April 19, 2003
I never really gave that much thought to labels. Designer or otherwise.
A shirt is a shirt and why should I pay a premium to advertise for some company?
Really, they should be paying ME to wear their stuff.
Same with people-type labels. I never obsessed over whether I was Canadian, Quebecoise, Jewish, of Eastern European descent (my son likes to go around saying he's "Russian" and wondering why that doesn't feel appropriate when his friends are happily "Greek" and "Italian"); earth mother or debutante; punk or preppie; liberal or conservative.
I tend to take things on a case by case basis. That way I can choose the stand or perspective that feels right at the time.
But I always just assumed I was a liberal.
My mother's politics were liberal, or at least she liked to think so.
Politically liberal, but conservative in lifestyle values.
I think I ended up the opposite.
My parents didn't argue much. I think my father just didn't have the energy to debate with my mother and there was no changing her mind about ANYTHING anyway.
But the only time I can remember them debating was with regard to patriotism.
My father would say something like, "My country right or wrong!" and my mother's eyes would just about roll through the back of her head.
In fact, I think he used to say it mainly to get a rise out of her, but he probably basically believed it too, being an old army guy who enlisted for World War II.
My parents weren't together then, not until long after the war, although they may have known each other casually.
I blocked out much of what my mother told me, just because I was that kind of kid and she was that kind of mother.
But I do remember some of it.
I remember her telling me that "I was only following orders" was NOT an acceptable excuse for war crimes and other atrocities.
I never really did get a straight answer as to what the soldier under those orders was supposed to do. Refuse them and be killed? Or carry them out and be prosecuted (and perhaps executed) later.
Quite the no-win situation.
My mother also told me that if I had been a boy and if we had been living in the United States and if there was no other way to keep me out of the draft, she would have sent me to Canada.
I never asked if I would have had any say in that matter since it was a moot point anyway.
She talked about marching for peace and such but I never saw her do it.
What she did do was march me through New York City, several times.
We did the museums and the ballet and the opera and Broadway plays and even a taping of a TV quiz show. I don't remember which show but I do remember that Florence Henderson was on it. This was probably around 1962.
We also did the United Nations.
It's pretty much a blur but what comes through, forty years later, was my mother's attitude towards it.
She thought it would save the world.
She knew the League of Nations had failed but for some reason believed the United Nations would prevail.
She also firmly believed that the countries that had the "bomb" would not use it because of fear of retaliation.
That premise held up (perhaps barely) for the cold war but it doesn't hold up in the face of "suicide" missions today.
Imagine, there's something even scarier than a nuclear weapon: an adversary who, on an individual basis, has given up the instinct of self-preservation.
"Live and let live" doesn't seem like much of an option anymore.
Still, while my views on current world events seem to have given me a "conservative" label, I don't wear it well at all. For instance:
I'm vigourously opposed to the death penalty;
I don't personally believe in abortion but I'm pro-choice nonetheless;
I'm appalled by the gun culture in the U.S.;
I wouldn't get upset if marijuana were legalized;
I believe same-sex couples should have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples;
Organized religion (even my own) makes me nervous.
Having such divergent views might not seem like a problem until one tries to find somewhere to affiliate oneself, such as a political party.
Looks like I might have to start my own!
So that is where I'm coming from; this is where I'm going, at least with regard to current events and politics.
I began playing around with a new weblog ("blog"? bah, I don't like that word. It sounds too much like "blob") a couple of months ago and find that it's a good place for parking links to news stories, rantlets, not-quite-fully-thought-out opinions and the like.
Inertia will remain a more personal site.
Science and poetry united.
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