Sunday, August 17, 2014

Thoughtful Gifts From Socks, The Cat...

By Madame Margherite

Socks: The Gift Giving Cat...
Every morning my mother and I sit on our back porch and chit chat over coffee. A few furry companions chime in from time to time, but one fine fella- Socks- is especially social. He is a handsome, and charming young cat who loves to bring us the occasional gift.
But one morning I made an observation that blew my mother's mind and prompted this study. 

On Tuesday, Socks came dashing down the tightrope of a fence with a maple-like leaf from the neighbor's yard clenched between his teeth. The leaf was big, and had a mixture of green and yellow pigment on it but most importantly it was perfectly intact. 

When he came and dropped it by my Mother's side we praised him, thanked him, scratched his chin, and joked about how much effort he put into selecting such a beautifully, vibrant leaf for her. 

Exhibit B...
One half of cup of coffee later, here comes socks, strolling down the fence- this time with a stem of many leaves between his teeth. When he dropped it by me, Mom and I assumed it was simply an accident in an attempt to drag it all the way to Mom. After all, it was a very long and awkward stem and he had stepped on it many times on his journey with it, so we forgave that it was a few feet shy of Mom's side and had landed closer to me. A gift is a gift and it's the thought that counts, so again we gave the kitty he's due credit. 

On Wednesday morning, Mom and I followed our daily routine, as did Socks. Now, the night before we had experienced some heavy rain so there were many leaves, stems, branches, and flowers readily available on the ground. "Oh the selection" Socks must have thought...

So here he comes, with pride on his face, racing along the fence with a stem in his jowls, similar to the one form the day before and when he got to me he dropped it from his mouth onto my shoulder and sat beside me. There was no question this gift was for me. Now as you could imagine, I was completely taken with flattery as he has never brought anyone but Mom any presents. She's Mom after all, and this was the first gift I had ever received from any cat. I'll admit, I was filled with joy and perhaps blushing a little. Mom and I laughed, smiled, praised Socks with coolie rubs, chin scratches, and pats behind the ears- he was loving it. 

But this is where things got really interesting. The next gift Socks dragged along the fence to us was another large, perfectly intact leaf, this time a dark green one. Not knowing who he would bring it to, Mom and I waited, filled with anticipation... the leaf was for her. 

All throughout the day, Socks brought us beautiful, intact gifts. The next was a stem which he dropped by me, then a leaf which he dropped by Mom. That's when it occurred to me; he's selecting these gifts for each of us specifically- custom presents! He was only bringing me stems of many leaves, and only bringing Mom large, colorful, individual leaves. 

Flabbergasted, we waited to see if this was a coincidence or not, and sure enough, here he comes with another stem, dropping it as he reached me and finally a big yellow leaf he took all the way to Mom. We couldn't believe it. Socks was shopping for gifts the same way you and I would, carefully deciding which item our loved ones would like the most. This one will be for my sister, this one will be for my mother... Sis will like this one, Mom will like that one...

This revelation was shocking! Extremely kind, generous, and flattering, but also shocking. This raises the questions: How does he select these gifts? Why does he decide I will like one kind and Mom will like another? And finally, what does he think we will do with all these leafy gifts? 

Resting after a long day of work...

Well, what I did was photograph them and write an article about the gift giving cat, now, that is love and appreciation! But please, no autographs; Socks hasn't got any thumbs and can't hold a pen to sign with...

--Marg (Mom and Socks)

Photos Courtesy of Angela Lynch

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ridiculous Questions People Ask Me About My Desire to Adopt Kids…

By Madame Margherite

AdoptionFor as long as I can remember, I have wanted to raise children, and my method of choice has always been adoption. Shortly after I established my first business I began taking the first of many steps towards actually doing so. Since then, I have been asked, on many occasions, as slew of questions which I find to be absolutely preposterous, however I opt to be firm yet polite about it. Truthfully though, the ignorance of such questions, gets under my skin and I do wish to address them in a more direct and straight forward manner. The bottom line is, if anyone just takes a moment to think about their questions prior to asking them, they will most likely realize just how offensive they are. Here are just a few I would like to share with you...

“Don’t you want your kid to look like you?”
Sure, it would be nice to have a kid who has my cheekbones and eyes, but the need of a child with no home or family to be adopted into a loving household instead of bouncing around in foster care is significantly more important.

“Why do you want to adopt instead of having your own?”
Because there are millions of children who don’t have parents, don’t have homes, and don’t have anyone who actually loves them. As a human being I can most definitely love a child who did not come from my body just as much as a child who did come from my body.

“If you get pregnant, will you consider abortion or adoption?”
No, my desire to adopt comes from an embedded love for children, why on earth would I want to inflict pain or loneliness on a child I have become pregnant with? I’m an adult, I know where babies come from, considering that I am old enough, financially secure enough and emotionally ready enough for parenthood it would be incredibly irresponsible of me to terminate a pregnancy or give up a child to the very system I wish to help kids out of.

“What if you get a bad kid?”
What if I get a bad kid? You mean, what if I raise a child who turns out to be a criminal or drug addict? In the event that a child I adopt has problems in his life I will act accordingly, just like any other parent who raises kids who don’t turn out exactly how they expect or desire. After all, is it impossible to parent a biological child who breaks the law or gets into trouble? Don’t all kids at some point in their lives get into trouble? Like every other parent in the world, I will love and support my kids no matter who they are, what they do, or where life takes them.

“Why would you want someone else’s problem?”
No child is ever a problem. Clearly, anyone who thinks so doesn’t know what it means to be a parent and most certainly shouldn’t raise kids.

“Do you think it’s fair to a kid to be adopted by a single mother?”
One parent is far greater than no parents. What I do think is unfair is that people who are incapable of raising children, procreate, and then give their children to a system that doesn’t have the proper means to attend to all the vital needs of kids aside from basic nutrition and education. Children need love, experience, friends, stability, happiness, and guidance. It doesn’t matter where those elements come from, as long as they come from somewhere.

“What if after you adopt you meet someone who doesn’t want kids?”
If I meet someone who doesn’t want kids then I most certainly don’t want them. The love I have as a parent will always exceed the love I have as a partner. When choosing a partner, one must think about how they want to spend their lives, what is important to them, and who can best provide them with these things. If having children is a priority in your life, then a person’s desire to raise kids with you must be an important factor in deciding who to settle down with. You never met anyone who gave up their biological children to please a potential spouse now have you?

“What if your kid finds out they are adopted?”
I want my kids to know they are adopted. I want my kids to know that I could have given birth to a random child but specifically chose them instead. I want my kids to know that they were not a backup plan or plan B. I want them to know that although the person who carried them wouldn’t be the person to love and raise them, I am here to do that. I want my children to know that I worked hard and did everything I could I get them, and that I already loved them long before I had ever met them.

“Isn’t adoption expensive?”
Yes, there are fees and expenses related to adopting children, however giving birth and raising children is equally, and often times even more expensive than adopting children. Think about how much money expecting parents spend on prenatal care, medical expenses, parenting classes. Then once the baby arrives, think about how much parents spend on baby clothes, baby shoes, diapers, formula, daycare, medicine, and education. Are those expenses not worth it? So then how could anyone expect that paying adoption and lawyer fees might be a reason not to be a parent?

If you can’t imagine yourself adopting a child and don’t understand why someone else would then perhaps you can imagine this: picture a child you know, your own even, then imagine for a second that he or she has no one in their lives who loves them because they haven’t known anyone long enough to be loved by them. Imagine that that child is in a group home with dozens of other children, doesn’t get undivided attention, doesn’t get love and affection, doesn’t get rewarded for good behavior, doesn’t get the toys they want, doesn’t get read to before they go to sleep. Imagine that a child you love is not in your life but instead is at an adoption agency care center waiting for someone to choose them. Maybe now you can understand the tragedy these kids face, and why someone like me would do anything in their power to put an end to it, at least one child at a time.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Written by Enrique Grijalva: An Article About the 5Pointz Rally; The Most Memorable Day I Ever Spent There...

5 Pointz - Art is Life


Published On November 19, 2013 | By Enrique Grijalva | ART + DESIGNNATIVE VIBE,TOPICSUNCENSORED NEW YORK
This was my first time at 5 Pointz. I confess, it’s a shameful admission. To be clear, I had always admired this artistic monument from afar, usually when entering Long Island City via the 7 train. For years I had believed it was the best possible view. Clearly, I was wrong.
I put off ever making this pilgrimage to the graffiti mecca for years. It wasn’t until I had learned that the owners of the building, Jerry Wolkoff and son David Wolkoff, were planning on demolishing the building, once known as the Phun Phactory, by the end of 2013 in favor of a pair of luxury, residential towers conveniently equipped with an indoor climbing wall, a golf course and a pool.
On Saturday, November 16, I attended what without question will be the first of many rallies to save 5 Pointz. Artists, musicians, hipsters, hip-hop heads, punks, children…and even Captain America were all in attendance. Each collecting digital memories of the large-scale works of art, many of which are filled with distinctive characters whose eyes are in danger of never connecting with the children of tomorrow.
5 Pointz Mr Blob 628x840 Uncensored New York: Save 5 Pointz or Lose New York City History
Image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Enrique Grijalva
New York City leaders have consistently overlooked and undervalued the importance of art in our public school systems, cutting the budget by 45 percent between the 2007-2012 school years, according to data compiled by the Center of Arts Education. It never mattered to them that studies have shown that the arts can improve children’s math and reading skills, social development and memory. Most significantly, these art programs could instill at-risk youth with the necessary motivation to continue improving in the classroom and in life.
Still, budgets for art programs in schools continue declining.
It’s almost as if those kids, we, don’t matter.
No worries, though.
Lack of arts education between the walls of these industrial academic institutions had always been commonplace. So when Hip Hop was born, the unconquered children of imagination expressed themselves in a radical manner: The writers became emcees, dancers became b-boy/b-girls, musicians became DJs and the modern day artist—the graffiti artist whose work was initially barred from traditional art galleries—went outside the box and took that confined imagination and laced their creativity on the streets of New York.
5 Pointz 40 Years of Hip Hop 628x840 Uncensored New York: Save 5 Pointz or Lose New York City History
Image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Enrique Grijalva
“Outside is where art should live,” said Banksy, in the audio that accompanied his final piece during his recent invasion of New York, which paid homage to the ubiquitous graffiti-style bubble letters made famous in the 1980’s. Soon, it was apparent that many New Yorkers agreed with his statement.
Those in attendance, at the rally, showed support by signing request forms to preserve 5 Pointz as a landmark in New York City, and while standing inside the loading dock area we watched as teachers, artists and members of the community spoke on the importance of 5 Pointz.
“New York is kind of boring right now,” said Meres-One, a graffiti veteran and the gallery curator for 5 Pointz. “They’re overdeveloping it. They’re building these glass-tissue boxes that are made cheap—have no soul and they’re destroying all of our communities.”
The highest honor for an aspiring street artist is the chance to bless the mecca of graffiti art with the masterpiece which they’ve been preordained to create. But in the absence of Mecca, where does this artist go? The system has already told this child that his profound imagery is irreverent and has no place in the halls of learning, and somehow we expect this child to close his eyes and do nothing as this sadistically cunning and imbalanced system attempts to eradicate their institute of higher burning?
“A lot of people believe in using the system to change the system. It’s not our system. The public education system is not our system. The police, they’re not our police, “said Homeboy Sandman, a Queens-based rapper and supporter of 5 Pointz. “The systems are working fine. They’re just not ours!”
Homeboy Sandman proposed, as a last resort effort in the event of looming demolition, that we come together to organize and form a human barricade around 5 Pointz.
Gentrification has removed us from our communities and continues to do so. Today, it’s threatening to remove the beauty New Yorkers have created. A part of New York’s cultural history is on the brink of extinction, with two mundane structures prepared to simply exist in its place. These hollow towers are prepared to contribute nothing to the city, and despite the Wolkoffs’ ostensible promise for 20 artist studios, this admission of guilt is only evidence of a typical landlord’s apathy for the people’s concerns.
5 Pointz Marge 628x840 Uncensored New York: Save 5 Pointz or Lose New York City History
Image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Enrique Grijalva
One of the last speakers at the rally, Marge, a thin woman with a heavy Brooklyn accent spoke about her ongoing relationship with 5 Pointz. As a child, she rode the 7 train back and forth just to admire the art on the building—a ritual which soon became refuge for a young woman who was forced to face the sprouting hardships which had planted themselves into her life as she got older.
One day, like me, Marge mustered up enough courage to get off the train to finally encounter the individual worlds each artist had spray painted on those walls she spent years admiring.
“This place has inspired me so much,” said Marge as her voice began to tremble. “I definitely feel this place has saved my life on more than one occasion.”
Now, it’s our turn to save 5 Pointz.
Editor’s Note: Sadly, 5 Pointz could not be saved. Days after the rally to save 5 Pointz thatNew York Natives contributor Enrique Grijalva attended, the Long Island City graffiti destination was painted white.

Featured image courtesy of New York Natives, Photographer: Enrique Grijalva