Erin McHugh One Good Deed

April 2011:  Erin McHugh author of fun and not so funny things.  I love her spirit, insight and humor. Author of the fantastic L Life a table book of fab Lesbians. Every woman featured, needs to be discovered, or remembered and rediscovered. These are just some of the true heroines of the Lesbian world, Feminist world, okay I'll make it simple, The world. Erin does a fab job honoring them and Jennifer May's photos are exquisite. 

Because we can do a little better....


By Erin Mchugh:

Welcome to the blog that mirrors the eponymous book I’m writing: a journey of one year, performing ONE GOOD DEED a day for one year. I’ll post a couple of the deeds per week here, and hope you all will enjoy the reading, or, better yet, join me in trying to do just a little bit better, one day at a time. And if you do, recount them here, would you? I’d enjoy seeing them.

Erin McHugh is a former publishing executive and author of twenty books, including the brand new snarky midterm elections volume COFFEE, TEA OR KOOL-AID: Which Party Politics Are You Swallowing?, and THE L LIFE: Extraordinary Lesbians Making a Difference, a photo essay on lesbian heroines. She lives in New York City and South Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

Follow Erin McHugh on Facebook or on Twitter as @ErinHere.

peacefully and happily Living Off The Grid

Here's John's story:

T  H  E    F  I  E  L  D    L  A  B

Welcome to the Southwest Texas Alternative Energy And Sustainable Living Field Laboratory!

Have you ever thought to yourself, " How would I do it if I had it to do all over again?"  Usually this thought only pops into your head when you are about to die or your life is in ruin or perhaps during a midlife crisis where family and job stress suddenly takes its toll.  This feeling is usually accompanied by mounting debt and an overwhelming feeling of being trapped in the life you have chosen.  Tension in the world, an unstable economy, high fuel prices, and mind numbing popular culture may also add to this feeling of utter futility.  For me, it was a little bit of all of the above but the real tipping point was the death of my father last year.  That made me sit down and take a serious look at where my path has led me and how I could best proceed to live a fulfilling life and honor his memory. 

Several years ago I began experimenting with alternative energy.  I feel that the technology today has advanced enough and the costs have dropped to the point where just about anyone can make the move to off the grid living.  This just happened to coincide with discovering accounts of pioneer life of some of my relatives from over 100 years ago.  Their lives were difficult back then, but I sensed a feeling of great joy and accomplishment in overcoming hardship - where hard work payed off and living life was a fulfilling experience.  I began to envision my life as a pioneer in the 21st century,  and have chosen to follow that path.  

In taking inventory of my life to this point in time, I believe that over the years I have picked up just the right skills and mentality to live my dream of how I would do it if I had it to do all over again.  I suddenly found myself at the perfect point in my lifetime to go for that dream.  Rather than spend the rest of my life busting my ass so I can afford all the modern, pre-packaged conveniences that our "advanced" society provides - I am putting that energy into providing for all my own needs.   To quote some new friends of mine who have also chosen this lifestyle,
" Every day, we get up, have coffee with the early morning, do chores, then get on with whatever project we have going… there’s often a choice. We go to bed tired, but very happy and peaceful."


I began my journey in December 2007.  Along for the ride was my trusty old dog, Goldie.  She was with me at the beginning of construction out here in the desert - my constant companion.  At 17 years of age, she had multiple health issues and finally had to be put down in March.  She was a great pal and a real trouper.  Her favorite pastimes here in the desert were sleeping in the shade, constantly keeping me within eye site when awake, and eating coyote poop.  Goldie is buried out here on the property and I hope that when GoogleEarth updates the satellite photo of my area, you will be able to spot the pyramid that marks her grave.

John and Goldie

the Field Lab blog by John Wells

John has an artists eye in everything he sees.  As a photographer his images capture a magical world he has created. check out his lovely postcards.

Need just a little bit of what wide open space looks like?

When the allure of cramped apartment living has worn off, when you've been bumped one too many times from texting pedestrians, and grimy post winter potholed NYC streets is just too much to bear, check out John's live webcam

Penelope Green of the NY Times traveled to visit John and published his story in last weeks NY Times Home section.  I love the idea that John lives quietly with 500k+ virtual visitors, living through his eyes and seeing how one man decided he could change his life and create a magnificent happy and peaceful world.  He blogged about me too.


The Underground World of NYC Subway Musicians

Christopher Roberts Matthews who blogs about money and music 

I found his post online about NYC musicians in the subway.  As a performer with MUNY since 1999 I find the unique environment of performing as part of the daily soundtrack compelling and engaging. It's certainly never boring.  I find NY'ers generous with their spirit as much as with their coins.  Thanks for the post


by Christopher Roberts Mathews

The tension between art and commerce has a storied history, but nowhere is it more conspicuous as the New York City Subway. The city’s underground teems with musicians, artists, and performers soliciting donations for their work.

Some, like singer and ukulele player Crow Joe Ryan, make their living from the coins and dollar bills subway riders toss into his tin. Others use the forum to promote their careers above ground.

These public performers call themselves “buskers,” a word derived from the Spanish verb “buscar” meaning “to seek.” They’re somewhat of an anachronism in a world where hit songs can be downloaded for under a dollar, but are more often procured for free.

With the various business models that musicians have come to rely on buckling under the pressures of the internet and the explosion of the number of forms of entertainment, busking has stayed more or less the same. “I haven’t noticed any difference,” in the amount or kinds of people who play in the subway says violist Willy Naess, who has been busking in New York for ten years.

It seems odd that in a world where world-famous musicians have trouble convincing their fans to spend 99 cents for a professionally-produced hit song that amateurs could make any money at all playing in the subway. But there is something about a musician confronting you with their art that seems to motivate people to donate money. “I think some people appreciate another human being putting themselves out there and trying to contribute something of beauty to the work day of New York,” suggests Elizabeth Rogers, a busker associated with Music Under New York (MUNY), a program run by the Metropolitan Transit Authority which auditions and selects over 100 musicians to put on weekly performances in the some of the busiest subway stops in New York.

MUNY has been promoting music in the subway since 1985 and has “garnered great enthusiasm from the commuting public,” according to its website. Performers selected for the program are given personalized banners to display where they perform, but their compensation is no different than any other busker: what passersby deem to throw their way.

Glenn Roth, a fingerstyle guitarist and MUNY performer, sees benefits far beyond the few dollars he makes in an afternoon of playing. Playing in highly visible locations like Union Square is “the best free advertisement there is out there,” he says. Roth plays several gigs a week, including weddings, corporate events and club dates, but he says the subway is one of the best places to attract new fans and sell CDs.

The subway is a unique place in modern society where people are relatively undistracted. Most riders are cut off from the internet while underground. They commute armed with just a book or their thoughts to entertain them. Naess uses this dynamic to his advantage. He traverses the subway cars themselves playing Bach cello suites, finding he makes more in the confines of the car then when he used to play on the platform. He sees people giving money for a variety of reasons: some people are just generous, but others are pleasantly surprised to hear classical music on their commutes. “People say to me, ‘that was actually really good. I wasn’t expecting to give you anything, but here’s a dollar.”

Rogers believes that busking is unique in the personal connection it can foster between a musician and an audience. Passengers aren’t expecting to hear something that moves them, that makes them pause and reflect. “We live such busy lives, and people tend to just go go go. I’m doing something to help someone slow down a moment and notice this moment . . . to support them to just be there.”

posted 11/23/2010

Christopher Roberts Matthews blogs about money and music 


subway map musical morph

February 2011: I feature Alexander Chen who has created an amazing musical experience from actual current subway line movement.  I can watch/listen to it all day, very soothing, something we can't generally say about riding these lines.

Conductor (2011) by Alexander Chen.  this clip above on vimeo isn't interactive.  If you want to watch this art in real time go to

Conductor turns the New York subway system into an interactive string instrument. Using the MTA's actual subway schedule, the piece begins in realtime by spawning trains which departed in the last minute, then continues accelerating through a 24 hour loop. The visuals are based on Massimo Vignelli's 1972 diagram.

More details and his other work

follow Alex on twitter

local guys running their own tshirt company

BQT Shirts came into existence at least in part as a result of the Great Recession. Laid off from our jobs at one of the nation’s largest junk mailer and spammer (or as polite society calls it, “direct marketer”), Dan Gordon and myself, Frank Nunziata, wanted to start a business that we could call our own. Something fun, something creative, something that resonated with our fellow New Yorkers, especially in our home boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. We sought a venture that stood in direct contrast to the old-fashioned, wasteful and unimaginative companies we had worked for over the years.

T-shirts, in all their simple, practical and accessible glory seemed to be a good place to start.  T-shirts can advocate, make a political statement, be funny and of course have style. Plus, they’re an excellent vehicle for many of our friends who are designers, artists and all-around creative people.

So in September 2010, BQT came to life. Trains, bikes, dogs, parks, bridges, the day-to-day milieu that every New Yorker simultaneously abhors, adores and ultimately tolerates and celebrates—these are the things that BQT is all about. And always with a splash of style and spunk that New York’s creative community is famous for.

We’d like to thank Cathy for allowing us to contribute to her wonderful blog and we invite all of you to visit us at We will be expanding our product line monthly and submissions of t-shirt ideas and designs are always welcome. We look forward to hearing from you. 

Update on 2011-01-24 22:17 by NYC Subway Girl

Nice to see blogging life come full circle, here's the comment from the BQT Shirts website

January 20th,2011 Cathy Grier, aka NYC Subway Girl, is a dynamic singer-songwriter, activist and all-around cool person. You might have seen her perform; since 1999 she’s participated in the MTA’s Music Under New York Program. So while we may do quite a bit of MTA bashing around here, we have to give them credit for at least one thing: bringing Cathy’s funky, groovy, folked-up blues to our chaotic underground.

When we told Cathy about our Dislike The Fare Hike shirt, she was kind enough to let us post a guest entry on her  blog, There’s lots of great stuff to read, listen to and watch on Cathy’s blog, so check it out. We promise it will be a much more pleasant experience than your daily commute.

balancing femininity and masculinity

by Heather Grimes:

This year I worked on balancing femininity and masculinity in my gardening.

I think that finding a way to incorporate both sides into my design ultimately makes for a more inviting space.

Striking the right balance has been a tough process for me.Sometimes I don't get a chance to work on my ideas with other gardeners because someone might be more inclined to sway in one direction.

This year I was involved in a gardening battle with my family, although I get into an altercation every year because it's so much fun. I wanted to drastically dig out half of the plants in the garden that seemed too feminine (flowering plants) and replace them with bolder foliage plants.

I ended up digging them out at night with my mom holding a flashlight for me so I wouldn't get caught behind enemy lines.

I'm very happy with the results.  

My brothers have been a great help to me when I need a guys' opinion.If I'm having difficulty with a color scheme or choosing plants for a more masculine look, I'll ask them for help.

I needed a new container for paper whites this year and couldn't find something I liked.

I asked Chris for suggestions and he gave me an old ammunition canister to use.    Fabulous.

GreenTomato Pickles!

October 2010: This month I feature the words and pictures of gardener
Heather Grimes: poetic and breathtaking work with nature.


By Heather Grimes:

Tomato Pickles! A few years ago my friend Leslie introduced me to these little sour/salty wonders.

Gone are the days of watching all those green tomatoes go to waste when the frost hits.   Now I have the power to save them from a cell bursting, squashy death.   To give them a proper use like all good tomatoes should have.

My sister Rachel helped me process 16 mason full of beautiful home grown tomatoes and garlic today.   We hope to make up more tomorrow so we can have a refrigerator full of pickles this winter.   

Here is the recipe I use for my tomato pickles.   Chow.

blog and image Heather Grimes

September Garden Under The Spell

I'm  gardening  with  a  sad  heart  near  the  end  of  this  season.


I've  battled  the  heat,   drought,   ticks,   sunburn,   backache  and weeding boredom.


Now  I'll  have  to  garden  without  the  nursery  I've  come  to  depend  on.    


I  suppose  most  gardeners  go  through  an  end-of-season  burnout,   like  some  kind  of


addiction,   where  I  want  to  stop,   but  the  gardens  keep  pulling  me  in,    like-


'Look,  Weed  Me.'     ' Pretty  Plant  For  Sale.'     ' Redo,   Dig  Up  Everything.


It's  hard  to  stop  the  obsession  even  when  I  want  to.    The  thing  is, gardens give  


me  great  pleasure.    Pleasure  that's  almost   all  visual,   without  real  practicality  and


benefit,   aside  from  feeding  a  few  insects  and  deer.    Just  like  flowers  you pick  for


the  house,   which  live  a  few  days  and  then  die,    gardens  are  similar,   a  little longer  lived,  


but  not  by  much  if  you  stop  tending  them.


I've  come  to  see  gardens  as  a  human  extravagance,   something  only  we  do.


Maybe  it's  part  of  what  makes  us  what  we  are,    beings  that  labor  for something  


that's  only  beautiful.


I  believe  I  will  always  be  under  the  spell,    but  I  don't  know  how  I'll  work  it  into  my


life,    if   I'll  keep  pursuing  it  professionally,   or  just  indulge  in  my  own  backyard.

The  'Gardener's  Rehab'  is  around  the  corner,    5-6  months  without  digging  into the  earth,  with  lots  of  time  to  daydream.

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Broadway goes to the White House

August 2010:  This month I feature a blog by Allen Hershkowitz, NRDC Senior Scientist, NYC and throughout the world writing about the Broadway Green Alliance, Allen presents some amazing facts worth consideration.

By Allen Hershkowitz, Senior Scientist, NYC and throughout the world

President Obama and the First Lady celebrated Broadway last night in the East Room of the White House and two co-founders of the Broadway Green Alliance, Susan Sampliner, Company Manager of Wicked, and I, were invited. ( Our attendance, as environmentalists working with Broadway's theater owners and influential decision makers to help reduce the environmental impacts of The Great White Way, was a gentle but meaningful recognition by the White House that every sector in our society, even entertainment, has to do something about climate change and other ecological crises.

Every day, more than ninety million tons of greenhouses gases are emitted into the atmosphere, and each day more are emitted than the day preceding. At the same time, we are losing an acre of tropical forest every second, and have been for twenty years. We lose an acre of wetlands every minute, and forests are being converted into toilet paper. Our oceans are at risk, saturated with oil, acidification, and plastic debris, and biodiversity loss is occurring at a rate and scale that is unprecedented in human history.

Obviously, these pressures are not the result of only one single bad actor. They are the result of billions of ecologically ignorant production and consumption decisions. All of us, all industries, and all consumers contribute.

Hence, while some members of the Senate are willing to regulate carbon emissions only from power plants, and many other Senators are not even willing to regulate carbon at all, we must find innovative approaches to mobilize our economy and our culture to respond to the planetary emergency we face. Indeed, the fact is that even if a law is enacted that regulates carbon at power plants, we still need to move all other sectors in our society away from fossil fuels and towards other ecologically intelligent practices.

Broadway theaters are small contributors to the climate crisis. But the willingness of theater operators, and touring productions, to collaborate with NRDC and adjust their practices to reduce their carbon footprint and impacts on biodiversity sends an environmentally informative message to some of the more than forty million people who visit Broadway shows in New York City and around the country each year.

Broadway’s visibility is global. People from all over the world come to see Broadway shows, and if they walk away learning that Broadway has gone green due to the outreach efforts of the Broadway Green Alliance, they might be reminded that addressing the global ecological crisis is everyone’s responsibility. And with so many people around the world disappointed by the lack of carbon regulations in the United States, their tourist visit to Broadway, or one of Broadway's 200 touring productions, helps them learn that there are meaningful non-governmental initiatives taking place in the United States to address climate change and other ecological pressures.

Broadway’s cultural influence is also social and political, which is why Broadway’s embrace of environmentalism is important. As the President said last night, Broadway shows are more than entertainment, they have been “shaping our opinions about race and religion, death and disease, power and politics.” And now Broadway, through its work with the Broadway Green Alliance and NRDC, is helping to shape opinions about environmentalism too.

Besides public education and the education of the many supply chain vendors servicing Broadway’s theaters, some of the accomplishments that the Broadway Green Alliance has instigated in the past two years are tangibly meaningful, and include the following:

  • All 40 Broadway theaters have converted marquee and roof signs to LEDs, CFLs, or cold cathodes (as of April 2010). These bulbs typically use 20% the energy of traditional marquee bulbs. Upper theater signs have also been replaced, using bulbs that consume only 25% of energy used previously. Incandescent lights are also being replaced with CFLs in dressing rooms.
  • Energy efficient lighting upgrades have been installed at 90% of touring venues.
  • 31 of 39 theatres have instituted comprehensive recycling programs both front of house and backstage, and many productions are incorporating significant paper use reductions backstage.
  •  84% of all scenery from shows that have closed since January 2009 was recycled or reused.
  • Through a sponsorship with LG, all forty Broadway theaters are replacing older washer/dryers with energy and water efficient (Energy Star rated) machines. The energy savings achieved by making this switch is enough to power all Broadway theatre marquees for more than 3 months.
  • Productions are switching to rechargeable batteries and greener cleaning products.
  • Many productions are replacing the use of bottled water with water filtration systems and reusable bottles.
  • Roundabout Theatre Company’s Henry Miller’s Theatre and Disney’s New Amsterdam Theatre both have installed waterless urinals, and signs above their waterless and low-flow devices educate patrons about this water conserving technology that they may want to use in their own homes or businesses.
  • As part of the BGA’s “Touring Green” program, touring shows have offset over 4,000 tons of carbon emissions associated with the transport of their equipment by investing in wind power and other renewable energy projects offered through program partner Native Energy.
  • Almost all productions now running on Broadway have selected a “Green Captain”, on site to educate performers, crew, and management alike about the constant need to reduce ecological impacts and help implement more sustainable practices during productions.

Besides the political, economic and technical barriers to sustainability, there are also cultural barriers to sustainability. By engaging our nation’s cultural elite in behalf of ecological progress, meaningful steps are advanced which make addressing our climate crisis and other ecological problems more culturally accepted. We must end the cultural assumption that it is OK to destabilize the chemical stability of our atmosphere, or blow up forested mountains in Appalachia to acquire coal for energy. Collaborating with cultural elites helps us get that message out.

Last night, the movers and shakers of Broadway were in attendance, and they noticed the White House’s embrace of the Broadway Green Alliance. Robert Wankel of the Shubert Organization was in attendance, as were Nick Scandalios of the Nederlander Organization and Paul Libin of Jujamcyn. Collectively, these people manage about eighty percent of all Broadway theaters. Millions of people see their shows each year, and all of their organizations work with the Broadway Green Alliance, as does Broadway League Executive Director Charlotte St. Martin, who was also in attendance last night. Nor did it hurt to have Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, learn of Broadway’s interest in greening, and last night provided that opportunity as well.

Hopefully, our government will soon adopt a comprehensive law limiting climate changing pollutants. Science certainly dictates that that should be done. But the slow pace of legislative reform and the urgent ecological needs of the planet don’t work in tandem. Consequently, market based initiatives are called for, whether or not government properly accepts its responsibilities. By using the visibility of Broadway and other culture influencing sectors to leverage our message to the industrial supply chain, NRDC is working hard to move our economy and public sentiment towards ecological sanity, whether government acts or not.

posted July 20, 2010

Allen Hershkowitz, Senior Scientist, NYC and throughout the world

I am a Senior Scientist at NRDC, specializing in issues related to sustainable development, supply chain management, industrial ecology, the paper industry, health risks, solid waste management, recycling, medical wastes, and sludge. I coordinate some of the world’s most prominent institutional greening initiatives, including the Academy Awards telecast, the GRAMMY Awards, the “Broadway Goes Green” initiative, and the greening of Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and the USTA. I’ve served on the DuPont Corporation’s Bio-Based Fuels Life Cycle Assessment Advisory Board, the National Research Council Committee on the Health Effects of Waste Incineration and the EPA's Science Advisory Board Subcommittee on Sludge Incineration, as well as the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's Peer Review Panel for it's Report to Congress on the Health Implications of Medical Waste. There’s more, but too much to list here.


Allen Hershkowitz’s Blog

Bobby, NYC carriage horse rescued and relocated

July 2010: If you don't know, I have a section on this site for guest bloggers.  This week I am featuring an amazing and moving story by Elizabeth Hess about the rescue of Bobby a NYC Carriage Horse, now happily roaming around a grassy pasture in upstate NY instead of being someones dinner.  No kidding.....

When people ask if I'm playing in the subway I say.  "if it's too hot for the carriage horses to work, NYC Subway Girl listens."  So I love to be able to share this story about the fate of one lucky horse.  

Thanks to Elizabeth Hess for her tireless work in saving animals and writing so eloquently about them.  And to Rural Intelligence who first printed the story.

Passages: Horse Heaven, Escaping the Plate
Last week, the staff at Equine Advocates, a manicured, 140 acre horse sanctuary, gathered at the main barn to welcome a new arrival. “Getting this horse is a real coup,” Susan Wagner, president of Equine Advocates, told me as we waited in the hot sun for the horse. “48 hours later and he would have been chopped meat.”
Americans don’t eat horses. However, we send them to slaughter and export the results for consumption without moral hesitation. Advocates like Wagner publicize this miserable reality for horses and save as many of them as possible. Most of the 80 residents at her sanctuary, once slaughter bound, detoured to safety. This week, a group of rescuers worked together to buy one particular horse from what Wagner calls “a kill pen” at the New Holland Sales Stable, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. New Holland is synonymous with slaughter. Bobby (AKA Billy # 2783) is an 18 year old, lame, worm-ridden, New York City carriage horse with bad teeth and a nasal drip. “Wait until you see him,” Wagner says. “He’s adorable.”
Wagner loves all horses, but carriage horses, from her perspective, are working class heroes. For years, she has supported legislation to ban New York’s controversial carriage trade, where a few hundred horses pound the pavement, pull heavy loads, and are monitored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “It’s not only the traffic accidents,” explains Wagner. “It’s the horrible conditions in the stables and the physical wear and tear on the horses. They never get to run, walk on grass, or socialize with other horses.” But getting custody of a carriage horse, even an unwanted one, is virtually impossible. According to Elizabeth Forel, the founder and president of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, New York City drivers sell off about 70 horses each year, one third of the stock. “But it’s difficult to learn where they go,” explains Forel. Their owners are not about to give their horses to the enemy—those who would like to shut the industry down.

When the van pulls into Equine Advocates, the staff breaks into applause. Minutes later, Wagner leads a bay gelding down a ramp, and he walks gingerly into the warm light of a spectacular Columbia County morning. Bobby moves slowly, doing what he is told, which is probably what he’s been doing for most of his life. As soon as he stops for the crowd to approach, Bobby lifts his crusty nostrils into the air to catch the wafting scent of hay, grass, other horses. Paradise.
I walk up and give him a pat on his wide neck, which is covered with nicks, maybe bites or scrapes from his experience in the pen at New Holland. The skin on his nose is scarred, bald from years of wearing heavy equipment.  “I can’t wait to get the halter off him,” Wagner tells me as she leads him to a nearby paddock where she will set him free.
How did Wagner get Bobby? Every carriage horse gets a 4-digit number, issued by the Department of Health, etched into his or her left front hoof. Ironically, Bobby’s number, 2873, saved his life. According to Wagner, these numbers are usually sanded off prior to sale, erasing the horse’s identity as a NYC carriage horse.  “The industry doesn’t want the public to know that these horses are worn out and subsequently sold off to buyers for slaughter,” she explains. “It just might take the romance out of a midnight trot around Central Park.”

Rescuing Bobby required team work. The first rescuer, a woman at New Holland, spotted his hoof number, took a photo, and put out an Internet alert. Luckily, the alert reached Elizabeth Forel, a tireless adversary against the carriage trade, who has been getting FOIA records from the DOH on carriage horses for years. She looked up the horse’s number, identified him as a resident of West Side Livery Stable, where the carriage horses live, and took it upon herself to rescue him from death. Forel raised the funds to purchase Bobby (from Friends of Animals) and asked Equine Advocates to offer him life-time sanctuary. Within 24 hours, a check for $800 bought Bobby’s freedom and Wagner sent a hauler to bring him home.  

Wagner walks Bobby over to a small catch area where he has room to run, a covered shed filled with soft bedding and fresh water. Then she removes his halter and gives him a pat on the nose. For a minute, the naked horse doesn’t move. A sleek, black thoroughbred named Clive, rescued from inside a defunct motel near Albany, runs over to check out the new guy. The horses can’t touch each other; they are about 30 feet apart. Clive is eager for access to the new horse, but Bobby shows restraint, patience. Hard work and no play seem to have turned him into a sweet, bomb-proof fellow.
After a few minutes,  Bobby lowers his large head and grabs a mouthful of grass, flicks his tail back and forth, and chews. Only one mouthful before he gingerly falls to his knees, rolls onto his back, and rocks back and forth, scratching his hide and kicking his legs in the air with palpable horse-joy. He eventually gets up and walks over to his trough for a long, cool drink of water. “I can’t wait to groom him,” Wagner says. “He’s going to love that.” —Elizabeth Hess

Elizabeth Hess, the author of “Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would be Human” lives in Spencertown, NY and is a founder/director of Art For Animals "transforming creativity into compassion for animals."  She writes here about Equine Advocates, an animal rescue facility in Chatham, NY.

reprinted from Rural Intelligence

we greet the end of this season with… RELIEF


It’s our penultimate communication… Who will win?  Who is guest appearing / performing tonight?  Will the show be a spectacle leading up to revealing the new Idol?  Or will it be all about Simon’s farewell?  Will Simon be naughty or nice?  So many questions, which we will now answer with a question: WHO CARES???  Without a doubt this has been the most BORING season of Idol.  No truly interesting personalities, no real upsets, nothing to get passionate about.  Simon agrees:

"After a while, you start to go on automatic pilot," Cowell told Oprah Winfrey during an interview. "And there were too many times, Oprah, where I was sitting there bored, and I thought, 'The end of the day, the audience doesn't tune in to watch me being bored. They deserve more than that.' But I can't hide it when I'm bored. I just can't fake it."

And thus we greet the end of this season with… RELIEF. 

BUT there is still tonight!  We heard a rumor that PAULA ABDUL may return!  Oh please oh please let it be true!  And please oh please let’s hope she sniffed some airplane glue before putting on her rhinestone QVC line and marching out on stage.  That might spice things up a bit!  And maybe Crystal’s boyfriend (who was noticeably ABSENT last night from her clan – replaced by Dad whose interviews were edited just enough to make it seem like he can speak in complete sentences) will wear the American flag pants again!  We can hope.  We think it’s Crystal’s win tonight, but then again crazier things have happened… We’ll see who America chose!

And speaking of the winner, have you ever wondered what the Idols “get” for winning the show.  Well, they get money.  We found a fun little article on popeater that we thought might interest y’all (pasted below).  Alright, before we start acting way too interested in the grand finale tonight, we better go (and make sure the DVR is set to record…! J)!

Meyer & Abramson – OUT!

More Idol from Abramson & Meyer

Idolers!! Despite the boring solo performances (Crystal was okay), last night’s show actually entertained me. In hindsight I am equally amused and annoyed by the six movies that were represented on Movie Theme Night: Batman Forever, Free Willy, Once, The Graduate, Caddyshack and Don Juan deMarco. Really?? These represent our best/important/inspirational movie theme songs?? Okay... But during the show I tallied 5 laugh out loud moments as follows: 1) Ryan Seacrest trying to fist pound/shoulder hug Jamie Fox while Jamie was holding (cater-waiter style) his “contestant” and “artist” shirts. I absolutely
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Idol: Stuck in the middle... (of a boring competish!) Abramson & Meyer

Well kids,

We were hoping for a night full of inspiration, and what did we get?  Nada.  Zilch.  Nothing.  Except some leaves (or butterflies depending on what hallucinogens you ingested before the show) onanother ridiculous outfit from Siobhan and some tears (real?) from Crystal.  Even Alicia Keys was normal / boring as apple pie.  No excitement.  No drama.  And certainly no inspiration.  HUMPHF!!!!  What are we going to do????  Well, all we can hope is that Idol Gives Back tonight in a MAJOR way.  (Like can they give us back the hour of TV time we wasted watching last nights show?)  And of course were hoping for an upset with the eliminations tonight.  Cmon Idol!!!  Lets get over the hump were in and get down to business!!!

Here is who you think will be going home tonight:

Didi 34%   Aaron 15%

Tim  13% Lee      9%

Michael 7% Katie    7%

Andrew  6% Casey    6%

Crystal  1%     Siobhan  0%

Until tomorrow

Meyer & Abramson  OUT!

Idols update IDOL: We're down to 7! Abramson & Meyer

Hello Idolers!! Since we didn’t get out a recap e-mail yesterday, this is a special double edition e-mail in honor of the double elimination week! After collecting opinions about this week’s shows, most of you agree: you loved Adam Lambert as a mentor and you weren’t at all surprised with the 2 contestants who got the boot. In fact, over HALF our pool thought that both Andrew and Katie would be the next ones voted off. Congratulations to the following people – ALL of whom correctly guessed that BOTH Andrew and Katie would be going home as #9 and #8: Craig, Jonathan, Kelly, Lauren, Bridget, Dave, Gail, Isander, Jack, Jeff, Jessica, Brittany, Kathy, Kelli, Linda, Michael, Michelle, Andrew and Tiffany. (Please note you get “correct” credit if you guessed Andrew as 9 and Katie as 8 OR if you guessed Andrew as 8 and Katie as 9.) And a special double
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The Judges Save has been used! Abramson & Meyer

I've been enjoying the postings from Abramson & Meyer, they speak where I dare not go.....

Hello Idolers!

WOW!  Idol is bringing the excitement back (well, they are trying really hard anyway!)!  And not just because David Archuleta almost hyperventilated (once again) because he didn’t have his inhaler on hand.  The JUDGES SAVE HAS BEEN USED to keep Big Mike in the competition!!  In case you missed the dozen times Ryan Seacrest has smugly explained this, here’s the deal: the judges get to use ONE save to over-ride America’s vote BEFORE the competition is narrowed to the Top 5.  Technically, Michael Lynche was voted off last night by America, but the judges decided to save him!  In other words, there was no elimination last night.  And that means the competition in our pool rages on!  It also means there is no chance that any other Idol contestant can be saved by the judges this season.  You better start voting to make sure your favorite isn’t eliminated!

Before we bring you our precious moments recap, we turn to this week’s guest correspondent, Margie McGlone (perfect scorecard intact!), for her thoughts on last night’s show:

I have to say - that opening medley sounded like a subpar cheesy church choir! What was that about? It was so weak. I thought Lennon/McCarthy were Rockers!! The top 9 sounded straight out of Adult Contemporary. Weeeeeak!

How about that strobe effect during Jason Narulo's (sp??) performance?!? That's hawt dawg!!

Was that a Ryobi wheel grinder that chick was engraving in her abdomen of steel?!? What? Great message for the kids - go grab your own Ryobi and you too can mutilate your own belly!

Great use of the save. I love Big Mike!!

Tune in to next week’s Idol to see ADAM LAMBERT as the guest mentor!!  YES!!!!!  Now THAT will be some good entertainment.

Meyer & Abramson – OUT!


Abramson & Meyer Idols Beatles Night

Hey gang!

Hope everyone watched last night’s Beatles-fest. It was one of the better shows we thought – but still not super exciting either.  Apparently to be cool on Idol, you find the most random instrument to join you on your song.  Can you say didgeridoo or bagpipe anyone?!?


And we loved the “oh, it was just a coincidence that my hair is a Beatles style…” Sure it is Tim.

We did get a submission from one of our leaders from last week  - Sadie Abramson!

“The top 9 are as normal as apple pie with no secret ingredient thrown in to make them stand out or make you want to take another piece.  Thank goodness for the didgeridoo and bagpipe players.  If they had been on this year’s ballot I would have voted for them to win.  I still stand by my #1 pick Casey James because the only people voting are the female tweeners who are as superficial as America can get and will simply vote on who is the cutest.  That said, Lee could be a dark horse.  The bagpipe was genius and made Lee look totally awesome – plus I don’t think Lee was high last night and he sang his face off.  Originally I had picked Katie to go home tonight, but somehow she was body-swapped with someone who could actually sing last night.  So I think Andrew is going home.  Whatever happens on tonight’s elimination I truly hope that Paul McCartney does not embarrass himself further with another public service announcement that includes a brief nose picking – did anyone else catch his nose swipe?  I mean, couldn’t they have done another take?  Oh Paul. That was so 2-years-old of you, and you really don’t need my demographic at this point.”

Let’s see who goes home tonight and which one of you is that much closer to winning the Idol pool!

Abramson & Meyer – OUT!



What’s your Sister’s Playlist?

My friend Paige Orloff writes a blog for the Sister Project. Her recent blog about music playlists got me thinking about my own sister Susan’s playlist of sorts. Susan opened my ears to a pretty diverse musical world, powerful, fun, deep, from Joni Mitchell to Bob Dylan, Supremes and Stevie Wonder, Leonard Cohen to John Mayhall and Janis too. Her records became mine (even if I had to hide them from her). Or the 45 of ‘I want to Hold your Hand’ that I took to school (was it in 2nd grade?) and it got broken……forgive me Susan, at least you can say you gave me great first musical influences through your records. That of

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Brooklyn vs Westboro Baptist Church protesters

This short takes place outside Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The Westboro Baptist Church staged a protest there, preaching bigotry and hatred.

This clip is from Greg Reitman, the same guy who's been creating my clips.  I'm still trying to wrap my head around why a group so filled with hate and bigotry could travel all the way to Brooklyn to protest against people they would rather denounce than try to understand.

It is a powerful commentary, showing that humanity is continuously in conflict. Only by being true to ourselves can we finally abolish hatred, bigotry and ignorance.

and I'd rather be the optimist.