Monthly Archives: May 2010

Books (China)

Search for lisa seeSearch for amy tanChinese books are so interesting because China has been through so much and much of it has been horrendous and hidden from view. Some stories are about the old Imperial system which existed for centuries and gave some stability, although everyone seemed to be either privileged or very poor. There were stories of sons who showed intellectual talent who could participate in a series of tests and change their fate. And of course, there are stories of concubines, which was the way women of beauty had their fate changed for them. I read these stories so long ago that I do not remember any titles, I am sorry to say.

Then we have the stories that come out of the Cultural Revolution which show sweeping change coupled with constant fear. There were so many ways to be denounced as an “enemy of the people” that life was precarious. The best ones I have read so far are Wild Swans; Three Daughters of China, by Jung Chang and Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress: A Novel by Dai Sijiie and Ina Rilke.

We also have the stories written by Chinese-American immigrants about why they left China and about an often less-than-idyllic life in America. Amy Tan was the first Chinese-American author that I read. If you haven’t read her books, some of which tell about her mother’s life in China, you should. They give you excellent views of life in China and the lives of Chinese in modern America. Some Amy Tan titles are: The Hundred Secret Senses, The Joy Luck Club, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Saving Fish From Drowning and The Kitchen God’s Wife.

Lisa See is writing now and her books are also little windows into China and the Chinese in America, especially women’s experiences. I have enjoyed her books so much. Be sure to read: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, and Shanghai Girls.

I envy anyone who has these wonderful books ahead of them. I can read them again, and I may, but it is never the same as the first reading. I have not heard these books on tape but they are probably available in that format and are probably equally wonderful.

Chapter 2 Why?

I guess I’m headed deep into the middle of the nature-nurture controversy here. Whence arose my addiction to cigarettes? Perhaps I can trace it to the insecurities of the second child syndrome. I’ve met a number of second children in my life and all seemed to have a strong thread of inferiority, self-image problems, running through their natures. But in the 50’s we didn’t know from self-image.
Maybe sinister corporate strategies were at work, turning us into chimneys, as current information suggests. We didn’t know from additives in the 50’s either. Glamorous women in Hollywood films smoked. The post World War II spirit of liberation for women, “the Rosie the Riveter” hype I guess you could call it, had all my adult female relatives (with the exception of my mom), and half our female neighbors puffing away.
Modern science, as far as we can tell, since it changes every five minutes, suggests that addiction is in the genes. You either have the marker for a particular addiction stamped into your DNA or you don’t. As long as you never touch the object of you beastly predilection, you never push the biological button. Once you do turn the switch on though, it will be a bitch to turn it off.
You can sense that my childhood was a good one. Two responsible, upright parents; plenty to eat, drink, wear. My father, nicknamed Brain, pushed us to academic achievement and there were plenty of opportunities for childhood pursuits, role-playing, mischief, and plenty of companions. We made an ice rink in the winter, snow forts, pelted each other with snowballs, did homework, squabbled, and giggled. We dressed up every Halloween and marched around the neighborhood carrying huge sacks of candy. Our Christmases were shiny and tinselly enough for anyone. And our summers were spent outdoors with lemonade stands and baseball games and putting on plays and playing ‘dolls’ and ‘house’ and ‘wedding’ and ‘war’. There were also endless games of “Hill Dill” and ”Red Rover” and “Hide and Seek”, tramps through meadows to catch fireflies, and being packed in the back of the station wagon in our jammies to go watch planes take off at the runway three blocks away.
It wasn’t perfect, of course, it never is. Money was always a problem and we all knew it. Privacy was nonexistent, and disorder reigned indoors. Clothing, books, dishes, shoes, and toys covered every available surface. Space had to be cleared before any meal could be eaten or any homework done. Décor had no place in our lives. Our house always looked sloppy and ragged, but not dirty.
By the time high school rolled around we were starting to crave our own little corners. I made a bedroom in the back of the attic for a while, but after several fat lips from spider bites I had to abandon that plan. Once I moved out of Felicity ‘s and my room, it became impossible to move back in. I had a rollaway bed in the front foyer for a while.
Then there was the issue of boys. They all liked Felicity; none of them liked me. She was slender and blonde and pleasant, I was chubby and shy-eyed, giggly and full of energy, and had mousy brown hair. If I even looked at a boy he ran like hell in the opposite direction. This doesn’t do a lot for your self-image. And she got all the best clothes that came into the house from the neighbors across the street who had three girls and an aunt who sewed beautifully.
I forgot to mention church. My sisters and I spent a lot of time at church when we were in high school. We were in the junior choir and Bible study and Youth Fellowship. No one smoked there. These boys also liked Felicity better.
From early on I felt that my mother had gotten the shit end of the stick in the marital partnership between my Mom and my Dad. She was always with us kids for one thing. She never got to leave like my Dad. She never even got to sit down, unless it was to feed somebody. From five in the morning until ten or eleven at night she had more jobs to do than any one person could possibly accomplish. And they were all menial, repetitive jobs like doing dishes, changing kid’s clothes about a hundred times a day and putting out the sprinkler to run through, then cleaning up the water from the floors when we all had to run to the bathroom, and pushing her hair, flying our of her pin curls, out of her hot, sticky face, and on, and on, and on. Her life was nothing like Doris Day.
I did not want to be her, although she didn’t mind being her, most of the time. There was the day she just walked out, we didn’t know where, desperate to get away. We knew she couldn’t get far, because she didn’t drive, and we no longer stood on the school bus corner believing the yellow bus would scoop us up anytime we stood there and take us to places unknown. So we just called around and tracked her down at the new K-Mart that had just opened across the highway, and we had her paged. She was not happy. I don’t know how she did it but usually she was cheerful and comforting and kind. I still did not want to be her.
I decided I would never get married or have children because it was just a trap. You didn’t get to do anything important, like go to plays, or eat out, or travel, or have a career. All you got to do was have your husband look down your blouse once in while or snap you with a dish towel and have more babies and cook more meals and have huge backyard cookouts, until your hair turned gray and eventually you died.
Now looking back, I can see that this was a rather jaundiced view of my mother’s life, and an especially narrow view of what could be accomplished by a woman with perhaps fewer offspring and a higher standard of living. But I didn’t live with those other mothers. I thought that what you see is what you get.
So I decided I wanted to go to college and be somebody, maybe an architect, or a writer, and live rich in NYC and have beautiful things around me all the time. I wanted to be Doris Day, but I wouldn’t marry Rock Hudson because eventually, sure as hell, I’d just get to be a housewife, when I really wanted to be Emily Brontë, or Jane Austen, or even Emily Dickinson.
A friendly school dental hygienist decided to take our family on as a charity project and broaden our horizons. She took us one at a time to various events. Felicity missed out on this for some reason, but I got to go to the ballet, and out to lunch, the art museum, to a play, to the zoo. She was a very tall, very slender, very rigid lady with perfectly erect posture, and a very creepy, nerdy son. I always felt a little icky going off with them, but I loved the things we did. She, of course, did not smoke.
When I got into high school the staff had decided to try something new called tracking. They looked at your elementary grades (there were no middle schools or junior highs yet) and decided if you were ‘basic’, ‘average’, or ‘above average’. If you looked like you fell into the above average category, they called you in individually and gave you an exhaustive IQ test involving blocks and spatial relationships, and even fact questions, everything timed. Felicity missed this by one year, but I was tested. I testing right on the borderline between average and honors, so it was decided that I could sign up for honors classes. This was a very lucky break for me.
Honors classes were excellent, especially honors English. I struggled with math. These students did not really misbehave. Even when someone made a joke, it was witty rather than thuggish. Someone made up jokes from trig equations (I wish I had copied them down, because to this day I cannot imagine how they did this) and wrote them on the board in “Bullwinkle’s Corner”.
I read and read and read. It was my privacy and my adventure. I could disappear into the world of a book and I would not even hear when someone called my name. I was on my way. Maybe I’d become a famous New York hostess and hold fabulous soirées in my Manhattan high rise.
Or maybe I’d hone the talents my sister and I had developed for designing outfits for our paper dolls and become the new Edith Head. She wasn’t a pretty woman and look where she ended up.
I graduated from high school in 1963. Everyone I knew was still living like the 50’s would go on forever, with people just stockpiling more and more affluence, and appliances, and better cars in the garage, now that many families had two. I still wasn’t smoking, had never touched a cigarette all through high school.

Official Language

Oddly enough, while I don’t agree with picking an official religion for America, I don’t have a problem with our adopting English as our official language. Even if America declares itself a Christian nation people will force us to agonize over which “brand” of Christianity America will adopt. If you need to be convinced that religion should be separate from government read about the period in England when Henry VIII decided to make the king (himself) the head of the church in England. It wasn’t pretty. And although England has made its peace with having a state religion, this tradition is long and well-established.

English has been the language of the United States since our earliest days. Although the French and the Spanish both controlled areas of the New World, those traditions did not win the day. Through successive waves of immigration English has dominated. The Irish came, but we do not speak Gaelic; Italians came, we do not speak Italian; Chinese came, but we do not speak Chinese; and on and on. Still I believe we will always have to help new residents learn English and it would not hurt Americans to become proficient in more than one language.

Volunteers. Please

Our elected state assemblypersons and senators expect us to “raise our hands” and say,

“I’ll take a cut.”

“Oh no, let me take the cut”

“We don’t mind cutting back on our schools.”

“Please cut my Medicaid payments.”

We aren’t going to shoot ourselves in the toe,” or “throw ourselves on the fire.” We worry that we will volunteer and no one else will.

If you want to give out money we’ll be at the head of the line, both hands up, or out. This is only natural. You really can’t ask for volunteers for cuts and you can’t ask for approval. We can’t volunteer, we won’t approve. If we absolutely must have budget cuts then we need an informed government to act in concert (or at least a majority), make fair decisions and perform surgery on our budget. However, the kicker is that we do not trust you to be fair, you are trained to take whatever you can get for your own people first, let the others divide the spoils. You can’t rein us in because you have to go home to your district and you are afraid you will not be reelected. Thus gridlock. Perhaps we should be hearing scalpel please.

My Family

Velma – Our 92 year old Mom and George- my Dad who is deceased (we miss you everyday) – (2)

Her Children: Georgia (deceased- we miss you every day), Nancy, Hubert, Sandy, Ronnie, Connie, Dawn, Bonnie (8)

Her Grandchildren: Wendy, Tracy, Brant, Colin, Jesse, Todd, Jeremy, Kristy, Stacy, Amanda, Crystal, Lindsay, Danni (13)

Her Great Grandchildren: Andrew, Gigi (Georgia), Baby (on the way), Christopher, Brian, Isabella, Emily, Anthony, Timothy, Johnny, Amanda, Alyssa, Tommy, Alix-sandra, Kassandra, Sydney, Sawyer, Shepard, Paige, Max, Kierstin, Triston, Liam (25)

Spouses: Paul, Mary, Marc, Bob, Antoinette, Zina, Richard, Kathy, Kathryn, Karen, Monica, Bobbie, David, Josh, Jay, Frank (16)

Grandchildren by marriage: Stephanie, Kelli, Rich, Jen (4)

“Grandchildren” by 2nd marriage: Dean, Steve (2)

“Great Grandchildren” by 2nd marriage: Jessica, Lucas, Jarret (3)

Total of Immediate Family (48)

Total of Spouses (16)

Total of “Unrelated Family” (9)

Grand Total (73)

All from the actions of 2 little people. We love you Mom and Dad.

Have We Lost Our Moral Compass?

People are worried that the separation of church and state is bad for America, or there is a movement afoot to make America a Christian nation, maybe even a fundamentalist Christian nation. I read an article on Sunday that seemed to suggest that we are misinterpreting the 1st Amendment. Texas is trying to rewrite textbooks. Many seem to believe that America has lost its moral compass, that, without religion in government, evil and depravity will seep into government and into our everyday lives. In fact they believe this has already happened.

I do not believe that one must belong to any particular religion or even any religion at all to be moral. The entire idea of America is based on humanistic ideals that build in morality. It doesn’t matter what religion you study. All religions have acceptable morals and values. Even atheists probably do not condone murder and mayhem. We need to live a life of morals and values because we believe “all men are created equal.”

It is our dual nature as humans, our flawed nature, that leads to moral slippage in society. We know the right way to behave but we are led astray by human desires. And, it seems, there are a lot of gray areas. Even very vivid images of Hell did not create highly moral societies. An existentialist existence with all its baggage of personal responsibility still does not allow one to do anything one pleases without some expectation of consequences. Existentialism has just as great a chance as the Heaven-Hell belief of engendering either morality or depravity.

People came to America seeking a freedom of religion that was definitely lacking in Europe. I’m fairly certain they were all or almost all Christians. Our forefathers did not consider Muslims and Buddhists, etc. because they were not on their radar. So they left us with an idealistic Constitution, with ‘morality by design’, a morality not necessarily of any one religious tradition, rather a morality of humanism. There is very little difference between “all men are created equal” and “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”

The Taylors Chapter 1

The Taylor family started out in a city apartment in a medium sized city in central New York, right at the end of World War II. We played air raid in our front yard. When the city held tests of the air raid sirens, we had to crouch down next to the cellar wall. Then we had to check up over us to make sure there were no windows above us. If there were, we had to scuttle along to a new window-free position and wait for the all clear. This was before the US dropped the first atomic bomb. This was in anticipation of just your regular old everyday average bomb like the ones that made life an insecure misery in London during the war.
Sometimes we walked to the little grocery store on the corner, at first with Mom, later we were allowed to go by ourselves, since we didn’t have to cross any streets. Most of the time, we just ran around making up games with the rest of the kids in the neighborhood or sat in the back driveway with Mom while she hung out the laundry.
Felicity, my older sister, was born first: pale, anemic, two months premature (she almost died, we often heard), delicate and pretty. Zoe, that’s me, I was born second: chubby, full term and jealous as hell of my dainty “big” sister (second child syndrome much?). According to family lore, I followed Mom and Felicity as soon as I learned to crawl and bit their ankles whenever I got the chance. Soon after I was born came Tyler, the long-awaited son, blond and handsome, with curls all over his precious little head. Not even a year later we got Gertrude, (Gertie) also a chubby, but with a cherub-sunny face and perfect golden brown ringlets. By the time we got Robert, a devilish, blond crew cut little tough boy, we no longer fit in a two-bedroom apartment.
Dad, Hobart Taylor, found a house in the country, only about ten minutes from our old place in the city. Augusta, my mom was not happy that he picked it out all by himself, but was very happy to get the seven of us out of that crowded apartment.
By the way, as you can probably tell, we were poor. My dad had to leave school in the eighth grade to take care of his parents. Fortunately, he got some training in electrical matters. By the time we moved to Smithvale, he was working at GE and was in the electrician’s union. Mom, with five small children, was not employed, in fact, I never remember her being away from us, except to have babies.
I was seven when we arrived in Smithvale and I don’t remember much of that first year except a big old house with floral wallpapers, crackled white radiators everywhere you looked, and lots of grassy lawn. Already, by seven and eight, Felicity and I were often in charge of the younger kids. There were a lot of neighbor kids on our street. A few newer type subdivision houses were popping up here and there. Mom’s life changed little. She still spent hours rinsing diapers, soaking little outfits covered in spit up and later in dirt, and putting everything through the wringer washer in the basement. No wonder she loved to hang the clean, wet laundry on the line. It was a chance to be outside, even though she usually had at least two toddlers hanging on her skirts or pedal pushers. She put her hair up in pin curls after Dad left and tied a folded scarf around her head, and even like that we thought she was pretty.
Felicity and I knew how to heat bottles by then, how to test them on our wrists and hand them out to little snot-nosed Robert. Some days were just chaos, morning to night, although three of us were in school by then. Mom still had two at home and by the times we got back from school everyone would be ready to sit down in a little line in front of the TV to watch Howdie Doodie, with little cups of cereal to munch on. I just loved that Princess Summerfall, Winterspring.
The theory was that Mom would remove the scarf and pin curls from her hair shortly before Dad got home and primp herself up a little bit for him. At first this theory was put into practice religiously, but after a while the pin curls were often in place for several days at a time, hence the number of family photos that show our pretty young Mom with a bandana wrapped around her head. There is no doubt that her life was better in Smithvale than in the city. We could all be outside so much and Felicity and I could keep an eye on the tag-a-longs so Mom didn’t have to be outside every time we were.
Winters were harder. All five of us had to be helped into snowsuits and boots and hats, and mittens and scarves. We were usually out about five minutes, then we were back, tracking melting snow everywhere and all needing to be undressed at once. And there were always the random bathroom emergencies when Mom had to shift into high gear and race to the bathroom with a child balance on a hip, tucked in under her left arm, booted feet flapping in the air, set down in front of the toilet and just the essential parts unwrapped. That she was usually successful in preventing an accident is a testament to her dislike of laundering those bulky snowsuits in mid winter.
No new babies arrived for a couple of years which gave us all a little breather. On good days Mom would cut little sandwiches out of white bread with cookie cutters and stage little tea parties, and of course, there were tons of birthdays to celebrate with double layered frosted cakes and glowing candles and “Happy Birthday” and ice cream and presents. There was Easter and Christmas to break up the year and visits to our aunts and uncles who drank lots of beer and played the piano and sang “Nothing Could Be Finer Than to Be in Carolina” and “Show Me the Way to Go Home.” Mom took off her bandana for all these occasions, except the one Easter when we all had the measles or the chicken pox and everyone went back to puking and crying as soon as we got over our Easter baskets.
Some of my aunts and uncles smoked, although Mom and Dad never did. Grampa Taylor smoked big old smelly cigars and our favorite, funny Aunt Mable smoked cigarettes and left an ashtray full of red-tipped butts each time she visited. In fact, I think all of my aunts and uncles smoked, but not like Aunt Mable. My handsome cousins were older than us but they didn’t smoke yet.
After a couple of years of quiet on the baby front, just when we were all done with bottles and diaper changing, Mom and Dad started up again and produced three more girls, Emily, Rebecca and Morgan. I was nine when Emily was born, ten for Rebecca, and eleven when we got Morgan. It was getting embarrassing and the neighbors were aghast. But Morgan was the last one.
By then Mom was definitely swamped. If she kept up with the laundry, she forgot dinner and it was burned or so dry we couldn’t eat it. Felicity and I learned to cook in self-defense so by eleven and twelve you could find us standing over the stove after school with a baby on our left hip stirring pots and checking ovens. We liked to cook.
We had outgrown out country home, but Dad made do and carved new bedrooms out of attic space, freezing in winter, broiling in summer, but we were young and happy and had lots of friends and we didn’t mind much. Life for Dad was a constant struggle involving day-old bread and gallons of milk and shoes, shoes, shoes. He didn’t have to buy clothes very often because everyone we knew contributed boxes of castoffs which Mom and us older girls went through. The ironing piled up until Mom offered us a penny a piece and we learned to iron.
By the time I was five it was the 50’s and by the time I was eleven, when the last baby was born, it was 1956. My sister and I were avid watchers of Syd Caesar, Milton Berle, and eventually The Hit Parade and Ed Sullivan, Father Knows Best, The Nelsons (Ozzie and Harriet) and I Love Lucy. We always had a TV. Dad was an electrician, after all, and everyone brought him broken sets to be fixed. He had lots of boxes of TV tubes in the basement with his oscilloscope and his voltmeter and he knew just which tubes to replace. No one smoked on TV in those days, except Dean Martin, who always had a cigarette hanging from his lips, maybe Lucy when she wanted to catch her hair on fire, and they did have these dancing cigarette boxes – box on top, underneath all legs, doing their Rockettes routine. Don’t remember the brand, maybe Chesterfields.
By the time we were all in school I was about sixteen with two years of babysitting already under my belt. Mom would get up at 5 am to spread all the bread out on the kitchen counter to make sandwiches for us all for school. Dad was still working at GE, but Mom didn’t drive, so when he got home from work he was in his taxi years. Mom volunteered him to drive for everything. My sister and I were both in a high school sorority, Alpha Mu Zeta. We made newspaper containers for cancer bandages and sang at old folks homes (as they were known then) and went to lots of meetings. Dad always had to pick up at least four other girls whose fathers were too busy to drive.
We went most summer Saturday afternoons to the Starlight Theater. It cost 35 cents at first, and later 50 cents. We saw every Doris Day movie and imagined ourselves into perfect designer apartments, cars and clothing with our reluctant, but lovesick gorgeous bachelor, who could not help giving up his glamorous single freedom, because he fell madly in love with one of us and now had no choice. I don’t think Doris Day smoked in any of those movies but Rock sometimes did. And, of course, we watched Elvis, but he never smoked. The tough hood guys who hung out at Mary’s Pizza with their teased-out-hair girlfriends, they smoked. The bad boys wore their cigarette packs rolled up into their t-shirt sleeve. Annette Funicello and her crowd didn’t smoke in the Beach Blanket movies. Everything was about s-e-x, and meeting the right guy. Even Tammy, the innocent poor country girl was always learning about s-e-x. And Gidget too! Maybe sex and cigarettes got mixed together for me.
Now we had, of course, pretended to smoke in our younger years. We loved nothing better than to take a quarter and go to the penny candy store. Candy cigarettes with their little red tips were one of the things we bought, along with the licorice replicas of 45-rpm records with the red candy center, and the waxy bottles with sweet syrup inside, and the Lik-a-Maids, and the watermelon slices.
We lived near an old air base so there were lots of abandoned barracks and obstacle courses, completely overgrown with meadow grasses. In my teen years the fire department burned an abandoned barracks every Thursday night, for practice, and to get rid of them. We would all run up and watch. It was better than fireworks. Mom would sometimes pack us picnic lunches in the summer and we would go into the meadows, find a clear spot and eat with our friends, maybe catch tadpoles or frogs. We would open the milkweed pods and scatter the silk and then cut down stalks with our mumbley-peg knives. After they dried out they were hollow and we would meet by the cellar stairs and try to smoke them. We also smoked cattails, holding the stems in our mouths, tapping off the ashes into the dirt around the cellar door.

Live the "Good Life"

Underneath our everyday energy and our cheerful demeanors we are carrying around the sorrows of our world. We have sluggish bands of thick oil rolling around in our guts, in our hearts are our soldiers who risk their lives everyday for all of us and for America. In our heads run images of Haitians, and Africans, and North Koreans, and Iranians and all the places where one group of humans oppresses another group of humans. This underlying sense of dread makes it difficult to enjoy our lives. It makes us feel guilt at the way we continue to pursue a prosperous and happy life.

I have come to believe, however, that holding out the example of people who get to pursue a “good” and happy life is important for all the people who are in the midst of living with these demoralizing conditions. When America experiences problems with economics, with squabbling, we add to the sorrows of the world by removing hope. It seems counterintuitive, but if we keep America strong and hopeful, leading satisfying, productive lives it makes the whole world feel more stable. It is also the best thing we can do for our soldiers. It must be more difficult to defend a country that seems to be slipping. I would think it gives our soldiers strength when they see that they will get to come home to a healthy America.

Therefore, it seems, it is our patriotic duty to solve our current problems, to clean up the awful oil spill somehow, to get our economy moving again and to heal the rancor between the various segments of our population. If we can’t solve all of this right now, we can at least put on an optimistic face. I guess we just have to live with the dichotomy. We can’t ignore the valleys, but we still need to look forward to the peaks.


Confessions of a Cigarette Addict

Hello, Zoe Taylor here. The things that I did and the things that happened to me can only be traced to my cigarette addiction. Perhaps there were tiny seeds and character flaws from my childhood that made me prone to my addiction, or maybe it can be traced to a chemical imbalance, fluctuating seratonin levels. Maybe it was a little glitch in my DNA, dormant until that first inhalation of hazy, gray smoke. You can judge for yourself. But there is no doubt in my mind that the weaknesses in my character steeped in smoke, tar, CO2, and nicotine led to events through which I degraded myself and eventually rewrote my future. This is not a story about how I overcame cancer, although that story may be waiting for me still down the line. This is story that proves that the effects of our actions can be completely unpredictable; that explores the nature of addiction and the way it self-destructs out best instincts.

Carousel Mall

The addition to Carousel Mall, “the big empty” as it has been called, is such a terrible waste of resources, of potential business, of hopes. It is so revealing of the financial situation in America, but especially in Syracuse. We suspect that Mr.. Congel is a sort of charlatan and megalomaniac, but he is our charlatan, our megalomaniac. He’s getting old. He needs his dream fulfilled. We need his dream fulfilled.

What started a a “green” project has been stripped of any possible “green” advantage it might have had. It now represents wasted money, wasted time, wasted materials, and wasted potential. Take down those “Emerald City” signs, which none of us like to begin with. The Emerald City in Oz did not exactly represent truth in advertising or any other very admirable traits. We haven’t earned it as environmentalist either, maybe SU, but not the city. It’s an embarrassment.

We elect and pay so many people to be our brains and to care for our city and county, to. Can’t all these great minds get together and fill up at least this one empty building with the businesses it was intended to hold. Then maybe we can move on to the next empty building. If this is all about politics, our politics stink.