Category Archives: Uncategorized

Happy [redacted] Birthday to my Mom!

Please enjoy these photos of my Mom before she makes me take them down!

Today is her [redacted] birthday, and I selfishly want to share with you some of the photographic evidence of her sustaining love and support throughout my life.  Luckily I look a lot like her, or you might doubt how a quiet and self-effacing woman could raise such a loudmouth, or how an incredibly creative artisan could raise someone who can’t knit a scarf in a straight line, or how a talented musician could raise someone who can’t sing or play a note.

I’ve probably told this story on this blog before, but one of the crucial lessons she taught me was when I was about 6 and a neighbor kid was trying to scare me with a snake he had caught. Mom pointed out that all he wanted was a reaction, and if I laughed, he’d go away.  I did, and he did, and thus I received my first lesson in dealing with corporate defense counsel!

She tolerated my insufferable picky eating, and eventually taught me to enjoy food from around the world.  One of our continuing joys is visiting and finding new and interesting restaurants in DC, Denver, or other destinations.

She was an important part of making me the proud nerd that I am today, reading to us and teaching us throughout our kidhood, and storming the high school and eventually taking over the English Lit education of a handful of us when the school persisted in thinking 10th graders didn’t need to read literature.  She initially thought a linguistics major was impractical, but I’m pretty sure she’s glad I can appreciate her bilingual puns and other language nerd jokes.

Possibly because she grew up as a Jewish girl in largely Christian/WASP DC, she taught us to be proud of our mixed heritage and to be open to those of others.  I have never, ever, known her to show prejudice to any group or person — a statement few of any age can make.

Also I got to meet Mstislav Rostropovich — in our very own living room!

Ultimately, she taught me to be independent and was the home I came home to after my independent adventures.

Happy Birthday, Mom, and so much love.  And onward to more travel, adventures, reading, creativity, and excellent restaurants.

Image: Mom in 2016 standing in front of a leafy background, wearing a patterned black shirt and black pants.

Mom at my niece Petra Robertson’s graduation, 2016.

 

Image: two women sitting at a restaurant table. Mom on the right in a sweater and t-shirt; Laura Rovner on the left, a younger woman with long black hair and glasses.

Mom with Laura Rovner in Boston last week.

Image: three people in front of a gothic-looking building: an man with white hair and beard in a suit and tie; younger man in a tie and red graduation gown; and Mom in a crocheted shirt with a black shirt underneath.

Step-father David North, nephew Christian Robertson, and Mom at Christian’s high school graduation in 2012.

 

Image: four people, all white: young woman with long brown hair; slightly older woman (me), with salt and pepper hair and a green shirt; Mom in black shirt and patterned shawl, and older man (David) in a suit and tie.

Rebecca Smullin, me, Mom, and David at the Impact Fund, 2007.

Image: six people, all white posed sitting on a lawn: older man, white hair & beard; young woman in a pink t-shirt holding a toddler with a plush animal in her lap; young boy in t-shirt also with beanie baby toy, man wearing ball cap and beige polo shirt, and mom, in a white t-shirt and khakis.

David, sister-in-law Terri Robertson (holding Petra), Christian, brother Bruce Robertson, Mom in Boston ca. 2001.

 

Image: four people, all white, posed in front of a house: woman with gray hair in green t-shirt; woman with brown/gray hair and glasses and green dress; man with white hair an beard in blue shirt; younger man with brown hair in white shirt and striped pants with red suspenders.

Aunt Miriam Grabois, Mom, David, cousin Adam Grabois in Boston ca. 2000.

 

Image: two women, both white, sitting on the sofa. Me with short brown hair and glasses wearing a knit vest and khakis; Mom with short brown/gray hair and glasses wearing a green sweater.

Mom and me on the sofa at Mom’s house.

 

Image: four people, all white, posed on the patio in back of a brick house - man with blond hair in dark sweater using a wheelchair, woman in pink t-shirt, older (balding) man sitting in lawn chair wearing light blue shirt; me with an uncharacteristic pony tail wearing a brown sweatshirt and jeans.

Tim, Mom, grandfather Clarence Blau, and me, ca 1994.

 

Image: two white women in party dresses, one with straight brown hair and glasses, the other with curly hair; both holding white roses.

The mothers-in-law: Mom and Nora Fox at our wedding.

 

Image: three white people sitting at a restaurant table; man in suit with glasses; younger man also in suit; woman (Mom) in black dress with gold-embroidered sleeves.

Dad, Bruce, and Mom ca 1990.

 

 

Image: 5 white people posing in front of a building. Mom (brown/gray hair and glasses in a white sweater); older man in suit and white fishing hat; me (short brown hair; graduation gown); younger man in spiked hair with sunglasses in a shirt and tie, and slightly older man in a suit and tie, also with sunglasses.

Mom, my grandfather Clen Robertson, me, Bruce, Dad at my law school graduation, 1988.

 

Image: three white people posed in front of a building; me (short brown hair, dark sweater, jeans); Mom (short dark hair, blazer, jeans); David (white hair & beard; blazer, knit vest, jeans).

Me, Mom, David in China ca. 1981

 

Image: white woman in shortsleeve red shirt holds a small white dog that is licking the face of a small boy in a blue sweatshirt and shorts with a camera around his neck.

Mom, Bruce and our dog, Jenny, 1970.

 

Image: three white people and a dog pose on the side of a boat: girl with ponytail wearing a blue t-shirt and red shorts; woman in red shirt and sunglasses; man with curly brown hair and beard in shortsleeve shirt and brown pants.

Me, Mom, Dad and Jenny on vacation ca. 1970.

 

 

Image: white woman & 2 white kids on tricycles posed on a driveway in front of a white station wagon.

Me, Mom, Bruce ca. 1964.

 

Image: White woman with brown hair in a blue dress squatting down to holdsa toy out to a white toddler in a white dress. They are on the sidewalk in front of a row of houses.

Mom and me, ca. 1961

And here’s the photo that proves we were really a Soviet spy family all along:

Nikita Khrushchev, Mom, Dad in 1959.

 

We need all of us

My previous post was on the stages of grieving the recent election.  One of the things I noticed after my Dad died was that there are also different ways of grieving . . . and coping with loss and challenge.  I also noticed that the average number of dumb things I did and said (and, candidly, that other people said) went up radically during the grieving period.

In the past few days, since the election trainwreck, I’ve seen, heard, and read people grieving and coping in many different ways, some of which made me annoyed or even angry.  I’m trying to hold onto this bit of insight, though:  we need all of us.

We need people who are mad as hell and taking to the streets.

We need policy wonks who are willing to [drink a giant vodka and pepto cocktail and] try to make semi-rational policy with the incoming administration.

We need law nerds in offices with laptops suing the crap out of anyone who violates civil rights and civil liberties.  (I have to fit in somewhere, right?)

We need people who need to hear “it’s going to be OK” in order to get up in the morning and continue to do good work.

We need people who need to hear us acknowledge that it’s never ever going to be OK.

We need people to step up and step in when harassment happens.  Always.

We need people documenting every single act of harassment and vandalism.

We need both those who think this is the apocalypse and those who can pull us back from the emotional brink.

We even need [flying pigs and] liberal Republicans we can work with to limit the legislative and administrative damage to specific communities.

Most of all, I think, we need to be gentle with each other here on the left and the many and various ways we’re coping and processing.

We need all of us.

5 stages

1. disbelief
2. anger
3. comfort food
4. organizing with our wonderful, righteous, loving civil rights community.
5. fighting like hell for the America we all know we can be, protecting our brothers/sisters/siblings who will come under attack,struggling to move the law forward or at least not back, and building a coalition that will elect strong, good leaders in 2018 and 2020.

This is *my* fight song.

#googlemapsprivilege

All of my anger today is for cops who murder Black people and evil fucks who murder cops. In the wake of this, as every, police shooting, we remember the others.  Michael Brown. Tamir Rice.  Eric Garner. Sandra Bland.  #blacklivesmatter

But some of the stories and posts I’m seeing brought to mind a different hashtag:

#googlemapsprivilege

The ability to take a simple drive and get to your destination at about the time Google Maps says you will, that is, without being randomly stopped, suspected, delayed, and generally fucked with simply because you are (1) Black and (2) in a car.

Last night, a professional woman who sits on the board of our non-profit recounted this story in a Facebook comment:

I was pulled over right outside Denver Botanic Gardens by a cop who said I “looked like I was trying too hard to get away from him” after leaving the drive-thru at Wendy’s. I had on a really menacing business suit.

Ed Garnes — who I don’t know but whose post was shared enough times that I got to read it — recounts this incident:

Black Death is a sport. This is a fact with history on it’s side. When the police are involved my “fancy” education, two parent household upbringing, and clean criminal record will not save me. This year alone I have been followed by police over 10 times. I have paid over 400 dollars in tickets that were not warranted. This past weekend I was followed for 5 miles by an officer in Douglasville. Luckily, I was able to find a “safe area” with people as the officer pulled up beside my car and stared me down. I called a friend who then escorted me back to the highway so I could return to the south side. A few months ago, someone called the police on me for merely retrieving items from my vehicle at the univ of Tennessee, a campus where I work and attend school. My 4.0 gpa meant nothing. In Knoxville the past 3 weeks, someone has spit in my food at a local eatery and spit on my car leaving tangible evidence of hate. This is my reality as a Black man dodging death like some super hero who never knows if this minute is my last. If I die today, y’all better fight for me. Fuck a hashtag.

Same with this astonishing list from John Fleming:

Have you ever:

1) Been accused of being a drug dealer in a neighborhood b/c you’re driving a nice car and get racial profiled?

2) Been stopped and detained in a parking garage in downtown Austin by EIGHT state troopers and be accused of being an alleged rapist (who they then said was a white red head male after they finally let me go) from Georgetown, TX?

3)Had a gun drawn on you b/c you went to reach for your WALLET for a traffic stop?

4) Lived your entire life wondering how from when I was a little boy until this very post how your cousin, who was a State Marshall in Texas, (whom you looked up to and admired) was found dead in his East Texas home and his death was never solved?

5) Been WALKING from your office after a day’s work to the parking garage and get stopped by a UTPD Police officer and asked for your ID without cause at the Blanton Parking Garage b/c someone reported that an African American male was seen strung out on drugs selling drugs in the garage? I was held and detained for approximately 30 mins while they ran my license with UTPD, APD, State and Nation.

6) Been pulled over traveling south on I-35 in Oklahoma just a few miles before crossing back into Texas and have a Oklahoma State Trooper pull you over for TRAVELING 60 in a 70mph area for speeding, get asked to step out of your car while your sister and her 3 daughters are in the car and be escorted back to the front seat of the Troopers K-9 Ford Expedition with a barking vigilant German Shepard in the back seat as you are interrogated and then released for a warning when he learns that your cousin is STATE SENATOR FOR THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA?

All of the above are true and they HAPPENED TO ME!

It’s a privilege to stay alive and it’s another privilege to get to your fucking destination without having to pull over and have a discussion about the way you drove out of the Wendy’s drive thru, or what sort of car you’re driving, or the fact that no, except for skin color, you do not look like the robber/rapist/drug dealer they are looking for, or your broken tail-light, or your expired plates.  I’ve been driving on expired plates since February, it was recently pointed out to me BY A FRIEND, NOT BY A COP.

I have been pulled over approximately five times in my life.  All but one of them were for my admitted habit of driving 10-25 mph over the speed limit.  In other words: righteous stops, for which I got tickets and points.   The other was for making a right turn without signaling.  Suburban Minnesota.  Late at night.  Officer shined the flashlight in my eyes.  I kept my hands on the wheel.  I got a warning not to do that again and was sent on my way.

I think this is some of what Justice Sotomayor was talking about when she use the term “civil death.”

We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are “isolated.” They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere. See L. Guinier & G. Torres, The Miner’s Canary 274–283 (2002). They are the ones who recognize that unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but.

Utah v. Strieff, No. 14-1373, 2016 WL 3369419, at *16 (U.S. June 20, 2016) (Sotomayor, J., dissenting).

#whiteprivilegeisreal.  So is #googlemapsprivilege.

I’llRideWithYou?

After North Carolina made the brilliant decision to police its citizens’ bathroom habits, a movement arose urging cis folks to be available to accompany trans or genderqueer folks to the restroom or other gendered spaces.  It’s called “I’ll Go With You.”   It has a website … and buttons!

This week, two more Black men were assassinated by the police under circumstances that defy rational understanding, but that share with so many other similar murders this feature:  they would not have happened to a white person.

What can a random middle age white lady do about all this killing?  I can march, shout, post . . . all things that announce my horror, anger, and sadness.  But I can’t force grand juries to indict murderous cops or juries to convict them.  And worst of all, I can’t stop the shooting from happening in the first place.

Or can I?   What if I were there?  Could enough of us be there for our Black friends, allies, and fellow citizens to stop some of the random killing?  If we’re willing to go to the bathroom as a show of solidarity with our trans and genderqueer friends, is there a way we ride along with our Black friends to show solidarity or, y’know, be a human shield?  Call it the White-People Ride-Along program*, placing random white people in the cars of random African-Americans while they drive to work, run errands, go out to dinner, stay up late, joy ride, and other things white people can do in cars without risking death at the hands of law enforcement.  It would work like a sort of reverse Uber. When the Black driver is ready to go somewhere, he or she enters the information in the WPRA app and connects with an available white passenger.  Voila!  Instant, if unfounded, respectability and potential survival.

Wild-ass idea, right?  Or maybe not.  Anyone with the balls & tech skills to get this rolling:  I’m in.

***************

*Yes, I’m intending to copy the police “Ride-Along” label.

You can’t make a judge recuse himself by being an asshole.

It has long been established …  that a party cannot force a judge to recuse himself by engaging in personal attacks on the judge.

Standing Comm. on Discipline of U.S. Dist. Court for Cent. Dist. of California v. Yagman, 55 F.3d 1430, 1443 (9th Cir. 1995).
You’re welcome.

Full [kick-ass] remarks from Loretta Lynch on HB2

Let me also speak directly to the transgender community itself. Some of you have lived freely for decades. Others of you are still wondering how you can possibly live the lives you were born to lead. But no matter how isolated or scared you may feel today, the Department of Justice and the entire Obama Administration wants you to know that we see you; we stand with you; and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward. Please know that history is on your side. This country was founded on a promise of equal rights for all, and we have always managed to move closer to that promise, little by little, one day at a time. It may not be easy – but we’ll get there together.

Source: Full remarks from Loretta Lynch on HB2 | WCNC.com