Archive for March, 2014

The Pride of Copenhagen — Not Its Zoo

Friday, March 28th, 2014

By Bob Gaydos

A family of lions has been killed by the Copenhagen Zoo.

A family of lions has been killed by the Copenhagen Zoo.

Cruelty, meet irony.

The human beings who run the Copenhagen Zoo apparently have a single-minded approach to managing the institution: If the animals trapped in their breeding program do not measure up to the humans’ arbitrary standards (too old, too young, too weak, too common), the animals are killed.

Only they don’t call it that. Instead of killing, they call it culling, which the humans apparently think sounds better but doesn’t make any difference to the animal involved. Dead is dead, however one tries to gussy it up with phony, save-the-species kind of language. And dead for no good reason is, at heart, cruelty.

In March, the Copenhagen Zoo bosses killed a healthy, 18-month-old giraffe, named Marius, because, they said, his genes were not needed in their breeding program. He was surplus. They rejected offers from other zoos to take Marius and shot him in the head with a bolt gun, dissected him front of a crowd that included young children, and fed his remains to the zoo’s lions.

This week, they killed the lions, a family consisting of a 16-year-old male, a 14-year-old female and their two, young cubs. The humans said the adult lions were nearing the end of average zoo age (which is actually 25) and were simply too old for breeding, even though they had just produced two young cubs

The cubs, like Marius, simply had the misfortune of being born at the Copenhagen Zoo. They were killed because the zoo had its eye on a young lion at another Danish zoo that it wanted to mate with two younger females at Copenhagen, to create a new pride. The females are offspring of the deceased male and the zoo officials said they wanted to avoid in-breeding. They also said the young male they had their eyes on would just kill the young cubs anyway, so bye-bye.

Apparently, sterilization or merely swapping healthy animals between zoos to let them live out their lives are concepts that do not fit into the breeding program of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, to which the Copenhagen Zoo and about 345 others in Europe belong. The Copenhagen Zoo said it had no offer to take the lions off its hands, but its treatment of Marius shredded any credibility on that count. In addition to rejecting an offer from another zoo to take the giraffe, the zoo speeded up his execution in response to a petition signed by tens of thousands of people around the world to spare him.

When Marius was killed, the corresponding zoo association in the United States said such a thing would never happen in this country because the zoos sterilize or swap healthy animals. That’s instead of killing them for expedience, or budget-balancing or ego-satisfaction or whatever is driving the men in charge in Copenhagen. Certainly, it’s hard to believe animal welfare enters into their calculations.

Zoos are ostensibly a means to protect and preserve species of animals on this planet and to expose and educate millions of people about the beautiful diversity of wildlife most of us would never have the opportunity to witness. But grabbing animals from their native habitats and breeding them in captivity, for whatever stated reasons, does not give humans the right to mistreat the animals, to cage them and treat them as entertainment, or to regard them as some kind of laboratory experiment which can be discarded in the name of science or conservation.

What the Copenhagen Zoo (and others that operate under the same principles) does has nothing to do with wildlife conservation, humane education, or respect for animals. It is strictly about the convenience of the humans. EAZA said it “regretted” the deaths of Marius and the lions, but that the Copenhagen Zoo has been consistent in its approach and has broken no association rules. That’s lame and, frankly, should be embarrassing to other members. It is time for zoos in Europe and elsewhere to rethink their mission and find more humane, compassionate ways to go about meeting it.

Certainly, people who respect animals as living creatures can avoid visiting zoos that blithely dispose of animals as so much “surplus.” Those who wish to voice their desire for a change can sign a petition at:

Finally, there’s another word they sometimes use in zoos when they talk about animals — euthanize. A lot of reporting on the Copenhagen Zoo killings said the giraffe and the lions were “euthanized.” No they weren’t. Animals who are sick or injured or lingering painfully near death are euthanized to relieve their suffering. There is no mercy in killing a healthy animal being held in captivity.


Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Putin -no DavidBill Hogan

Carrie’s Painting of the Week – 03/28/14

Thursday, March 27th, 2014
Rio Grande Near Taos

Rio Grande Near Taos

By Carrie Jacobson

I made my way home to the Eastern Shore of Virginia a week or so ago, having been on the road for most of three months, painting, doing shows and enjoying the lack of winter.

I went all the way to the Pacific Ocean, then doubled back and spent my time in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, living, breathing, eating and sleeping painting.

It was a joy to immerse myself in this astonishing country – and in painting, and tasks associated with painting and my sponsored painting trip (22 people bought paintings in advance from me – I painted these, and more, en plein air on my travels). It was a pure, pure joy – and a boon to my painting. My pieces got stronger and stronger throughout the trip, I think – and new ideas and new approaches came to me more and more readily.

It was hard to be away that long. It was hard to do that much painting. It was scary to plan this trip, knowing what it would cost and not knowing whether I’d get enough sponsors to make it worthwhile.

But the fears and the difficulties vanished in the face of what I saw, and what I strove and stretched and managed to produce. There might not be many times in a life when you have the chance to devote yourself to your passion. But if the possibility exists – or if you even catch a glimpse of it – I’d encourage you to do whatever you need to do to have the experience. It will be worth whatever it takes, whatever it costs.


I had a fabulous stroke of luck while I was in Tubac, Arizona, visiting my dad. Actually, two related strokes of luck. I was taken on by a marvelous gallery there – Art Gallery H – which is a lovely place, run by a very nice, very enthusiastic couple, Karl and Audrey Hoffmann.

Every year, Tubac produces a visitors guide, with listings of every shop, restaurant and gallery in town, maps of the town, advertisements, and a calendar of events. The guide is available for the entire year, and is distributed in all the businesses in town, and many in the general area.

Gallery H is responsible for supplying the art for next year’s guide – and they chose me to make the painting for the cover!


Wanted: A Little Peace & Quiet

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

By Jeffrey Page

What is it with these entitled parents who allow their children to create a racket in a restaurant or run up and down the aisle of an airliner while screaming at the top of their lungs? You know what I mean; I know this has happened to you because it has happened to everyone.

Look, before I write another word, let me declare without reservation that I like children. I like their exuberance, their spunk, their sense of adventure and their imagination. They’re terrific. It’s with some of their parents I have an issue.

On an uncomfortably cold and windy afternoon my friend and I ducked into a place Ridgewood, N.J. for lunch and a break from the weather. The place was noisy, but it was the noise of lunchtime conversation, maybe slightly on the loud side. No big deal.

But as a hostess showed us to a table I heard a screech. There was something animalistic about it. I heard it again and got a look at the kid it was coming from. It was a little boy who then quit screeching and just started crying. Then he made guttural sounds as though he were in distress, like being eaten by a wolf.

The boy, about 4 or 5, was seated in a booth at the window with three other children who seemed two or three years older. In all, they were three boys, one girl, no adults.

A minute later they were all screaming at one another. The boy who had been screeching and then crying now switched to screaming at no one in particular. He ignored his lunch. So did the others.

It was a madhouse and I wondered where the parents were. Then I saw a dad-looking man walk over, lean down, and say something to the young screamer. And the boy responded.

“NO! NO! NO!” he explained. Then, ignoring the presence of a grown-up, the other three started taunting the young one with shouts and imitations of a crying child. Their noise was nothing less than an infliction on everyone else in the restaurant, courtesy of the father, who was useless.

And what did he do, this dad? He walked away, leaving the four children alone at what turned out to be their table. Dad, on the other hand, was seated two booths away with some friends, probably the parents of the other children.

I wonder if Dad thought the display at the kids’ table was – what? – cute? Endearing? Precious? Or maybe just too much for him to be bothered. I thought that his decision in favor of inaction was an act of supreme indifference directed at everyone else in the place, the secret message being: You don’t like it? That’s too damned bad.

When we mentioned the asylum quality of the atmosphere and bizarre seating arrangement to the hostess, she informed us that the children and their fathers were new to her, that she had never seen them before.

Maybe, maybe not.

In any case, it seems a given that when children behave badly – or when adults behave badly for that matter – it makes good business sense for the manager of a restaurant to walk over and lay down the law. Control your children now or be gone. Maybe in a neighborhood place, the boss is afraid of a boycott by angry moms and dads who think their children are the smartest and most charming in the whole wide world.

But doing nothing is a dangerous policy. Sure, the people with noisy kids will be back, but patrons who wish for lunch in peace will be alienated and look for other places.  

Our time at lunch reminded me of a flight I took to Los Angeles to see my mother and brother. Seated behind me was a couple with a little boy aged about 4. He was unhappy sitting in his father’s lap and made this known in a voice of extraordinary shrillness. He kept yanking on the back of my seat. Once, no problem. Twice, well he’s just a kid. When it happened a third time, I stood and asked the dad to control his son.

He apologized. And a minute later, the boy was running up and down the aisle and whooping it up. Thus, anyone wishing to sleep, read, watch a movie or carry on a discussion with a seat mate could not. While the boy ran around, his father read a newspaper in peace. The mother, with ear buds, was engrossed in something and never looked up. Lucky him, lucky her.

Finally, a flight attendant asked Dad to control the boy. Which he did, though the crying and whining never stopped.

I know responsible parents who buy a separate seat for their young daughter and travel with plenty of games and toys. The extra seat is an expense, but childless passengers have a right to travel as comfortably as possible. A kid, as cute as he or she is, running in the aisle and making raucous noises makes a flight that much more stressful.

There’s not much you can do about irresponsible parents on a flight in progress. But in a neighborhood restaurant, the manager most certainly can do something about out-of-control kids. Inform the parents: Take charge or be gone.

You’ve had similar experiences, right?

The ‘Cost’ of Eating Healthy

Thursday, March 20th, 2014
The Breakfast of Champions

The Breakfast of Champions                      IR Photography

By Bob Gaydos

Since I began eating more healthful food (and writing about it), I’ve been paying more attention to the things people say and the choices they make when it comes to taking care of themselves. I’ve noticed they don’t always coincide.

While many acknowledge that a regular diet of red meat, fried, processed, salt-laden, sugar-soaked foods is not healthy, “eating healthier” often doesn’t eliminate the problem. Instead, the choice may be to eat less of the foods we say we shouldn’t eat, rather than eating more foods (fruits and vegetables) that are actually be good for us. We tweak. We cut down on the potato chips. Switch to diet soda. Try “low-calorie” prepared dinners. Get a small order of french fries instead of large.

This may be better than doing nothing and may cut a couple of calories. It also may save a little money.

Ahh, money. Personal finances can certainly affect the choices we make. In many quarters, the notion persists that eating healthy, while it sounds great, is just too expensive. This belief is fed in large part by TV commercials for the corporations that control our food supply. We are inundated with commercials designed to make us feel good about the particular food product (cereal, soda, fast-food, lunch meat). These are often aimed at children, who can influence parents’ food choices.

The products are marketed as inexpensive and good for us. But the processed foods that make up the bulk of the diet of most Americans are loaded with salt, chemical preservatives to prolong their shelf life and a variety of natural and artificial sugars to make them more palatable — and addictive. Large food corporations get big tax breaks and huge factory farms, which expose animals to disease and abuse, get government subsidies, which helps them to keep their prices down. Spraying crops with chemical pesticides lets big growers sell produce cheaper than organic farmers who don’t use chemicals. It makes Monsanto richer, but can hardly be considered good for our health.

Because of this government/corporate partnership emphasizing mass production of what is described as “affordable” food, many people who sincerely want to choose more healthful foods may feel they can’t afford to eat “all that organic, natural, chemical-free, grass-fed, free-range, non-GMO stuff.”

In truth, Americans can’t afford not to eat what used to be called, just plain food. Think about it. Why should food with nothing added to it have to carry labels that, thanks to years of brainwashing, make people think “expensive”? Why not just “apples,” “melons,” “grapes,” “berries,” “steak,” “chicken”? Why not, instead, require foods with all that stuff added to carry labels that say: “Added sugars, natural and otherwise;” “Loaded with salt;” “Chemical additives;” “Genetically modified;’’ “Full of fat;” “Sprayed with toxic chemicals;” “Fed tainted grain;” “Natural flavors produced in laboratories;” “Raised in warehouses;” or “No nutritional value”?

In a recent column, I offered what I called “the new breakfast of champions.” Instead of Wheaties and a banana, it consisted of a bowl of coconut/vanilla Greek yogurt, two sliced bananas, a big bunch of halved, red globe grapes with seeds, a mound of whole ground flaxseed meal, a healthy serving of blended trail mix (almonds, cranberries, cherries, raisins and pistachios), and a generous topping of all-natural chocolate granola.

Among the responses I got was this one from Marshall Rubin: “I have no qualms about your ‘Breakfast of Champions,’ especially since it’s way more healthy than my morning bagel with cream cheese and a can of lightly-salted V-8 vegetable juice. But one thing wasn’t mentioned: the cost of your meal. I’m a retiree watching my quality of life decrease as I continue to get no COLA raises from Social Security and my NJ state pension. My bagel breakfast costs less than $2. What does your breakfast cost?”

Excellent question. First, let me note that I, too, get a Social Security check and a pension check each month. Now, let’s deal with the breakfast: The Greek yogurt cost $1 for the cup, so that’s already half your cost, Marshall. But all the other ingredients are bought in more than single-serving sizes — bananas at 59 cents a pound; grapes were on sale at $1.69 a pound; a one-pound bag of ground flaxseed meal (free of everything and delicious) cost $14. The trail mix and granola are pricey at $4.99 and $5.99 a bag, respectively. But, like the flax seed, they provide the healthful ingredients for many breakfasts. It all depends on how hungry you are.

Ordering this delicious breakfast (which can be changed for taste and variety reasons) — if you could find a restaurant offering it — would absolutely be expensive. We call it our $8.50 breakfast, but the cost is probably just a little more than the $2 bagel-and-V-8 breakfast. There is no comparison, however, in the health benefits. That’s what gets missed in the discussion about the cost of healthful foods.

Eating all that salt, sugar, chemicals, preservatives and other additives has made billions of dollars for those food/chemical corporations, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and fast-food companies while producing millions of overweight, out-of-shape Americans. Recent surveys show that, as a people, we are fatter and less fit. Also, prone to diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. But if we chose to spend money on more healthful foods to begin with, that would cut down on doctor visits, insurance costs and the need for so many drugs to keep from getting seriously ill, never mind staying healthy.

Again, it’s a choice. Tweaking an unhealthy diet is not enough. It seems to me that the only way to bring down the cost of eating healthy is for enough people to demand better choices from the major suppliers of food and more government support for providers of healthful food. (A calorie-counting campaign by the First Lady is not enough.) Some of this pressure, largely through social media sites, is already being felt by the food giants, but much more needs to be done.

Meanwhile, here’s a brief look at the health benefits of that breakfast of champions of mine:

  • Greek yogurt: Go for low-sugar and low-fat. Loaded with protein, calcium, and probiotic cultures. Also, potassium and Vitamins B6 and B12. Low in calories, lactose, carbohydrates and sodium. Also, it’s creamy and tastes great.
  • Bananas: Have no fat, cholesterol or sodium. They do have potassium, Vitamin C, fiber and Vitamin B6. Thought to be good for, among other things, heart health and regularity. Also contain tryptophan, which helps boost memory.
  • Red globe grapes with seeds: No fat or cholesterol. Contains resveratrol and flavonoids and antioxidants. Helps with weight loss, improves blood flow (helping protect against heart attack and high blood pressure) and may help fight Alzheimer’s. Promotes skin and hair health, helps fight aging and kidney disorders.
  • Milled flaxseed: Loaded with lignans, which provide the antioxidant benefits of fighting cardiovascular disease. Also loaded with omega 3 fatty acids, which promote healthy nerve function and Vitamin B1, or thiamin, which boosts energy. Great source of fiber and may help reduce hot flashes in menopausal women.
  • Trail mix: Almonds and pistachios promote heart health and good cholesterol levels. Source of protein, magnesium, calcium, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, iron, fiber. Cranberries fight urinary tract infection and can help decrease blood pressure. Raisins help fight constipation, boost energy and promote mouth and bone health. Also are anti-inflammatory. Cherries help fight arthritis and inflammatory conditions and help lower blood sugar.
  • Chocolate granola: The oats help lower cholesterol and promote intestinal health. Plenty of fiber. Don’t overdo the chocolate chips and enjoy the taste.

That’s all for now. I’m getting hungry. Meanwhile, for the skeptics and those wondering about the cost, why not give it a try? Use your own combinations of ingredients and let me know what you think. It couldn’t hurt and you might be pleasantly surprised at your choice.



Happy St. Pat’s (Belated)

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

By Jeffrey Page

This is the story of how I scandalized some senior officers and non-coms of the 69thInfantry on a St. Patrick’s Day during the Sixties. The 69th is the military unit whose forebears have led the St. Pat parade every year since around 1766.

Not many people were aware of it in the Sixties, but there actually were two St. Patrick’s Day parades up Fifth Avenue every year. The second was the big one, the procession of bands playing “Garryowen,” “The Wearin’ of the Green,” and “Danny Boy,” of men in kilts playing the pipes, of soldiers of the 69th occasionally breaking ranks to shake an onlooker’s hand. It was floats and beer, and students from Catholic high schools striding behind their schools’ banners. It was some otherwise sensible young people with green hair. It was pins declaring “Kiss Me, I’m Irish.”

The earlier parade, which stepped off at 7 a.m., had no musicians but for a lone drummer who beat a steady rhythm so we could maintain a unified leftstep-rightstep-leftstep. There were no rifles, no steel helmets, no gas masks. And no onlookers, as we marched quietly from the 69th’s armory at Lexington and 26th to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Francis Cardinal Spellman would conduct a military mass.

The battalion knew I was a newspaper reporter and ordered me to bring my camera and take pictures of the men on the march and of senior officers and non-coms being greeted by Cardinal Spellman. I told the major issuing this order that I was a writer, not a photographer, but he wasn’t listening.

And so, early on March 17 the two battalions of the 69th formed on Lexington Avenue. Sgt. Bates blew a whistle. The drummer began to drum. The sergeant major cried out “Forward march!” and we were off.

(Ahh, Sgt. Bates. When I enlisted three years earlier, having passed the draft board’s pre-induction physical, Sgt. Bates told me my obligations including marching in the parade every year of my six-year enlistment. What if I’m not Irish? I asked. This seemed like an exquisitely reasonable question. It was no such thing. Sgt. Bates, in words that live in my family to this day, declared in a voice you could hear in Hoboken, “Page, I don’t care if you’re a god damned Bolshevik, you will march in that parade.” And so I did.)

Now, three years into my enlistment, I tailed behind Lt. Col. Klauz – the battalion commander – into the cathedral and stayed for the mass to avoid missing the meeting with Cardinal Spellman. We were taken to a private room, and there was Spellman, the hawkish archbishop of New York, who had blessed Army weaponry and who had reduced the war in Vietnam to a battle between the North Vietnamese and Jesus Christ.

One by one, he blessed the officers and non-coms, and all appeared pleased. I kept snapping pictures of these small meetings, praying that they would come out well.

At the end, Spellman gestured toward me and asked, “Who is this young soldier?”

“Our photographer, your eminence,” Col. Klauz said.

Spellman waited a moment and then stuck out his hand to me. I guess I should have noticed that it was palm down.

I extended my hand and said, “Nice to meet you, Cardinal Spellman.” Silence for a moment and then the sound of 15 or 20 officers gasping slightly.

Spellman smiled and departed. One of the non-coms – I think it was the sergeant major – grabbed me by the arm and demanded to know what the hell I thought I was doing, which didn’t sound like the kind of talk you’re supposed to hear in a church.

“You do not shake hands with a cardinal of the church,” he said in a military lockjaw that was pure sputtering rage, “you kiss his ring. And you do not call him ‘Cardinal Spellman’ you call him ‘your eminence.’ And you do not say to a cardinal of the church ‘Nice to meet you.’ He’s not exactly your new drinking buddy,” he explained as he growled.

I guess I should have known, but I didn’t. How I was expected to know all this was beyond me, I said in a voice devoid of sputter – one does not ever sputter to a sergeant major – adding that I was Jewish. At which point his face turned a deep shade of red I have not seen since. It was much like the color of a beet – a bleeding beet.

All was forgiven, although with three years left in my enlistment, they never again asked me to shoot pictures of the parade. Funny how things work out.


Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Repubilcan caucusBill Hogan

Carrie’s Painting of the Week – 03/07/14

Thursday, March 6th, 2014


By Carrie Jacobson

I’ve spent an awful lot of time during this painting trip missing my husband, and our home, my friends and my dogs and our little town on the Eastern Shore. I’ve felt guilty about leaving for so long (mid-January to mid-March), for missing this dire winter (yes, mid-January to mid-March; I’ve missed all of it), and for leaving my husband alone with the dogs in this cold, dismal time.

Now that my California Calling painting trip is winding down, I am surprised at how sad I am feeling!

It seems impossible that I could feel these two very strong, very divergent feelings at the very same time – but I do. I can’t explain it and I apparently can’t stop it, so I am just living with it, rocketing between tears and sadness that this amazing adventure is winding down – and joy and anticipation at being home and living my small, colorful life with my dear man.

I imagine that everything will sort itself out once I get going. And the trip is not finished. I have a show in Albuquerque this weekend – click here to find out more about it – and drop me an email if you’d like a coupon that gives you a discount off admission.

Between now and then, I have a few days to paint in New Mexico, and I’m excited about that. And then after the show, I head home. Even thinking about it makes me excited – and wistful!

At any rate, I love this burro painting, which was commissioned by a lovely woman who lives out here in Tubac. It’s one of my favorite paintings ever – and I can say that with no contradictory emotions at all!

Law Enforcement Too Strict (She Says)

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

By Jeffrey Page

First, she sideswiped a tractor trailer truck on Route 684.

Then it was the sight of her driving with one flat tire that caused several people to call the state police to report someone driving dangerously.

The case eventually went to trial in Westchester County and she was found not guilty of driving under the influence.

It was Kerry Kennedy, 54, the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy and ex-wife of Governor Andrew Cuomo, at the wheel. I’m inclined to believe her explanation that her erratic driving was the result of mistakenly taking a potent sleeping pill instead of her thyroid medication. I have no sympathy for drunken or drugged drivers but as far as intent is concerned, I still buy Kennedy’s story of a mistake and think the jury reached a fair and correct conclusion.

Now, incredibly, Kennedy says she thinks the district attorney is a little too aggressive in bringing drunken driving charges, and she went on television to offer a critique of the justice system in Westchester County. In this, like a Ringling Bros. clown, she stepped in a bucket.

Appearing on the Today program, Kennedy told Matt Lauer: “I think in Westchester County they have a policy of pursuing every single case of driving under the influence whether the police think the person’s innocent, whether the D.A. thinks they’re innocent.”

(Well, if the district attorney thought Kennedy was innocent, she could have declined to prosecute. But she’s the official who runs the criminal justice system in Westchester – and she decided to proceed.)

“And,” Kennedy continued, “this is a terrible policy because it means a lot of people who are innocent get caught up in the criminal justice system.”

It also means that a lot of people who are guilty get prosecuted. A terrible policy? I think rules that might make people think twice before driving home while blind drunk is a pretty good policy.

What is Kennedy saying? That district attorneys ought not pursue DWI cases? Or not prosecute the one against Kerry Kennedy? Or that we should do way with the criminal justice system altogether unless we can establish a defendant’s guilt or innocence without the inconvenience of seating a jury?

Since incidents of drunken drinking, crashes, deaths and injuries are so random – any of us could be a victim – the district attorney who pursues “every single case of driving under the influence” gets my vote.

Meanwhile, maybe what Kerry Kennedy and all of us need is a clear picture of what is meant by use of the word “injured” in most newspaper stories about DWI incidents. Does it mean a cut on someone’s face? A broken arm? A sprained ankle? Worse? Newspapers usually don’t follow up and discuss the “injuries.”

So let me tell you and Kerry Kennedy the story of Barbara Rokas, whose encounter with a drunken driver occurred in 1990. I became aware of her in 2001 when she contacted me at The Record of Hackensack to tell me what happened to her. (Long-time readers of Zest of Orange may recall some of this information from a column I wrote in 2009.)

Kennedy ought to read the complete inventory of injuries inflicted on Barbara Rokas before she complains about the D.A.’s office being too aggressive, too persistent, too determined in its prosecution of drunken drivers.

Barbara was driving through Kearny, N.J. on her way to pick up her husband. A car came speeding down Chestnut Street and smashed into her car. One estimate at the time was that the kid driving the other car was doing 75 mph. It was also revealed that he had been drinking since 7 in the morning; he encountered Rokas at 3:30 p.m. His blood alcohol level was 0.19; the legal limit was 0.10.

Barbara’s blood was all over the pavement. First aid responders thought she was dead and covered her face. But she was alive.

She needed about 500 stitches to close the cuts on her head alone. She was in a coma for 22 days. She suffered serious brain damage. She had a fractured thighbone and collarbone. She was paralyzed on her right side. She was deaf in one ear. She had double vision. She had severe memory loss. She was confined to a wheelchair. She had slurred speech.

Then came lawyer talk. “[She] has also suffered, and will continue to suffer, loss of the pleasures and pursuits of life and a diminution and impairment of her capacity to enjoy life,” her attorney said in court papers.

That was 24 years ago. Barbara is now 72. Life hasn’t gotten much easier.

Kennedy could learn a lot by talking with Barbara, who is the unfortunate stand-in for all of us: you, me, your mother, your sister, your kid, your husband, your wife. She could be Kerry Kennedy.

And so it brings a profound sense of relief when I read a story in the paper about a tenacious prosecutor presenting a case to a jury and a judge who understand the misery drunken drivers cause.

That, incidentally, would be unlike the judge who sentenced the man responsible for reducing Barbara Rokas’ life to – her word – “a zero.” The penalty was two months of weekend home confinement. That was 1999.

Barbara Rokas still struggles to get dressed every morning.


Thursday, March 6th, 2014

hoganukraine                                     Bill Hogan