March 31, 2006

The Camera is Back!

She's repaired and ready for action...
Stay tuned!

Karma and Christ in Court

So clever I was to give myself half an hour this morning to get to the courthouse, which is probably a mile from my home. Unfortunately, the first time I went there was on my bike and when it came to the car I couldn’t exactly figure out the location. Fiftenn minutes before I was due in the courtroom I found the location but all the lots were full and I didn’t bring any money for a paid lot. How clever I was not to bring any money for the paid lot.

Searching around, as the clock ticked, I end up being forced onto the highway on-ramp and manage to exit just a few blocks from my house. Although I don’t believe in god I plead, “oh god, please help me, please, please, please." At this point anything has to help. Yes, I had to do the search for the courthouse all over again. Five minutes until I am due in court and I pull into a paid lot. The guy doesn’t take credit cards. I start to cry. He tells me that there is an ATM three buildings down. I am going to be late for court, go straight to jail, don’t pass go, and don’t pay $200.

Frenzied, I throw my fancy business shoes in the bushes and run in my socks in the direction the attendant points. I find the Police Officers Credit Union. Now sweating from the run, stress and return of humidity, I sprint into the building and ask for their ATM. “It is in the drive-thru”. I run around the building, followed by another parking lot patron who looks to be about the same age as me. She is also trying to get $10. No drive thru. Run back into the building and they nonchalantly tell me that the drive thru is down the street. No time. Very stressed. Going to jail. I ask if the tellers can give me a cash advance from my credit card and they say yes.

Waiting on line for a teller I breakdown and start to cry. I can’t help it. I’m going to jail and I’m totally frustrated and stressed. A soft, middle-aged black woman, who is being helped by one of the tellers, walks over to me and asks me if I am OK and why am I crying? “Just the stress of going to court,” I tell her. She says that it is not worth getting upset over, gives me a hug and asks me to pray. OK, I say thanks and proceed to the teller.

Get the cash, run to the parking lot, pick up my shoes from the bushes, run to the lot attendant and hand him my $10. He gives me my ticket. I ask if the other woman who was also looking for money was able to pay. “I haven’t seen her back yet,” he says. I pay for her space too. Run back to the cars, put the tickets under the windshield wipers and begin to run towards the courthouse. Two folks in the lot tell me I should put the parking ticket inside the car or someone will steel it and the car will be towed. I’ll take the chance I tell them, it is 8:10, I am late for court.

Get to the courthouse, through the metal detector, scurry upstairs and there are hundreds of cops and defendants roaming the halls. I ask someone what I am supposed to do next and they say, “go inside”. It feels like a scene out of Ellis Island. A cop opens the courtroom door and asks how I’m doing. I say not well. At this point I’m dripping sweat, really pissed at my lawyers for not telling me about the parking (ah yes, blame others) and am generally furious that I have to be there at all.

Sit down in the filled-to-capacity courtroom. Names are being called. Maybe I’m still okay. I ask the guy next to me and he says that they will run through the names again for latecomers. The judge tells us that we will be there the entire day, there will be a jury, and that we can only leave for ten minutes at a time. No newspapers, magazines, books, food or cell phones to be used, consumed or enjoyed in the courtroom. I predict a long, awful day and the onset of hunger as I realize that I still don’t have any cash because I paid for my space and the other woman’s with the $20 I liberated from the Police Credit Union.

8:20am and my name is called. My lawyer is in the room. Looks like I won’t go to jail, yet. I sit in silence with the 200 other folks as we await our fates. All very mysterious as cops, lawyers and defendants enter and exit in a constant stream. Now the judge says that she will call the names of people whose cases are being dismissed. I ask the guy next to me how cases get dismissed. He says that either the cop doesn’t show or you pay the judge. My neighbor’s name is called!

When he returns to his seat next to me on the cold, hard bench I say that he should be my lawyer. He pauses, turns to me and says, “no, but I’ll be your friend.” Two thoughts run through my mind. He wants a date or he’s going to give me the secret to getting my case dismissed. “Believe in Jesus Christ” he says. I tell him that I’m Jewish. He gets upset and says, “So what? We’re all people? Jesus helps us all. I’m black, she’s white, your Jewish but race doesn’t have to do with it. Jesus helps us all.” His stinky breath starts to freak me out and I realize that I shouldn’t be so extroverted and clever. “You’re correct,” I tell him. “Are you really listening to me?” Yes, I tell him that I am listening and he is correct, Jesus looks out for all of us. Now I’m starting to freak out because they’ll throw us in jail for disrupting the court.

But suddenly my name is called. It’s 8:40 and I’m called to the bench. My lawyer stands with me in front of the judge and he tells me that she is dismissing my case. Christ almighty! I’m free! When I return to my seat my neighbor, who is waiting for the court to process his dismissal papers, says “what did I tell you and what did you say? See, Jesus looks out for you and it doesn’t cost money. You can’t buy a favor. Because you said you believe he helped you.” You know what, I had to agree. We both determined that once ooutside we’d raise our hands to Jesus. I said I would even consider kissing the ground.

As we continue to wait for our papers to be processed the cold, hard bench, suddenly doesn’t feel so cold and hard. He periodically asks me if I believe. Yes, I tell him. I do believe. His paperwork is completed and as he leaves he taps me on the arm and gives me a knowing smile. Five minutes later I’m free too. As I walk down the same steps that I had run up just 45 minutes earlier the cop that had let me into the courtroom asks, “how are you doing?” I say, better now. “You were pretty stressed earlier.” He reminds me. “Life is too short to stress, it isn’t worth it.” I agree with him as I exit the building and walk towards the parking lot.

I arrive in the lot and the attendant walks along side me and asks, “I just have to ask you, did you know that lady?” I tell him no, I’ve never met her before. “That was a really good thing you did for her, paying for her space.” I tell him that my case was dismissed and he says that it is Karma, you have to believe in Karma. As I drive away I raise my hands and thank Jesus, reflect on my Karma and once again recognize that the people of Houston have touched me deep in the heart of Texas.

March 29, 2006

Final Days of Freedom

Fore direhard fans of The Kweskin Report you may recall my run-in with Texas law back in November. Traffic Violations Not Simply a Ticket You Pay, Friday, November 04, 2005. Court day is here on 3/31/6. These are my final days of freedom.

I have visions of being taken away in handcuffs and having the gates lock behind me. Just as bad they will hit me with a huge fine. Predicting tears in the courtroom. I am so very angry at the situation and feel like the system is so much bigger than the alleged violation.

Say a little ditty for me as I sit by the lawyer and hope for the best. Care packages can be chosen from my Amazon wish list.

March 27, 2006


There is absolutely nothing grosser than the Texas cockroach. These beasts are several inches long and as wide as your thumb. Since we’ve moved here I’ve found carcasses in the garage and have gleefully run them over with my car and bike. They crackle like kindling.

Was I kidding myself? Of course I would eventually find one living. I opened the closet in which we store the recycling and something peaked out of a recently discarded can of coconut milk. “Stephen, I think we have a lizard in the closet, can you take out the recycling and let it run free.”

Stephen loves lizards. He eagerly explored the bag to find his new friend and instead had the unfortunate experience of coming face to face with a Texas cockroach. “Aim, it’s not a lizard it’s a roach.” Gross! Gross, gross, double triple gross.

Now every time I open a closet, drawer, door or bin I close my eyes and say out loud, “Scatter!” I think that’s fare warning for them to get into their hiding places and for me to not have to see them SCATTER. This is truly disgusting and someone needs to find a cure NOW!

March 23, 2006

Easter Miracle

Easter has a new miracle - make your own peeps kit! The Williams-Sonoma catalog features a marshmallow chicks kit (code word for peeps) for die-hard peeps fans. "Our kit includes everything you'll need to make the diminutive (too fancy for peeps) treats at home: marshmallow mix: two chick molds: pastry bags for piping the prepared marshmallow into molds; and purple, pink and yellow sanding sugars and black eyes for decorating your creations."

Makes 60 chicks!

March 22, 2006

Big Love Triangle

I’m obsessed with HBO’s new series Big Love. Is it all about sex? Relationships? Religion? You think its one and then the other pops in (or up) a minute later. The message I’m getting so far is that polygamy lets the men screw around with as many women as they want and that maybe the women get as many women as they want? How can a religion be based on nightly sex-capades? Then again, maybe that’s the ideal religion.

I keep thinking about the dynamics between the women and their relationship to Bill the husband. Frankly, I absolutely believe it is not possible to have multiple partners. It is not human nature. Or maybe, it is human nature to compete for dominance and therefore a harem of women is the ideal since they will each fight tooth and nail to be the object of desire – with the goal of pro-creating.

But then you get down to the freak factor. These men are looking down the top of the women’s dresses. Come on, if you have three wives you should be getting “it” enough to not have to wander. Or maybe you’re so tweaked that all you think about is sex? Its more like a college frat house and the oldest female becomes the imposer of rules, the spoil sport.

Frankly, we women look bad on this show. All we can think about is scheduling the man for our time in the sac. How high maintenance and low-intelligence can you get? Perhaps when you are brought into this super juiced world of polygamy at such a young age all you think about is the man, the master, the benefactor.

Give the girl her powder blue car already. At least she’s putting up and putting out.

March 21, 2006

True Confessions of a Soccer Mom

I am jumping for joy with the discovery that my friend Dora has a fab blog called True Confessions of a Soccer Mom. The funny thing is that the Dora I remember is not at all into sports and certainly not a soccer mom. She was a really cool Goth chick that was the Arts & Entertainment Editor on the college newspaper. I was mystified by her black outfits, funky hair and really groovy way of talking.

Our paths keep crossing. For the past ten years or so (that long?!?) she has lived in my hometown and has become friendly with my childhood friends and even my folks. Single White Female? Not at all. But I do get to have lovely, although brief, visits with her when I return home. Each time her family has grown. But now a soccer mom? I know that is a fierce punk music lover in there hiding under the soccer mom facade.

Check it her out for yourself. Dora's blog is witty, insightful and reminds me of why we can connect despite long absences. Notice that she too is into Project Runway. Soccer mom, I think not.

March 20, 2006

First Impressions on Returning to SF for a Visit

Stephen and I returned to San Francisco on our way up to Tahoe for a weekend of skiing and debauchery with our best buddies John and Nicole. In the 36 hours of San Francisco visit we managed to get in mini-gatherings with cousins Diana and Ben, Rachel, Naomi and John of the Business Arts Council.

First impressions:
Hills! Houston is so flat that the first thing I noticed when we touched down were all the hills.

Immediate stress. I lurched into control and freak-out modes of hyper spaz. Nervous? Emotion? Poor Stephen.

Memory Loss:
Couldn’t remember which BART trains went to what parts of the Bay. Forget that – couldn’t even remember the cities. Had to ask for directions, like a tourist, when we arrived in Union Square.

Dropped my bags at the hotel, ditched Stephen, ran out onto Union Square and put on my city face as I trotted down to Business Arts Council for a meeting. Immediately felt at home there with Naomi and Rachel.

We planned way too many short visits with everyone and by the end I felt like a broken record with no personality. Yes, we love Houston. The arts are great. Stephen loves his job. Next…

Started the first morning off with a swim in the hotel pool – at 6am since we were jet-lagged. Finally on the road to Tahoe with John and Nicole, eight bottles of red wine later and a million beef jerky strips and NOW we’re on vacation.

Ah yes, Heavenly.

Photo from Heavenly website.

March 16, 2006

Careers in Arts Administration Panel Discussion

The University of Houston-Downtown
Fine Arts Festival Panel Discussion


Thursday, April 6
3 - 4pm
Free and open to the public

Alfred Cervantes, Deputy Director

Sheryl Davis Farnsworth, UHD Student

Sara Kellner, Executive Director

Joseph R. Wilson, Interim Executive Director

Facilitated by: Amy Kweskin Duncan

Next Arts Administration Course offered in Fall 2006
Register for HUM:3325

For further information contact Dr. Thomas Lyttle ( or call 713.221.8118

March 12, 2006

A Million Little Fictions

Is there really such a thing as non-fiction? Reaching back into my years as a photography and film student I recall an interesting discussion that was ongoing in our courses – Point of View. Anything created inevitably has a point of view – writing, drawing, photographing – because there is a creator. That point of view, no matter how hard you may try to negate it, is inevitable.

A documentary filmmaker has to determine when and where to operate the camera, determine what will and won’t be in the image and then edits out the segments that do not best tell the story. A writer has to follow the same creative process. As a photojournalist I remember the impact I made at various protests because the camera became a tool for the protesters to use to communicate their story, through me, to the readers.

All the hoopla over James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces” is lost one me. Do I care if it is fiction or non-fiction? No. It is a story, a slice of life, a perspective, a take on reality…his reality. Any documentation or presentation of “reality” is always going to be skewed -- deliberately or not. Like a trial where the defense lawyer grills you for changes in your response, memory changes, it evolves.

Hearing about James Frey’s book only makes me want to buy and read it. Does Oprah think that she’s a non-fiction TV host? Look at the new “realities” she creates by gifting people cars and TVs. See how she impacts America when she highlights a book or a cause. She creates a fictional environment in which her audience can happily and safely dwell - a place where Oprah creates the reality.

This transforms into a discussion about exploitation. Are the subjects of these creations exploited? Again, back to film school and the endless discussions about how a white female living in the U.S. has no right to photograph homeless black people. Would I have more right if I were a black American? Or, as a homeless person of any race? Can I only photograph people just like me?

This is considered exploitation because these people’s images are being taken from them, without their understanding, and publicized through the “art” by someone who is “other” and doesn't live their reality. I can’t make logic of this argument. As a viewer of the “art” I have the ability to see these people, appreciate their strength and beauty. Heck, I’m happy to have the subject use my camera to photograph me.

Putting your image on the internet – as well as other creations – is the ultimate exploitation if you follow this logic. Frankly, I find this accessibility and transparency exciting. To be able to find other people, their stories (fiction or not) and for them to find me is exhilarating. The beauty of globalization is that we are breaking down barriers. Together we are creating new fiction.

March 9, 2006

Homesick for... Ithaca

You would think that I'd be homesick for San Francisco. I'll test it out when we head out there next week for our first visit-vacation. So far, no feelings of homesickness.

But I did have this urge, when looking on Craigslist today, to look at their Ithaca site. Instantly I wanted to see if anything was familiar after 15 years. Best place to reminisce - the apartment listings since I lived in half a dozen places during and after college.

The first apartment photos I found brought tears to my eyes. Is this place beautiful or what?

March 8, 2006

Amazon Care Packages

When I was in sleep-away camp as a kid the best feeling was when you got a care package in the mail. Most kids received boxes filled with goodies like the fake cheese that comes out of a spray can and candy dots. Good stuff like that. If I received a care package, which was rare (my folks just didn't get it) the contents were always funky and didn't make the grade. My grammie would send me healthy brownies made of wholewheat flour and carob wrapped carefully in waxpaper. Of course much more love, health and thought went into these care packages.

Ordering off of gives me that feeling of waiting for a care package. Today, for my birthday (notice subtle birthday mention made unsubtle by pointing it out) Stephen's folks and my parents sent me Amazon gift certificates. I of course spent them in about five minutes on things I didn't need but really want -- cool wine glasses, a massage chair, earings, and books. But even more special is the excitement of waiting for them to arrive. The only fear element, because I always need anxiety in my life, is if they will get stolen from the front of our house. This has been the case with several packages. But Amazon replaces them so I'll let go of that fear.

March 6, 2006

Indulging in the Oscars

I love watching the Oscars, despite not having seen most of the films nominated for awards this year. The show is like brain candy, visual junk food, gossip overload. I love it. The outfits, the hair, who is with whom. Forget the boring and predictable speeches. I can watch the show with volume off.
Forget those red carpet pre-shows. How painful to watch them blabber on about nothing or say painfully stupid comments like, "you don't know how to look bad." So instead I tuned into the Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel. I laughed out loud when the host had to jerk off a horse and then inseminate the female. What a trooper.

Back to the Oscars. I paced myself with food - all comfort favorites off course. Began with Hummus and chips, moved on to edemame, peaked with Mac and Cheese and took it over the limit with apple crisp and ginger ice cream. All accompanied with red wine.

Okay, dresses - make sure your dress looks good when you're sitting down or if the screen is showing you in medium close-up. Hair has to be big when the dress is super big and that translates as very strange - very Texas or Long Island. What's that thing on Charlize's shoulder?

Face lifts are exaggerated so Dolly Parton please consider this next time. Oh, your face hurt and the white tuxedo outfit during the musical performance was really hard to view - are her insides extracted? Maybe her insides are packaged in that weird thing on Charlize's shoulder?

The tattered dress looks like something from Santino's colleciton on Project Runway.

All and all it was a great evening of indulgence. My sweatpants and stained sweatshirt made the scene.

March 1, 2006

Stephen on Work or Pleasure?

Stephen headed out to Egypt last month for business but I think he had more pleasure than work. Here he is on horseback in front of the pyramids. Stephen's in the center.

The city has beautiful modern architecture which looks like something out of Vegas at night.

The Next Best Seller

Check out this soon-to-be-released book by my friend from college Damon Linker. Back at Ithaca College, a million years ago, Damon had some strong opinions that usually ended up in record reviews or OpEd pieces in the student newspaper. Master and Doctorate degrees later he is about to shake the country with Theocons Secular America Under Siege.

The book comes out in September but you can advance purchase on Amazon.