Tag Archives: class

LBJ and the Great Society

CLIVE: School. Yep, yep. That’s how your mother and I got to talking. One day in civics they do whole lesson on LBJ, you know LBJ?
ANTHONY: Well, yeah, I—
CLIVE: Great Society. Have and have nots and til then Gloria Giosa barely gave me the time of day, right? She had herself a little after school job down the town hall and soon’s the bell rang off she go but one day Gloria Giosa and I got to talking and it turned out Gloria Giosa and I saw things eye to eye. We was all fired about about LBJ and it was spring time and we thought we was gonna go make a difference and we both signed up to hand out the free lunch…

Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president of the United States, promoted a series of domestic programs in the 1960s that were known as the Great Society. The two main goals of the programs were to eliminate poverty and racial injustice. In scope, the Great Society most closely resembled Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Great Society programs were enacted throughout the 1960s. Notable programs that were introduced during the Great Society and continue to this day include Medicare, Medicaid, the Older Americans act, improvements to Social Security, the National Endowment for the Arts, and federal funding for education.

Highlight from Johnson’s Great Society speech, given in 1964 in Ann Arbor, MI:

“The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in out time. But that is just the beginning.

The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents. It is a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness. It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community.

It is a place where man can renew contact with nature. It is a place which honors creation for its own sake and for what is adds to the understanding of the race. It is a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goals than the quantity of their goods.

But most of all, the Great Society is not a safe harbor, a resting place, a final objective, a finished work. It is a challenge constantly renewed, beckoning us toward a destiny where the meaning of our lives matches the marvelous products of our labor.”

Read the full text of Johnson’s speech here.

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I’m Like a Gypsy Now

GLORIA: […] the mother says “This is not your cat. It is my cat” and all the kids all her kids stare out at me and I know it’s mine but no one will say it’s mine and I think that’s something, that is really something, you just, you just have to claim things. I’m like a gypsy now.  I learned my lesson, boy.  I never looked at anything in my parent’s house the same ever again: who owns anything?  It’s a joke.  It’s a joke on all of us and the Indians and the gypsies.  On all of us.    

Gloria, a strong-willed woman who breaks from the expectations of her family and community, is also a self-proclaimed “gypsy.” To her, this means someone who lives by her own rules, who doesn’t wait for people to give her what she needs, who questions the cultural norms of ownership — a direct rejection of her family’s more wealthy, conservative ways.

Gloria taps into the modern mythology of gypsies — a non-unified group who prefer to be called Roma/Romani (Eastern European descent) or Travellers (Irish descent) — as a base for her personal philosophy. Today, the idea of the gypsy has been so thrust into pop culture that you can watch “reality” television shows like My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, American Gypsies, and Gypsy Sisters, but Gloria fell in love with the romantic ideal long before TLC got their hands on it.

While today the Travellers and Romani are subject to skepticism, distrust, and discrimination (especially within the European Union), Gloria models herself on her  impressions of their approach to life. She is a highly moral person, but her moral universe is one of her own design — solidly framed in right and wrong, but perhaps not the same notions of right and wrong that those around her abide by. …A philosophy she thinks of as gypsy-like.

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Harvard Square Pit Kids

GLORIA: That mother off in Tuscany’ll be lucky if those kids’ throats aren’t cut when she gets back that’s all I’m saying, that is my point.
FRAN: Is that it, can I go now? I needa catch the next 87 into the square to meet my friends.

By her junior year of high school, Fran Giosa isn’t choosing to spend much time in her home town. Instead, she’s taking a bus two towns over to Harvard Square to hang out there.

Throughout its history, Harvard Square has been a hub of academia, commerce, protest, dining, and more. The neighborhood’s restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and book stores were often gathering places for radicals and outsiders of many kinds. When the renovation of the subway station was completed in 1983, however, a new gathering place was created right in the heart of the square: the Pit. The tiered concrete plaza quickly became a favorite hangout of young people looking for a place to escape, as well as homeless people of all ages who welcomed a well-trafficked area in which to ask seek assistance from passers-by.

Ken MaGuire, in an article about the murder of a homeless woman who often frequented the Pit, wrote, “For years, Harvard Square has been a place for kids to congregate with friends, to fit in when they might elsewhere be considered misfits, to sleep when they might not have a home.” Later in the article, he quotes the associate director of a Boston-area youth outreach group as saying that young people are attracted to Harvard Square because “you can fit in. They’re looking for love, to feel cared about, and to be connected.” It is not hard to imagine Fran, who at this point in her life is feeling increasingly isolated from her family, former friends, and community, wanting nothing more than to fit in, to feel cared about, and to be connected.

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Re-Fi for Beginners

DAVE: All these papers?  You’re either a professor or a lawyer.
ALINE: Thanks for helping—
DAVE: Which is it?
ALINE: Thanks for helping.
DAVE: I say, I say think of the trees. 
ALINE: I’m…I’m refinancing.
DAVE: Like the Lorax.

Aline’s had her condo for at least five years, but her long term boyfriend Clive has moved out, and she’s changing jobs. It’s time to refinance that sucker. So what does that mean?

SFGate’s Home Guide provides this useful summary:

People get mortgages to make home purchases possible, but falling interest rates and other economic factors might spur borrowers to look for ways to save money on the loans. Refinancing provides an option for homeowners to reduce monthly payments or pay less interest over the course of the loan.

Refinancing means basically applying for a loan all over again. Lenders require new home appraisals for refinance transactions, even if the original appraisal is only a few years old. They also generally require verification of employment, family income and ongoing debts. A caveat in the refinance process is that any changes to the applicant’s status since the approval of the original loan reveal themselves. Recent drops in savings accounts, for example, might serve as red flags for lenders.

Refinancing trades the original loan for another loan with rates and terms that better serve the financial interests of the homeowner. Borrowers can choose between 15- and 30-year terms, and fixed vs. variable interest rate loans.

Benefits of refinancing include saving money on monthly mortgage payments, which can free a homeowner from burdensome or sometimes unaffordable loans. The lower payments homeowners make after refinancing free up cash for them to save or spend on other necessities. When owners change a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage, they potentially save thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan. Refinancing an adjustable-rate mortgage into a fixed-rate loan provides homeowners the security of an interest rate that locks in and stays the same over the loan term. Their new monthly mortgage amount stays the same, too, over the life of the loan.

Refinancing has fees associated with it, so owners must spend enough time in the home to recoup the investment they made with the savings gained by refinancing. Those considering selling in a few years might be better off just sticking with the mortgage they currently have.

mortgage refi

Realtor.com urges you to watch out for the following potential obstacles to the re-fi:

Four potential problems you might face:

– You just refinanced a short while ago.
– Your credit score has gone down.
– You missed a payment on your current mortgage.
– You moved out of your home, making it an investment home.

If you just got a mortgage loan, you will need to wait before refinancing. Some lenders will allow you to refinance after one year, others will want a longer period. On the whole, lenders don’t like the idea that you are refinancing often. They make their money on longer term mortgage loans.

If your credit score went down, you might not be eligible to refinance. Or if you are able to, the rates might not be as favorable for you. Lenders give better rates to borrowers with excellent credit.

If you have recently missed even one payment on your mortgage, you probably will not be eligible for a mortgage for a year or two. Not only will your credit score plummet, but lenders especially look at your mortgage history when considering a loan for you. They worry that if you missed a payment once, it could become a pattern. It makes them nervous.

 

Fall Arts Preview

Don Aucoin and The Boston Globe featured SPLENDOR in yesterday’s Fall Arts Preview. Here’s an excerpt:

Questions of Belonging Reverberate on Local Stages
By Don Aucoin
Boston Globe, Sept 7, 2013

Three years ago, Kirsten Greenidge’s “Thanksgiving’’ was the high point of “Grimm,’’ Company One’s evening of short plays by seven local writers adapted from tales by the Brothers Grimm.

During “Thanksgiving,’’ as three women from the same hometown pondered the paths their lives had taken, they spoke of an individualistic high school classmate named Fran Giosa, who had apparently been a social outcast. Afterward, Greenidge couldn’t get Fran, the other women, or that town out of her mind.

So she expanded “Thanksgiving’’ into a full-length drama. Titled “Splendor’’ and slated to premiere at Company One Oct. 18-Nov. 16, Greenidge’s play tells a story about belonging and not belonging — a theme that will be thrashed out on numerous Boston-area stages this fall.

The episodic “Splendor,’’ which spans the years 1965 to 2012, ranges across the intersecting lives of 10 residents of a working-class suburb of Boston, including Fran, the daughter of a white mother and a black father.

“ ‘Splendor’ became for me a way to explore that who’s in, who’s out, and why,’’ Greenidge said in a telephone interview. “I’m intensely interested in race, but when you add other things, it can be a little more difficult to figure out who’s in, who’s out.’’

As she delved deeper into the town and its inhabitants, the playwright said, the experience was akin to looking through a prism: “You keep holding it up to the sun and you see different angles. It’s not just race, it’s not just class, it’s not just gender: It’s all these things together.’’

Greenidge, who lives in Waltham, has demonstrated exceptional acuity in dramatizing those issues in plays like “The Luck of the Irish,’’ which premiered last year at Huntington Theatre Company, and “Bossa Nova,’’ performed at Yale Repertory Theatre in 2010.

In “Splendor,’’ Fran has returned from Chestnut Hill to her hometown after her marriage to a wealthy African-American man falls apart. She needs to decide whether the place where she grew up poor and ostracized can now be home to her and her young daughter, and whether the one solid friendship she had during her youth is worth rekindling. (She also has to map out a plan for dealing with her aggressively outspoken mother, who still lives in the town even while seeming to despise it.) Broadly speaking, Fran confronts a choice about who she is going to be.

Playwright Kirsten Greenidge. Photo by Aram Boghosian.