Let It Snow!

I officially love snowstorms. Especially ones that halt anything but essential activity within hundreds of miles of its core. Saturday’s wet and out-of-season storm rescued me from attending a neighbor’s Halloween costume party. It’s an annual event, and although it didn’t fill me with any overly introspective apprehensions, the thought of going was a nuisance.

I’ve known my neighbors for seven years, generally think highly of them, and our kids are good friends. I don’t think highly of Halloween, however. It is a pagan holiday, and is as much a part of my Christian identity as Diwali or Hanukkah. Would anyone catch me pressuring Hindus or Jews to sing hymns, build a nativity scene or wax gluttonous and materialistic in the run-up to December 25? Likewise, I’ve always been puzzled when grown people, including Hubby, figure that Halloween festivities are a foregone conclusion, and are curious about why I don’t want to dress my child up in occult, or any other costume for that matter. I’m fascinated with several different turns in the Halloween discussion: their admonitions that my child will force this issue on me, the rather self-defeating argument that celebrating Halloween is not big deal (so why waste time and money on this thing?), and the shocking observation—from educated, middle-aged people—that ‘everyone else does it’. It’s at that point when I start to wonder where I am and how I came to be trapped in a BAD after-school special. Remember those?

And yet, in the interest of not raising a socially awkward child, I compromised. I hunted down a dirndl for her to wear to the festivities at school and in the neighborhood. Ocktoberfest in comparison is a nice, legitimate cultural festival that I can adapt nicely to the season. Even if Hubby’s paternal line hasn’t lived in Germany for 120 years. Even if we don’t speak a lick of German. Dirndls are the cutest cultural outfits ever, so dressing her up in one of them worked out to be a very fine compromise!

After I watched that snow come down, and listened to Hubby report that non-essential travel would be foolish, I texted my regrets to my friend. The storm turned out to be a doozy. It saddled stately oak trees with wet snow while they were in late autumn bloom. The combined weight of the snow and leaves snapped off heavy boughs. Centuries-old trees were uprooted and toppled, like a child’s discarded toys. We lost partial power and all our heat.

I mourn the demise of majestic oaks as much as the next city girl, but the bigger issue here is that snow has also spared me from unwanted social contact more than once. Almost three years ago, on a beatific Saturday in January, another weekend snowstorm prevented a female friend of Hubby’s and her family from visiting us at our new house. For several reasons, that woman did not impress me. When we first became acquainted through Hubby, I found her to be aloof. Snooty people don’t bother me, so long as they keep to their part of the sandbox, and to be fair, people still accuse me of being standoffish. But as time passed, I watched her behave ungraciously on a few occasions. The deal breaker came when Hubby and I were halfway through our engagement, and I found out that she had delivered to him a stream of withering insults about me, beyond the garden-variety mean girl scratches. Modern women furnish their social circles with these oddities called “frenemies.” That useless knick knack will never find its way into my life. It sounds like a huge waste of time and intelligence for women to put on false airs and graces for people they cannot ultimately trust. After witnessing that onslaught of nastiness and other tacky behavior, I rebuffed her elegant parlor pretenses and decided to compartmentalize her. I prayed I wouldn’t have to show her around my three-story Queen Anne. We have not, blessedly, had much contact since.

Snowstorms can be a pain for all of the work and trouble that ensues—the shoveling, salting, power cuts, and depending on atmospheric temperatures, the black ice. But whenever diplomatic relations with female heads of household are on ice, I’ll take the blocked roads, too. I say let it snow.


A World Trade Center Valentine


For once, I'm happy to be a packrat.

Memorial ribbons outside St. Paul's Chapel

More than 11 years ago, on St. Valentine’s Day, I started my commute home from my magazine job in Manhattan. I headed toward the World Trade Center, marching past the clumps of sleek and fashionably dressed people rushing to their restaurant reservations. Some were headed home to change into even more stylish ensembles for the evening. All the while, I silently ranted about my curmudgeonly boyfriend.

“Everyone else is in the mood for St. Valentine’s Day, but not him,” I mumbled. And then I sank into a miserable reverie. Hubby, then Boyfriend, had effectively driven all hopes of a nice St. Valentine’s Day out of my mind, with his disapproving speeches about what a “marketing vehicle,” St. Valentine’s Day was. Just another excuse for celebrity worship; a chance to foolishly try to emulate them; an occasion to separate people from their hard-earned money. So instead of maybe eating out in the city that evening, I would head back to my little apartment in New Jersey, and he’d go back to his walk-up in Brooklyn. It was just another evening.

There was no doubt about it. My boyfriend was the Grinch of St. Valentine’s Day. Then I savaged the guy in my mind. He’s the biggest grouch who ever lived! Every other lady with a significant other will be getting flowers today. But not me, oh no! I have to be content with a lousy phone call, at 9:30 pm, as usual. And why can’t he ever wait until after “Girlfriends” or “Half & Half” or whatever other Black sitcom that might be on that evening wraps up before calling me? It’s bad enough I get bupkus on St. Valentine’s Day, but to interrupt my Me Time, too?! Ugh!!

I tramped into the station, and practically tore my train pass out of my purse as I headed to the turnstiles. Then I stopped. There he was, standing in front of one of the gates, with gifts for me. He held a bag from Crabtree & Evelyn and a bouquet of the prettiest pale pink French tulips. No one had ever given me presents like those before. People all around us looked as I walked up to him, gave him a kiss, and he gave me my presents. He explained that he really did have a lot of work to do, and needed to go back to Brooklyn, but he wanted to give me something nice for St. Valentine’s Day. In usual Hubby fashion, he went into some detail about conversations with the sales ladies and other patrons at the Crabtree & Evelyn shop, and at the florist. But he didn’t tell me what was in the Crabtree & Evelyn package.

Who cared about them, anyway?!

I was holding the best St. Valentine’s Day present ever. From the world’s nicest boyfriend. He wasn’t a Grinch, he was a prankster, that’s what he was. Had me believing I would go home empty handed while every other sweetheart at least got something. When all along, this was coming. After another long, warm hug and a smooch, I traipsed onto my train. Everything was so pretty around me. People on the train admired the gifts. One woman told me that French tulips are very rare, and told me how to cut, arrange and water them to extend their lives. More than a year after later, the whole place was a massive crime scene, the site of nearly 3,000 murders.

From Canada, a country whose citizens opened their homes and hosted stranded Americans during a no-fly order over U.S. skies after the attacks.

Everyone else is commemorating the World Trade Center today by remembering the victims of the attacks 10 years ago. But none of my friends or relatives died in any of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks anywhere. My way of remembering was to just leave money at St. Paul’s Chapel, across the street from the site. I’ve enjoyed the building and grounds, so why not? When I walk the perimeter of Ground Zero each day during my commute, I remember what the site used to look like, and the role it played in my everyday life. I frequented the concourse shops, covered press conferences and banking conferences on the site, right up until one month before the attacks. Hubby and I once had dinner at the Windows on the World, and I had a job interview at a news service on one of the upper floors of the south tower. As I rode the high-speed elevator to the company’s offices that day, my ears—and everyone else’s—popped as if we were on a jet liner taking flight. Being in the World Trade Center carried that mystique, of being on really important business or mingling with a crowd that seemed to exist on a higher social plane than those in my everyday life.

I heard a commentator say this morning that with the 10th anniversary, Americans will begin to put the memories of that day—the passenger jets striking the buildings, of the streets below being filled with falling buildings and plumes of poisonous smoke—into an historical context, instead of a recent trauma. For me, the attacks 10 years ago have already passed into history; a living, instructive history that admonishes me about monstrous dangers lurking in our world. I watched the remnants of the first plane smolder in the first tower that day, from my workplace in Rockefeller Center, then panicked like everyone else as we watched the second plane strike, only to learn that the Pentagon had been hit, and another airliner had crashed in a field in western Pennsylvania. That transformation started when I stepped onto a ferry with hundreds of other New Jersey commuters, and watched the smoky remains of the north and south towers drift across the harbor as we made our escape from the island. It is hastened by the architecture of the new buildings, whose jagged angles slightly convey shattered glass and splintered lives.

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To Kevin and the Rest, Thank You

Thursday morning I stepped onto my NYC-bound train feeling lousy. My stomach felt strangely queasy, probably because I had not slept well at all the night before. Baby awoke at minutes past one after a bad dream, Hubby is working around the clock on intense deadlines so he slept downstairs to avoid disturbing us when he got up for a 5 a.m. writing session, and I had congested sinuses.

So when I saw a solid row of guys sitting down, I didn’t like it. One Black gentleman correctly read my face, and gave me his seat. I was soooo grateful to take a load off, and thanked him as I sat down.

Thanks again to that guy and others like him, specifically Black men. I know I’ve come down on the ones who have been prodigious pests, and other bloggers and vloggers have blasted certain Black men for their poor behavior in public. But I have to tell you, after I sat down and my head stopped spinning, I felt like any guy anywhere in the Northeast who gives up his train seat is a local hero.

And there are many more guys like him, if you look closely. I was at the post office last year, sending off some packages, and was in line behind a woman, a sister, who was sticking stamps on a large stack of envelopes. She worked quietly, unfurling a long roll of postage stamps and she peeled them off one by one and stuck them on the envelopes. A Black man named ‘Kevin’ or so his company ID badge said (I wasn’t stalking! LOL.) offered to help her complete the task.  She said “Sure,” and gave him a stack of envelopes to work on. My hands were full of this, that and the other, so I couldn’t join the stamping party. But Kevin cut the stamping time in half for that woman, and helped her stack the enveloped neatly again. It was very pleasant to see people in New York City just being nice to each other, despite all their errands and job responsibilities. Kevin, whoever he is, appears to be a really nice guy, and I hope that he is being treated with the same neighborly generosity he showed that woman.

Now, if only he and that nice guy from the train this morning could influence their peers in a positive way, this whole sharp-elbowed, hard-driving Northeast region would be absolutely sunny and pleasant all the time!

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Now the Law Professors Say ‘Marry Out’

This blog will never proselytize Black women to marry interacially. It is purely for entrainment purposes, and I Have no interest in getting into overly political discussions about who people should marry. It would be bad enough for me to come across like I defaulted to men outside my race because there weren’t enough Black guys to go around, however true or untrue that may be. Other patterns I’ve seen out there almost arrange guys into some kind of hierarchy where white guys are big hunting game.

Some bloggers, though, are all about it. Right now, they are probably feeling quite vindicated and gleefully tapping away about news of an upcoming book by Stanford Law School professor Ralph Richard Banks, which ultimately suggests that black women should shift the relationship power balance by considering interracial marriage. It’s titled: “Is Marriage for White People?: How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone.” Banks’ book comes out in September, so I haven’t read a copy. (The Latte Cafe is not an official, accredited news/opinion outlet with a book review staff. Sorry.) The Root is a big enough organization for that, and you can find the review here.

This is an important development, whatever your views are about interracial relationships. It’s one thing for a clumsily worded blog to evangelize Black women to the ranks of interracial couples. But when a Stanford Law School professor puts his seal of approval on the idea? Well, now the concept has more credibility, a chance to go mainstream. Maybe Black women might finally listen. All the same, I’ll keep away from telling Black women to consider  marrying interracially like I have. As we all know, there are lots of examples of successful intra-racial marriages and long-term relationships. And if hordes of Black women would rather remain single than intermarry, what it is to me or anyone else?

Of course, Banks’ book has already stirred up a catfight on comment boards. But that’s probably only going to work in his favor and rack up hearty pre-order sales on Amazon. Good for him, I say. His ideas pose no real harm to anyone, and some people might even expand their minds. Plus, the older I get the more I love the idea of generating income independent of full-time job slavery.

Aside from the usual scenario playing out here—Black racial purists and Black men who feel slighted (for some odd reason) will complain about the book—I can’t envision any major social or cultural shift stemming from it. Most Black women want to marry Black men and that’s that. I’m sure Banks’ book is well-researched and well-written, but our general dating preferences will ensure that most of us stay single.


Fashion Score!

Last year, I cut through a discount fashion department store on my way to work, and stopped at a rack of beautiful designer handbags. I pulled out a fierce Oryany bag with irresitible hardware on its leather strap, but held back from buying it on impulse. I wanted to mull it and figure out if I had enough free cash to buy it. I went to work, and made my calculations. After only a few hours, I went back to buy it, but the thing was gone!

I did not make the same mistake this year, that’s for sure. This time, I caught the shop girl as she was stocking the racks, one pretty bag at a time. She had a WHOLE BIN of designer goodies, looking for good homes. I asked her if she was going to stack the entire rack with Oryany bags (please, Jesus!), but she said I’d have to check.

Soon after she hung this beauty, I was running my hand over its buttery smooth leather, zipping and unzipping the front pockets, and checking out the cavernous interior. It was a thing of beauty. I glanced at my watch, doing my scheming and calculations on the spot. When I saw how these front pockets peeled away like the skin of a mango or papaya, it was a done deal.




So the other kids—Prada and Ferragamo—have a new sibling now.


I’m Not an Ice Queen—Honest!

Does anyone out there think that Black women sometimes come across as … very serious and hard to pin down to a pleasant casual conversation?  I think so. After a few encounters with several Black women in another department at my company, I think many of us project a ‘don’t come hither’ vibe unknowingly. It dampens pleasant mornings, hinders friendships from forming, and (since we’re blogging about relationships) dissuades eligible bachelors from other races and ethnic groups from getting their hopes up with us.

Here is what happened.

A few weeks ago, I went to the kitchen at my office to wash my coffee mug. Another woman, from accounts payable, I think, was there doing the same. I gave her a bright, brisk “hello,” and we had a nice casual conversation. I thought all was fine, until she explained that she was relieved I was being so friendly, because she previously thought I didn’t like her.

Here we go again, I thought. Some other thin-skinned character claims I’ve snubbed her. I heaved a big sigh, inwardly, and asked, “Why do you say that?” She explained that on a few occasions, she has tried to exchange pleasantries with me in the morning or what have you, but that I never responded. I didn’t think it was worth creating any animosity with this woman by asking her “Are you sure? Maybe you misread me.” Instead, I apologized if I came across as rude. Her whole demeanor changed. She started talking about my beautiful smile and all that. So we finished our ‘chores’ and went back to our separate departments.

Reader, this does not surprise me, because I am a very serious person at work. It takes more than a few months for me to start chatting people up and making acquaintances. Unless the other person and I have an instant rapport, I make polite conversation and dole out small bits of information about my personal life until I feel at ease about being more open. But to ignore a hello from someone, especially if that person said it loud enough for me to hear? Well, that’s highly unlikely. Only if someone has horrid and insufferable, or is closely related to someone like that, do I really keep my distance.

But then something else happened a few days later. I started getting warmer, brighter smiles from her colleagues whenever I passed them in the halls or what have you. On the Friday before Mother’s Day, one of them invited a friend to stage a costume jewelry sale in one of the lower conference rooms. I saw them as I was heading to the same kitchen to wash that same coffee mug. I went in, because the mood seemed really casual. As I was picking through the stuff, this other woman made the same claim, that she was relieved I was being so friendly and she previously thought I didn’t like her.

OK. Look. I don’t know who has been saying what about me in accounts payable, but this whole claim that I ‘don’t like them’ is a crock. And anyway, Paige Turner is not the office ice queen up in here. Why was I being tried for bitchcraft in their little court, especially after I’ve had several nice little exchanges with at least a couple other ladies in that same department? Couldn’t someone testify on my behalf before someone slammed down the gavel on me?

And then I started to calm down and think about what this says of Black women and our different relationships. The women who seemed to have me pegged as unfriendly all have Caribbean accents. Wouldn’t doubt if two of them are Jamaican. I think it is far, far easier to make friends with Americans than it is with Jamaicans, because in many cases our mothers admonished us to “mind who you keep company with.” And so we learned to go through school, work, the mall etc., being very discerning when choosing our friends and boyfriends (eventually husbands). When it came to the workplace, we were told to do a great job, get promoted, not to make fools of ourselves and to mind our own business. It took me a long time to get on friendly terms with a couple of other Jamaican women in the office, but that’s just the way it is. They were always absorbed in their work. I never thought I was less likable because a couple of editors were taking a while to learn my name.

Being a journalist also works against me. This is a demanding profession, with long hours and exacting standards. One is always pressed for creative story ideas, penetrating reporting, precision with any and all facts, smart analysis and firm deadlines. Sometimes, you get editors with volatile dispositions, which makes coming to work everyday unpleasant. The other journalists I see around the office are usually pre-occupied with deadlines throughout the day. Every now and then, I come across a woman who is especially prone to withdrawing into her own little world, becoming so lost in her thoughts that she will pass within inches of me without so much as looking in my direction or even being aware that I’m there. I’ve never been that extreme, but I will own up to coming across as serious and unapproachable. That was especially the case up until last November, for various reasons that I won’t talk about.

Let’s assume that thousands of other Black women have my temperament, and have kept office friendships at bay with their sharp, all-business expressions. How much more discouraging have we been toward guys who don’t necessarily know how to approach us, but might want to try?

Better Late Than Never!

It is Black History Month, readers, or it was. This year all of my best intentions to express some form of racial pride and civic awareness flew out the window, do you hear me? Although this is the 28th, which means Black History Month is gasping its last breath, I still want to give my two cents and talk about a couple of high-achieving Blacks whom you might want to remember.

How do you spell s-u-c-c-e-s-s?

Jody-Anne Maxwell. This young lady is from Kingston, Jamaica, the island where both my parents were born. At 12 years old, in 1998, Miss Maxwell won the Scripps National Spelling Bee. She became the first—and only—Black competitor to win the honor. Thirteen years later, Maxwell is a practicing attorney in Jamaica, a national hero for her country and a living piece of Black history. I was a general assignment reporter at my city’s newspaper when Miss Maxwell won that competition, and I was on shift the morning that the winners were announced in the paper. Unfortunately, our newspaper decided to run a photo of the local competitor, a young Caucasian girl. One of the readers, who happened to be an old friend of my mother’s, was livid when she saw the paper. She called up, and who should answer but little old me? I knew she was right: the logic of running the losing competitor’s photo, and none at all of the winner, did not stick. In previous years, the winners had been pictured. I was so embarrassed that my editors have committed such an obvious slight. In the future, I hope they decided to run a normal size photo of the winner and a small one of the local competitor.

A little hyberbole anyone?

Roi Ottley. He was a foreign correspondent, journalist and best-selling author of “New World A-Coming: Inside Black America.” He had a seriously accomplished career. Ottley was the first African-American journalist to be employed as a working war correspondent for a nationally known magazine and a major white daily newspaper. He later became a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and broadcasted reports for both the Columbia Broadcasting System and the British Broadcasting System. In 1943, he served as publicity director for the National CIO War Relief Committee. Of course, I had to try to highlight a writer! Read more about Ottley at: http://www.answers.com/topic/roi-ottley#ixzz1FJbDZDYE

Update: A Dangerous Truth Concealed

If you’re a New Yorker, or just like talking current affairs in Black communities, you know that Live Always pulled down a massive billboard in New York City’s SoHo section. It offended hordes of pro-choice, progressive people who thought it was wrong to put Black women on blast like that.

Although I don’t think Black women should be publicly hammered, I think this whole controversy says more about our inability to have a much-needed talk about Black women’s reproductive health. We have far too many abortions, as I stated before. The reasons could stem from economics or social isolation. Whatever the reasons are, we need to show women how to effectively deal with them, instead of telling women that it’s OK to destroy the pregnancy.

Abortions could have lasting effects, like scar tissue on the uterine wall that hinders future fertilized eggs from attaching. A cervix that starts to dilate prematurely during a later pregnancy.
Isn’t it better for a woman to delay a pregnancy (abstinence or birth control is up to the woman), or considet adoption than undergo a procedure with so many awful consequences? I think so.

Most of all, New Yorkers really surprised me with their shrill reactionary response to this. Apparently, they’re not ready to talk about it, either. One of these broadcast stories interviewed a guy, of all people, about this. Considering that loads of women abort because their relationship to a boyfriend or husband is shaky, I thought his pro-choice stance was ultimately self-serving.

I support women’s rights in all forms, but when we are talking about such extreme measures for manageable issues, it makes me pause.

A Dangerous Truth

Confronting a squeamish truthLike most Black women everywhere across the country, this story had me engrossed in the morning newspaper. An advocacy group called Life Always hung a three-story billboard on the side of a building in SoHo, New York City. It screams: “The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.”  Unfortunately for us, this billboard does the job and tells the truth. We can squabble about what the real leading causes of mortality are among African-Americans. But facts—incontrovertible facts—push an uncomfortable truth right into our faces. Black women in this country have some of the highest abortion rates compared with women from other racial and ethnic groups. Take a look at some of these numbers from the Guttmacher Institute.

Eighteen percent of U.S. women obtaining abortions are teenagers; those aged 15-17 obtain 6% of all abortions, teens aged 18-19 obtain 11%, and teens under age 15 obtain 0.4%.

Women in their twenties account for more than half of all abortions; women aged 20–24 obtain 33% of all abortions, and women aged 25-29 obtain 24%.

Thirty percent of abortions occur to non-Hispanic black women, 36% to non-Hispanic white women, 25% to Hispanic women and 9% to women of other races.

Thirty-seven percent of women obtaining abortions identify as Protestant and 28% as Catholic.

Women who have never married and are not cohabiting account for 45% of all abortions.

About 61% of abortions are obtained by women who have one or more children.

Forty-two percent of women obtaining abortions have incomes below 100% of the federal poverty level ($10,830 for a single woman with no children).

Twenty-seven percent of women obtaining abortions have incomes between 100-199% of the federal poverty level.*

The reasons women give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life. Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.

It says we are often unprepared for motherhood, or for an additional child, for one reason or another. If we took the time to get to the root cause of high abortion rates among Black women, then all of the peripheral comments that inevitably froth up at a time like this—about a woman’s choice, and how Christian groups should not force their opinions on others—will fall away. As they should. The real issue here is not whether a Christian group is crossing the line of decency and respect by publicly pointing out statistics. It should be: Why are so many Black women aborting their children? Where are the Black fathers and support systems to help her carry that responsibility? Are the support systems being strained beyond their capacity? Shouldn’t more Black women wait until they are educated and self-sufficient before getting pregnant?

I respect all sorts of family units. It is not my style to condemn anyone for not getting the ring, wedding, house and babies in that order with one man only until they die. Inevitably, well-meaning men and women on the street, bloggers, or whoever will say that no group should try to override a woman’s right to choose. My counter argument is this: Blacks are annihilating themselves with these rates of abortion.  If women want to be really empowered, wouldn’t it be better to try to make better choices about their lives leading up to the positive pregnancy test? Choose responsible, stand-up men as partners. Choose to avoid pregnancy for as long as it takes to get a degree, a comfortable apartment and money saved. After that, the way a woman chooses to structure her family unit is between her, the man and her Creator.

One last thing: African-Americans are not the first to have their abortion secrets aired publicly like that. India and China have had longstanding practices of discarding baby girls through infanticide and abortions, mainly due to cultural preferences for boys and population control. This has been discussed at length in documentaries, national newspapers, magazines and even dramatized on television. As societies, they had to talk about their ugly truths, and will be doing so for generations to come. Would it be so bad if Blacks shone a light on our own issues and cleaned house a bit?

You’ve probably seen the offending billboard by now. If not, here is a link: Metro – Uproar over abortion billboard.

Poor Christina

The Pittsburgh Steelers were ultimately defeated in last night’s Super Bowl game against the Green Bay Packers, but it was poor Christina Aguilera who took the real thrashing. The woman incurred the wrath of patriots and music fans alike when she flubbed our national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner. It is a notoriously difficult song, tripping up seasoned professionals and phenomenal young talent alike. In Christina’s case, she changed the wording of two lines, totally leaving out the bit about ramparts. I saw videos of her performance, as I’m sure the whole country has by now. After a couple of days, people will forgive her and remember that she attempted it respectfully, unlike a certain sitcom mom who grabbed her crotch and spat.

In the end, I don’t think it’s fair to expect ANYONE to surpass what Whitney Houston did at the Super Bowl in 1991. Good HEAVENS, that woman is blessed with a strong, distinctive, expressive, silvery, vibrant—and to most other singers in her peak—threatening. It is beyond words. Or was, if you are scrutinizing her post-recovery performances. I’m rooting for Whitney to regain her former glory. Even if she never, ever sings in concert or records another album, I just want her to be well again.

Hubby once told me that when Whitney Houston burst onto the pop music scene, he didn’t take her seriously as a singer, because she was too pretty. OK, Mr, Cynical. Ms. Houston woman KILLED this song. Twice. She set the high mark that others have to aim for, if they want to be remembered for performing it at all.

Jennifer Hudson did that, coming  a very, very close third (see below) in my eyes, because she gave the song a completely different quality and expression that will also be very hard for anyone to match. Beyonce—as much as I respect her—gets an honorable mention. Mariah Carey tore the roof off an arena when she performed it at an NBA game, but beyond that, I don’t remember any other performances of the Star-Spangled Banner. But I’m open to listening.

Oh, and for those who say Whitney’s Super Bowl rendition was pre-recorded, here is a video of a live performance during a concert to welcome home troops. Still massively impressive, and I think this version takes second.

So let Christina live this one down, America. Whitney owns this song and until another miraculous voice comes along, very little can be done about it. And you know what? I’ll set the example by not even posting links to any story, video or other content documenting her very human mistake.