Saturday, December 31, 2005

In Asbury Park and BROOKLYN!

Great show last night. Melissa Ferrick played through guitar trouble, a terrible mix, and a really rude cround, and even dusted off a few favorites I haven't heard in ages. Also, as Schedule1 and I were talking about during the drive down, she actually played with a drummer, and just sounded awesome.

Also, great actually hanging out with Schedule1 last night. While Knucklehead's been away, this week has been great for catching up with old friends, with HC, Nologic, MA, and TheTastyOne (although TheTastyOne has not been answering his phone and he may split New York before I can see him). But I drove around with Schedule1 and just caught up with him.

As The Year That Tried To Eat My Soul At the Beginning And The End draws to a close, dear readers, reflect on the good and bad and remember that every new year starts today.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Is google really dumb, or trying to alert me?

I found this fiercely anti-union link on my gmail. I know their skimming my content to give me ads, but are they trying to clue us in, or are they just really pathetically bad with their interface?

"Radical unions hold workers and employer hostage with their more and more radical political and social agenda. See Unions taking the Secret ballot box away from our workers"

Oh yeah, their radical political and social agenda. Like the weekend, overtime, and 8 hour days? Taking away the ballot box? Oh no you didn't! I better go to bed before my head explodes.

Edit- man, the google police act quickly. The riot act dropped from the 3rd highest "Ruby K" link to, well, I can't even find it. Damn, dudes, what's with the censorship?

Say goodbye to another New York Legend.

I love my city, but the past ten years have felt like a slow, insidious infection destruction of the places I love. When I first started coming into the city on my own, the music clubs were my lifeblood. Places like Tramps, Manny's Car Wash, Chicago BLUES, Wetlands, the Five Spot... you'll notice that all these clubs are now gone. Now, one of my favorite places to call dinner in the world is also on its way out...

McHale's is closing January 30th.

Open more than 50 years, McHale's is a Times Square classic. An old school Bar and Grill, the neighborhood bar all the bullshit chains are based on, with Casey Stengel beer posters side by side with the occasional Jerry Lewis "Damn Yankees" or Ed Burns "She's the One" signed poster. Some sports memoribilia, but nothing gaudy. Regular folks, tourists that were kind to their bellhops or did their internet research, the broadway pit musicians and techies, all came in for this veritable feast. A juicy, tasty HUGE burger that I still eat with fork and knife (hey, i like picking off the toppings, i don't understand why I do it that way either), even people who think having that much burger is extreme can split one (and they'll cut it in half for you). Friendly bartenders and wait staff, and Knob Creeks on the rocks for cheaper than your fancy ass trendy bar sells Jim Beam. Three tvs. Pictures of Hell's Kitchen's own Mullen Brothers, two of the best American born hockey players in the NHL. Three TVs, which may piss you off if you have a fantasy team, but I like that it's not so innundating.

It's Irish, it's got sports, and it's definitely a bar, but calling McHale's an Irish Sports Bar doesn't seem to fit. The wooden bar is from the 1939 World's Fair. And it's been a reliable meeting place, one for spreading the tasty secret, one for spending time with some of my favorite people on the earth. Hell, even Knucklehead (the vegetarian) and HC (the vegan) love the Black Bean Burger. How many places sport the best beef burger in town and a reliable vegan option? Not a lot.

I love New York's skyline, well, probably more than most, but obviously not everyone (I think schedule1 gets the nod there). But someone's taking down McHale's for a hi-rise condo building? My guess is that most folks who now can eat a feast fit for royalty at McHale's couldn't afford to live in the building taking its place.

Say goodbye while you can. I imagine I'll be going a few times this month, if you're interested.

Recommendation: McHale's, 46th and 8th. Burger. Oh, eat a light lunch if you're having dinner there, trust me.

Monday, December 26, 2005


When Adam Sandler first did the first Hanukkah song, I have to say, I wasn't very impressed. In fact, I didn't really like it. But slowly, three versions and few more years of Christmas onslaughts later, I went looking for it today.

Mama's making latkamicas
it's time for hanukkah
the Rangers better beat Ottawa
on this joyful Erev 2 Hanukkah.


Uma Dance again!

Put on yer Yamulkah. Erev 1 of Hanukkah, Christmas Day, and full day 1 of my week without Knucklehead. Family tradition dictates that December 25th is movie and chinese, and godofpoool joined us for the festivities. He's not a big christmas person, but he does love the movies and Chinese food. He and I took in The Producers, and I have to say, while I understand the critics reviews, them talking about it the way it was filmed, I still thought it was great. Full Boat came by and we played some poker. It's all a ton of fun, and yet...

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The week without Knucklehead begins on a high note...

Knucklehead is presently on another continent. Thankfully, I have a week of the city at its best and friends coming up to visit to console me. I took her to the airport, picked up Schedule1 and dropped him at his annual Christmas celebration on the way to mine, with my big Irish second family. As always, that was a spirited hoot, filled with delicious food and lots of teasing. The prince and his sweetie got engaged, I'm so happy for them, she's a good chick who'll take his shit and give it back to him. The only one missing was the Mouseman, a couple thousand miles away in aplace that's anything like winter.

After that, met up with my favorite Jewish drummer, his sister and her beau/my bud for some good ole fashioned Jewltide. Wow, what a set. Holy crap! Can't believe I've never heard BBB before, but man, are they worth it.

Today is chinese food and movie with the fam and my second favorite liberal Texan. Nothing like Christmastime for the Jews.

Recommendation: BALKAN BEAT BOX. They were absolutely phenominal. Check out their site, they are really incredible.

Friday, December 23, 2005

the hazards of picking a shabbas meal at 3 am...

Anyone have a good Chicken Marengo recipe? I've been pouring over different variations, but can't seem to find one that fits my kitchen quirks. Also, what's a good dry kosher white to cook with...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

mid day inspiration live from freshchester

you are
the most beautiful woman
i've ever seen.

and i'm not saying that because
I'm kissing you right now,
while words break down into
smallest possible components
syllables letters pitches soundwaves

and slip themselves into your bloodstream
through your heart beating eardrum.

I'm saying it because
you made me fall off my camel
stop my brain
in midday traffic

because Delilah wouldn't have a chance
with me
but for you,
I'd consider at least a small haircut.

because Helen of Troy called me,
rightfully surrendering her title
of the face that launched a thousand ships.

She left the certificate with me,
for you to pick up the next time you see

Moutains weep tears that swell rivers
beyond their banks
hearts outgrow ribcages
in mere moments

just thinking about you
helped my eyes get so strong
the pupils
and punched the lenses out of their frames

The San Andreas fault
mended itself ever so briefly
the last time you flew over it.

This is not some empty compliment.
This is simply fact.

Another reason to hate the times.

They printed Judy Miller's tripe for months. They beat the drums for war. They get painted as a liberal paper (when they're really only liberal in comparison to dreck like the Post and Daily News), and they claim to be a New York City paper while owning a second rate baseball team 200 miles north of here. But recently I've found a new reason to hate them. The article they ran on Dumbya's wiretap program? They sat on it for a YEAR. Which means they knew about, oh, I don't know... before November 2nd?

From Salon:

But still. When voters went to the polls in November, the New York Times knew -- but didn't tell its readers -- that the Bush administration had been lying about Scooter Libby's role in the outing of Valerie Plame. It now appears that the New York Times also knew -- but didn't tell its readers -- that the Bush administration had been spying on American citizens in violation of an act of Congress. The Times isn't alone in keeping secrets from its readers: Reporters at the Washington Post and Time magazine also knew about White House involvement in Plame's outing, for example, but chose to let Scott McClellan's denials stand through Election Day in favor of protecting their sources.

Fuck those clowns.

More backstory...

Some of you have been stuck hearing me rant about why these workers deserve the health benefits, early retirement, and pensions they ask for. Amongst these reasons are the horrible working conditions. As Lavar Burton used to say, "but don't take my word for it":

Dr. Steven N. Chillrud's report on the subways, released February of this year, published in the Journal of Urban Health (the New York Acadamy of Medicine's bulletin). Link to full article (downloadable in pdf format). Here's the abstract:

Steel Dust in the New York City Subway System as a Source of Manganese, Chromium, and Iron Exposures for Transit Workers

Steven N. Chillrud, David Grass, James M. Ross, Drissa Coulibaly, Vesna Slavkovich, David Epstein, Sonja N. Sax, Dee Pederson, David Johnson, John D. Spengler, Patrick L. Kinney, H. James Simpson and Paul Brandt-Rauf

Dr. Chillrud, Mr. Grass, Mr. Ross, Mr. Epstein, Ms. Pederson, Mr. Johnson, and Dr. Simpson are with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, New York; Dr. Coulibaly, Ms. Slavkovich, Dr. Kinney, and Dr. Brandt-Rauf are with the Joseph A. Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, New York, New York; Dr. Sax and Dr. Spengler are with the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
Correspondence: Steven N. Chillrud, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, 61 Rt 9W, Palisades, NY 10964. (E-mail:
The United States Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 reflected increasing concern about potential effects of low-level airborne metal exposure on a wide array of illnesses. Here we summarize results demonstrating that the New York City (NYC) subway system provides an important microenvironment for metal exposures for NYC commuters and subway workers and also describe an ongoing pilot study of NYC transit workers’ exposure to steel dust. Results from the TEACH (Toxic Exposure Assessment, a Columbia and Harvard) study in 1999 of 41 high-school students strongly suggest that elevated levels of iron, manganese, and chromium in personal air samples were due to exposure to steel dust in the NYC subway. Airborne concentrations of these three metals associated with fine particulate matter were observed to be more than 100 times greater in the subway environment than in home indoor or outdoor settings in NYC. While there are currently no known health effects at the airborne levels observed in the subway system, the primary aim of the ongoing pilot study is to ascertain whether the levels of these metals in the subway air affect concentrations of these metals or related metabolites in the blood or urine of exposed transit workers, who due to their job activities could plausibly have appreciably higher exposures than typical commuters. The study design involves recruitment of 40 transit workers representing a large range in expected exposures to steel dust, the collection of personal air samples of fine particulate matter, and the collection of blood and urine samples from each monitored transit worker.
KEYWORDS: Bioavailability, Chromium, Dose–response, Hazardous air pollutants, Iron, Manganese, Metro, Steel dust, Subway, transit workers, Underground railway

Ah well, at least one good contract got signed today. Nice to have you still with us, Bernie.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Hot Chocolate, deferred

a haiku answer to the City Bakery's question:
Essay Question #1:
"When drinking City Bakery hot chocolate with a homemade marshmallow, is it better to eat the marshmallow first, or last, and why?"

Hot Chocolate, deferred

the Marshmallow first,
so sweet heavenly rivers
can flow undisturbed.

How I spent the first day of the 2005 Transit strike

Don't let the time listed of my MTA tirade fool you, I posted that at damn near 4am. Got up 2.5 hours later to take Knucklehead and one of her colleagues to school. Dropped in on the parents, watched my nieces for a few hours, then came back into the city... promptly dropped into a deep deep sleep from exhaustion, was planning on hitting myfavoritemonth's birthday party, but the daunting task of driving cross and downtown combined with the sheer exhaustion means hopefully I'll catch her before she heads south.

Schedule1 woke me with this disturbing news. Seems Captain Caveman is now a Yankee. Wow. While I was hoping to wake up to a generous contract, that's not what I had in mind.

Now I have to ask your opinion, dear readers. I've spent the good portion of today arguing with friends and loved ones about why I support the TWU, why I think the MTA might have even WANTED a strike, and found a lot of people skeptical, even blaming the workers and not the MTA. Knucklehead's outtatown buddy pointed out: people would support it more solidly if it wasn't happening to them. But as I was reminded yesterday while tuning in to see if the Blueshirts were playing that some people believe ridiculous things and yell about them with conviction. So I'm cirious: what do you think about the strike? Am I so for it because I'm a labor guy, through and through? Are you angry you can't get around or angry because you think its wrong? Talk to me, I'm curious.

I will say that striking, in part, because you want to protect the rights of future co-workers speaks volumes to me about where their heart is. If only all of us fought that way.

Reaching your inner Momma K

Conversation with cutest current six year old on the planet:

Me: Please don't climb on the chair...

Cute Six Year Old niece: But Ruby... (smiling cutely, continuing to dance around on kitchen chair)

I sigh and smile. She's so cute. How could I tell her to get down? Then I remember Momma K.

Me: Get down. NOW.

Cute Six Year Old niece complies, now looking mutinous. I smile again.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Getting what you want...

To the MTA:

You futzed around three years ago with these negotiations, almost exactly the same way. You then plead poverty and asked the workers to accept a not so great deal because you were broke. Then, we discovered a huge surplus, and you raised the fares anyway. There was an injunctioned ruled against the fare hike, but it never reverted back. You decided unilaterally, against the safety of the riders and workers of the MTA, to cut jobs necessary for safety and security in the subways. You tried to sell some of your property for millions less than your best offer.

You stalled and stalled and stalled this round of negotiations. For an extra good slap in the face, you spent your surplus on bonuses for the riders but set aside none of it for your workers. I'm sure every Metro North and LIRR commuter would trade their free 10 trip pass in to ensure the subway was running today. I know I'd pay the extra buck per ride on the weekend. You told these workers, "see, you don't mean shit to us."

These workers, these proud women and men, who work in some of the most hazardous conditions of any industry (rat poison, third rails, metal dust, working on tracks where trains whiz by at 60 mph), make New York City. They are just as important to our way of life as any of the other public unions of this city, making the most complex and far reaching public transportation system on earth work like no other.

You've been trying to tell the public that is Roger Toussaint and the workers who are the irresponsible ones. You haven't once thought about how a worker who's willing to lose double her day's pay (and really triple, because she's not working, and being fined double her wages) must really feel strongly, weighed all her options, knowing full well this city depends on her, and decided that for her, for her sisters and brothers, and for the future T Cells of the heart of this world, this strike needs to happen. Taylor Law, Billionaire mayors who file lawsuits against the workers instead of pressuring the slowfooted lunacy of the MTA board, lameduck governor spending too much time in Iowa all be damned, she needs to go out on strike. You haven't been listening to her, you've been ignoring her, but you can ignore her no longer.

You have said, with your words, your deeds, with your every action, that you wanted the workers of the MTA to strike. You have told them in every possible way that you do not value what they do, that you do not care what they do, since they don't have any real power. Now, you must face the consequences of your foolish actions. Actually, it's we New Yorkers who must face the consequences of your foolish actions. Your profound arrogance and stupidity have put us here. You have told her you don't need her. Now's she's going to show you just how much we all need her.

What people need to understand is that strikes are a last resort. Strikes are the last thing any workers want to do. They want to work. They just want to do it with dignity, safety and fairness. Workers and the representatives they elect to negotiate for them all know how damaging a strike can be. It's not something people do on a whim, because its tuesday or they had plain m&ms today. It is a LAST RESORT. And if MTA had just shown a little more respect, maybe we wouldn't be here.

I believe strikes are a last resort. And I believe the MTA has left the transit workers no options. In treating them with such blatant disrespect from the '02 negotiations until now, they have left themselves no outs, no graceful emergency exits. The MTA, in short, has shown that a strike by the TWU is what they want. Now, the workers are going to give it to you.

New York is with you whether you decide to go out or not, Local 100. We know we can't live without you. Those MTA bastards are just too arrogant to admit it.

Monday, December 19, 2005

We're winning?!

Wow. After the day I've had, it's a good thing I no longer have cable. Because if I had cable, I'd have been tempted to watch this. It's really good to know CNN must get this stuff directly from the White House, because he's got sections named "Campaign of Murder" and "Defeatists". We're winning the war in Iraq? WE'RE WINNING?!

I wondered if it meant he was pulling for Tiki and the Giants, moving in on the NFC East title.

What happened to "We Won"?! What happened to they would love us after we took out Saddam?

Oh, I'm not a defeatist. I can see some good in this. Maybe, just maybe, you won't send out your damn stormtroopers to keep OUR people from voting. That's something even you could learn from this election. Nearly 2200 US troops dead, thousands injured for life, and G-d knows they won't tell us how many Iraqis are actually dead or injured. Why2K is 2 centuries obsolete. When we hit 3K, I'll have to do another one, maybe it will involve marvin the martian.

Anyway, you know you're having a frustrating day when watching this movie is your highlight.

Time marches on for New York, and the strike clock is at 22 hours, 27 minutes. two bus lines in queens are already out. The news coverage of this thing is really annoying, it's all about how terrible the strike will be and how the workers shouldn't strike. Well, maybe it's the MTA who should give a decent deal, eh? Those people make our lives so much better here in the five boroughs, why shouldn't they have health insurance and decent benefits?

Friday, December 16, 2005

L-Y-RICS funk feelin BORN babay!


He penned the song thaat spoke exactly how I felt November 11/3/2004.

Now, he penned the song that's going to help me dig out.

And the best part it, is, it's a sequel/remix of the first track.

First, find and listen "Bad Dreams" by Lyrics Born
then, find and listen to "Shake it Off" (bad dreams II) by Lyrics Born.

The funny thing is, while the first one was me hook line and sinker, the lyrics to the second one, save the chorus and the third verse, aren't really apropo to me at all. Knucklehead's with me long and strong, and I don't have a job to get fired from.

It's 3AM, do you know where your picket line is?

There's been no news, except negotiations and the trains/buses are still going. In three hours, if the strike has started, I have bully my way into the city and get Knucklehead to work/school.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Meet (some of) the poets...

Now, I figure, is as good a time as any, for me to throw props out to some of my sister/brother poets out on the web, posting poetry. And, dear readers, if ya got a blog/poetry site, hit me up, I'm happy to link to you.

Ove (known to the world as Oveous Maximus)- I love this guy. Not cuz you can't make the word love without his name, nor because he carries the dreadlocks I wish I still had. No, it's because I've watched this dude, in a few short years, go from someone who was watching and working, one line at a time, to absolutely killing mics all over the northern hemisphere.

Tshaka- this brother is sick. Sick! And he's champion Slam Poet of San Francisco, which says something, dunnit? If he still brings it, like I know he does, he has poets everywhere screaming "shut the fuck up, my soul is bleeding"

Carly Sachs- met this awesome DC Jewish sister only once, but dug her stuff and just found out she's getting picked up! Yeah poets doin' the damn thing. Her site's a blog, so like me, stories and life-stuff between poems. Check her out, and congratulate her on her book! Also, she runs a fantastic sounding poetry event called "The Burlesque Poetry Hour", and the only poet I know who wants me to take it off is Knucklehead, but apparently she dug me at the JCC festival so much that she's invited the Rubester back to the plasticity for some readin. I gotta figure out what I can leave, I can't leave my jersey.

Check em out, give me love, and tell em that Ruby K sentcha!

46 Hours, 14 minutes... tick, tick, tick

The MTA agreement last negotiated over the spectre of a holiday time strike is about to go the way of the Subway token. While spending it's "Billion Dollar winfall" on free ten trip tickets for Metro North commuters and cut price Metrocards, the MTA seemed to forget its got a contract fight on its hands, and for once, at least not publicly, it cannot claim it doesn't have the money.

Because the shitty public sector labor law of New York State (for which the fine is double a day's pay for participating in a strike) is not enough for billionaire mayor, he's decided to file a suit against the workers of our public transit system. 25 thou the first day, and double it each day they're out on strike. Oh, and the union starts with a million dollar fine. Just think, if you double 25,000 enough times, you'll reach what that mayor spent on his re-election campaign.

My favorite passages from the Greenhouse piece are buried towards the end. The biggest slap in the face?:

"Earlier yesterday, the authority's finance committee voted to approve the budget for 2006, which calls for spending $700 million of this year's $1 billion surplus on a combination of pension payments, holiday fare discounts and security and service improvements."

They made this decision yesterday, folks. YESTERDAY! And they wonder why Roger Toussaint is breathing fire right now.

"Don't Cut and Run on the War on Christmas"

Props to Mobius (via Jewschool) for the hysterical, ranterific Sam Seder brings order (ahahaha) to the "War on Christmas". Somehow, in a country where Christmas is a legal holiday, where our eardrums our pounded from the last notes of Alice's Restaurant to Three Kings Day with Christmas songs, people still believe there's a war on Christmas.

Is there a reason Happy Holidays is so terrible? Not that I mind if people wish me a "Merry Christmas", but why is respecting difference so fucking terrible? Doesn't seem very Christian, if you ask me.

Another papercut to the heart of separation of church and state. You want to celebrate your religion, awesome! There's just no need to foist it on me. I wonder, tho, if these clowns who are so gung ho about celebrating their religion will sing "Echad Mi Yodea" Ashkenazi-pound-on-the-table stylee for their spring concerts.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Klezmer reparations and other moments of interest...

Okay, so klezmer reparations definitely fall below Slavery Reparations. Nevertheless, I was excited to stumble across this article from Rokhl, the Rootless Cosmopolitan. Focusing on the Jewish community here? Building on Jewish culture in the present? MESHUGGE!

welcome my friends to the show that never ends...

come inside, come inside!

In case you didn't know, this is my blog. there are many like it, but this one is mine.

Read the poems, check my recommendations, and get your little slice of virtual Ruby. And tell your buddies! The Riot Act will NOT BE UNDERSOLD. IT'S INSAAAAAAAAAAAAANE!

Sorry, was flashing back to the good ole days of crazy eddie.

Recommendation: Preservation Hall Jazz Band at Jazz Standard, 12/27-31st. Knucklehead's outta town, so who's comin with me for some great music, decent barbeque, and a benefit for a city still very much in ruin.

Ways to tell Ruby's out of sorts...

1) I'm not here.

But hopefully enough of my immune system/spirts will recover to see four of the best MCs alive performing together tomorrow night.

H-SOC it to Walmart

For this holiday season, I tend to think about the Macabees, a small, fired up band of people ready to do what they had to do bring about victory. And when I think about a small, slightly crazed group of (ahem) crusaders who do incredible things, i think of the NLC.

The National Labor Committee (amazing anti-sweatshop activists and former employers of mine) have been taking the fight to the biggest, richest, worst violators of human rights for years. In the past, Disney, Kathie Lee, the NBA, Sean John and others are just a small sample of the many companies they've gone after. Now, this holiday season, they go after the biggest, ugliest smiley face on the planet.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that Wal-mart has been trying to bring its union busting, small shop destroying, community devastating ways to New York City. So far, we have resisted. But figuring that having a base of operations here was better than monitoring the situation from Arkansas, they set up shop here. Further, because they know how unpopular they are, this shop is secret. Well, was secret. Peep this:

Holiday Season of Conscience Targets Wal-Mart
This year's Holiday Season of Conscience Candlelight March will expose Wal-Mart's Hidden New York office.
Thursday, December 15
5:00 p.m.
31st Street and 5th Avenue
New York City
For more information, call 212-242-3002

Wal-Mart snuck into New York City setting up a nameless office and using an unlisted number. Wal-Mart wanted to hide their office, just as they hide tens of thousands of sweatshop factories across the developing world, refusing to release to the American people even the names or locations of their plants. It is easier to exploit teenage girls who are locked behind barbed wire in hidden factories.

The NLC is exposing Wal-Mart's secret office which is located at 310 5th Avenue at 31st Street.Please join us for the 9th Annual Holiday Season of Conscience Candlelight March.Let's tell Wal-Mart that we don't want them in New York. We are not interested in bargains based on the exploitation of teenagers across the developing world who are paid just pennies an hour and forced to work grueling shifts seven days a week.It is amazing that if Wal-Mart would pay just 20 cents more per garment to the young women sewing their clothing across the developing world, this would allow tens of millions of women and their families to climb out of misery and into poverty. Surely Wal-Mart could afford this given their $10.5 billion in profit last year, with CEO Lee Scott paying himself $335,000 a week and the five Walton family members now worth $80 billion. This would be the moral thing to do.It is amazing that 46 percent of Wal-Mart employees' children either lack health insurance or are covered under taxpayer-funded Medicaid for the poor.

Remember during this holiday season that even Scrooge became human, and we should not give up hope that Wal-Mart too will one day find its conscience and allow true moral values shape their business plan. BUT FIRST, WAL-MART MUST HEAR US LOUD AND CLEAR. From Wal-Mart's office on 31st Street, we will walk up 5th Avenue to 34th Street, and then to Herald Square for a short rally. The streets will be crowded and it will be a great time to alert people to the truth of Wal-Mart's leading role in slashing wages and benefits and rolling back respect for human and women's rights across the world.As in the tradition of the Holiday Season of Conscience, this candlelight march will be fun, peaceful and orderly. Santa Claus is coming. There will be a giant anti-Wal-Mart banner and tons of hand-painted posters. There will be drummers and other music.Please join us!We need help. We need musicians to form an anti-Wal-Mart marching band. We need folks who can make posters and help with the logistics, including marshals for the march.Call/E-mail usNational Labor CommitteeTel: 212-242-3002E-mIl:

Dearly beloved, are you listening?

Still sick as a dog. Hurry up, Mashiach and my still untitled Christmas poem are making the cyber-rounds to much enjoyment, which is nice. Oveous Maximus, member of the 2005 Nuyorican Slam team, fellow Astoria resident, and brother in this poetry/life thing, is rockin out at Joe's Pub tonight, but I was too busy coughing up phlegm in knucklehead's loving presence to get out to it. Also too sick to go to the Writer's Guild victory party. Even too sick to lose money at poker. Sigh.

The weekend was not without some highlights, tho, including going to CBST to see a friend leading prayer with some of the KZ posse, Knucklehead's old roommate coming in from out of town to visit, and seeing my college roommate and his beloved for dinner after Sunday matinees.

Tomorrow I meet with a heavy hitter in the Jewish social justice world (who happens to be a friend and good friend of Knucklehead's) to talk turkey about what's next for the Rubester. This week will be fairly quiet, so feel free to check in, lemme know you're out there.

A Touch of the Poet, by Eugene O'Neil, is playing at Studio 54 (aside: never in my wildest fucking dreams did I think I would watch an O'Neil play at Studio 54. Andy Warhol must be doing some sommersaults underground), staring Gabriel Byrne. TREMENDOUS SHOW. Treated by Knucklehead, and what a spectacular performance. The whole cast was great. See it. And then go to the best Greek food in the Five Boroughs (sorry, Astoria) Uncle Nick's on 9th Ave.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union.

Writer's Guild wins their strike against Big Big productions! Mitchell Kriegman comes to his senses. Thanks, Wainscott, it's been real. Next up: jumping up and down with the NYU grad students, and finding some more permanent troublemaking gigs.

wow, if this keeps up i'll have a whole book of material...

All I want for christmas
is two extra right hands
so I can ensure people
are really utilizing their dental plans

because if you asked me,
and I'll keep this painfully brief
there are some folks in the world
that could stand to be missing
their two front teeth

now I know Santa
supposedly has coal
and a list of those mean deserving souls
but not being the one to shirk my responsibility
I'm up for punching people in the face
to retain some stability

How much dumber would Dubya sound
with his two front teeth rattling around on the ground
Wrapping his lips around "stay the course"
with a red mouthful of gauze.

Would Cheney be so quick to curse out a fellow
if his teeth were on the floor, all rotten and yellow?
Would Condaleeza be so keen to tell torturing lies
when elevator music and novacain muffled her cries?

Ann Coulter, O'Reilly, and Hannity too,
we'll start a toothless moron cage
at the conservative zoo
Let's see you spread your toxinous profanity
with the top of your mouth bleeding profusely.

All I want for Christmas is
to knock out their teeth
so they can no longer lie
no longer deceive.

Sadly, one day
would simply not be enough.

Thankfully, I'm Jewish,
and get EIGHT DAYS of stuff.

spontaneous poem post two

I spit words into cyberspace,
hoping they'll reach your eyes,
or at least boomerang back to me
with words denying my demise

suprise, Ruby K's got more lives
than cats
more ages than earth
more than sages worth at berth

The 18th letter for life
baddest kohain
since Pinchas ended the plague with a knife

struggling between what works and what fits
splits hairs like airs like atoms

I catch you unaware.

sparing feelings for seasons
and silence for my reasons
but Animal and Hawk are the
kindest of my legions.

It may be quiet
in this corner of the world,
but don't let your ears deceive you
packing in
more cocoons
than Cronyn and Brimley

Feeling my oats
as I scratch a path
through my book
fighting back
to my home
just get one last look.

I spit my words into cyberspace
hoping that they'll boomerang
coming back a thousand times
stronger for their journey and
I hope they stop in on you along the way
to let you know I pray for you every day.

My syllables hide less
when in poetry form
unabashed unashamed
naked and raw

its no secret
that sometimes you may forget
what you saw

so these pixilated elements
are testaments
to both past
and what's in store.

They'll cut through
DSL or phonelines like a machete through butter,
they'll kickstart wireless connections
hell, my words don't even have to leave
the keyboard to create their own wifi

they'll leap computer to computer
like running through cars
on a subway

rooftop to rooftop
just to find their way
back to you, then back to me
pixilated imagery
communicating efficiently
back to you, then back to me

and all the while my words escape me
tumble out of fingers and mouths and pores
they've been locked in for months
are hyper beyond themselves
banging into each other seeing who's going to escape first.

I'll let you choose who gets free
and who gets left behind
which words dance beyond
the borders of our minds

but my words are out for a joyride
excited to once again be free
and i hope they return a thousand times stronger
back to you, then back to me.

One door closes, another wall falls open...

Knucklehead is up, deliriously regaling me with lines from Fiddler. Think it's because one friend of mine changed his name to Motl. He's working with an incredible Yiddish Language theater troupe, so I guess it makes sense.

This has been a hard 24 hours, especially since the "Songs of Spirit" concert at St. John the Divine was top heavy with unenjoyable new agey stuff, and the sound guys didn't seem to have their stuff together when it came to the Klezmatics. The Tibetan Monks were awesome, tho, especially when Craig Harris, jazz trombonist extrodinaire, started dueling with one of the monks playing a huge tuba like instrument.

I suppose spending six hours out in the cold, yelling my head off about a strike is a poor way to avoid my sore throat.

what do you do when it all falls down? Among other things, you thank G-d that there are incredible people doing amazing things, like one bud of mine bridging the Jewish/Muslim gap here in NYC. check it out (and props to BZ via Jewschool for the link).

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

spontaneous poem post!

Hurry Up, Mashiach

You've got to be running late, because
there no other reason
you're inexplicably absent up to this date.

All those who fight to make
this world acceptable for your arrival
instead await
an awful fate.

I'm waiting
for the Mashiach,
because then being an out of work
Jewish activist
won't seem out of place
I'd be able to save face
and not worry about
if I was Jewish enough
or an activist enough

why worry?
The Mashiach is here
ready to disappate all your fears.

You won't need to register people to vote
or protect yourself from anti-freedom legislation
being gently shoved down your throat.

You won't need to worry about born agains
seeking your conversion
or sweat doing poems in their
slam or full versions,

because the Mashiach don't take points off
if you go over time,
and if your poem's wack, relax
you'll still get a ten every time.

I don't know if bacon or cheeseburgers
will be made okay,
but chicken parm?

And she will,
puffing to her heart's content
while munching on mulberry street
arriving in time for San Genaro and avoiding
summer heat.

We won't need to watch the police
we won't need to protest Bush
we won't have to worry about
the poor not getting enough

because when Mashiach comes,
she's gonna politely redistribute
all the wealth among the world,
enough for everyone
to eat, drink, and be merry.

She won't need to scream and shout
although she might do it for fun,
She won't have to walk picket lines,
the days of wretched employers done.

We won't need unions.
We won't need social groups
We won't need money,
just the Mashiach,

ready to take care of us like a mother
to 6 billion, although when we add the souls
rising from the dead,
it could be double or triple instead.

but then it occurs to me,

what if the Mashiach has as little luck as me,
turned away by the people she wants to help free?

What if she's gotta knock on doors
face people calling her all sortsa names
face Rove and his swift boat whores
somehow giving her the blame.

Oh, she's here to stop the famine,
well, how could she let one start?
where was she when those buildings
were blown apart?

Mashiach, why do you hate freedom?

I hope she's as persistant as she's sweet and kind
and waiting outside the walls for us to open up our minds,
because I can't wait for her to get here,

I've got so much help I need
getting all this work done is tough
when people won't let you do good deeds.

So i'm waiting for Mashiach
then I won't have to save face
and being an out of work Jewish activist
won't make me out of place.

"No play for Mr. Gray"

I feel like I'm coming up against number 33 in his prime. Sigh


At least not standing clear of the doors/starting to come onto the train before people are off is still legal. morning coffee? no. but being a rude idiot and slowing down everyone's day? still free.

Monday, December 05, 2005


Okay, I've just about had it with fucking MTA. They dick around and lose a giant surplus. They're in bitter bitter contract talks that might dissolve into a TWU strike (11 days and counting) for the second time in 3 years. They keep pulling conductors off certain subway lines and staff out of booths making travel less safe. What have they been putting their energy into?

Well, apparently, they've been putting it into BULLSHIT RULES CHANGES that went into effect today. HOW CAN THEY FIND THE TIME for this crap?

You can't have a beverage on the subway. No, I don't mean "a beverage" wink wink, but a beverage. A soda. A bottle of water. a coffeemug with a no spill top. An open nalgene. Yep, you could be subject to ejection from the system and up to ONEHUNDREDTWENTYFIVEDOLLARS in fines for your bottle of water. Shit, put some vodka in it, I say, might as well do something worthwhile for that kind of fine. While there are other new rules, the two that also really bother me are:
1) one cannot move between end doors of a subway car whether or not train is in motion, except in an emergency or when directed by police officer or conductor.
--what the fuck is this? why is this? what's the point in this? if i'm walking through a car and not bothering anyone, what's the big fucking deal? what if the car is full, but you see a seat in the next one? Or you just barely made your train, but the car with your exit is at the other end and you've got a 30 minute ride? WHAT'S THE POINT?!
2) one cannot place one's foot on the seat of a subway, bus, or platform bench, occupy more than one seat or place bags on an empty seat when doing so would interviere with transit operations or the comfort of other customers.
--okay, i can understand not putting feet up. But I pity the cop/mta officer that tells me i'm getting a ticket for "occupying more than one seat". Fuck all that. Those seats were not made with big folks in mind.

Is this what our rookie cops who will be making slightly more than minimum wage will be doing? Don't they and transit employees have better things to do with their time? 125 dollar fines for drinking morning coffee on the subway? Do they realize the damage they just did to every bodega paying premium rents by the subway? When did these rules get passed? Were there hearings? Who made these calls? Listen, Jim, this coffee thing on the 4 train is really too much, we've gotta do something (props to the 4 train from Bedford Park to Brooklyn, by the way)

I do have one theory on this: with an increasingly possible strike and economic shortfalls, this is a great way to
1) have a new income stream, and
2) get everyone in the New York City to hate the people that are about to go on strike. Remember, the jerkoffs who decided coffee was public enemy number 1 on our platforms won't be handing out these citations, its the people working for a living.

OUR FUCKING MAYOR better do something about this shit. Else I'm going to put a tail on him and perform a citizen's arrest the next time he cracks open a Poland Spring on the six.

Sonny: They're Jerkoffs... look at me. JERKOFFS!


Well, not yet. But for those of you (like myself) flabbergasted that the judge who ruled two of Delay's felony charges will stand is still alive, this is a fun day. Brick by Brick.

In other news, SNOW has arrived. And, while Mitchell Kriegman has NOT YET COME TO HIS SENSES, our picket gets a snow day tomorrow, and so I'm going to be here tomorrow night.

Words of wisdom from Momma K

My mom just said this to me. Think the current administration would be smart in taking heed her words:

"Listen, you gotta be real smart to lie. That's why its easier to tell the truth. When you lie, you have to remember all things you lie about, and then, when you get caught, you look like an asshole."

Further, Mom reports that Nanny K said:
If you'll lie, you'll cheat, and if you'll cheat, you'll steal, so DON'T LIE.

Sorry Nanny (of blessed memory) but dubya and co already missed the boat on that.

Wrestler sues rapper for real!

Wow, I'm going to try to refrain from posting things like this on the Riot Act, but I just had to. Alot of you know hip hop is one of my passions, and that I used to geek on professional wrestling. Just when I thought the world couldn't get any more...ungh!

Props to Allhiphop for the news:
Wrestler Diamond Dallas Page Sues Jay-Z Over Pyramid Sign
By Bea BlackDate: 12/5/2005 12:35 pm Wrestler Diamond Dallas Page has filed a lawsuit against Jay-Z for unlawful use of his "Diamond Cutter" hand signal.
Page, born Page Falkinburg, filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Federal Court, claiming he trademarked the rights to the diamond-shaped symbol in 1996 and has used it for wrestling and other entertainment ventures on multiple occasions.
Page contends that Jay-Z started using the diamond symbol years after on various commercial products, including the cover of Dynasty: Roc La Familia 2000 and Fade to Black.
Hip hop fans are aware that the Deff Jam President has used the diamond sign to signify his Roc-A-Fella Records dynasty.
According to Page, he introduced the "Diamond Cutter" symbol in 1996 on WCW's weekly Nitro and Thunder programs.
The wrestler, who uses the sign on the cover of his new book "Yoga for Regular Guys," also says he used the symbol on monthly PPV events, WCW live events, and media appearances, including the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Representatives for Jay-Z or Roc-A-Fella were not immediately available for comment.

Selfish reasons for the public good...

I want the Writer's Guild strike to end. Not just because there are writers that need that work. Not just because Mitchell Kriegman can't get away with screwing people. Not just because its driving my friends crazy.

Also, because Tuesday night, the Klezmatics and Joshua Nelson are playing not 15 blocks from Knucklehead's place.

Help us end this thing!

The Klezmatics, Joshua Nelson, and Kathryn Farmer: Brother Moses Smote the Water is an amazing mix of Klezmer and Gospel. Yes, they work together. Yes, all parties are fantastic playing both musics together. Yes, Joshua and Kathryn slide right into place with the Klezmatics. Good, now stop asking questions and get it already.

Give the gifts that keep on giving!

Alright. So, whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Solstice, Kwanzaa, Festivus, or any other holidays that are happening around now, I'm sure you feel the desire to get folks things. Personally, as long as you don't get "wrapped up" in the gianormous commercialism (ahahahhahahaha) in it, I don't see the harm in getting friends, loved ones a likkel something. (draw in a breath)


If you're going to do this, you might as well do it in a sustanable way. I'm talking, of course, about fair trade. You may ask, Ruby, what's fair trade?

Fair trade is this crazy idea that everyone involved in the process of making something should be able to have a decent life in their making it. You might have noticed, but most of our goods are brought out of non union factories, probably in free trade zones where economic and environmental standards don't matter. 100 hour weeks, pregnancy tests, timed bathroom breaks and chemicals in the land and water are all realities in most of the things we buy.

Thus, I'm posting a few links to fair trade products. I got a whole bunch of clothes from No Sweat Apparel this summer, and their tees, polo shirts, and dress shirts are all quality.

Sweat Free Links
Fair Trade Federation

Happy holidays

Sunday, December 04, 2005


if friends are the family you pick for yourself, what does that make your family?

I love them. But i think i'm getting the stress i didn't get for thanksgiving right about now.

Take that, Maureen Dowd!

There are some things that seem to provoke extreme opinions in this world. Maureen Dowd seems to inspire love or hate in her readers, who of course, keep reading her whether they love or hate her.

But both Knucklehead and I were put out by the exerpts from her book that were recently in the (Freedom Hating, Judy Miller publishing, Achmed Chalabi crediting, Boston Red Sox owning) New York Times Magazine, claiming feminism was dying away and other such nonsense. Special knowledge to Liz Chimenti, an ole COLA comrade, who put this out on Friendster. Should give us all a lift.

Live, from the CEPR:

Economic Study Refutes Myth that Women are Opting Out
Weakness in labor market - not motherhood - linked to lower participation rates

Friday, December 02, 2005

Rally at NYU in 38 minutes!

Special Knowledge to Arieh Lebowitz of the Jewish Labor Committee, who may remember me from my days at the National Labor Committee, to let me know about this. If you've got some time at noon, come see me there:

Join UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney, President UNITE/HERE Hospitality Division John Wilhelm, State AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes, NYC Central Labor Council President Brian M. McLaughlin, Executive Board Members of the NYC CLC and NYC Elected Officials to Say:
UNIONS: “Please send your members, retirees and your banner”
PLACE: Bobst Library, NYU - Washington Square Park South @ LaGuardia Place

Thursday, December 01, 2005

One person can make a difference... and can do even more with a team and a plan.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the start of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. No doubt the radio, tv, newspapers, and classrooms will feed us stories of a woman who was simply tired and refused to give up her seat one day. She chose to strike a blow because she was exhausted and just didn't want to move... that's really funny, because according to Northwestern University Sociology Professor Dr. Aldon Morris's paper "Lessons of the Civil Rights Movement for Workers' Rights/Union Organizing" he notes: Rosa Parks was not an ingenue who just happened to be tired: she had attended the Highlander Center and was the long-time secretary of the local NAACP chapter. Dr. Morris goes further in his 1984 book, "The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement":

in the 1940s Mrs. Parks had refused several times to comply with segregation rules on the buses. In the early 1940s Mrs. Parks was ejected from a bus for failing to comply. The very same bus driver who ejected her that time was the one who had her arrested on December 1, 1955...She began serving as secretary for the local NAACP in 1943 and still held that post when arrested in 1955...In the early 1940s Mrs. Parks organized the local NAACP Youth Council...During the 1950s the youth in this organization attempted to borrow books from a white library. They also took rides and sat in the front seats of segregated buses, then returned to the Youth Council to discuss their acts of defiance with Mrs. Parks.

Knucklehead had to remind me that Rosa Parks was kicked off TWELVE BUSES before she was finally arrested 50 years ago. I'm not saying this to minimize what she did. But teaching people this miquetoast story minimizes what she did and continues the myth of organizing not being necessary. The bus boycott was ready to go long before she got arrested. She had been doing civil disobedience of this kind for MORE THAN TEN YEARS BEFOREHAND. The pieces were in place.

Guess 13th time's the charm, huh? How could we let them get this story so blatantly wrong? And you people wonder why I want to teach social studies.