with the administration and board that it has decubitus ulcers on its cowardly hiney. Let's watch this new CTA head dandy to see if he possesses the right stuff to do his job of helping teachers or whether he folds and sucks up to the administration.

Don't be afraid to comment on your findings and conclusions in this new-leadership CTA matter. Mr. CTA Head Guy must prove to us who stand vigilant caretakers of the rights of downtrodden teachers that he possesses the right mind set to deserve this position.

Teachers need somebody in CTA leadership who stands on teachers' side for a change--not another sycophantic ass kisser and power suck-up of the board and administration like the previous head of CTA. lee

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Nail Them Before Election: They Become Non Communicado After They Get into Office

Gentle readers, if you are going to send a campaign contribution, now's the time to do it. Even $25 puts you in the database.

I have sent what I have left over from Bergdorf Goodman's to Sink. She had the Siamese twins in her family. I think that is quirky and fun. McCollum calls the legislation to give health care to the 40 million who don't have it "socialism." The guy's all heart.

If you are not scared to, tell these pols that you request that they pledge to clean up the corruption in the Hillsborough County schools. No body will kill you if you do this. I will ask Mr. and Mrs. Irwin to come down from Georgia and be the stars of a fundraiser for your lawyer
's deposit and put you in touch with the best First Amendment lawyer in town. He and I belong to Phi Beta Kappa's Bay Area Chapter. lee


Dear Ms. Sink and Mr. McCollum:

You are top contenders in the governor's race.

Politicians make promises during campaigns that they never fulfill. They especially indulge in gaseous statements about how important the schools are and how they will support the schools.

After observing the Hillsborough County schools for two years after the administration and board manufactured a Professional Standards charge against my gay friend Bart Bartsell, I have become something of an expert on board and administration corruption past and present.

I outline these in enclosed letters to Mr. Mueller, director of the FBI, my congressman, Bill Young, Senator Charles Grassley, patron saint of whistleblowers, Arne Duncan, secretary of education, and Ms. Obama, the husband of whose presidential bid I supported early.

Citizens should not have to listen to pious false promises made by gubernatorial candidates about what reverence they have for teachers, students, schools, etc but that, once elected, the governor ignores.

A citizen should not have to appeal to the FBI to clean up the graft and corruption in Florida's local schools. In Hillsborough County schools according to my inferences from two years' observation of the board and administration, the two chief areas of corruption that need cleaning up are the illegal hiring racket of the board and administration and the savaging of teachers and trashing teachers' and citizens' free-speech rights.

Carol Kurdell, now board chair, confiscates my requests to address board agenda items clearly marked for citizen comment because the board and administration don't like what I say.

The school attorney, Tom Gonzalez, sits mute during this Constitutional shutdown of a citizen's Constitlutional right to approach elected officials for redress of grieviences. He also supports no-bid contracts because he got one from Dr. Lennard with no competition.

The board and administration keep teachers terrified and mute for fear of losing their jobs so that board and administration can continue power hegemony over money and hiring as well as other perquisites of office. A board member recently spent $50,000 in a single year on travel to pick up gimcrack awards in the incestuous award system in which school districts laud each other for their faux virtues.

I request that you provide specific pledges in plain English about what you, Ms. Sink, and you, Mr. McCollum, will do as governor to clean up the corruption of school board and administration in Hillsborough County, especially in hiring and shutting down teachers' and citizsens' free-speech rights.

I was a college English professor for 28 years and am skilled in the forensics of political piffle. So pray say plainly what you will do to take care of this problem. If you plan to continue business as usual, say that. Be honest so that I can make a judgment about whom to support and vote for for governor.


Lee Drury De Cesare

15316 Gulf Boulevard 802

Madeira Beach, FL 33708

c: Patrick Manteiga

Paul Tash

Monday, October 05, 2009

If You Can Make It There, You'll Make It Anywhere

Dear Blog Readers: I report on my NYC 16-hour turnaround trip to see Jude Law's Hamlet. Take a moment from reading my letters to FBI Director Mueller, Congressman Bill Young, Senator Grassley, and the Secretary of Education to share my turnaround trip to NYC to see Jude Law's Hamlet. My baby daughter took me to the airport for a 7:45 a.m. Delta flight.

Have a bunch of children like I did, feed them, diaper them, take them to the dentist, walk them to school because they are afraid of the barking dogs,, wrap their Christmas presents, wash and iron their clothes, make a ton of breakfasts, dinners, and lunches, and you, too, will have raised airport transportation.

Having had no breakfast, I bought a sandwich in the LaGuardia airport ($9.90) and coffee ($2.20). I don't know how poor people survive in NYC: everything is so pricey. I sat at a little table with a couple my age overlooking the runways.

I would talk to a post, so we chatted. The guy said he was a "health worker." I said, "What kind?" "Doctor," he explained. He said he and his wife had moved from England to Canada. He asked if I were English, and I said my parents had been and asked "Why do you ask?" He said I looked English. I told him that everybody in the Old South looked and were English because they fled when Cromwell and the Roundheads beheaded Charles I. Charles I deserved to be beheaded. I would have joined the beheaders if I had been living then. Charles I is the type who would be a ROSSAC functionary had he lived today in Tampa.

The doctor said that greedy doctors in the US were a big factor in the overpriced health-care system; he said the fees they charged astonished him.

The wife was a quiet, pretty, gentle woman who added inarticulate assent to everything her old man said. She was the old-fashioned model of wives. They are passing into cultural history as we speak.

The doctor revealed that he had just had a quadruple bypass, having had a heart attack on the treadmill.

"Make peace with your genes," said he." They are your destiny."

I said I was on good terms with my double helix and knew I would die of a stroke or heart attack because when the family historian, Cousin Shirley, and I tour the family cemetery in Burnt Fort (burnt by wicked Yankees, of course), I will ask, pointing at a headstone, "What did he die of, Shirley?"

"Stroke, honey." Shirley will say. "He just upped and fell dead."

So will I.

I spent about a hundred dollars on three cabs. The toll into the city from LaGuardia adds $5.00 I flagged one at LaGuardia and said, "Take me to Bergdorf's on Fifth Avenue near the park."

Nobody is poor in Bergdorf's. The customers are mostly rich women looking for something to spend their pocket money on. The women look terrific. When you see their husbands lugging briefcases on the street, they look like hell. Pay-your-own-way-ladies has not emerged in Bergdorf's clientele.

It used to be that all the clerks in Bergdorf's were all these blonde, Anglo types with hair up in aristocratic buns and nose up in the air.

A few years ago, my husband and I were going back home after a cruise to the Far East, and I insisted on stopping at Bergdorf's. I entered to see a dark-haired young woman behind the counter of this flossy handbag station I like to drop by to see what's new. I said to her, "Aren't you Hispanic?" She nodded. I said, "I am so happy to see some ethnic variety in the salespeople."

This comment so delighted the lass that she ran screaming to the other counters to repeat my remark. Even the sprinkling of remaining blonde and bunned Anglo sales women laughed at her jubilation.

And what does a person go to Bergdorf's for? Shoes, of course. You can't get good shoes anyplace in Florida. Flip-flops and man-made soles are about it. You also go to see all the beautiful things that spread out before you. We all need beauty in our lives.

I now am reading a book about Louis XIV. He invented elegance in its entirity: in food, in interior decorating, in everything. If you go to Paris, prepare for streets and streets of beautiful architecture. Every administration feels an obligation to add at least one exquisite building to the city.

Louis XIV bought thousands of pricey swans for the Seine simply for the panache of these exquisite creatures on the river. A lot died of the pollution. But enough toughed it out, adapted, and multiplied. They are still on the Seine. The police don't let people pester them.

I like Louis XVI's mind. He made France the country with a franchise on elegance. He would have loved Bergdorf's.

I headed to shoes like a lemming the minute I stepped through the door.

Bergdorf has met the economic downturn and given it the finger. Last year its shoes started at $565. This year they clock in at $665.

Then I went to the Chanel salon for the fun of looking at the prices. You know that classic little suit of Channel's with the short, no buttons jacket? Know what the price tag was for it? Try $6095. Don't you love that $95 fillip?

Skirts: a mere $1500; blouse: $1200.

Fortunately, I am too chubby to look good in Chanel. You have to be both thin as well as rich for Chanel. Chanel herself was as skinny as a snake. You, too, must be rib-cage-showing thin
to wear her clothes successfully. She took a Nazi officer as lover during the occupation of WWII; the French never forgave her. I think they were right. But they still bought her clothes, and women of the world do today if they have the money.

It was some solace that I carried my biggest handbag as substitute for a suitcase, a giant Chanel bought 20 years ago. Know what the very same bag costs now? $3000. I felt smug that I had got mine twenty years ago so cheap. I have a collection of old Chanel bags hung around my bedroom for panache. Chanel bags (le sac) never change. Never. My old bags adorned the flossy Channel luxe bag corner of Bergdorf's: new but the same style exactly. I may have a fortune hanging around on nobs in my bedroom. It's comforting to know that you have money put away, invested in old Chanel handbags against hard times.

My time ran short. I had to get to the theater for Hamlet. So I accosted one of those guys in the Chanel salon and asked him, "What floor is Escada on?"

Wearing an Italian suit, Gucci loafers, and a perpetual sneer, he shrank back in horror and gazed at me down his nose, "Madame, we don't carry Escada!" as if it were Salvation Army retreads.

"I mean Escandar, Monsieur Les Sacs," I spat back at the fashion snoot.

He brightened and responded," Sixth Floor."

I had to visit my Escandar buddy Jan, head saleswoman of Escandar. I have been buying from her for years. Jan is petite and skinny with a mop of greying hair done up in a top-knot twig on the top of her head--not the back, but the top. Jan has a flawless sense of cutting-edge style laced with daring and wit. She always looks terrific, draped in some Escandar combination in dead black head to toe.

I got away with only one Escandar tee-shirt. Escandar tee-shirts are things of beauty not to be sneered at for their plebeian origins. First of all, they are silk and linen and cut with generous opulence so that they hang so beautifully that you just want to sit down and boohoo for joy when you put one on and look so good in it. Even if you are as ugly as a toad, these Escandar tees make you look good.

To make curtain on time, I tripped out of Bergdorf's, having had my tee and shoes shipped to save taxes. Yes, I said shoes.
Can I go to Bergdorf's and come out without at least one pair of shoes? Louis XIV would understand. I hailed a cab went to 43rd Street.

This Hamlet was a matinee and packed. Every seat taken. New York supports the arts. The Bay Area supports tractor pulls.

Jude Law lives a disreputable private life, impregnating bedazzled women hither and yon--not admirable conduct at all. I am going to send the boy--now pushing 40-- a box car of condoms.

But on the stage, Le Law transforms into the magic persona of the beauteous Prince of Denmark. He does it so well with such authority over the words, such elegance of movement, such masterful elan, that he makes the rest of the quite skillful cast look inadequate.

First of all, Jude Law looks like Hamlet. Hamlet couldn't have been more than 20 or 21 years old. Remember, he has come back for his father's funeral from Wittenberg, a university town. Horatio, Hamlet's school buddy--"Show me that man who is not passion's slave/And I will wear him in my heart's core,/ Aye, in my heart of hearts"--is Hamlet's sole friend in the play.

When Horatio arrives, Hamlet asks, "Why make you from Wittenberg?"

Horatio responds," I come for your father's funeral."

Hamlet says, "Nay, for my mother's marriage." Horatio says, "Indeed, it did follow hard upon" (two months after her husband, the King, died).

Mr. Law is tall and thin and muscular with a whippet sized waist. He slouches around speaking the lines and looking and sounding just swell. The costumes for the cast are earth tones in some neutral styling that suggests The World, Anytime.

Appearance aside, it's when Law opens his mouth and says Shakespeare's lines that he is splendid. He projects beautifully so that you can hear him even in the rear of the theater, where I sat. Many of the actors could not reliably project their lines so as to be clearly heard as could Law. The women had particular difficulties.

Law brings a suppleness of pronunciation and movement to the role that looks princely. He dominates the stage when he is on it, even overshadowing the ghost of Old King Hamlet, the usual sceen stealer.

I am glad I saw this performance. It's one of the best I have seen, and I have seen all that have played on Broadway for years.

Play over, but only one curtain call: New Yorkers are a tough, savvy audience. Nobody enraptures them easily.

I had a hard time flagging down a cab for the airport heading home. It was six o'clock when the drivers are either going home or chauffeuring cabs full of passengers going home.

I finally got a cab; I thought a woman drove it.

"I'm so glad to see a woman driving a cab," I chirped.

"I'm not a woman," the driver said. "I am a man."

"Well, how was I supposed to know?" I responded. "You have a mop of big hair, so I thought you were a woman. Take me to LaGuardia."

"You know how much that costs?" he inquired, mistaking my Southern accent for a hillbilly who didn't know how pricey cabs are in NYC.

"It's about $35, and I'm good for it," I responded.

Talking with cab drivers is one of my favorite things to do in NY. They come from all over the world. They are sophisticated men even if mostly uneducated. Some are erudite. It's nothing to see Spinoza with the page turned down on the seat beside a cabbie.

The cab driver who took me into the city was Greek; so was this guy. The first and I talked about the Parthenon and the Elgin marbles, which Lord Elgin stole so that they now reside in an English museum. Greeks love to fulminate about this outrage. And they are proud of their culture and grateful if you allude to it. They should be proud. All of Western history is a footnote to the 6th-century B.C. Greeks.

I have gotten into knock-down drag-out fights in faculty lounges on this issue of the Elgin marbles. Some argue for the theft by saying that the marbles are "safer" in the English museum. How does that justify stealing a people's cultural heritage? Safe or unsafe, the marbles belong to the country of the people who produced them.

The first cabbie and I totally agreed on that issue. We damned the English and spat on Lord Elgin's memory.

The second mop-of-hair cabbie said he didn't care about the Elgin marbles. I asked him what he cared about.

"Money," he said.

Then he told me he had been married twice.

"What happened to your first marriage?" I asked.

"She divorced me because I couldn't speak English," he said.

"I don't like that woman," I responded.

"Neither do I ," he said. "She wanted to get back together after five years, but I had already met my second wife. So she was out of luck."

"Or lucked out," I thought to myself. This guy was no Brad Pitt.

"I am 70," he announced triumphantly. "And I had a $17 sandwich for lunch." He named the Italian restaurant and its address.

"I am older than you and had a $9.90 for lunch," I said.

"You don't look it," he said.

"That's genes," I said.

Then this old cabbie taught me something I didn't know. He said, "Do you know Thermopolis?"

"Yes," I said. "That's where the Greeks turned back the Persians who came by water in thousands of ships to overthrow Greece."

"You know what "Thermopolis" means in Greek?" he asked.

"No," I admitted.

"It means "'warm,'" he said.

So words like "thermal" and "thermos" come from "Thermopolis."

You can always learn something from everybody you meet if you listen.

I gave him a generous tip. I always do if I can afford it. Cab drivers have only their salaries. They don't have pension plans.

I sat on the aisle seat returning to Tampa. Two Bay Area high school girls sat beside me and talked and talked and talked when I wanted to sleep. I would like to have killed them.

I went back to the kitchen, where the four stewardesses had gathered after serving us a beverage but no peanuts. The airline has discontinued peanuts, for God's sake. I always talk to the stewardesses in the airline-stewardess sisterhood.

"I was a stewardess over fifty years ago," I told them. "And not only did we serve peanuts but filet mignon as well."

I didn't say so, but there was an age limit when I flew, now illegal, and you needed a Bachelor's or a nursing degree to meet the education requirement. Also good legs. The employment interview included raising your skirt to show your legs. Women wouldn't put up with that now.

The dear stewardesses, none of whom would have made the cut fifty years ago, found me another seat so that I could escape the motor-mouth girls.

My baby daughter awaited me as I exited the transit car from airside.

We gossiped as we drove back to her house in Beach Park, where I stayed the night before returning to the beach.

I hadn't had anything to eat since my morning sandwich, so my child gave me a cold chicken breast and a beer. It was delicious. Whatever your child feeds you always is. We sat and talked at the kitchen table while I ate my chicken breast.

I told my youngest child that I had had a great time in NYC. In fact, I told her what I have told you above. lee

Hit the Public-information Jackpot

From: Linda Cobbe []
Sent: Monday, October 05, 2009 10:24 AM
To: lee de cesare
Subject: Re: public information: third request

It's the second link under Important Links. Also, Ellyn Smith is on special assignment in Divisional Program Services. She earns $44.56 per hour, which is the same rate she earned as principal.

Linda E. Cobbe

External Communications Manager

Hillsborough County Public Schools

901 E. Kennedy Blvd.

Tampa, FL 33602

813-272-4602 (O)

813-493-6964 (C)

813-272-4510 (F)

Our mission is to provide an education that enables each student to excel as a successful and responsible citizen.

"lee de cesare" <> writes:

Where is the bullying policy? Is it on the Web?

My bad math says Ms. Smith, former Alafia principal, makes about $58,000 year. Why should she get a principal salary in this make-work position for a job she couldn't do? Don't beginning teachers make $33,000 a year? Doesn't this cast some doubt on the board's "saving every penny of taxpayer money" as Susan Valdez of the $50,000 travel budget opines from the podium every time she gets the chance to zap us with another hypocritical cliche?

Smith's is another administrative featherbedding slot in an economic downturn. lee