Category Archives: Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night

December 24, 2012, 3:09 pm

It’s A Very Merry Brooklyn Christmas, You Lousy Bastards

Bo Obama sez: “If you see a Christmas tree coming at you, duck!”

This holiday season finds Tenured Radical well settled into the Brooklyn lifestyle. What am I thinking about on Christmas Eve? Naturally that scene in Betty Smith‘s classic novel¬†¬†A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943) in which twelve year-old Francie Nolan and her younger brother Neeley win a Christmas tree from the sadistic peddler who throws unsold trees at poor people. If the “customer” doesn’t fall down when hit, the tree is free.

This was the only way Francie was going to get anything at all for Christmas. As devotees of the novel know, Francie’s father Johnny is a charming Irish singing waiter who promises all kinds of grand things. He is also an alcoholic who is more likely to drink up every dollar in his pocket than to make a Christmas for his …

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December 25, 2010, 5:46 pm

Merry Christmas From Tenured Radical

Like Eartha, we were so bad this year, but we got presents anyway! Here’s hoping you did too.

December 24, 2010, 4:28 pm

This Time Last Year We Were In South Africa On The Western Cape

We had just finished one of the most exhausting, exhilarating things we had ever done:  working at a  camp outside Johannesburg for teenagers whose lives have been affected by HIV.  There is not a day we do not talk about what we did or saw there, and probably not a week that goes by without one of us saying: “When we go back…”  I learned so much on our trip, and at camp, that sometimes it felt like my brain was moving faster than I could process the information.

I loved it. 

By the time we landed in Wilderness, we were ready to put our feet up, lay in a store of food at the Pick n’ Pay, buy some new books (I had given away most of mine, including ones I had not yet read, to some of the campers) and rest for a good long time.  I had lost about ten pounds at camp from working hard, and getting dramatically fewer calories, since there was no alcohol and no snacks other than what my friend…

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December 24, 2009, 7:32 am

Is It? Or, On Christmas Eve, A Historian Puzzles Over What Happened At Camp

Several days ago my partner and I completed two weeks working in a South African summer camp for teenagers who have been affected by HIV. A few campers were actually infected and being treated with antiretrovirals (ARVs); most had lost at least one parent and other close relatives to the disease. As our stay progressed, the question of who in South Africa’s mostly black townships and rural villages has not been affected by HIV was very present in my mind. Current statistics are that 1 in 8 South Africans are infected, although this is an estimate that many people will tell you is too low. As South African journalist Jonny Steinberg points out in his recent book, Three Letter Plague: A Young Man’s Journey Through A Great Epidemic (Cape Town: Jonathan Ball Publishers, 2008), the stigma attached to a diagnosis and the erratic quality of health care extended to the poor means that many…

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