....LMB: "Andrea L. Sexton 1950-2003"....

January 15, 2004

Andrea Sexton was born May 9, 1950, in Newark, New Jersey. She lived with her mother, father and older brother, next door to her aunt, uncle and two cousins, and just one street down from her grandparents. They were all very close.

After high school, she went to Trenton State University and got a degree in education. That summer, she and some friends took a vacation to Europe, and while there, they made friends with several young Californian women that they ran across. Some time later, my mom visited these gals in California, where she met my father. While many folks my age can talk about their parents as young hippies, my dad was more of a young biker. Well, when his bikes were in working order. Seemed motorcycles enjoyed breaking down on him.

After getting to know my mother, my bike-less dad hitchhiked across the country to see her, from California to New Jersey and back. And the following year, he did it again. They eventually married in a lackluster ceremony at a California courthouse, then got married the "proper" Jewish way the following month in New Jersey. And because of this, every year they celebrated two anniversaries, one in late January and another on Valentine’s Day.

Settling in southern California, she began substitute teaching, but soon gave this up to raise my brother and me. Justified or not, my mother was impossibly proud of her boys, and spent most of the next few decades as a mother and housewife.

How can I describe my childhood with my mother? First of all, let’s say that it’s a miracle I didn’t die in the womb of sarcasm poisoning. I of course, picked up her sarcastic nature with a vengeance.

She was kind and loving, if super-protective. That last caused me no end of frustration as a kid. Well, as an adult too. Even in her final weeks, when she could barely speak, she found the strength to tell me “drive careful” before traveling back up to L.A.

My mother and I were very different people. There wasn’t a lot of common ground between us, which sometimes made it hard for us to spend time together. But we loved each other, so we both did our best to bridge the gap.

Mom was extremely outgoing and friendly (especially when compared to her husband and children). I can’t count the hours I spent as a child trying to entertain myself as mom ran into yet another friend she hadn’t seen in years while we were out at the grocery store. Or the bank. Or the library. Or a movie theater. Or a parking lot. I sometimes wondered how it was possible to know so many people. She was a very loving and giving person to her family and friends, but good luck arguing with her once she’d made up her mind.

But I can’t paint her as a saint, it’s just not in my nature. She was a caring, friendly, generous person, but some of her traits and behaviors were so infuriating that I dedicated part of my life to embodying their opposite. My mother’s tendency to guilt-trip led me to try to make my every relationship, every request and every suggestion utterly devoid of obligation or coercion. If a person doesn’t make a decision truly freely, it is dishonest and worthless. And despite her generosity, my mother managed to also be very self-centered. I am too, but my mother’s version involved making everyone else focus on her as well. While she was a self-centered pied piper, I became a self-centered loner, making no efforts to make people do what I want to do.

As her kids approached college age, Mom began teaching again, as an aide in special education classes for children with severe learning disabilities. As you can imagine, that sort of work can be an emotional roller coaster ride. She loved the children, she loved getting to know these kids, to see their determinations and passions and joys. She often marveled at their talents or kindness, giving them the care and attention that many of them didn’t get at home. But the teaching itself was extremely frustrating; some of these kids had such learning difficulties that even the simplest tasks was like asking them to fly to the moon. I remember one time that she’d spent a whole lesson with one child, on a single math problem, and the boy finally started to catch on. And the next day, he had forgotten it all. He was so angry, because he knew that he’d understood this material just 24 hours before, but try as he might, he couldn’t remember how to do it.

It would be easy for anyone with a teaching job this frustrating to sort of give up, to simply go through the motions of teaching, figuring there was no use putting in effort to teach kids who "couldn't learn." But my mom never succumbed to that. It never made me prouder of her than to hear her tell a story of a classroom breakthrough, of having gotten one of these young struggling minds to learn and grow.

As I reflect on her now, I see my childhood and think of the ways in which she taught me too. She took Adam and me on frequent trips to the library, encouraging us to read and learn everything we could get our hands on. We’d go as often as twice a week, and I’d leave with as many books as my little arms could carry. Her severe punishments when she caught me lying surely taught me how important honesty was to her, and lead to me to value the truth just as highly. And her example taught me that you were supposed to help out other people whenever you reasonably could. I do my best to live up to that ideal today.

I’m probably most thankful for a moment we had last year. At a time where her illness had receded, Mom organized a trip for the whole family to Maui. She loved Hawaii, making her prime vacation spot. She had imbued it in her mind with magical relaxation qualities. She began talking it up to me in the springtime, although we didn’t make the final plans till the fall. She told me about the condo we’d be renting, where she and my father had stayed before. She told me about how great it was, so close to the water, with such a great view, a balcony, etc. Some days later she told me about it again, and I politely listened again. And then again. She must’ve given me the identical monologue seven times before we went, making me pretty damn irritated with her.

And then we arrived. And it truly was amazing. Our balcony was maybe 100 feet from the lapping waves. The coastline stretched for dozens of miles in either direction. Deep blue sky, blue-green water till the horizon. Gently shifting palm trees, warm air with a calm, cool breeze. As night approached, the sun sunk lower, spilling deep reds and purples into the air, I turned to mom and said "I finally understand why you couldn’t stop talking about this place. You were right." She was thrilled. She’d finally shared something with me that mattered so much to her, and we’d connected. This is how I’ll best remember Mom, at this moment we shared of tropical peace and understanding.

I know that my mom was deeply fulfilled, proud of her two kids and devoted to her husband.

I can only hope that all the support and care we gave her during these last difficult years let mom know how deeply she was loved.

Posted by Jake at 10:57 AM | TrackBack (0)

Dear Jake:

I just learned of your mother's dealth today and to say I am overwhelmed with sadness does not begin to describe my deep feelings.
Your mother and I met when we were 4 years old and began kindergarten at Mt Vernon School together. Except for a boy named Howard Weiss, we were the two youngest in the class. We continued on in the same class every year through 8th grade and ended up in the same homeroom for our 4 years of high school. As if this wasn't connection enough, we both went to Trenton State where we lived in the same apartment unit our Jr and Sr years.
Graduation is the point where our paths separated. I married my high school sweetheart and 5 years later moved to NC and your mother found the love of her life in California.
As the years went by, as often happens with us "middle agers", I began to wonder how
her life turned out. At the same time certain people from our past begin to surface via
the internet and my husband got the e-mail address for Dennis Cooper. One thing led
to another and I got Andi's address and
sent her a note. She did not respond for awhile which I found out later - according to her - had something to do with her family (sons) messing around with the e-mail addresses. (There's that guilt you speak of.) Somehow she got my e-mail and as she put it, for her 50th birthday she gave herself a present and called me. What a wonderful surprise it was. We talked forever.
I came to California on business and met your father and her for lunch at the airport. The picture your Dad took of us that day went immediately on my refrigerator and remains there today. My husband and I saw your parents again at our class reunion in May 2001 where we had a great time. Your mother and I were so proud of the fact that we were the youngest looking women there. At that party she was very adament that no one there knew of her health issues and by looking at her, one would never guess what she had been through. She looked great.
We kept in touch regularly for awhile but the communication got farther and farther apart even after she confided the new problem. I had a hard time not falling apart on the phone because Andi had such a positive attitude and the possibility of not making a full recovery never crossed her mind. I know she fought with everything she had because she loved her life and her wonderful family.
My tears have blurred my vision now and will for some time. Despite that, tonight I will pull out all our yearbooks and remember her with love.

Marian Davidson

Posted by: Marian Davidson at September 30, 2004 07:11 PM
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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

Both projects focus on our media-marinated world, political lies, corporate tyranny, and the folks fighting the good fight against these monsters.

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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

Posted by Jake at 04:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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