Visiting Congo, Pope Francis Embraces the Poor and Exploited The Central African country is wracked by war, poverty and environmental plunder — and it may be the future of the Catholic Church........ The turnout to welcome Francis was overwhelming in Kinshasa, the capital. Tens of thousands of people lined the road from the airport, cheering and waving flags in colorful local dress and Catholic school uniforms under enormous billboards of Francis (often alongside the country’s president). ......... terrible forms of exploitation, unworthy of humanity and of creation ......... South Sudan, where the church is deeply involved in peace negotiations and democracy building ........ Congo is home to one of the world’s most intractable conflicts. It is fueled by a legacy of colonialism and the genocide across the border in Rwanda, which has helped fill refugee camps with more than 5.5 million people. .......... Rebel groups, some supported by Rwanda and Uganda, pillage villages, steal livestock, murder residents and rape women. Vast rainforests are plundered for gold, cobalt and other resources, partly to pay for weapons and war. Some local church officials say widespread corruption is at the heart of the problem. ......... About half of Congo’s more than 95 million people are Catholic, making it the faith’s deepest well in Africa, the continent many hope will replenish the church as
attendance shrinks in the West
. ......... Africa’s 265 million Catholics made up about 20 percent of the world’s 1.3 billion followers. And that number is growing. ......... the church provided health care, food programs and education to many millions of Congolese. ......... The Congo bishops’ conference, the most vocal in Africa, did not shy away when President Joseph Kabila postponed elections after the completion of his term in December 2016. It organized protests and brought the issue to international attention, helping to force Mr. Kabila to renounce a third term. ......... The church later deployed about 40,000 observers for a presidential election in 2018, announcing that there was a clear winner, but stopping short of saying who it was. Experts agreed that it was Martin Fayulu, the leading opposition candidate, but another opposition figure, Félix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi, took power. Still, it was the country’s first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since it achieved independence from Belgium in 1960. .......... “Power is meaningful only if it becomes a form of service,” Francis said, admonishing authoritarianism and greed. ......... Catholics have remained politically engaged. After celebrating Mass on some Sundays, congregations across the country have marched straight from church in large-scale demonstrations, making it more difficult for the authorities to crack down on them. Protesters have demanded fresh elections and an end to the war in the east. .......... M23, or the March 23 Movement, which refers to a failed peace agreement signed on that date in 2009. ......... There are also more than 120 other armed groups and self-defense militias fighting for land and power in the North and South Kivu, Ituri, and Tanganyika provinces. .........
“For more than 90 percent of people, it’s extreme poverty, extreme insecurity.”
........... Congo, a country rich in gold, copper, diamonds and two-thirds of the world’s cobalt. ........ China and the United States have been racing to gain control over the global supply of cobalt, an essential part of electric car batteries. Almost all of Congo’s gold ends up in the hands of regional powers, and is then smuggled out to international markets. ......... “Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: it is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered,” Francis said. “We cannot grow accustomed to the bloodshed that has marked this country for decades, causing millions of deaths that remain mostly unknown elsewhere. What is happening here needs to be known.”
Russian Attacks Intensify in East, Ukraine Says The Ukrainian military reports attacks at dozens of points across the eastern front. Russian forces attacked dozens of Ukrainian positions across the eastern front, the Ukrainian military said on Monday, as Moscow’s assaults widen and intensify ahead of what Kyiv has warned could be the Kremlin’s largest offensive since the first weeks of the war. ....... the chaotic nature of the Russian effort — including waves of inexperienced recruits and former convicts belonging to the Wagner paramilitary group — was limiting its effectiveness. ......... “There was a complete lack of coordination and interaction among the servicemen of Russian occupation troops and the so-called Wagner Group’s mercenaries” ........ Just as Russia used its overwhelming advantage in artillery early in the war to grind out gains in eastern Ukraine, it is now deploying hundreds of thousands of newly mobilized soldiers, in small groups, to probe for vulnerabilities in Ukrainian defensive lines. ......... The eastern front has remained largely the same, running along a 140-mile stretch of territory that forms the shape of a jagged crescent moon. ........ Moscow is determined to break through Ukrainian defensive lines before the anniversary of its invasion, on Feb. 24.
For Better and for Worse, Elon Musk Is His Own Spokesman Under its new owner, Twitter has done away with its press department. One reporter who writes about the company compares it to a “giant black box.” ........ for the journalists who cover the company, the subsequent experience has defied expectations. ....... He has also been cooperative with Walter Isaacson, who has written biographies of Steve Jobs, Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein and is now working on a book about Mr. Musk. ........ Like Twitter, Tesla does not have a designated public relations team. Mr. Musk addressed the decision to do without a Tesla press office (over Twitter, natch) in 2021: “Other companies spend money on advertising & manipulating public opinion, Tesla focuses on the product,” he wrote.
The Road to a Supreme Court Clerkship Starts at Three Ivy League Colleges The chances of obtaining a coveted clerkship, a new study found, increase sharply with undergraduate degrees from Harvard, Yale or Princeton..... When Ted Cruz attended Harvard Law School, he liked to study with people who had undergraduate degrees from Harvard, Yale or Princeton. “He said he didn’t want anybody from ‘minor Ivies’ like Penn or Brown” ........ the finding was disturbing. ........ “We don’t really live in a meritocracy,” he said. “The Supreme Court is guilty of perpetuating some of the worst pathologies in American society.” ......... “Elite law school degrees don’t repair or overcome a lower-status undergraduate degree,” she said. “You can’t scrub your undergraduate degree with a law degree.” ......... There can be a clubby quality to the justices’ remarks about the schools they attended. Chief Justice Roberts, who has two Harvard degrees, was asked in 2009 whether Supreme Court justices “could relate to ordinary folks.” ........ The chief justice said he wanted to dispel a myth. “Not all justices went to elite institutions,” he said. “Some of them went to Yale.”
DeSantis Takes On the Education Establishment, and Builds His Brand A proposal by Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida to overhaul higher education would mandate courses in Western civilization, eliminate diversity programs and reduce the protections of tenure. ....... Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, as he positions himself for a run for president next year, has become an increasingly vocal culture warrior, vowing to take on liberal orthodoxy and its champions, whether they are at Disney, on Martha’s Vineyard or in the state’s public libraries. .......... rejected math textbooks en masse for what the state called “indoctrination.” .......... If enacted, courses in Western civilization would be mandated, diversity and equity programs would be eliminated, and the protections of tenure would be reduced. .......... His plan for the state’s education system is in lock step with other recent moves — banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, shipping a planeload of Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard and stripping Disney, a once politically untouchable corporate giant in Florida, of favors it has enjoyed for half a century. ........ His pugilistic approach was rewarded by voters who re-elected him by a 19 percentage-point margin in November. .......... While expressing her love for both the college and its students, Dr. Okker called the move a hostile takeover. “I do not believe that students are being indoctrinated here at New College,” she said. “They are taught, they read Marx and they argue with Marx. They take world religions, they do not become Buddhists in February and turn into Christians in March.” ............ “It seems many of the students that come here have determined that they don’t necessarily fit into other schools,” Ms. Braden said. “They embrace their differences and exhibit incredible bravery in staking a path forward. They thrive, they blossom, they go out into the world for the betterment of society. This is well documented. Why would you take this away from us?” ......... DeSantis’s attack on diversity, equity and inclusion programs coincides with the recent criticisms of such programs by conservative organizations and think tanks. ......... Examples of such initiatives include campus sessions on “microaggressions” — subtle slights usually based on race or gender ........ Critics of the programs say they sometimes gloss over the pitfalls of Western thinking and ignore the philosophies of non-Western civilizations. .......... “The core curriculum must be grounded in actual history, the actual philosophy that has shaped Western civilization,” Mr. DeSantis said. “We don’t want students to go through, at taxpayer expense, and graduate with a degree in Zombie studies.” ........... Manhattan Institute who is known for his vigorous attacks on “critical race theory,” an academic concept that historical patterns of racism are ingrained in law and other modern institutions.
I'm proud to announce that Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed me to the Board of Trustees of the New College of Florida.
My ambition is to help the new board majority transform New College into a classical liberal arts institution.
Why Black Families Are Leaving New York, and What It Means for the City Black children in particular are disappearing from the city, and many families point to one reason: Raising children here has become too expensive. ......... She grew up in mostly Black neighborhoods in Brooklyn, graduated from public schools and attended a liberal arts college on a full scholarship. She went on to start her own event-planning business in the city. ......... But as Mrs. Rodney’s own family grew, she found herself living in a cramped one-bedroom rental, where her three children shared a bunk bed in the living room. It was hard to get them into programs that exposed them to green spaces or swim classes. As she scrolled through friends’ social media posts showing off trampolines in spacious backyards in Georgia, the solution became clearer: Leave. .......... a national trend of younger Black professionals, middle-class families and retirees leaving cities in the Northeast and Midwest for the South. ......... one main cause: the ever-increasing cost of raising a family in New York. ......... Black households have a median income of $53,000, compared with roughly $98,000 for white households .......... In late 2019, Ms. Horry moved to Jersey City through a New York City voucher program, known as the Special One-Time Assistance program, which relocates vulnerable families into permanent housing with a full year’s rent upfront. ......... New York City’s loss of Black residents has been a gain for the South especially. The region’s economy has boomed as newcomers from the city and other urban areas in the North flock there. ........ Bedford-Stuyvesant lost more than 22,000 Black residents while gaining 30,000 white residents. ........ Citywide, white residents now make up about 31 percent of the population, according to census data, Hispanic residents 28 percent and Asian residents nearly 16 percent. While the white population has stayed about the same, the Asian population grew by 34 percent and Hispanic population grew by 7 percent ........ Overall, the public schools have lost more than 100,000 students in the past five years, a crisis facing other urban districts like Boston and Chicago. In 2005, Black children comprised 35 percent of K-12 students in New York City; they now make up closer to 20 percent........ Her oldest son’s Brooklyn Heights school was largely white. In his final year there, fewer than 5 percent of the students and only a small number of teachers were Black. She noticed him growing increasingly insecure about his natural hair; classmates would sometimes try to touch it. ........ “He was starting to feel different,” Ms. Brooks said. “He needed to be around more diversity and see more kids who looked like him.” ....... After a trip to North Carolina in the spring of 2020 revealed how much cheaper life could be elsewhere, the Brooks family chose to move to Charlotte, where a growing Black population makes up more than a third of residents. Most of her sons’ new teachers, and more of their classmates, are Black.
I have been asked to answer this question. How will America benefit if I am allowed to stay in this country? And I would like to answer it to the best of my abilities.
At some level I can be called a political scientist the way an astronaut can be called an astronaut. Me noticing the contours of race relations in this country is like an astronaut seeing ice and water on Europa. It is nothing personal. It is strictly business. It is just science. Objectively speaking America is the number one country on the planet. And a country for which free speech is not religion cannot beat a country for which it is. So the fear of China today is like the fear of Japan in the 1980s. Although China is not your classic Saddam Hussein style dictatorship, or even a Russia style elected tsarism. China could teach America a thing or two about campaign finance reform. America cannot be beat by a country whose Supreme Court recently made a major homophobic move. Diversity is America’s number one strength, otherwise Shanghai also has underground trains and tall buildings and fast lanes. Someone like me who showed up in this country as an adult with 200 dollars in my pocket seeing the contours of race relations in America is not someone not liking this country, quite the opposite. I stand on the “more perfect union” arc of America. I am futuristic. I am someone trying to strengthen its number one strength.
Now that we got race out of the way, let’s talk about democracy itself. Iraq and Nepal are both similar sized countries. Both had military dictatorships. George W cost America a trillion dollars to take democracy to Iraq. I have made tall claims about my work for Nepal’s democracy movement in 2006. Democracy in Nepal did not come at a cost of a trillion dollars. And, yes, the oldest democracy does carry the burden of a total spread of democracy 0n the planet. The fastest, cheapest ways to get there are digital. And I have done it once. I can do it again. That is my definition of non-violence in the 21st century. It is about a total digital assault on all countries that are not democracies. Wireless broadband beamed in from the sky and flooding a country with cheap Android phones could do magic, and I mean everywhere. Because democracy is not about whose guns are bigger. Democracy’s strength comes from its very idea. Freedom rings inside every human heart. America’s task is easy that way. The costs need not be high. Every country, no matter how strong the grip of dictatorship upon it, not a problem if it has nuclear weapons, every country tends towards democracy. You just have to help get rid of some of the obstacles in the way. I know a thing or two about this.
And then there is the market. America’s journey from the spade to the smartphone is a remarkable victory of its basic ideals that stay simple in their purity. Abraham Lincoln himself might not have believed you if you had told him what he was fighting for – a government of the people, by the people, for the people – was, well, perhaps a smartphone. But he was.
As of this past month I am leading a team of borderline genius techies that is working to build a company whose market valuation should hit a billion dollars in less than five years. And the biggest roadblock right now for me is that you have not given me the paperwork that I need. Give me the green card that I already had. Renew it. Heck, that green card’s natural life should by now give me a citizenship, which would be even more convenient, because I am currently a man without a passport. My tech startup gives me a starting point that will allow me to gather the resources that I need to make some moves beyond one company. I can make digital moves for global democracy, for example. I know I would like to. In 2005 my green card expired because I was working days, nights, weekends for Nepal’s democracy movement and the deadline for renewal came and went and I did not even realize. Don’t penalize me for it. I stand by my butterfly effect claims. I will defend my claims if you put me before a panel of some of the topmost political scientists in this country, if I have to.
I am part of the conversation that will create the industries of tomorrow.
I am from a middle class family in Nepal. When I was at high school in Nepal people talked of me as a future Prime Minister. And so the Bahuns and the British who ran the place ganged up on me and destroyed the final three and a half years of my high school experience. People who run Sri Lanka, there is no way they will allow a Tamil Prime Minister to emerge. It is best to nip the possibility in the bud. At the top liberal arts college in the Bible Belt South I won an election before Bobby ever won an election. I broke all college records by getting myself elected student body president as a freshman. An Economics professor asked his class, when you think of Nepal, what does that remind you of? No one in his class said Buddha or Everest. Everyone said Paramendra. Another Economics professor, who did not even particularly like me, called me “the Gandhi of Berea,” which I thought was a little bit of an insult to Gandhi, because I was in a town where too many people thought Gandhi was someone who taught you to peacefully put up with racism, whereas the truth was Gandhi had said resist injustice peacefully, but resisting it violently is better than not resisting it at all. I was Barack Obama’s first full time volunteer in NYC. At an Upper East Side party in 2007 hosted by a Harvard Law classmate, later Chicago law firm colleague, and a family friend of the Obamas where most of the top volunteers in the city had gathered, the founder of Manhattan For Obama said, “We should amend the constitution so this guy can run for president.” I have seen more of America than anyone who ever ran for President of the United States. The best way to do that is in a 18 wheeler. When I look at a map of the US I see what you see when you look at a NYC subway map if you have been to all parts of this city like I have.
Your renewing the green card I already had gives me a citizenship that allows me to take my tech startup to its full potential of a billion dollar valuation in five years or less, that allow me to be part of the dynamic of creating “a more perfect union” in America and a total spread of democracy on the planet, and when I say total I mean total. I can help with that without becoming part of the US government framework, because the best ways are all digital. I am also a Netizen that is part of the ongoing conversation that is trying to reimagine the relationship between the individual and the nation state itself, America included. Because an individual with Internet access is not the same individual from decades or centuries back. The individual will and should win. That does not make the nation state go away. But it does need to be reinvented. Every generation has reinvented the government in this country. Nothing new is going on. But the prize project of all is to eliminate global poverty like polio was cured. That is as concrete as democracy, and the market and tech get for me. And that falls within the purview of how I define America. Heck, this all could even lead to a creation of a Consortium of Cities where the top 100 cities in the world by population, by then all with similar infrastructures, have managed to create something that goes past the nation state itself. That might be a post-war world. That might be a world where we have managed to establish rule of law between nations like we have rule of law within this nation. Lofty goals are good. Some of us have to show the way.
America benefits if you let me stay. Honest to God, I believe I qualify for an honorary citizenship. But my green card renewed itself gives me an immediate citizenship. And I am not really big on honors and ceremonies. So.
Sometimes I can talk like I were someone still looking for a career, as if I am still trying to figure out what to do with my life.
During Obama 08, Jordan Thomas, the founder of Brooklyn For Barack, once insinuated that I was not showing interest in running for public office myself because I did not have the option to run for president some day. Jeff Kurzon, the founder of Manhattan For Obama, at an Upper East Side rooftop party at the residence of a Harvard Law classmate and family friend of Barack, Terrence Yang, said the country should amend its constitution so I could run for president some day. Whereas I was posing as a guy who just so happens to be excited about Barack, and as soon as it is done and over with, I was going over to my startup. I did raise the 100K I said I would raise for my startup's round one. The company was in my name because all you need is a social security number to do that. But the money was in my partner's name ("Are you sure you want to trust me with all this money?") because I was out of status. I was going to regain my status down the line somehow and turn it into a joint account.
I was born into a political family on both sides. They made me House Captain in Class 5, and again in Class 10. A year and a half later they offered to make me School Captain for being the obvious candidate although they did not want to. After high school I became Vice General Secretary to a political party with two MPs. Someone who was a central committee member and hence junior to me is currently a cabinet member in Nepal.
I came to America. I came, I saw, I conquered. Within six months of landing I got myself elected student body president at the number one liberal arts school in the South: Bible Belt. They had to amend the constitution so I could run as a freshman. I shared that story with Jeff at the rooftop party.
I was a Deaniac in 2004. My enthusiasm for Obama is well documented right at this blog.
Why tech entrepreneurship? My backgrounds have played larger roles in my life than I would have liked. I relate to my family, to NYC, to my work. I have had to drop high school and college as institutions like stones into sea water. I was born in India, but did not grow up there. In Nepal you generate hostility when you look like me. Kentucky cured me of what my idea of America was.
Bill Clinton is a telephone guy. The internet is my telephone. Bill Clinton is the ultimate reunion guy. He likes to go to all sorts of reunions. He is constantly reconnecting socially. Me? I don't see me going to high school and college reunions. It is called being Madhesi in Nepal, being nonwhite.
Perhaps there are post-ISMs individuals.
To get myself elected student body president within six months of landing, I had to have been super social. I must have shaken many, many hands. But the person today, I have atrophied social muscles.
I have had to drop so many identities, so many social circles. I draw such sustenance from the net, that somewhere along the way I became a cloud person.
I have no desire to stop being a cloud person, but at some point down the line I want to actively reclaim my social self. For that NYC is my chosen place. If you love people, this is the city to be. Perhaps this city will let me reclaim my social self.
When you are rootless like I feel I am, NYC is the place to be.
Tech entrepreneurship is not an option right now. I don't have a green card. I could blog. I could do the Iran work. Those are some options. And those are good options. Iran intrigues me.
Creating jobs, housing and infrastructure repair top agenda
By Reshma Saujani
In my campaign, I’ve traveled from the Lower East Side to the Upper East Side, from Astoria to Long Island City—and everywhere I go, I hear the same fundamental concern from voters: for the first time in generations, parents are worried their children will not have the same opportunities that they had. And more than anything, people in New York—from artists to taxi drivers to teachers to bankers—are anxious about the economy. They’re worried about a jobless recovery with no end in sight and politicians in Washington and Albany that are failing to act.
Compounding that anxiety are several factors. First, New York is one of the most expensive places to live in America. The overall cost of living here is an astonishing 364 percent higher than the national average—and it’s not getting any cheaper. The delayed and over-budget construction of the Second Avenue subway is pushing small businesses into bankruptcy. Upper East Side schools are overcrowded and students are being forced to go across town for a quality education. Public spaces like Ruppert Park may close, bus lines are being cut and bedbugs are a growing problem.
We can—and must—do better. In order to ensure a vibrant Upper East Side for future generations, we need new leadership and innovative ideas to create jobs, make sure that middle class families aren’t priced out of the city, and improve the quality of life for New Yorkers.
Right now, creating jobs must be our first priority, because the solutions coming out of Washington simply aren’t working. Carolyn Maloney, my opponent, has not passed a single piece of legislation to create jobs since becoming chair of the Joint Economic Committee. Not one. To create thousands of new jobs starting this year, I’ve proposed a new 21st Century Jobs Corps to provide educational training grants to help unemployed Americans, like construction workers, find work in emerging sectors. I’ve also proposed a National Innovation Fund—a public-private partnership to invest seed money into start-up businesses in next-generation industries. I believe we should eliminate capital gains taxes on investments in micro-enterprises to empower entrepreneurs with innovative new business ideas. And I am calling for a $15,000 student loan credit for math, science or engineering college graduates who go to work for a clean-tech, biotech or high-tech start-up in New York for at least three years. We should also double the $2 billion in grants awarded to our entrepreneurs through the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.
Maintaining an affordable New York is critical, especially when it comes to housing. Only 30 percent of New Yorkers are homeowners, a far cry from the national rate of 68 percent, and people of color in New York are even less likely to own a home. New York must first take steps to mandate that a percentage of development projects be dedicated to affordable housing. In addition, I will push for a national Tenants’ Bill of Rights to protect homeowners and oppose plans to privatize public housing.
Quality of life is another important issue. I’m committed to maintaining our existing parks and public spaces and creating new ones. The completion of the East Side Greenway must be a priority. I’m also concerned about the potential construction of a high-rise at the Ruppert Playground on 92nd Street. I’ve written to both the City of New York and The Related Companies, urging them to permanently preserve this space as a public park.
Infrastructure will continue to be an important driver of economic growth, but the Second Avenue subway is an unfortunate reminder that when our leaders don’t properly consult the community, too often, businesses are adversely affected and many of our economic goals are not achieved. The Second Avenue subway will ultimately be a positive addition to the community. But we need to engage the community throughout the building process. To help businesses that are being affected by the construction of the Second Avenue subway, I will work with local, state and federal officials to provide an economic stability initiative to establish grants and property tax abatements.
New York is the greatest city in the world, but our politicians in Washington and Albany are failing to lead. As an example, Carolyn Maloney recently held a fundraiser at the home of a financial lobbyist—while serving on the committee negotiating financial reform. That’s wrong. I’ve pledged to never accept a penny of corporate PAC money in my career. And I will fight the special interests culture that brings Congress to a standstill. We can’t keep re-electing the same politicians and expecting change. Together we can change our broken system and build a new era of opportunity and prosperity for all New Yorkers.
Brian Lehrer is a journalist with entrepreneurial tendencies. He just showed his chops to me. You can be working for a big company and get entrepreneurial inside of it. You can be running a NGO and get entrepreneurial.
Brian Lehrer just called Carolyn Maloney's bluff. He figured she is not going to show up if he calls it a debate, so he invited her for an interview instead. And it was not much of a time commitment. All she needed to do was get on the phone for 10 minutes. And Brian Lehrer invited Reshma Saujani for an interview. And he ran the interview one after the other. And it felt like a debate.
This makes Brian Lehrer the top journalist of his kind in this town, print, radio, TV and online included. This guy surely has a trick or two up his sleeves.
I think it is high time TV journalists in this town followed in Brian Lehrer's footsteps.
Finally I got to meet Reshma in person on April 5 at the event put together by South Asians For Obama (now Opportunity) and Voterbook, both organizations I got to know very well during Obama 08. I was already sold on her before meeting. But meeting in person really cemented it for me. I don't make statements. If I did not believe she has a clear shot at winning, I would not get excited about putting some volunteer time into her campaign. She is supremely qualified. She is hugely promising as an up and coming political figure. She is going to win. She has to win.
She was for Kerry in 2004, I was for Dean. Actually this blog's launch itself was inspired by Dean 2004. She was for Hillary in 2008, I was for Barack. Check out the name of the blog: Barackface, like the movie Scarface. But we are putting all that aside and getting behind Reshma 2010.
Reshma Saujani was one of Kerry's top 10 fundraisers. I did not do a-n-y fundraising for Dean. She is leaps and bounds ahead of me in political skills. She was also a top Hillary fundraiser. They had a name for people like her in 2008: hellraiser, or hillraiser. We Obama people were running scared.
I first heard of the Reshma Saujani name at Nate's blog. Nate, some of you might know, runs the NY Tech MeetUp, he is a friend of mine. (Social Media Week: The Best NY Tech MeetUp Ever) I wondered where she was running. Maybe in California, I thought. The name was obviously Desi, but I don't know of any New York politician who has got any major techie in town excited, and Nate was clearly excited.
The next 10 million jobs America needs will be created largely by startups. Reshma Saujani "gets" that.
Reshma Saujani has the distinction of being the first politician in America to use Square for fundraising. Jack Dorsey is more well known for Twitter, but he is also the founder of Square which turns your smartphone into a credit card reader.
Here's Jack Dorsey speaking at a Reshma Saujani fundraiser in the Bay Area.
Many districts in New York City that are overwhelmingly brown in composition are represented by vastly white guys at various levels of government. This rule by the East India Company has to come to an end. And I also notice and like the fact that Reshma is a woman. I harbor feelings on gender that some white guys in the South harbor on race. South Asia is a pretty sexist landscape, and the Desi culture is a pretty sexist culture. Figures like Reshma rising up give me hope about my community that perhaps we can do better going into the future. It was great to hear her say her first 50,000 dollars were raised through the "Auntie network" all across America.
Representing a safely Democratic district in Congress, Reshman Saujani will be able to push the limits on many progressive causes. Her opponent Carolyn Maloney has been a checkbox Democrat. She has a track record of having voted the right way many many times, but she has no track record of having provided national leadership on any issue. Carolyn Maloney is no thought leader. Carolyn Maloney is no leader, period.
Geraldine Ferraro says some pretty stupid things in the New York Times article. She also had stupid things to say about Obama back in 2008. Hillary disowned her in the aftermath. Carolyn Maloney has not disowned her yet. The clock is ticking.
This is the full set of documents I intend to submit to the judge. This blog post is me exercising my right to free speech. It is not me trying to communicate with Elizabeth. I especially ask people who know both of us to respect aspects of my pledge of no contact as they might apply to them. Although these documents were written over days this past week, they come into effect as of today, including my pledge to not mention her at my blog in the future.
June 4, 2008 Court Appearance: Prepared Statement 9:30 AM, 2nd Floor, 100 Centre Street, New York, NY 10013
Pledge Of No Contact With Elizabeth Caputo
I will not email her, I will not call her, I will not meet her.
She runs DL21C. I will not show up for DL21C events.
I will not ask anyone else to contact her for me.
Elizabeth runs DL21C, Justin Krebs runs Drinking Liberally, Tracey Denton runs DFNYC, Al Benninghoff runs MYD. I have been going to events by these organizations for the past three years. I have gone to over 100 events by Drinking Liberally, DFNYC and MYD. I have literally never seen Elizabeth at those events, not once. I intend to keep going to events by these organizations. If I spot her, I will leave.
Likely what will happen though is my personal workload will increase and my already limited activity with these three organizations will go down. That is what happened when I got active with Obama 2008. But even there my ways are those of a digital democrat rehearsed in cloud group dynamics: I don't sit on committees, I refuse titles.
But I seek social belonging among progressives, and so I like to show up for political events. The motives are rarely political.
There are tens of individuals that we both know in the city's political circle of young progressives. I ask them to not talk to me about Elizabeth, and not talk to Elizabeth about me. You don't get to forward my emails to her. And if you can't handle this request, let me know. I would like to end my friendship with you.
On her part I think Elizabeth should also ask others, especially people that both of us know, to not talk to her about me.
I will not mention her at my blog in the future.
In short, I will not think about her, and I will not let others talk to me about her. If they do, I will politely object.
What this pledge of no contact does not mean:
I am not going to cease my political activities in the city.
I am not going to stop being friends with people I have known for years.
Paramendra Bhagat May 30, 2008
Faxed to Attorney James Youngblood, and Detective, 82nd Street Police Station
Second Day In Jail: Not Called For
I pledged on May 21, 2008 to make no contact with Elizabeth. I was to appear in court on June 4. I had to make the pledge again on May 28 after having spent another night in jail downtown. That second night was unfair.
After May 21, I did not contact Elizabeth. I did not ask anyone else to contact Elizabeth for me. I am glad the judge listened to reason. I am thankful.
I did write and post a prepared statement that I was to submit during my court appearance and it ends with me suggesting it would be a good idea for the two of us to seek counseling. But that can not be construed as me contacting Elizabeth. That was to be part of my statement to be submitted to the court. Anyway, I took that blog post down. I intended to post it back after revisions.
Another complaint was that I contacted two of her friends. The reference was to Justin Krebs and Tracey Denton. Elizabeth is fully aware that I am friends with these two individuals like she is. Justin runs Drinking Liberally, Tracey runs DFNYC. Over the past three years I must have gone to over 100 events organized by Justin and Tracey. I never saw Elizabeth at a single of those events.
I was in a time of distress, and I did reach out to these two individuals over email to inform them of my scheduled court appearance. But the email said, for your information, not to worry. As in, I want you to know, but I don't want you to worry. I did not ask them to contact Elizabeth on my behalf. Elizabeth's claim that the same email was also ccd to her is just plain false. Why would you falsify so? Is that not perjury territory? That act of perjury should be sufficient ground to throw this case out. I would still extend the pledge of no contact if thus requested.
But I am curious which of the two individuals forwarded that email to her. And if they did and that caused stress, is not that person responsible for forwarding the email in the first place? Would it not be Elizabeth's responsibility to ask people to not forward my emails to them to her?
I showed up at the 82nd Street police station on May 27 to pick up my wallet and keychain string from a week back. I did not go to surrender. But I showed up and got arrested.
This second day in jail was harsher than the first day a week before. Instead of in the backseat of a car, I got transported downtown in a van with about two dozen others. The cellmates this time around came across as those who were harsher. One young black man stood out. The following day while waiting for the attorney I asked him what he was in for. He said he had shot a cop. Now that is in the deep end.
Looked like he never slept. He never stopped talking. And he bothered everybody. A lot of people sleep on the floor. He poured water on everybody and woke everyone up. At one point I got up to go answer some basic questions to a clerk who was collecting basic information like your address, employment status. When I got back, my jacket was thrown on the floor, wallet outside. The I-shot-a-cop guy had taken all my money. I did not know right away, but I soon found out. When I said I was going to call the guard, he threatened to smash my head with the telephone. I was not scared, but he did not come across like he was bluffing. He was like a biological specimen to me the rest of the time I was there. This was a man with a big hole in his heart. He did say, "I couldn't care less." What more could they do to him? He was already in for shooting a cop. I said I did not care about the money, but now I wouldn't know how to go home upon release. How would I pay for the train? A Hispanic guy quietly handed me a metrocard that the following day did not work, so I walked home, but he said hush, it was not wise to call up the guard. The following day he shared he had an Indian stepmother.
The black guy started calling me a "child molester." Next thing you know he had one other black guy across the hall in another cell yelling the same thing. I think that was a Michael Jackson reference. I was the one person in the cell who was all dressed up, in a full suit.
I managed to talk to the black guy though. Early in the morning after he had managed to totally clean up the floor of everyone asleep - he did not care, black or old - I looked at him and said, "With your permission I am going to lie down and get some sleep." That was not something he was expecting to hear. He did not speak back. He looked astounded. I lied down and slept for hours.
Later while waiting for the attorney, I asked him his name. He said something Johnson. This was the second moment when he felt reached out to. At one point he said I was going home. As in, you got money at home, I am going to jail, I need the money I took from you.
Later while my attorney had stepped away for a few minutes, he opened up the door to the booth, and asked me to step out because he wanted to sit in there. I said I was waiting for my attorney to come back. He said he was going to murder me right there, what's one more murder? I did not move. He came in and physically pushed me out of the booth and sat in my chair. It was like once when I got thrown out of Opal on 52nd Street because I was falling asleep in a chair. "Can't sleep here." One moment I was in the chair, next moment I was on the sidewalk. I don't remember walking.
Then he is like, I scared him, I scared him. You did not scare me, you pushed me out. I was not going to fight you. You did not touch my emotions, you just touched my body.
A little faith, a little family, a little guidance, a little mentoring could have rescued this young man, possibly. He needed religious guidance in jail. The law has to take its course, but the soul has to be reached out to. I hope people like him have the option to pursue religion to the fullest extent possible while they serve time.
During this experience I have been impressed with the professionalism, sense of fairness and competence of the police officers, state appointed attorneys, the judges and others who have handled my case. I have also been impressed with the care that has gone into making my second day in jail a little harsher than day one. That was designed to say don't come back, it is not worth coming back to. On the second day they also had an Indian police officer, last name Yadav, doing part of the work to do with me.
In response I have written a more comprehensive pledge of no contact than might have been expected. My second day in jail was not called for. And I am glad the judge gave me justice. On June 4, based on the strength of my no contact pledge, I hope to get the charges dropped off my records so I can go back to working hard, playing by the rules, living a full life.
It is curious though that the same day Hillary made the Bobby Kennedy remark Elizabeth pressed her charges against me. In late February Hillary called Barack delusional. A few days later Elizabeth called me delusional. If she could have got hold of me a few days earlier, I think she would have delivered the word a few days earlier.
And I might also have to tell my little Tracey story. I think she is the one who forwarded the email to Elizabeth. That was not cool.
I like Tracey. She is a great person. She is just such a great presence, a social butterfly. I call her the DFNYC dynamo. She keeps the rest of the DFNYC butterflies aflutter. She will talk. And then she will read your face and talk on your behalf. And then she will talk. And then she will talk on your behalf. That is conversation. She might be a lawyer.
I moved to NYC summer of 2005. As a Dean 2004 alum, I naturally gravitated to DFNYC. I went to DFNYC events for months, likely for a year. After six months, Tracey went to Europe to spend six months with her boyfriend. I don't want to get insensitive here. I respect her space. I respect her life. But I have to mention a few incidents, like day one.
Dan Jacoby messed up on day one. Lewis Cohen messed up on the day one after her return from Europe: a DFNYC Mixer where Howard Dean himself showed up. Everyone had been so very impressed with Nepal's April Revolution 2006. Justin Krebs messed up on my day one with Elizabeth. Dan Berger messed up at the Louisiana Senator event, and the December Baby party.
What do these four guys have in common? I think I had personally known a total of three Jewish individuals before I moved to NYC. There was a teacher last name Miller at my school in Kathmandu. But only after I moved to NYC did I realize he might have been Jewish, so maybe that does not count, and so the count is two, not three. Young Jewish woman Elizabeth at Berea College who I saw my first summer. She introduced me to the emotional superstructure of racism and anti-Semitism in America: it was a package deal. And there was a Jewish Dean at that college, a New Yorker, Phil Schmidt. I got along with him a long time. Then one day over an email chat he told me he was Jewish.
Dan Jacoby, Lewis Cohen, Justin Krebs, Dan Berger: that's four, that's one more than the total number of Jewish individuals I knew before I moved to the city. Intellectually I knew, but it has been an education to delve into the emotional structure of the Jewish identity.
Before I really liked Elizabeth, I had come across a string of women who had kind of sort of sent feelers my way, and each time I was like, you know, I could go for this person. Each time it would not quite play out, and I would be like, my loss. Then when I started thinking in terms of Elizabeth, I thought perhaps the early women did not gel because I was supposed to be with this woman. And now I have been proven wrong again, it seems. This woman wants me out of her face. I don't know about The Person thing any more. But I am cool, calm and collected. I am at peace. We Buddhists are good at the peace thing.
Dan Jacoby: "Don't let this one go." Lewis Cohen: "Did he screw you at his blog?" (Tracey Denton Of DFNYC) At an event after Tracey went to Europe, Jacoby talked about how his mother had an apartment in Manhattan but she rented it to someone else instead of giving it to him when she moved to Florida. This guy is like, I messed up on day one on purpose. I did not want you to become a Manhattan person.
There is more than one explanation.
Racism: White guys, or white guy wannabes, do the border patrol thing and act spoiler when it feels to them like a brown guy and a white woman are looking into each other's eyes. (Looking At White Women: The Search For Vocabulary) A great example would be the DJ at the Holiday party. He played a U2 song that both Elizabeth and I liked very much. And we both started dancing to it, and we were moving towards each other without realizing. And the DJ stopped that song dead in the tracks, went to another song. We both turned our heads at once and looked at him puzzled. It felt odd to both of us. I call that white male matter behavior.
The Jewish sense of not belonging: The Jewish people are neither western nor nonwestern. So when they come across people like me or Elizabeth or Tracey who they know for sure to be not anti-Jewish, they claim their sense of belonging by invading privacy in the rudest way possible. Playing matchmaker is the best way to do it. That way you get to say forever that you were the reason the two came along. The emotional ferocity is amazing. It is like when the basketball shoots up from the bottom of the swimming pool. That is the psychology of it, but it is still unpleasant. Understanding does not make it any more pleasant. You might be Jewish, but that does not change the fact that I still have a constitutional right to privacy.
The pain agent: I am Jewish and I know pain like no other people, and the only way you will know how I feel is if I inflict some on you. The Jewish heritage of pain is unique, but it is selfish for the fortunate Jews in NYC to not realize women got Global Trafficking Of Women, and Third World guys like me got Rwanda, Darfur, abject poverty, civil wars and other forms of senseless violence. (My Third World People Don't Get To Vote In This City)
Responsibility of two people: If two people are meant for each other, they will end up with each other. Third persons will not prevent the coming together, especially third persons whose only bad quality might be that they can act rude, possibly racist, and disrespectful of personal space.
I don't feel like oh no, I should have been with Tracey and Jacoby, Cohen spoilt it for me. I do feel like we were perhaps not soulmate material and we should have figured that out on our own. I don't feel like oh no, I should have been with Elizabeth and Krebs, Berger spoilt it for me. Krebs has beaten himself up on it a few times. But his injection of the word "Jewish" was unwelcome on day one. Berger's bad behavior at the Louisiana Senator event spoilt Caputo's overtures to me at the Holiday party, the December Baby party, and on February 7. I wanted a clinical analysis of the Senator event, just like I wanted a clinical analysis of day one. What happened according to you? What happened according to me? How did you feel and what do you want to do about it? How did I feel and what do I want to do about it?
On February 7 my overwhelming feeling was, I can't act like this is the first time I am seeing you, and that we have not liked each other before. I felt the way a woman would feel upon meeting a guy who is otherwise perfect but he absolutely, totally refuses to discuss contraception.
On day one Jacoby messed up by saying, "Don't let this one go." Before the next DFNYC MeetUp over email Tracey talked of a cousin whose boyfriend was in the Peace Corps, which might have been a way to suggest she has a cross-Atlantic relationship. But the next time she saw me she was offended I had gone speed dating through a website, and she talked of my "magnetic personality." She would not necessarily want to "hide" a former boyfriend, and so I am going to openly talk of the fact that she did consider me. I think she finally gave up at this Mixer where Jacoby to me is like "You need to work in the porn movies instead" because he saw me talk to this young European woman journalist. She gave Jacoby a hug, as in, you poor soul, gave me a look, and then gave up, left early. After months the exotic foreigner effect had kind of died down too. Right before she flew off to Europe, I threw the bomb over voice mail. She got on the phone and humiliated me: "This is the guy I am going to marry." The following day we went to three or four events together. By the time it all ended and we walked to the train station, she was talking Pakistan. "Are you Hindu?" There was this moment at the train station, me, her, Heather, Abhishek. That was a ball drop moment, but to me it was like, I moved to the city, but the past is eating at me. I need a long, long conversation before I can say a romantic hello. Kentucky and Indiana were bugging me.
First MeetUp, it was Tracey's turn. It was decided it did not play. The next MeetUp, Heather gave it a shot. She tricked me into going to a bar "to drop off posters." There a Texan white male hit on her for no reason other than that she was with me.
Early on I had an email talk with Leila, like during my month two in the city. I liked her black-white thing. I said I like you. She said she had a boyfriend. For me that was the end of anything personal happening between us. Ever after I saw her as a good friend. I don't see her much no more, hardly ever. After April 2006, I felt some interest. But I was not there. It felt too much like it was to do with the local media's attention on Nepal.
Kristina got me started with MYD events. I like women who run organizations, strong women. I once said let me interview you on video. She declined without saying no, but she took that for an overture. I can't be sure. It was not an overture, but it was not a non overture either. One event she did near Union Square. Another event was much closer to where she lived on the Upper East Side, "walking distance," she said. I dropped the ball. Liz picked up the bag at the next MYD event. She is not innocent.
The exotic foreigner effect was back in business after April 2006.
Plus, you really are looking for just one person. The lucky ones among us end up with a soulmate. But a progressive needs to have many many women friends and colleagues. When you are single and available, if you meet women who like you, that is a lucky man. He is doing good. But mostly you are just looking for friendships. In a less sexist world, that would be more possible.
It really has been about 2.0, less about race and class. But the urgent work is behind me. And I am working steadily to get more into 5.0. The two function best when they meet. (A Web 3.0 Manifesto, Web 5.0: Face Time)
With Elizabeth I think if she had emailed me her number that first week in March 2007, we would have rescued day one. Heres' the number, and call me at 9 PM.
But the point that the starting point necessarily has to be in face time is valid, or there are tons of phone numbers in the phonebook.
Paramendra Bhagat May 31, 2008
May 27, 2008
June 4, 2008 Court Appearance: Prepared Statement 9:30 AM, 2nd Floor, 100 Centre Street, New York, NY 10013
I pledge to not contact Elizabeth.
I pledge to not show up for DL21C events. DL21C is the political organization she runs. Along with DFNYC, Drinking Liberally, and MYD, it is among the top organizations of its kind in the city, many would say the very top. I know I would.
Based on these two pledges, Your Honor, I want the charges against me dropped off my records.
Before I share with the court my version of the story, I would like to share a few facts.
I first met Brooke at Drinking Liberaylly at Rudy's near Times Square in December. I did not go to Rudy's for months after that. Then I started going again a few weeks back. I have seen her there. We once went out for coffee. I have a feeling if we see each other a few more times, we are going to end up hooking up. Or not. With these things you never know. Unless it has happened, it has not happened. She is an immigration attorney who happens to live on the Upper West Side. She is smart, beautiful, bicultural. She says among Hispanics she feels white, among whites she feels Hispanic. I relate to that. (Looking At White Women: The Search For Vocabulary) I am half Nepali, half Indian, and I want to share that the ethnic politics in a country like Nepal are way more complicated than the racial politics in America. 99% of the Nepalis in America are not my ethnicity. 99% of the Indians in America are not my ethnicity. I am so glad to know Brooke. She is the only person I have met through Drinking Liberally to whom I have said explicitly, I'd really really like to be good friends with you.
I have a young tech company. I am the founder, the top guy. The number two on my team is my good friend Adam Carson who I first met online because we were both on the same mailing list. Adam was a Vice President at Morgan Stanley before he quit to join my team. Elizabeth is a Vice President at Morgan Stanley. (IC, Silicon City, A Web 3.0 Manifesto)
I am a politically accomplished person. I am on my way to winning the Nobel Peace Prize for the work I did for the democracy movement in Nepal, the country where I grew up. Barack Obama, the next President of the United States, knows me. He has taken advice from me a few times. Howard Dean knows me. I have invented a formula for spreading democracy that beats that of George W Bush, and I have not had his money or power: Iraq has 27 million people, Nepal has 27 million people. (Nobel Peace Prize 2008: Making A Case For Nepal (2), Nobel Peace Prize 2008: Making A Case For Nepal)
The idea of the first black president has been extremely appealing to me. The idea of the first woman president has been extremely appealing to Elizabeth. The Hillary party in town on February 5 was at the Tonic near Times Square. The Barack party was at the Tonic in Little India. (Tonic: What A Party) In later February Hillary called Barack delusional. A few days later Elizabeth called me delusional. The day Hillary made her Bobby Kennedy remark was the day Elizabeth pressed charges against me, 10 days after the flower drop.
Now I would like to share what happened, my version of the story. Sam Walton had plastic chairs at his headquarters, I believe I will keep my state provided attorney. John Youngblood is a great guy. I intend to lay out all the facts as objectively as possible. It is important for me to understand what happened or did not happen. For me. (Elizabeth Caputo: Trying To Make Sense) I have to lay out all the facts as objectively as possible, and then I intend to make room for the fact that the same facts can mean two or three different things to me depending on the mood, and those facts might have meant something entirely different to Elizabeth, and she might have had her mood swings as well. Only she can tell her version of the story, the events.
Meeting Elizabeth for the first time was sheer magic. If it were not for the magic of day one, I think I would have walked away from her in my mind a long time ago. (Yellow Roses)
It is not often that someone like me gets to meet someone like Elizabeth and someone like Elizabeth gets to meet someone like me. She is about a year older than me. She went to Harvard to Morgan Stanley. I went to the best school in Nepal, and I was on schedule to go to Harvard. The number two guy in class did, to Harvard to Goldman. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard, I never went. She grew up in Indiana. I have spent almost a decade in Kentucky, Indiana. New York City is her adopted hometown: this is the first hometown I ever had. We both love this city. At a student election at Harvard, she beat a guy who is today an up and rising politician in Kentucky. Within six months of landing I became student body president at Berea College, the number one liberal arts college in the South. She is very political and personally knows many top names in American politics and media. All the top politicians in Nepal know me or of me, as well some in America, like Barack Obama and Howard Dean. Terry McAuliffe knows me and I have a feeling the Clintons might be aware of my presence. I moved to NYC three years back not to some day run for public office, but to start my company. She did not go to Law School, she has a MBA from Harvard. Her natural self is giggley, bubbley. I can get hyper social. Indiana is not exactly the most enlightened part of America, racially. The KKK used to be big there. India and Nepal are super sexist countries. She is more open minded on race and diversity than any white New Yorker I have come across, people who were born in the city, grew up here. Most guys avoid having to talk gender. I seek out opportunities to talk gender. She has a track record of working with black politicians. I have long felt that major strides on race will only be made if progress is made on gender at the same time. She is rich, probably the richest among the young progressives in the city. Every Manhattan event I go to, I look around the room and find myself saying, I will make more money than everyone in this room, put together. She could be president. I am going to win the Nobel. I am going to list my company on Nasdaq. Internet access is the voting right for this century. I am in the voting rights business.
It was an event with now Senator Clair McCaskill. Brooke Ellison was also there. She is a Harvard grad, a Long Island politician, she is in a wheelchair. I remember seeing Dave Pollak at the event, and my good friend Leila Noor. It was towards the end. Many people had already left. I happened to be standing next to Justin. She approached me. I am surprised I had not seen her before. Why did she approach me? I don't know. I think she saw me strike a conversation with Brooke Ellison, and got impressed. I would also like to believe I am good looking. This guy is open minded on gender, she thought. Moths and months later when she was trying to court me, she choreographed a Paterson event: a guy in a wheelchair was in attendance. I was looking at him mesmerized, ignoring now Governor Paterson. I felt this pleasant stare on me. I turned to my right. There she was, looking at me. We looked at each other for about 10 seconds, then I got self-conscious. I thought she was amused I was more interested in the wheelchair guy than in Paterson. So I proceeded to look at Paterson with equal interest. I got the face motions right, but the emotional intensity was not the same and it perhaps showed. She walked over, stood next to me, and waved at the wheelchair guy who she personally knew. I feel that was her attempt to recreate day one. A young black woman - African? Caribbean? I don't know - who works in some part of the city bureaucracy was there. I felt the Third World bond and we talked. I don't know if she showed up on her own, or Elizabeth choreographed her to be there, but by the time the evening was over, I found myself with her, and we both watched Elizabeth walk away. It felt like she was getting even with me for leaving her with Justin on day one and walking away to the train station.
Day one was magic to me, day one was magic to her. When she tried to connect with me at the December Baby party, there was a white guy standing next to us, just like on day one. The last time I saw her, she said, "I have not liked you before." Next to us standing was a white guy who she had arranged to be at the door. At a subconscious level, both instances felt to me like she were trying to recreate day one.
"Where did you go to school?" she asked. I don't know if she thought I went to Harvard or what. I don't have any reason to believe she had seen me before or had heard of me before.
"I went to a school in Kentucky," I said.
"What's it called?" she asked. That was unusual. Most people did not care for the name of the school even after I had uttered it. She, on the other hand, was honing in.
"It's called Be-re-a Co-lle-ge," I said, very slowly, uttering every syllable. I did not want to have to repeat the name in case she did not get it the first time.
"I have heard of Berea," she said. I was flummoxed.
"You have heard of Berea?"
"Yes, I am from Indiana."
There was a pause. I just looked at her. There was this quality to her that was making me alive. I was feeling more and more comfortable. I have said she gave me the pre-1989 feeling. (Yellow Roses) Then she mentioned something financial aid. I did not miss a beat.
"Berea has the best financial aid program of any school in America, second to none," I said with bravado. "Listen Harvard," I said and gave a side swipe to Jutin who was standing next to me, watching it all. All I learned on day one and for weeks, months after that was she was from Indiana, and she had a politician friend in Kentucky who she beat in a student election.
She looked a little amused, but I did not guess why. She mentioned some elected official in Kentucky who I had never heard of, which is curious because the wife to his chief of staff I knew extremely well: Marissa. I must have been out of touch. That politician was a Harvard person, and he happens to be Jewish. (Kentucky Dude, November 29) I learned those two facts, and the fact about Marissa only after he showed up in town a few months later. Question: was I at least part of the reason why you got him to come to town?
"I beat him," she said. This really got my attention. I literally moved my face closer to her. She knew she had hit something in me.
"You should run," she said. At that point I took a step back. Running for local office in the city was nowhere in my mind. I had moved to the city to launch a company. But at the time I was doing urgent work for Nepal. But she thought I felt I was not up for the challenge. "You can learn," she added. I should have mentioned my company idea and Nepal, but I did not. I am not modest about my political abilities, it is just that I feel like my need is in what I call the Global South, what the white people call the Third World. As long as the subway keeps running, let me be.
This entire time we had been ignoring Justin. He interjected. He said "Jewish." He will have to explain what he meant. But he made her feel uncomfortable. Her face changed. When in her element, she can look really, really beautiful. And then there are times when she can look stressed. I am the same way. In my element I can look good. On the other hand, I am still searching for a hairstyle for me. What did Justin mean? Did he mean to say you seem to like this guy, but you don't like me, is it because I am Jewish? Or did he mean to suggest you beat that guy at a student election at Harvard because he is Jewish? Or what? I turned my attention to him.
"You are Jewish?" I asked.
"Yes, on my father's side," he said. I met his mother a few weeks back and she said to me she is Jewish. So what did he mean on day one? Maybe he meant to be hitting on her. He acted the Why Not Me Guy. (Looking At White Women: The Search For Vocabulary) If the idea was to take interest in her, he could have done that during the five years they were both in town before I ever showed up. Another explanation is that he got jealous of the fact that this woman might now take the space that he imagined he had with me: not true. Sexist guys make their women feel like their guy friends mean more to them than their women. I am not one. If I am single, that space stays vacant. Guy friends are in the outer circles. (Social Concentric Circles)
Nothing wrong with Justin Krebs thinking Elizabeth Caputo is hot, I know a few guys who feel the same way about Angelina Jolie. But the timing had racial overtones to me, and gender overtones to Elizabeth. Months later at the Irish Rogue event, she was still struggling with that Justin interjection, it felt like to me.
"What happened? Your father converted?" Why did I say that? I don't know. But now he was as flustered as he had turned Elizabeth. At some level it was an innocent question. At another level it might have been, if you really like a woman, and you feel like your faith is getting in the way, why not go ahead and convert?
Otherwise Dave Pollak is about a decade older than her, Dan Berger about a decade younger, both Jewish, she does political work with both of them.
She walked away a few steps, then came back and gave me her card. I got her name. It said she was a Vice President at Morgan Stanley. I was not awfully impressed. Bankers and lawyers are like ants and bees in this town. But I really liked it that now I had her email address. I think she really liked me and she was trying to impress me with her riches. I have had women say things like "I am a lawyer" or "I live on Park Slope" or "My father owns factories in southeast Asia" to try and impress me.
I don't want to be hard on Justin. He is not the reason hot turned cold on day one. Hot turned cold on day one because my KY/IN trigger went off. I am like, she is being so very nice, but she is from Indiana, I am going to be polite, but I am going to keep my distance, there is no way I am going back to Indiana. I experienced some institutional abuses of power in Kentucky. Indiana reminded me of a relationship that did not exactly work out.
On the other hand, you could say his bad behavior was relentless. First he said "Jewish." Then he said "Brooklyn." Then he said "She is walking you to the train station," as in don't mistake this for something else. Then finally he said "You just met me!" which took the moment away from me. Months later when I thought we might hook up, I wanted the starting point to be a conversation about day one. I wanted a clinical analysis: what happened, how you felt, and what do you want to do about it? I could not skip that and still hook up, I felt. What if 2008 had been like 2004 and 2000? What if Barack had not run or had not had his success? Would Elizabeth and I have been defeated on day one?
We proceeded to walk out of the bar. Elizabeth and some woman were a few steps ahead. Justin and I were behind. He mentioned "Brooklyn." Then he said she was walking me over to the train station. He had a running commentary. After about three blocks, I needed to take a right to go to the train station, so I stopped. Everybody stopped. Elizabeth stopped and turned around. I just looked at her. There was something to her. I did not know exactly what. At the event earlier, I had touched McCaskill on her shoulder with my right hand and said. "Here, I just touched a Senator." That remark was prophetic. But I was feeling something in Elizabeth's presence that I did not feel even in McCaskill's presence. And I was trying to figure out what. Months and months later, I had a similar feeling in the presence of the Washington Governor. It felt to me like there was more to Elizabeth than to the visiting Governor.
She stopped, turned around, saw me look at her, said "We just met," hurried over to me, and gave me an embrace.
"You just met me!" said Justin. Why did he say that? You will have to ask him. You could say he was hitting on her again. Or you could say he was rooting for me. Stop making excuses, take this guy with you right now. To me it felt like he was hitting on her again. He spoilt the moment for me. At some level it feels to me like I needed to put enormous months into the Barack candidacy to right the equation, get myself on even ground.
She came back into her element. Her stress was gone, and she started looking really, really beautiful again. Maybe "You just met me!" meant take this guy with you right now to her.
The embrace over I walked over to the train station. Did I drop the ball? Does it matter any more? Weeks and months passed.
Justin beat himself up on day one several times a few times after that. Once at Rudy's he said to someone I was from Queens. Then looked at me and asked, "Why did I say that?" As in, if I had not said "Brooklyn" on day one, would something have happened? My bad, oops.
One day he showed up to a DL21C event all dressed up. To Elizabeth it might have felt like, this guy is dressed up like Paramendra was dressed up on day one, he is hitting on me again. I approached him. I am like, what up? He said he had a fundraiser to go to on the Upper East Side. Then he said he will take me to the low money fundraiser in Chinatown if I wanted. You could say he were saying, if you were to hook up with Elizabeth, you could have gone to the Upper East Side fundraiser with me. I don't know.
Months and months after day one, I am at Rudy's, and a Brooklyn woman gets drunk and throws herself on a Manhattan Kombiz, and Justin and friends have to escort her to a cab outside. He comes back, and shares the story, and looks at me puzzled. Why did a fancy banker, Upper West Side, Manhattan woman throw herself at you on day one? Who are you? Where are you from? He looked genuinely puzzled. And she was not even drunk.
What happened was the KY/IN trigger came into play. But I kept showing up for DL21C events.
After Dave Pollak became state party chair, she took over the organization. But that was months later.
After I went home, I shot her an email. Hey, it was nice to see you. I emailed her the web address to my blog : http://democracyforum.blogspot.com. Looks like she started reading it and circulating it. I did not realize.
9/25/06 Take Back the US Senate Claire McCaskill & Brooke Ellison
11/8/06 Election Returns Watch Party Rep. Anthony Weiner
11/29/06 Political Author Series KY Treasurer Jonathan Miller
3/14/07 Eye on 08 Series General Wesley Clark
4/10/07 Political Author Series Congressman Charles rangel
5/9/07 Political Author Series Terry McAuliffe
5/22/07 Political Author Series Dominic Carter
6/12/07 Policy Forum - Congestion Pricing in NYC Kathryn Wylde, Councilman John Liu, Former Councilman Walter McCaffrey, Deputy Commissioner Bruce Schaller
6/19/07 Political Author Series Marcus Mabry
7/31/07 DL21C Summer Bash Dave Pollak and Terry McAuliffe
9/17/07 Future of the US Armed Forces Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)
9/23/07 New York State and Stem Cell Research Lt. Governor David Paterson
9/26/07 New Hampshire Democratic Presidential Debate Watch Party
10/1/07 Future of NYC Public Schools Deputy Chancellor Marcia Lyles
10/23/07 Women, Politics and Governing Gov. Christine Gregoire (D-WA)
10/28/07 Post-Katrina Politics in Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
12/6/07 DL21C Holiday Party
1/3/08 Iowa Caucus Night Returns Party
1/21/08 South Carolina Debate Watch Party
2/21/08 Texas Debate Watch Party
3/5/08 Super Tuesday II: Lone Star and Buckeye State Edition
I was not really impressed by her business card that she gave me on day one trying to impress me - "I am rich" - that said she was a Vice President at Morgan Stanley. This town is chockful of bankers and lawyers, they swarm like ants and bees at the Manhattan events. And I was not impressed with her DL21C events either. Granted you get famous people to show up, but how hard can this be? You call up some bar and you are done. That first emotional connection had been great, but it was like day two onwards it just evaporated. I never got to have any follow up conversation. I would show up, sign in, experience the event, and go home. The magic was the feeling of that first connection, not even the words exchanged. But that feeling was not there on day two, week two, month two. It was like we had both stepped back.
More importantly I was in a dilemma. On day one she had come across as someone who can be childishly cheerful, my type of people, not the cheerfulness of someone who is naive, but of someone who is really comfortable around people because she knows how to swim among people. And she had been so very nice. And the chemistry and the communication had been amazing. Granted I had spent almost a decade in Kentucky and Indiana which is more than half the time she herself might have spent there, but Kentucky and Indiana did not mean to me what they meant to her. India is a super sexist country, but I take immense pride in India. She has a similar sense of pride in Indiana and the South in general. If you think about it, it was Louisiana that gave this country its first Indian Governor, it was not the Boston-DC corridor where 90% of the Indians in America live. The South, it has been changing.
And I did not want to spoil the homeboy thing for her. Heck, I needed it myself. At the same time, I needed a healthy distance. I had talked of myself as a refugee into New York City from Kentucky, Indiana. I was not kidding. The Kentucky and Indiana landscapes are like fingers to my identity and I will not have it any other way, but I had to go through some major institutional abuses of power in Kentucky, and Indiana reminded me of a relationships that did not exactly work out. So my dilemma was, how do you react to this incredibly nice Indiana person in New York City? In the political circles in this city, we two are the only two Indiana people that I know of.
When I saw her at the 2006 victory party (On November 7: In Harlem: For Obama), she had put her bag near me without my noticing. She came, picked up the bag, and walked away. I said, hey. She did not respond. She was mad at me for taking offense when Liz at MYD had picked up her bag. I had blogged the anger. Now I realize I was not fair to Liz, but at the time it felt to me like Elizabeth just confirmed my worst suspicions about her Indiana background. This homeboy thing was not going to work out too well. This was before I had written my online autobiography.
She got her Kentucky politician friend to show up for a DL21C event. Was I part of the reason? I don't know. I was super excited to see the guy. Mike Lupinacci, Dave Pollak, and Elizabeth Caputo watched in amusement from behind me. I was surprised myself. I guess Kentucky and Indiana landscapes are like fingers to my identity. A decade is a long time. It is like the king of Nepal took over in February 2005, and before that I did not realize I cared so much about that country.
Jonathan Miller is the first person from whose mouth I heard the word "Facebook."
Early in March 2007 the day after an event, I shot her an email, the first after the day one email: that was almost a six month gap. Good event yesterday, I said. We are all your fans, she said. I fell off my chair. Here was someone who ran what I had determined on my own was the top political organization in the city, and she was saying she was a fan of mine? Well, I am emailing you because you were looking great yesterday, I said. There was a pause. Then she said, please don't send personal emails to my work address. I asked her if she had another email address. She sent me her AOL email address. I have never held a corporate job. To me an email address is an email address.
A few minutes later, I googled her up for the first time. A snippet from a Harvard event showed up. She was a Harvard '94. She had played a key role in the campaign of the last black guy to have run for Governor. And she had run Wes Clark's entire northeast operation in 2004. I think this is the first time I learned she was a Harvard graduate. But of the three pieces of information what really grabbed me was the black guy part. My KY/IN trigger from day one vanished. I felt this strong urge to pick up on the conversation we started on day one. I also really wanted to know about her two campaign experiences in great detail. Now I was really, really impressed with her politics.
I copied and pasted that small paragraph into the body of an email and shot it to her. I think you owe me a conversation, you are out there in the deep waters, I said. What is your number, she said. I emailed her my number. What is yours and a good time to call, I asked. She did not email back. I thought she might email me her number and say, call around 9 PM, and I would call her up, and ask her a ton about her two campaign experiences. I would reclaim day one.
But she did not email me her number, and I took a step back. I decided granted day one was something, but she is not into me. I need to step back. Many times later when she acted in person like maybe she likes me, I would remember this moment, and refuse to take the hint. It is not possible you like me, you did not email me your number.
At some level to me it feels like even today that her not emailing me her number was the day the possibility of a relationship between us ended for me.
She can be cynical. You can say she tried to explain away day one through the Kentucky Dude event. Or you could say she was saying she has a Jewish friend in Kentucky. Then she thought you got excited by the Wes Clark name, not me. She choreographed a Wes event. Actually Wes is not who got me excited. Wes Clark is like Charlie Rangel to me. Neither ever got me excited, although I respect their prominence. Wes is not a politician. He is a novice actually.
No Number, Yes Talk
But I think she took a second look. She is like, I like this guy, but I am not starting over email. If he wants my number, he will have to ask in person. I don't know. I don't know why, but somewhere along the way she started thinking of me as a Republican.
She organized a Republican debate watch party for which I was the only person who signed up, showed up, looks like, and she showed up as the organizer. I did not realize as it happened, but when I look back, I realize that was her saying, okay, talk to me now. I am here, there is no event, there is nobody else, we are on the sidewalk. I show up and she says the event has been canceled.
"Why?" I protested.
"Because we decided," she said.
By now we are on the sidewalk, ready to walk in two different directions.
She looks at me with some mischief and says, "I don't give out my number." When she talks, you don't always know if she is speaking to you, or she is reading your mind. Like, when she said, what is your number, she was not asking for my number - she never called - she was saying, I think you want my number. "I don't give out my number" could have been her way of saying you are acting distant to me because I did not give you my number. But all those observations are in hindsight.
"That's okay," I said. After she had not emailed me her number, I had written her off as someone to take any kind of personal interest in. So when I said okay, I was visiting an old decision. I am glad to come to your events, but I totally get it that there is nothing going on between us. That was my attitude. I was not really struggling with it. It was a simple acceptance of reality. Besides, I liked her as a person, and I liked showing up for DL21C events, and after learning of her two campaign experiences I had a newfound respect for her politics, a respect I had not extended to any other young progressive I had met in the city's political circles. I liked what I already had with her, and I was not going to spoil it for me. I cared about her and I knew she cared about me. And I was going to leave it at that. Things were good to great as they were.
There was this Charlie Rangel event. I ended up writing a piece on Delilah after that event: DL21C Events: High Class Acts. I met Delilah the same day I met Justin for the first time which was months before I met Elizabeth. At the Rangel event, Elizabeth tried to get her picture taken with that young Pakistani girl. Every major politician in the state has had pictures taken with that girl: I have been to her home in Queens. That was her way of saying she wants to become a major elected official some day. The next time I saw her, she signed me in, and we had our second major conversation after day one. I think she got impressed by my Muscular Gender Agenda talk. Here was the more concrete aspect of the guy who talked to Brooke Ellison on day one. She had some very nice things to say about Obama, although she did so indirectly. She asked who that young Pakistani girl was. She wanted to make sure I absolutely understood she is gunning for major office some day. Then she asked me to become a member of DL21C and come sit on the steering committee. I should have said yes to both. I messed up. I regret. But to me it felt like to get active with DL21C would be to snatch myself away from the urgent Nepal work I was doing in the 2.0 environment. One was bone surgery, another was heart surgery. Besides, if all you want to do is event planning, I don't think I am interested. Today I'd ask, what did you really want? If you meant to ask me out instead, why not ask out? Why ask to join the organization instead? I think she wanted to make it gradual, that way you don't end up hitting a no, a roadblock. That is what you do when you really like someone.
She gave me that pre-1989 feeling all over again.
There was this amazing Terry McAuliffe event. She shared the stage with McAuliffe. She took obvious pride in doing that. That was also her way of saying, Pollak is not my political ceiling. I liked that attitude.
The more I got to know her, the more I liked her. But in my mind she had drawn the line in the sand, and I was perfectly comfortable respecting the line. I was happy enough just to show up for her events: no ulterior motives. Really. The homeboy thing was working great. I think the thing that I most relate to are her giggles. Her entire body participates. It is really something.
Then this black TV personality guy happened: Carter. Before this dude even began, he made a snide remark about Elizabeth's age. He said Elizabeth is making great strides in the city's politics "and she is only 21." She handled the situation with maturity, but I got offended. Carter had just misused his position as the key attraction at the event to make a snide, sexist remark. I took the microphone during Q and A and asked him a question: "Who is the most interesting politician you ever met?" He did not see the trap. "Now, that is what I call a question," he said. He talked about Mandela at length, then he sheepishly said "Bill Clinton." Obviously he did not have problems with white people because Bill Clinton, we all know, is white. I gave him a wide-eyed look: I thought we did not like white people, what happened? Later he asked me privately if I had experienced racism. I said, yes, I had. He felt betrayed that I did not take his side when he made his sexist comment on Elizabeth. Elizabeth is a woman who defies gravity. I have always had to defy gravity. My background is not what gives me common ground with people.
At the Rangel event she had come to stand behind me for a few seconds. At the Carter event, she came to stand in front of me for a few seconds, like I had snuck up behind her. At the Washington Governor event, and later on February 7, she came to stand/sit behind me. At the NYU event, she came to sit kind of in front of me.
At the subsequent NYU event, she made a move, or two, or three. I think what happened was she waited outside, and as soon as she saw me, she started running, as in, I don't want to end up meeting this guy out in the street. My first reaction was, did you say you are from Indiana? But once inside, I was amused. I looked at her and gave her a little amused laugh. "You don't have to sign in!" she said. I think that was her way of saying, why don't you join my organization! I went inside and sat. I did not realize, she had sat one row in front of me, a few chairs to the left. She looked behind, our eyes met, she got up and walked to the back of the room, like I was staring at her. That was two strikes in a row. That was two strikes. By now I was getting a little uncomfortable. She is making it look like I am hitting on her when she does not want to be hit on. Where does this come from? After the event ended, I was out front, she planted herself in the front where I could see her. I am like, before there is strike three, let me walk away.
Dan Berger was in the back. I walked over to him and started making small talk. I think this was our first real conversation although I had known of him as a Rangel staffer. My memory of that first conversation with Berger is what has prevented me from thinking the worst about him when things have gone awry in recent months.
Dan Berger is no closet Jew, that's for sure. He is raw in terms of his Jewish identity, and that is not true about Lewis Cohen, Justin Krebs, or Dave Pollak. He feels Israel's pain on a daily basis. This guy also has a sharp emotional intelligence. He sees things. In that he is almost like those dogs that can sniff bombs, or machines that detect radiation. Berger sees things. But that does not apply to when he has demonized me twice, in early January he said I was a "threat to Elizabeth," recently he seems to have said I was a "threat to Charlie Rangel." The only thing that means is he sees both people as bosses. The threat he saw was a political threat to himself. But it is clever not to put it that way.
"So if Hillary becomes president, does Rangel become Senator?" I teased him. His mood changed.
"That will be for the Governor to decide," he said. He took obvious pride in Spitzer. Later on he suggested Elizabeth did political work with him because she needed to go to Spitzer events.
I did not realize that in the mean time Elizabeth had walked over to where we were, and she was standing next to me, looking to the ground. But Berger saw that. It was so obvious to this sniff dog that Elizabeth was standing next to me because she liked me, but I was too confused about her running and vacating her seat.
"I am hot," Berger said. What he meant was, you, Paramendra, you dude, you think you are hot, don't you? Elizabeth came over to stand next to you.
I was not aware of Elizabeth's presence. I took him literally. I was wearing just a shirt, he was wearing a shirt and a jacket. I pointed that out and said, "No wonder you are hot."
Actually I was a little unnerved. You did not email me your number, and since I have not taken any interest in you. And now you acted twice today like I was taking unwanted interest in you. I was not a happy camper. Back home I shot her an email. I was also going to act like she was taking unwanted interest in me.
DL21C events are work to me. How would you like it if I were to show up at Morgan Stanley and start hitting on you, I said over email. Of course I did not mean that, I was only retaliating. I was being playful.
Bookstore, Condi Rice
Her response was to put together an event around a Condi Rice bio. After the event was over, she asked to talk to me privately. I touched her shoulder with my right hand the way I had touched McCaskill on day one.
You could say this happened two months before the bash, and then something similar happened two months before the Holiday party, but that next time it was Berger doing the talking, and you have to think, the work relationship these two have can be compared to what Uma Thurman and Quentin Tarantino had when working on Kill Bill. They obviously communicate really well.
If I were to communicate with Elizabeth today, I'd say, obviously I have wanted to be in a relationship with you. If that is not an option, I'd really like to be friends with you. If not, I'd like to do political work with you, but that will have to be collaboration, not you trying to mould me into the DL21C's current template. And if there is not even that option, I'd like to be your fan. I think that much of her political potential.
"What was that email about?" she demanded to know. I had no idea what email she was referring to. I thought she would get the joke. She was offended.
"Don't touch me!" she said. I took my hand off immediately. I had proceeded to touch her the way I had touched McCaskill.
"You can come to the events," she said. There and then I decided I was never going to come to a DL21C event ever again. Soon after I met Barack for the first time in person. I touched him the exact same way I had touched Elizabeth. See? Barack is not offended, why are you offended? Who do you think you are?
You could say sniff dog Dan Berger meant to play on my rebel streak at the Louisiana Senator event by saying, "What's up with Elizabeth? You are just going to have to stop!" Maybe he was confident I'd do the exact opposite. But to think so would be to be more nice to him than he has been to me this year.
The KY/IN trigger vanished when I learned her history with black guy McCall. The mandatory coat check trigger vanished at the spy event: Confronting My Own Demons. But the don't-touch-me trigger never really vanished. After February 7, the don't-touch-me trigger has not been a trigger, it has been a concrete manifestation in the form of one angry woman.
But the summer bash is different. I was not going to go to DL21C events, but I decided to show up for the bash. A few different organizations put it together. Dave Pollak was going to be there.
An hour into the event I felt like Elizabeth was following me around: did not bother me. It is not like I ever started disliking her. What had me angry was, it was obvious to me that she liked me, but she said don't touch me.
But she never said anything. Then I found myself standing, enjoying the music played by Pollak's band. Elizabeth walked over to Pollak, they nodded to each other, no words. Then she walked towards me. A DL21C guy the same height as her was in front of me. The two looked at each other for about two seconds. Then she faced the stage like I was facing the stage. She was in front of me. She reached for me with her left hand. When she realized she could not touch me, she took a step back. I am not saying she intended to, or maybe she did, but she ended up touching my private part. This was totally unexpected. I was confused and speechless. I did not know what to do, all those people in attendance. What if someone else saw? I took a step back. She sensed that. She walked away.
If I had started talking, I would not have known where to begin. The following day I realized my decision to no longer go to DL21C events had vanished. I looked her up on Facebook, and sent an email and a friend request. I think you were kind of stalking me yesterday, I think we should at least become Facebook friends, I said. In my mind I was being playful. If she had responded, I think I'd have said, what do you say we meet and talk some time? She did not accept. She also refused to become a LinkedIn contact. That is what women do when they are not into you at all, or when they are so into you they don't want to risk simply ending up as friends.
The don't-touch-me trigger was strong enough that it cost me the next half dozen overtures from Elizabeth. I dropped the ball like a really really bad basketball player about six times in a row.
Street Fair, Paterson, Senator Reed, Irish Rogue, Black Woman Educator, Washington Governor
I went to the street fair with the express intention of talking to her. But I kept walking around until she sensed it, and she left. The street fair was where she was going to tell me about her two campaign experiences.
She choreographed the Paterson event. There was no Brooke Ellison, but there was a guy in a wheelchair. There was no Carl McCall, but there was David Paterson. There was no Justin Krebs, but there was a young black woman who she would leave me with as she walked away home alone. She had managed to recreate day one and more. She is mind-boggling at what I call 5.0. It is a higher plane of existence to my 2.0 world.
It is like I almost expected her to undo the don't-touch-me moment. By now I had been working hard on my online autobiography. It was so obvious to me that my past was preventing me from having a relationship. I was a sick dog, I was going to eat grass and vomit and get well.
The Paterson event might have happened before the street fair. I don't know.
Senator Reed was the first US Senator to look at me and look at Elizabeth and decide the two of us belonged together. Senator Mary was the second.
At the Senator Reed event, I asked him a question he did not exactly like. "The president of Pakistan says Bin Laden is not inside Pakistan. The president of Afghanistan says Bin Laden is not inside Afghanistan. Where do you think he is?"
"Elizabeth is the leader of the organization," the Senator quipped. As in, your hard question implies you wish you were leading this organization that Elizabeth leads.
Elizabeth giggled, laughed. She is like, this guy got a US Senator flustered.
Maybe the street fair happened, then Reed happened, then Paterson. After the Paterson event, I sent her an email. It has been very confusing knowing you. You have been four different places on the map with me, I said.
This is how I counted. One, on day one you gave me the pre-1989 feeling, you are open minded on race. Two, you picked up your bag at the 2006 victory party, and that is no good. Three, you said don't touch me at the Condi event. Four, you touched my private part at the bash.
I also paid her a major compliment. I wish there were a movies version of DL21C. I'd like to meet Al Pacino.
But something happened around here. Until now she was like you are cute, and you are open minded on gender, and you have a nice blog, and that's enough. It is okay you don't have any big, fancy career or anything, you don't have money, you seem to have but one black suit, I like you for you. Instead of making me feel like she liked me for me, this attitude actually offended me. I have big dreams that I want to talk about, I am doing cutting edge work for Nepal that I want to be taken as a serious career move, that is how I felt. And I don't know how much you make, or have, but I will make more, way more. I am not saying I am more capable, what I am saying is I am better at out of the box thinking.
At some level she had accepted defeat as a woman, or at least according to me. But my Silicon City talk fired up something. For the first time there was a woman guest at a DL21C event, and not just any woman, but a black woman. I dropped the ball again, and for the first time she "disappeared." She will go and sit behind some person, and then you can't see her. It is like she is no longer in the room. She performed her disappearance act also towards the end of the February 7 event. When I went back up, I could not see her.
That was her way of saying to me the physicalism, which is but another face to sexism, pinches her. She acted vulnerable for the first time. She realized I was no defeated person. I had huge dreams. I was excited about the future. And she felt okay to act vulnerable.
At the Washington Governor event, she stood behind me. She got Carolyn to talk to the Governor. Both of you like to ask questions, she said to Carolyn. She was offended I had talked to Carolyn at the Irish Rogue, but not to her. Finally she whisked away Jennifer and this other woman who I am going to call the Bombay Palace woman. That was three strikes on me on one day.
Independent of Elizabeth, Justin Krebs was whisking women away from me at Rudy's. His attitude is, you belong with Elizabeth, I have already decided. To one woman, he is like, when was the last time you talked to your own brother? A few weeks back he saw Brooke was really coming strong on me one in the morning, and he proceeded to snatch her away in a big hug. Recently at the Chinatown fundraiser, David Alpert whisked away another woman.
It is called the Harvard bond, I guess.
I got offended by the both-of-you-like-to-ask-questions. I sent her an email. My rise in US politics has been faster than that of Obama himself, would you agree? And I sent her of instances when Barack had taken advice from me.
Starting with the Condi Rice event, there were more than a half dozen events that were Elizabeth's 5.0 version of really, really, really liking Paramendra Bhagat. My 2.0 version of really, really, really liking Elizabeth started after the spy event months and months after. (Web 5.0: Face Time) Her honing in on the coat check thing opened up the floodgates for me.
At the Irish Rogue, Tracey Denton came to stand behind me, back to back, touching, and said, "I was locked out of my own house." That was her way of saying, there is an Indiana woman in this room that you really, really like, but you will not make the move because you carry some bad memories from Indiana, correct?
At that same event, Justin showed up with a Chinese friend. If you will not let me have my Indian friend, I am going to stick it out with a Chinaman.
Very recently, like only a week or two back, Tracey made another gesture. Looks like Elizabeth and you are in a fight, and Dave Pollak is on her side, so I am going to be on your side. (Tracey Denton, Al Benninghoff) Tracey is the DFNYC dynamo. Al Benninghoff runs MYD, and he had a few unfriendly things to say about Dan Berger, like who does Dan Berger think he is? He was going to be my Dan Berger counterbalance.
This was an explosive situation. A near future President of the United States, Barack, and a far future President of the United States, Elizabeth, both responded, and on the same day. Barack scheduled a Harlem event, Elizabeth brought along a MTA person to DL21C. That was her way of saying, this guy Paramendra, he is going to be Mayor. I mean, I could, no sweat. But I see me with my company for the next few decades.
Did Dan Berger come to talk to me on his own? Or did Elizabeth sent him? If she sent him, what did she tell him to tell me? But I don't think she sent him. He came on his own. Why else would she act like the fire alarm went off because she said "You are already a member" at the December Baby party?
The narrative that first she sent Dan Berger to talk to me, and that did not work, and then she sent Dan Berger and Mike Lupinacchi, that does not hold water. Because the MTA person event happened after the Louisiana Senator event. And, biggest of all, the Holiday Party happened. The Holiday Party was major choreography on her part. That was her major 5.0 way of saying she really, really, really likes Paramendra. And I am like, if you so like me, it must not be a new feeling. Anywhere during the past two months since you last saw me, you could have shot an email and got the two of us to meet and talk.
And she can't say because Dan Berger and Mike Lupinacci did not work at the Iowa event, so she had to hire security guards at the March 5 event, because the February 7 Planned Parenthood event was her last major 5.0 choreography of saying she really, really, really likes Paramendra. And I am really sorry I acted a major league jerk on February 7, and I ask for forgiveness. I understand that was a major gender trigger to her, her first major with me. Me dropping flowers and the apology card at her place was her gender trigger number two, and now I realize it was a really stupid thing to do, and I am sorry. I should have kept the apology online like everything else. Offline does not seem to be my territory.
Once in a while I'd visit Dave Pollak's Facebook page, and he knew that, he knew I had left comments a few times. After the Louisiana Senator event, I don't know what narrative of the story he was served, but not long after I blogged saying Good White People Living In The Asian Century. A few days later the Chinese went public with the world's first trillion dollar company.
A photo appeared on Pollak's page. He had Elizabeth standing next to this short, black dude, looking not exactly comfortable. You could say Dave Pollak was saying to her, would you like me if I were short and black? Or you could say he was saying to Paramendra Bhagat, if you think she is not going for you because you are Asian, I am saying to you she is not going for me because I am not black. In short, he was not hitting on her, he was rooting for her. Do the math. If Elizabeth is a Harvard '94, she must have moved to the city in 1994, she must have been active with DL21C all along, she must have known Pollak all along. I showed up in 2005. And she is too conscious a woman to go for anyone too much older or younger. Besides, someone like her could have any guy in town she wants. She floats in so many different circles, she knows so many people, men and women. It is a large sea of people she knows.
Elizabeth had Pollak at the door for the Holiday Party, and Cordelia Persen, six years older than her, Jewish, at the reception, the two facing each other. Pollak did not misunderstand. Two hours into the party, he sent a tall, Asian, young, attractive woman to me to ask for "Obama stickers." Would you like Elizabeth if she were tall, Asian and an Obama person? He was rooting for Elizabeth.
Two days later Elizabeth apologized to Pollak for doing the Cordelia thing at his birthday bash by standing in front of him and giving him a romantic look; Cordelia made up for this Elizabeth gesture by walking over to me for two seconds and looking at the floor like women look when they like you but are feeling helpless. She did not like me, she was just making up for Elizabeth, in her mind, she did not need to. Pollak did not miss a beat. He went ahead and danced with a dozen women right away. If you got mad at Elizabeth for dancing with Ben at the Holiday party - I did not - two days ago, I think I saw you dance with a dozen Obama women at that same party. Where's the perspective?
Elizabeth danced with Ben at the Holiday Party. Ben is 27, but he was the guy I talked to the most at the Louisiana Senator event. I first met him long months back at a MYD event: we clicked, we have been friendly since. Ben suggested at the Louisiana Senator event that he would hook me up with his sister if I were to give half of my company to her on paper.
Ben was not expecting to get to dance with Elizabeth. He is like, she is doing this because she thinks I am good friends with Paramendra. Two days later he came to stand next to me at the Drinking Liberally event, and then again a few hours later at the December Baby party. Yes, we are close friends, aren't we, he seemed to be suggesting.
Berger tried to play matchmaker. I approached the bartender. He approached me. He is like, why are you writing about the DL21C at your blog? Then he got the three of us to step aside from the crowd. I found myself facing Elizabeth. She went ballistic. I was going to patiently listen to all she had to say. I have been mesmerized every time she has talked to me, often to the point that I get speechless and speak not when I should speak volumes. The day after the Holiday Party I had blogged making her look like she was just another Ms. 99%, not true, but I wanted to have a little play. ("Is This An Obama Party?")
She made a reference to "touching my private part." I am no Ms. 99%. Then she said it affects "my work." At that point I looked at her. Don't tell me my blogging affects your banking. I did not speak, but she read my face. "My DL21C work," she said. That was a reference to my email before the Condi Rice book event where I had said DL21C was work to me.
Finally she threatened to "talk to somebody else." The threat to become Condi Rice had not worked, and so now she was going to threaten to go talk to somebody else.
I had but one thought the entire time. Who is this Dan Berger guy? And why is he standing next to me? I was still mad at him for his bad behavior at the Louisiana Senator event. He does not get to do that, and now go down in history as the guy who brought Elizabeth and Paramendra together.
When I looked at her, that brought the temperature down a little. After the threat, she walked closer to me. It felt to me like she was practically touching me, body to body. Her face was only inches from mine.
"Will you join DL21C?" she asked. That was her suggesting I set the fire alarm off because she made me a member of the organization on her own, without my input. Not true, but that was the narrative she was now pushing. (Louisiana Senator Event: Crime Scene)
I was in disbelief. First, her narrative was patently false. Second, of all things she could have asked, she asked me if I wanted to join DL21C. She could have asked me, I like you, do you like me? I would have said yes. She could have asked me out, and I would have said yes. It has been my fantasy for a long time that some day I will meet a woman who, if she likes me, tells me she likes me and asks me out.
"I am not interested in DL21C," I said. I was interested in her, not her organization.
She walked away.
I turned on Berger. There was no US Senator in the room. Now I was going to yell back at him. Don't you ever, I mean ever, come in front of my face ever again. You have until February 5, and then you lose your relevance in this city. At one point I called him a mofo. He hung on to that part. At the Iowa event days later, his attitude is, Mike Lupinacci just pissed you off, but you are not calling him a mofo, why, because he is not Jewish?
I have a feeling Elizabeth watched me yell at him and later asked him, what did he say? Berger said, he said I have until February 5. And so Elizabeth choreographed her February 7 event. Okay, stay with Obama until February 5, then come be with me on February 7. But I acted a major league jerk on February 7, and I have regretted that ever since.
After I yelled at Berger, I went to stand where I was standing before I went to purchase beer, where I was standing and watching Pollak dance away the women. Pollak had been watching the drama from a distance, it looked like. He came over to me and thumped on my chest. You cold hearted bastard, have you no heart? Why do you not respond to Elizabeth? Then he kissed the guy in front me on the cheek. Or are you perhaps gay?
Why did I drop the ball so many times last year? When I like her so much? And I am not shy. Today I will tell you, if Elizabeth and I were to go out, our first date was always going to be a counseling session. Unless we confronted the race and gender triggers in our psyches, I don't see how we could have related to each other. That is what I say today. Or maybe after I am through with this piece of writing, there would not be any need for counseling. This piece of writing is the counseling for everyone involved.
Last I saw her she told me "I have not liked you before." After that I went back down my memory lane and tried to explain away day one. She liked me because I was unusually dressed up. She liked me because I was standing next to Justin who is a wildly popular guy. One day inside a train in Brooklyn, I waved to this young, attractive woman. Hey, I have seen you at Rudy's. She asked me if I was a friend of Justin. I said yes. She came to sit next to me and started paying attention. She said she lived on Park Slope.
It is possible she is so mad at me about February 7 and the flower drop that in her own mind she has managed to explain everything away. I can't imagine I ever liked this guy. No, I never liked him. I just got excited that he has spent time in Indiana.
Dan Berger tried to play matchmaker at the Holiday Party. That did not play. A few days later at the Iowa event he told Mike I was a "threat to Elizabeth." Recently a detective told me I was a "threat to Charlie Rangel." Did Berger author both phrases? I am confident that is the case. This is demonization. This is blackmail, you let me invade your privacy, or I will mess things up bad for you.
Towards the end of December, Elizabeth blocked me out of her AOL email account after I said to her over email, Id' really, really, really like to talk to you, will you please, please, please shoot me your number? Something big and bad was about to happen in Pakistan. I was experiencing major emotional turmoil. But she is not Desi, she does not feel the pulse.
(Iowa: One And A Half Victory Parties) When I showed up for the Iowa returns watch party at the O'Lunney's Pub, I was practically in mourning. Only a few days back I had gone for a very long walk all across Brooklyn: I was crying for the most part. The Al Qaeda had ended Benazir Bhutto's life. The assassination hit me hard, harder than I had imagined it would. When I showed up at O'Lunney's, I was in a somber mood, self conscious. I thought I would pick up on the conversation Elizabeth started at the December Baby party, but once I got there, I realized I would be just fine left alone. I was in mourning. The talk could wait.
Mike said three things, Dan said one thing.
"So you don't want to talk?" I have been given information Elizabeth tried to talk to you at the Holiday Party but you refused. Is that it?
That was offensive to me. Berger said "personal space." He had realized he was the reason conversation did not take place at the December Baby party.
Today I realize I have been so open at my blog in the 2.0 environment when talking about Elizabeth. People are to her what cyber real estate is to me. It is entirely possible Dan Berger standing next to us did not feel like invasion of privacy to her at all. That would be the 5.0 version of my talking about her in the 2.0 version.
"You have crossed the line," he said. A brown guy like you is not supposed to be looking at a white woman like Elizabeth. People like Dan and Mike don't feel white among white people, they feel Jewish and Italian. But they did the Mitt Romney thing. Mitt Romney decided if he could talk racist about Barack, that would make him white. The weirdest things I have heard about black people have come out of some Nepali mouths in this city. They are trying to be white, as they understand white to be.
"I got the emails," he said. I used to have Delilah's emails, now I have this woman's emails. This woman, she is with me now. He was claiming white territory. White woman was territory. A dog raises one leg to claim territory.
By now I had had it.
"The simplest thing for everyone involved will be if I don't come to these DL21C events ever again," I said.
"Leave right now," said Dan Berger. He was so happy to hear what I said. When he said "threat to Elizabeth," he meant to suggest physical threat. If that narrative was not going to hold, he was going to say he meant political threat. This guy could take over DL21C. But what he really meant was that if I were to get active with DL21C, Dan Berger would no longer be the second most visible DL21C face. It did not surprise me that he coveted his political space next to Elizabeth, but it surprised me to what extent he was willing to go to preserve it. He was willing to say I was someone prone to violence. If he thought for long months that the only reason Elizabeth had anything to do with him was because now there was a Jewish Governor in the state, is it not possible that he looked at me and saw a Palestinian? When I was a little kid, Arafat came to India. He got treated like a head of state.
After the Louisiana Senator event, Dan Berger had sent out an invite over Facebook to the next DL21C event. He had talked of a "swanky venue" and that you can "ask questions." He had been patronizing. You don't need DL21C or any organization like that to go to swanky venues in Manhattan. I live in Brooklyn, but I don't feel self-conscious in Manhattan. When I am in Manhattan, I don't feel like, oh no, I am in Dan Berger territory.
Someone decided to host this all woman event at a coffee place on a Sunday at 11 AM in the middle of January. I went. I had a comment about Sundays 11 AM in my online autobiography.
The weekend before February 5, I was at a Women For Obama rally near Columbus Circle. A Planned Parenthood young woman approached me with a postcard for their February 7 event. Many women politicians in the city were going to be there. At the end of December I had blogged saying Elizabeth could run for Mayor and President. This could have been her way of saying, if you like women politicians, I can arrange for you to meet them, but I am not one. And so makes me think, all my talk of Elizabeth as president might have been yet another major gender trigger to her. This guy does not know me. This sexist guy is making career plans for me without ever having talked to me.
I showed up precisely at seven. The sign was not up yet, so I went to the restroom. When I got back, I saw Elizabeth walk up the stairs. She had her overcoat on. That was significant to me. My complaint of the mandatory coat check at the Holiday Party had become louder and louder at my blog. It was to become louder still. Berger was downstairs, but he also soon walked upstairs. I walked over to the receptionist downstairs and waited there. That is when Berger walked down the stairs. Half way down he saw me. He made a no gesture with his finger. As in, you are not allowed upstairs. He was on the phone, possibly with Elizabeth upstairs. A few days back I had blogged saying I have understood everything except one, so when do I get to talk? I guess that was still a reference to when she refused to email me her number. This was her saying, well, if you had joined my organization like I wanted you to, and become active, you would have had my number a long time ago.
I waited until he was done talking. The receptionist young woman kept urging me to go upstairs. "There are already 15 people up there," she said. That was a future politician. Elizabeth was the only one upstairs. Berger got done talking on the phone. He walked over to me. I was nice and gentle.
"It was already made clear last time," he said.
"That's okay," I said, and walked away. I did not go to this event to make Berger feel like you don't need an Italian to tell me to leave, you can do it on your own and I will leave, but his body language was appreciative of me making the gesture. It was an unintended gesture. I had not gone for Dan, I had gone for Elizabeth.
Iowa and South Carolina had been good for my guy, Barack. Me getting turned away at the Iowa and the South Carolina events at some subconscious level felt like it was something to do with Hillary, although Elizabeth has never disliked Barack. I sent her a message that I don't exactly dislike your woman: A Vote For Barack Is Not A Vote Against Hillary.
I have something called lag time. There is this thing called safe mode. Granted I have been thought of as some kind of a hot guy at different phases in my life, but the predominant experience ends up being meeting countless Ms. 99%s. And so the fallback mode is safe mode. You tune out. Instead of going through the humiliation of a woman or two or three helping you understand she is a Ms. 99%, it is most often best not to bother taking interest. I mean, it is not exactly the idea that you want to date everyone you come across. Ultimately most people are looking for that one person. And I feel like I am old enough that I am just looking for that The Person.
There have been times when I have been in safe mode. You don't send overtures, you are not receptive to overtures. But the mind records everything in video. A few hours later, a few days later, you replay the video, and you are like, maybe I do want to respond to that particular overture. You reach out in 2.0. But to the woman that is too static. The dynamic thing would have been to respond in real time. But you were in safe mode.
Also, having grown up in an arranged marriage culture might also having a larger pull on my psyche than I admit. The emphasis on The Person might be greater. So my approach might be more static. As in, woman, have you figured out yet or not if I am The Person? The dynamic way is you meet and talk, and you build up one conversation at a time. And it really has to be in person. There is no other way.
What happened on February 7? Because that was the departure point. In my worldview there was Elizabeth Caputo before February 7 and after February 7.
In Elizabeth's mind, that was the day when we were going to talk and hook up. She showed up alone, a little late even. But I think she had arranged for an Asian guy friend and a Hispanic guy friend to be there. She never really needed to prove to me that she was open minded after the McCall moment, but she was going to nevertheless, what after my Iowa event outburts: Iowa: One And A Half Victory Parties.
In real time, this is what happened. She came, she walked right past me, almost brushing against me, and she went somewhere behind. I saw she was not uncomfortable that I was there. At one point much later I realized she was sitting right behind me a few feet away. I became aware. After the event was over, people were talking in small circles. I was in my circle, she was in hers. We were there for two and a half hours after the event. I had also gone to the event hoping she would come and we would talk. Then she came and I am trying to figure out, what does it mean that you kicked me out of your last two events? I liked her a lot, but I could not act like this was the first time I was seeing her, I could not act like we had not liked each other before. And I never understood why she wanted the starting point to be some big, fancy event, 500 white people in attendance, a roomful of Mr. and Ms. 99%s. If you went through the hell of putting together a Holiday Party for me - venue: Taj - if you went through the hell of putting together a Planned Parenthood event for me - venue: Zipper Factory - why could you not have shot me an email on any day before and got me to meet you one on one some place? We could meet one on one, talk, hook up, then you could take me to some event with 5,000 white people, a hall full of Mr. and Ms. 99%s and that would not bother me.
My weak social muscles talk is for real. It is like when you cast off the plaster after the broken bone has healed, you have weak muscles.
At one point she approached the bartender. She said she wanted two drinks - she was by herself - but she did not have the money. The bartender was confused but not offended: he simply froze. That was my moment to step in and be the man. I got the money, honey, if you got the time. But I was still nursing my confusion from having been kicked out of her last two events.
Her two guy friends felt something was going on at the very outset, the way they looked at me. Something was up. But after the two drinks, no money part, I think she kind of gave up. This guy is not taking the hint. She walked over to the Hispanic dude and gave him the look. The guy touched her shoulder with his left hand. He was going to step into the vacuum. I am like, the already complicated situation just got even more complicated. Not only did you kick me out of your two events, now there is this guy who feels like you are with him. The Asian guy left right then. He felt like he needed to leave the two alone.
I stuck around. I talked to others in the room. At one point I found myself talking to this guy, Elizabeth and I both turned our heads at the same time towards each other, she was sitting next to the young woman who had hosted the event. That young woman was excited for Elizabeth that now it looked like she had a new boyfriend. "I got a new boyfriend," she said like Elizabeth speaks when she is not speaking to you but is rather reading your mind. Elizabeth did not like the suggestion. She put her hand on that young woman's shoulder. See, it means nothing, really. But that young woman went ahead and ordered food nevertheless. Elizabeth took a bite, one French fry.
After that head turn, I went downstairs to the restroom. When I got back, she was sitting no longer next to the woman, but next to the Hispanic dude. I am like, if my presence is in the way, let me leave. I picked up my coat, and walked downstairs. But I did not want to leave. Downstairs I ordered a drink. By the time I finished drinking, I decided, I got to talk to her. This was the day we were going to talk, I can't walk away. I have been feeling for weeks, days, this was the day we talked. Let me go back upstairs and talk to her.
The Hispanic dude was still there, but she was not there. A French woman I had met a few times before at Rudy's, Julia, I spotted her. I asked her if Elizabeth left. No, she has not left, she said. But I could not see her anywhere in the room. She had done the same thing at the black woman educator event. She had done something similar at the Washington Governor event. And now she had done it again. She had acted her most vulnerable. Physicalism pinches me, and I want you to know.
I walked downstairs. By now I felt it might even be inappropriate to look for her. I left. On the sidewalk I noticed I was not walking straight.
A thought kept ringing in my head. Elizabeth, there is no skipping the conversation, there is no skipping the conversation. After the Arianna event, the thought was, give me five hours of conversation, or go away forever. Today the thought is, do you think we could go through about five hours of counseling? Now I am thinking, no need. If you need it, go for it. But this writing is my counseling. I am fine.
I got to meet her. I was escorted upstairs by a woman receptionist. I think she arranged that. I did not realize at the time.
"Let's have a conversation." That is what you said at your blog you wanted.
"I don't like you. I never liked you. Nothing happened on day one. You are delusional. I am going to take precautions." She was mad that I had blogged on February 7 as soon as I got back home like she went home with the Hispanic dude. Not only had I spoilt for her an event she had put so much choreography into, I had done a really sexist thing. This is not exactly the guy I saw talk to Brooke Ellison, I don't know this guy any more. I had also talked angry about Justin, and she did not appreciate that. That was the reference to day one. When she said delusional, her reference was to my reaction to the coat check, but I understood at the time to mean White House and Nobel and Nasdaq talk. I did not like it. My dreams are all I got. How could you disrespect my dreams so? You don't have to like me if you don't want to, but please don't disrespect my dreams.
"Dan is not here. I am saying this to you myself." You did the South Carolina event thing for Dan, and now you are doing this for me? Or she wanted to make the point she did not yell at the December Baby party for Dan's benefit.
By now I think she felt I did not understand why she was so mad. She gave a hint. "You have been blogging about me for a year and a half now." I did not get the hint. I did not think she went home with that Hispanic dude, and even she had, it would not have been my business, we were not together, but I was 100% certain she had not. What I did feel was, how could you choreograph the event for me and then go have your four second intimate moment with this other guy who you had arranged to be there?
Around this time she started calming down.
She said something "political acumen." So you like me for my political acumen? Only a few days back I had blogged saying I was Al Pacino, she was Meryl Streep in terms of political talent. I had said she was the top political story in town.
This was an opening. This was my moment to talk. She had vented her anger, and now she wanted me to talk. But I had lost my mood. You just told me you don't like me, never did. And you disrespected my dreams. What is there left to say?
"I hear you," I said and left.
At the March 4 event when she sent the message that "the event has not started yet," that was her saying you should have talked back at the Texas event. So when I got the message at the Bombay Palace event and lingered around, she shifted the goal post, she had the guard called up on me. I had shifted the goal post so many times during 2007. She was getting back at me.
I showed up. There was a black guy security guard on the sidewalk. He asked me which event I was going to. I pointed at the flyer. He said the event had not started yet. I said, that's okay, I will be back in 10 minutes. He said hold on. He said, hold on, there is this woman. He got on the radio. I saw Elizabeth briefly in the distance. Out comes the white guy security guard from the Holiday party.
The soldiers of social segregation in your poem (Yellow Roses), if those are not Justin Krebs, Dan Berger, and Mike Lupinacci (Rabbits Birthing Rabbits), then who are you referring to, to this white guy security gaurd? She was offended. She is a Democrat like I am not, she will fight for the working man.
I emailed Berger earlier. If I am not welcome, please shoot an email. If you don't, I am coming. He did not shoot an email. So I went. Two young women receptionists asked me what my name was, then said, "You are not allowed in."
This was a click moment. Elizabeth had signed me in to events many times. You have to look at women receptionists and black security guards. That right there is raw material for a potential race, gender coalition.
After this event, I decided I was going to give up, both on Elizabeth (CCC) and on DL21C. I went clubbing a few times. But it did not feel right. I did not feel closure. Also, I was thinking, you don't have to like me, but your not letting me into DL21C events, that had political overtones for me. I was getting that my people feeling. I wanted to be allowed in, and then I wanted to stop going.
I was in line. Elizabeth had arranged for a woman to tell me "there is a mandatory coat check." That was a huge positive trigger: opened up the poetry floodgates. I might have written some bad poetry after that, but I wrote. When I had told her you read my mind, I had meant you read my mind when you are looking at my face. But now she was reading my entire mental landscape, and she did not seem to need the presence of my face to do so. I fell hard for her.
To me it feels like she got even for my spoiling the February 7 event for her. She made it sound like she did it for me, but on the day the clear message was, not so. And it is nothing to do with your being Indian, stop the Mahatma drama, and that also applies to Barack. And there was a hint. In case you have not figured out on your own, let me help you understand why I am mad at you.
The woman who said "the event has not started yet" was one of the women she whisked away at the Washington Governor event.
So if it not about me being Indian, it is about your being a free spirit, I concluded: How to Tame a Free Spirit. I was going to give her space and time. How much time? I did not know.
After that DL21C had hyperactivity. It was like two events per week. The free spirit went berserk.
Once in a while I would visit the DL21C Facebook page. At a debate watch party, she was with two WASP guys, and she had a sweater wrapped around her.
My message had been you don't need to have Jewish, Italian, Asian and Hispanic guy friends to impress me. Just be yourself.
Maybe the sweater (1989: Kathmandu) had nothing to do with me, but it struck me. This woman started with my face, then she shifted to my mind, the larger mental landscape, and now she was after my very soul. I cried. The sweater reminded me of 1989. That sweater stylishly placed on my shoulder they took away at the buspark: there is Paramendra before and after. If it had not been for that, I would have met Elizabeth Caputo for the first time in Fall 1993 at Harvard, and if not then, then surely summer of 1997 in New York City, likely at some DL21C event. They took away my sweater, it was like they took away more than a decade of my life. I cried when I looked at that photo. Maybe the mandatory coat check was no accident, she meant to put it there. She wanted to move from coat to sweater, gradually. After that it became hard for me to say Chapter Caputo was closed. Just when it was opening, how can it be closed? That was not fair.
Although I had known all along why she got so pissed off, I had not apologized, I had not given her the impression I knew. She planted Jennifer on the street. That was another woman she had whisked away at the Washington Governor event. That was hint number two.
"I have not liked you before." That was supposed to be an opening to a conversation, like "political acumen" at the Texas event, like "Will you join DL21C?" at the December Baby party. There was a white guy present, the guy she had planted outside the door, the guy I was supposed to charm if I wanted a door opener. That was her recreating day one. On day one there had been Justin. At the December Baby party, there had been Dan. On this day, there was this white guy. Day one was magic to her as well. Or else why try to recreate?
Elizabeth saying "Next time I am calling the police" and saying "I have not liked you before" in the same breath is like Mike saying "So you don't want to talk?" and "You have crossed the line" in the same breath. That is a value system that wants it both ways, the 99% way and the 1% way. I disapprove. Why would you want to overpower me when you can simply have a relationship which is what you wanted in the first place?
I don't have her number. I don't have much of a mutual friend. I can't go to her events. And I have not yet apologized to her for February 7. What to do? Weeks earlier I had googled her up and her address had showed up on Arianna's Huffington Post.
I bought some yellow roses and an apology card in my neighborhood. One Sunday afternoon I took the train up and dropped them with the receptionist and left immediately, never went back. Made no attempt to meet.
According to the police, this was the straw that broke the camel's back. Like everything else before, I should have kept the apology online. My bad. Thanks but no thanks, Arianna.
10 days after the flower drop, two police officers knocked on my door. One showed me his badge.
"What is this about?" I asked with total calm. "Is this something to do with Elizabeth Caputo?"
"Do you know her?"
"Yes, I do."
He said they wanted to take me with them. I said, sure. I sought permission to wash my face - I had been semi asleep when they knocked - take a leak, drink a glass of water in the kitchen.
"How much do you pay for rent?" he asked. I knew where he was going: Brooklyn guy after Upper West Side woman.
They did not handcuff me. They put me in the backseat. I gave them directions to the freeway. The lead guy asked me if I had spent time in Indiana. I figured Elizabeth now wanted the story to be that she was friendly to me because I had spent time in Indiana, and I had misunderstood, and now the situation looked out of hand. I don't know what else to do, the police officer relayed to me as her saying. I felt bad.
I was in the interrogation room for 15 minutes. I later realized they must do that to watch you from behind that glass. I was calm. After 10 minutes, I closed my eyes and started doing breathing exercises.
One officer took me downstairs for fingerprinting. He said to put my hands behind like I was handcuffed. We were getting along just fine.
He put me in a single cell for about five minutes. Later I realized that was his way of saying, if we have to come for you again, you are looking at jail time, and this is what it is going to feel like.
He mentioned John McCain. I said, he is one of the few Republicans who I can imagine liking.
He took me back upstairs and said, write your statement. I wrote about five pages, a much shorter version of what I am writing here.
Looks like my statement was faxed "downtown." A detective showed up in the interrogation room.
"You know who I am?" he asked. Obviously they were not pleased with my Howard Dean reference.
"No, I don't."
He mentioned "downtown." He mentioned "Murray." Who is Murray?
"I don't know who that is," I said.
He said I had been considered a "threat to Charlie Rangel." I was utterly surprised and I acted like it.
"Charlie Rangel? What is Charlie Rangel got to do with this?"
He mentioned Kennedy. I said he is a "liberal lion." I guess they were recording me on camera at the same time.
A few more questions later I protested. "You are putting me through a really weird line of questioning, aren't you?" At that point the detective stopped.
"Okay, shut the camera off," he said.
After that he was respectful. "Please sit here, Sir."
The detective and the officer put me and this black guy in for robbery into the back seat of a car, handcuffed. First they went to some facility nearby. They got told they had room for only "one" after they said where they were from. Was that choreographed?
They took me downtown. I walked through the same door Frank Lucas walked out of. I was put in a large cell where it looked like everyone else was in on a felony charge, a young Hispanic man took the survey on my behalf without being asked: I was the only one with a misdemeanor charge. Who is Murray?
I went in around midnight. The following day I got to see the judge around 6 PM, and before that a wonderful state provided attorney.
Likely I will never see Elizabeth ever again. Or maybe she will agree to seek counseling. I don't know. I don't really have the option to explore. I do think the flower drop was a stupid thing to do.
But I am excited about my future. Even my corporate ambitions are about the public good. The internet is what will bridge the wide gap between the so-called first and third worlds, the west and the rest, the west and the Global South. I intend to play my part. And I love this city: my sense of belonging comes from my family, this city, and my company.
Nothing changes the fact that Elizabeth is a great person, a great political talent, an amazing heart and mind. Not even having a simple friendship with her will be my loss. And I will just have to live with it. And I will have to move on with the rest of my life. I wish it were not so, but it is so.
White Male Matter
Justin Krebs should apologize for his bad behavior on day one. Dan Berger should apologize for his bad behavior at the Louisiana Senator event. Mike Lupinacci should apologize for his bad behavior at the Iowa event.
But if you think about it, I am very good friends with Justin, and Elizabeth is very good friends with Dan and Mike. So what is going on? Was Justin scared he might lose me to Elizabeth? Were Dan and Mike scared they might lose Elizabeth to me? Especially so in the case of Elizabeth, she is a power center. To deny access to Elizabeth is to keep access to yourself.
It is easier for me to say these three white guys messed up.
I think these three guys need to do 50 pushups each for their crimes and misdemeanors.
Working on this piece of writing just might be the hardest thing I have done since I moved to this city three years ago. It has been emotionally wrenching. I have gasped for air. I have gone for long walks in the middle of sentences. I have not burst into tears, but my eyes have gone wet and numb several times. I have had to face myself in ways I have not had to when I have done my political and business writings, in ways I have not had to even while working on my online autobiography.
There have been times when Elizabeth must have felt, you talk of weak social muscles from intense 2.0 work, but I have seen you talk to other people like you have not talked to me. Why? It has been because when I have been in her presence, when she has looked me in the eye, I have had to face myself in a way I have not had to when talking to other people. By simply looking, she has opened up the lids on pains and memories, and I have not been opposed to the idea, it is just that each such time the setting has been too public. Larry Ellison once described himself as a Repressions R Us kind of guy. I might also be a Repressions R Us kind of guy.
It was hard to be Madhesi in Nepal. Maybe I needed the Madhesi Movement victory of February 2008 before I could really get to offline NYC. I don't know. But I am who I am. I was 23 when I came to America. (Madhesi Movement Victory In Nepal)
When a butterfuly flutters a wing in the Amazon to create a cyclone in Bangladesh, that flutter is way more delicate than heart surgery. Until February 2008, Nepal had me. And women refused to come into 2.0 with me, which is the only place I really truly existed. And so I stuck to the urgent work. I loved my country, Kay.
Charlie Rangel is Elizabeth's black guy in Harlem. Bill Perkins is my black guy in Harlem. I am going to meet him. I am going to request him to talk to Charlie Rangel. Charlie, this guy is a MLK to the 13 million Madhesis on the planet. (The Jewish Angst, Madhesi Movement Victory In Nepal) That is how many black folks our own MLK had when he was doing what he was doing. He is not a political threat to you. You are not in his league. You will never win the Nobel Peace Prize. And for anyone to suggest he might be a physical threat to you or anyone else is absolutely ridiculous: someone on your staff is seriously misleading you. Think of your place in history: let the staffer go. I personally know this guy, I vouch for him. Think of your place in history and take a step back right away. NYC is the first hometown he ever had, and he was past 30 when he got here. He loves this city, he adores this city, he will transform this city. This city needs more people like him. He might not be black, but he is brown alright. Bill Clinton is already busy trying to get Hillary on Barack's ticket. That is the spirit. Going after Barack's lieutenants among his army of volunteers is not how you get Hillary on the ticket. Cease and desist. This guy is an ally to the black people, in this country, but especially those in Africa. Let him be. He will take race relations in this city and this country to levels you and I never imagined. (My Third World People Don't Get To Vote In This City, Brooklyn Is Africa, Queens Asia, Bronx Latin America, Manhattan Is Europe)
Web 2.0, Web 5.0: Limitations, Possibilities
Face time will not get replaced by technology ever, but 2.0 will dissolve and break open many traditional social barriers.
Most black folks can go to their families and churches to be with only black folks, get away from white folks, and seek solidarity. For most women, men are always there. You can't really go away. They are at your workplace, they are where you live. And so it is in some ways harder to make progress on gender.
Elizabeth seeking no contact is Elizabeth claiming her personal space. And I respect that. That is the way it should be.
Linear, Cyclical: Cultural Differences
The Christian worldview is linear. You are this unique soul headed towards Judgment Day, it is one way traffic. Elizabeth's religious background is she is Christian. The Buddhist worldview is cyclical. You take what you want to take, you don't take what you don't want to take, and you recycle, and you recycle, and ultimately you attain nirvana. Nirvana is the Buddhist "Judgment Day," it is a state of mind. I am a Buddhist.
Our cultural differences have come into play in how the two of us have dealt with the conflict that has arisen from my bad behavior on February 7. My attitude has been, let's rescue the pre-February 7 part, let's ditch February 7, and let's recycle. The core of me is I am still who I am. Her attitude is, milemarker February 7 is behind me, there is no going back.
Besides that I also feel a little overpowered. Nicole Kidman suggested counseling, Tom Cruise refused. Tom overpowered her. Tom did not act wise. He did not act fair. His career is in the ditch today.
I have felt overpowered before. It is like, you will act like you like me, but you will not tell me you like me, you will not ask me out. If I read it right and respond based on my observation that you like me, and I like you back, all hell seems to break lose. So what is it you want? By now that question perhaps is moot. A lot of people know what you want: no contact.
Don't Get To Pin Me Down
I refuse to be portrayed as a guy who made a one sided pursuit of Elizabeth primarily over email. Her overtures to me in what I call 5.0 (Web 5.0: Face Time) have been as elaborate as my overtures to her in 2.0 might have been. It is too bad the two worlds did not meet.
Some higher power seems to think that once the Barack-Hillary fight is over on June 3, the Paramendra-Elizabeth fight is also going to be over. I think that is why the court appearance date has been set to June 4.
The Counseling Option
If I was ever worth being friends with Elizabeth, if I was ever worth politically collaborating with - the black politicians she has played second fiddle to over the years in hopes of making gender progress, collaborating with me beats all those early efforts - and, god forbid, if I ever was relationship material, I think it would be good for the two of us to go through about three to five hours of counseling, at the end of which she will still have the option to ask me out of her face. Or if she feels she wants me out of her face as is, my pledge of no contact stands. I realize only the judge and Elizabeth have the power to go for the counseling option or not. And I respect that. It is just that I think that would be a good idea.