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Thursday, September 30, 2010

In which we play at a rally for Pedro Perez Guzman, unlawfully detained in Lumpkin GA by Janet Napolitano's ICE

Pratie Heads singing Mexican, Guatemalan, Nicaraguan music at an immigration rallyOn Tuesday Bob and I (the Pratie Heads) played at a rally at Moore Square in Raleigh. It was in support of the case of Pedro Perez Guzman, who was grabbed by angry Immigration police in front of his son and jailed. He has been in Lumpkin, Georgia for almost a year, and, as was pointed out at the rally, instead of being the law-abiding working taxpayer he used to be, he now costs the government at least a hundred dollars a day to keep him idle, far from his wife and 3-year-old son.

I was nervous because we had learned most of the songs specially for the occasion - I wish I'd had time to memorize them - but I think they went ok.

Here is Logan Guzman, who was woken up when the ICE banged on the door yelling at 4 in the morning and was present when his father was grabbed. His mom took him to visit once but they were not allowed to be in the room with him, they only saw him on tv, and Logan fell apart and had a meltdown.

Emily asks that we please sign this Free Pedro Guzman petition.

Unfair immigration policies and implementations protestedHere's Logan with his mom Emily. Instead of my trying to paraphrase the situation Guzman finds himself in, I direct you to their website: Logan's Dad. I admit I think our immigrants make this country a much better place, and so even if Pedro were illegal I would be in support of his release. But the fact is, he is here legally and was nabbed due to bureaucratic error which the grinding behemoth of government has been in no hurry to fix.

musicians at rally for immigration reformThe call to action: Emily asks that if you're the calling sort of person,
You can call the Secretary and Assistant Secretary of DHS to ask for Pedro's release. Please be polite! Even though this case is maddening, anger and aggression will hurt our case! Below is a script of what you can say.

"My name is ____________ and I am calling on behalf of Pedro Perez Guzman, A#072540471. He has been detained by immigration for almost a year. It has caused severe and unneeded pain and suffering to his American born wife and 3 year old son. I am asking that you defer his deportation and release Pedro to be reunited with his family. Thank you."

Secretary Janet Napolitano: 202-282-8495

Assistant Secretary John Morton: 202-732-3000

Or, if you prefer letters,
You can write an original letter asking Secretary Napolitano to defer Pedro's deportation or you can use the form letter below.

You should send it via fax AND snail mail.

You can fax to:
Attention Secretary Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security

The letter should sent snail mail and would be addressed to:
Secretary Janet Napolitano
Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

It would be great if you could EMAIL me a copy:


Dear Secretary Janet Napolitano,

Pedro Perez Guzman ( A#072540471) has been in this country since he was 8 years old. He has been detained in Stewart Detention Center by ICE for 11 months. This detention has caused trauma and severe economic stress to his American born wife and 3 year old son. Pedro qualifies for NACARA and previously had a work visa in the US for many, many years. Many of his family members are now naturalized citizens and permanent residents due to NACARA. He is a hardworking, compassionate, and honest man and he does not deserve to be detained. I am a US born, voting citizen and I am asking you to defer his deportation and release Pedro Perez Guzman so that he can be reunited with his wife and 3 year old son that love him and miss him terribly.


Your signature here
Your name here
Your email address here
Your city, Your state and zip code here

Or, if all you're up for is clicking mouse buttons, you can sign an online petition or two... Sign the petition requesting more humane treatment for detainees.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pratie Heads at the rally for Pedro Perez Guzman, today 5pm in Raleigh

Bob Vasile and I are singing today at 5 pm in Moores Square in Raleigh at the rally for Pedro Perez Guzman, one of many people who have gotten stuck in a mire of conflicting immigration agencies, officials, and regulations, and who has now spent an entire year at a detention center in Lumpkin Georgia, away from his wife and young son.

You can read more about it here: Pedro's story. excerpt:
Pedro was only 8 years old when he entered the United States. Approximately 3 years ago, Pedro's mother went in to the immigration office for her permanent residency interview. Our biggest mistake, in hindsight, was not sending a lawyer with her. She is older and her memory is not great. In the interview, she made a mistake and was denied permanent residency.

Pedro was then sent a Notice to Appear in Court by immigration authorities ... they sent the Notice to Appear to the wrong address even though they had the correct address... when he did not appear to the court date, because he did not receive the order to appear in court, he was issued an order of deportation.

On Friday September 25, 2009, at 4am, there was a loud banging on the door and someone shouting, "Police! Open up!" ... Logan, our 3 year old son, was terrified and traumatized... [later] they handcuffed him and told us that they were from ICE and they would be detaining him because of an order of deportation... Pedro was able to give Logan one kiss and say goodbye.

Pedro was first detained in Wake County jail. After one day, he was transferred to Alamance County jail... for about a month... [and was] transferred to Georgia.

Six weeks later immigration authorities admitted their mistake (sending vital information to the wrong address) and agreed to reopen the case and stay his deportation temporarily until a final decision about the case.

On December 15, 2009, the judge stated that he did not believe that Pedro was eligible for relief under Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central Relief Act (NACARA), did not want to entertain Pedro’s case for immigration relief, and denied him bond. [later] our attorney showed me the statute in the immigration law that clearly stated that Pedro was eligible... The judge then proceeded to tell us that he still did not believe that Pedro was eligible for NACARA and that his final decision was to deport Pedro.

On May 9, 2010, the appeal for the final decision on Pedro’s eligibility to stay in the U.S. was filed to the Board of Immigration Appeals. We are waiting for the decision about the appeal of the final decision to deport Pedro.

Also read: humane alternatives to detention centers.


Friday, September 24, 2010

New Yiddish cd "I Can't Complain..."

"... but sometimes, I still do." It was lots of fun working with pianist Aviva Enoch. We recorded her piano tracks at Jerry Brown's Rubber Room, then I took the tracks home and edited them and sang my parts at home and then stuck everything on a flash drive and went back to the Rubber Room for mastering. (I am also entering this picture in Illustration Friday for this week's prompt, "Old Fashioned.") Click the picture to order or here: Yiddish songs cd I Can't Complain but sometimes I still do

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

[Hannah]: quotes continue

"One must be an inventor to read well."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson, explaining that you shouldn't just let yourself be a book zombie.

Monday, September 20, 2010

[Hannah]: stole this from Terry

"Everyone complains of his lack of memory but no one of his lack of judgment."

La Rochefoucauld, Maxims

[Hannah]: Thomas Paine

"I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it."
- Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

[Hannah]: "So Convenient a Thing it is to be a Reasonable Creature"

from Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography:

I believe I have omitted mentioning that, in my first voyage from Boston, being becalm'd off Block Island, our people set about catching cod, and hauled up a great many.

Hitherto I had stuck to my resolution of not eating animal food, and on this occasion consider'd, with my master Tryon, the taking every fish as a kind of unprovoked murder, since none of them had, or ever could do us any injury that might justify the slaughter. All this seemed very reasonable. But I had formerly been a great lover of fish, and, when this came hot out of the frying-pan, it smelt admirably well. I balanc'd some time between principle and inclination, till I recollected that, when the fish were opened, I saw smaller fish taken out of their stomachs; then thought I, "If you eat one another, I don't see why we mayn't eat you."

So I din'd upon cod very heartily, and continued to eat with other people, returning only now and then occasionally to a vegetable diet.

So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.

Monday, September 06, 2010

"Milk builds strong bones" turns out to be another old advertisers' tale

Driving to Charlotte at 5 am recently I heard an interesting discussion on fruits and vegetables being better for your bone vitality than calcium and milk products on the People's Pharmacy. If you don't like listening to podcasts, here's what I took away:

Thirty years of advising people to drink more milk and take calcium supplements: not working. The countries where people drink the most milk and consume milk products have the highest incidence of bone fractures in old age. It's in the Asian countries - where consumption of milk-based products is lowest - that the strongest bones are found.

The author of Bone Vitality was on the show, saying that high protein diets lead to weak bones, because when the amino acids are broken down and enter the bloodstream, they make it more acidic, and calcium is leached from bones to neutralize the blood's ph. (He said acidic fruits don't do that, their acids are dealt with in the stomach.)

He said calcium on its own can't build bones - "if our bones were built of calcium, they would be chalk" - that it takes a combination of more than a dozen nutrients and trace elements to build healthy bones, and they are found in, ta da, vegetables and fruits.

He also said, horribly, that fosamax and some other medicines used to slow bone loss work by messing with our bones' repair system and end up making bones weaker.

He also pointed out: a diet high in vegetables and fruits is also good for lowering blood pressure, weight loss, and heart health; it is in fact better for us in a myriad of other ways.

So Hannah and I have been eating a lot of roasted vegetables since I got here, in honor of this new information, but we sadly ask: "If what our bodies need so badly is vegetables, why are we so fond of chocolate cake?"

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Sholem Aleichem on sensational novelas

I just translated this from "Kasrileke Progress." Reminds me of Univision and the telenovelas...

During the time I was in Khasrilevke, both local newspapers, "The Yarmulke" and "The Cap," published a highly interesting and thrilling novel. One called it "The Forbidden Kiss from the Stolen Bride" and the second called it "The Stolen Kiss from the Forbidden Bride."

As the above-mentioned Kasrilevke highbrow led me to understand - confidentially, as usual - the said novela was taken from an old Russian book through the efforts of two literati, who endeavored to smear its plots out as thinly as possible in all directions to make it longer, and - in order to keep the public in suspense - they were constantly thinking up new sensations, suddenly coming up with a fresh, healthy hero, lively right off the bat, who was not slow to bring a couple of women down from the Other World if it suited them.

And if you like, they'll start right over again from the beginning...

The truth must be told, however: in Kasrilevke the said novela was being read with great eagerness. People lick their fingers over it, looked forward to it. Morning barely passes, they throw themselves at the "Forbidden Bride."

In the normal course of things, there'd have been an end to it long ago. The authors themselves were hard-pressed to continue drawing out the suspense. They'd killed off the novela's protagonists long before: some had been hung, some poisoned, some shot. But in the course of their dismal competition, the editors demanded the story be drawn out still more: neither wanted his story to end before the other's.

During the time I was in Kasrilevke, it happened that some of the story's heroes were being shot for the THIRD time, and the Forbidden Bride had been stolen twice - kidnapped and tortured, thereafter sought and found, then stolen again, and again murderously tortured. There was just no end to these authors' atrocities - I have no idea what they were thinking!


Visiting Hannah: factoid about borrachos

Hannah is working on her history PhD and was reading a book about the trade of wine from Madeira, a Portuguese colony off the coast of Africa. "The book mentions that a goatskin bag used to carry wine was called a borracha. I thought, hmm, that's funny, they named it after a drunk guy. Then I realized it was almost certainly the other way round - when you're calling someone a borracho you're calling him an old goatskin bag filled with wine!"