July 2017


Our BIG NEWS is that we have a contract on The Pink Porch!   We are excited.  Will keep you posted – maybe from The Green Ranch!

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You can tell an unsettling history of New York City through the murder of its single white women.  Elma Sands 1799; Helen Jewett, 1836; Alice Augusta Bowlsby, 1871; the Career Girls, Emily Hoffert and Janice Wylie (who worked at Newsweek), 1963; Kitty Genovese, 1964; Kendra Webdale, 1999; and Sarah Fox, 2004.

Roseann Quinn was alone in the city, trying to build a life. She had some resources and ambitions. She was average, but not ordinary.  Roseann had come to New York in the grimy mid-’80s, just as crack and AIDS was invading, all while Wall Street was seducing young men to yearn for the unapologetic life of Gordon Gekko where “greed is good”.

An encounter in a basement bar, a walk across the street with the lights of her native New Jersey burning in the distance, and she was dead. She was only 28.  Her killer, found quickly, committed suicide in jail. Justice was thus served, crudely and effectively.  Yet Roseann Quinn has not passed into oblivion. She remains with us, reminding us that our safety is not guaranteed.  Roseann Quinn whispers to all women – “you are never safe”.

The 1975 novel, and film starring Diane Keaton and Richard Gere, Looking for Mr. Goodbar, impacted the women of this nation for generations. We pass along the lessons learned even though we may not tell the stories about the unlucky women who have come to serve as history’s unwilling lessons:  we are never safe.  Roseann spent her evening hours, mostly alone, sometimes wanting solitude and other nights craving company. New York back then seemed dangerously exciting; but not the carefree city of Sex in the City Carrie Bradshaw.  She would take long walks through Manhattan to the legendary clubs of Limelight and Danceteria.  Today we see sanitized Disney stores, cell phone kiosks, and chain pharmacies. Her life, in that New York of broken windows, seemed infinitely richer in authenticity.

On the night of New Year’s Day 1973, Roseanne Quinn walked into W.M. Tweeds, her regular pub, in a basement on 72nd Street where there were many other “singles bars.”  It was the kind of place where the music is quiet and the voices naturally low. Tidy but not gleaming in the fashion of today’s bars that seem just a bit too antiseptic.   But those walls whispered of something dark in the human condition, as it was in 1973 or 1799 or still in 2017.

The novel  Looking for Mr. Goodbar, was based on the fatal encounter in those dark wood walls, stained with grease and cigarette smoke.   Where Roseann Quinn would quietly sit hunched over a book and a scotch.  Goodbar endures perhaps because Rosanne Quinn was a classic good girl gone bad. While we have come a “long way baby”, there remains a terrible subtext: Yes, the girl is a victim, she didn’t deserve it, except didn’t she, kind of, just a little bit? 

Roseanne was from the New Jersey suburbs, according to Lacey Fosburgh’s Closing Time.  She went to Manhattan to escape the fate of her sister who had become just another “Catholic baby-making machine.” Back then, women were taking chances, seeking something beyond marriage and babies.  Back then, there were no rules yet about how a “new age’ woman should behave.  Back then, we were in uncharted territory.

Roseanne was not an aimless romantic wandering Greenwich Village and writing poetry in a cold-water flat. She was practical.  She was going to City College.  She was teaching at St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf.  She was having an affair with an English professor. As with most fiction, the truth is stretched and enhanced to entice and satisfy our lascivious selves.  Facts are often –  so – well – ahhh – boring.  Yes, she spent some time at a comfortable neighborhood pub, mostly reading.  Yet, it is here Quinn meets her fate in the form of John Wayne Wilson and was forever condemned for being where he could find her.

Quinn’s body was found by the superintendent of her building, where a fellow teacher from St. Joseph’s went after she failed to show up for her classes. It took several days for the New York Police Department to announce the discovery of Quinn’s body.  The tabloids went crazy.

Susan Brownmiller later wrote about the way the case was covered in the tabloids, surmising that “the subliminal purpose of the tabloid rape-murder headline is to provide male readers with enough stimulation for fantasy.” Brownmiller wrote a classic 1975 book about rape.  Against Our Will notes that “women who die violently in New York City and who fall into the category of young, white and beautiful are memorialized in tabloid headlines and story copy that attests to their physical appeal to men, whether or not their physical appeal was actually related to the crime.”  This remains a fair critique even four decades later.

“The reason Roseann Quinn’s death terrified people wasn’t that she was a freak or a hippie,” wrote Sady Doyle a couple of years back. “It was that she was steadily employed, modestly dressed, well-liked. She was normal.

Goodbar may be as much about men as it is about women. While its portrayal of women is uncomfortable, its portrayal of men is unbearable. It is curious that by the bedside of Roseann Quinn was a copy of Deliverance, the 1970 novel by James Dickey. There are no women in this book about four guys on a canoe trip.  The most famous scene in the film is when Bobby is raped by a hostile local who tells him to “squeal like a pig”. Deliverance is about the violence in the heart of all men.

When traveling on business I am often alone.  I feel a little “dangerous” when ordering a drink before dinner.  I try to sip it in a way that suggests I am totally comfortable. Yet, it is still rare in 2017 to see a woman alone in a bar, sitting by herself, snug in her solitude, looking for no one, asking for nothing.

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Dr. Vallerie Allen

 In addition to our DNA, a major influence on who we are and who we become is our environment. This is the question of Nature vs Nurture. Nature is our given DNA, our specific genetic makeup. Nurture is the environment in which we live.

This complex set of factors and experiences have a major impact on the direction of our lives. However, if environment were the sole dictator of our behavior, it is unlikely a teacher’s child would drop out of school, a police officer’s child would shoplift, or a minister’s child would tell a lie. Conversely, the child of an alcoholic would drink, the child of a criminal would commit crimes, and the child of a drug user would be an addict. Although these things sometimes happen, reality suggests this line of reasoning is far from absolute.

Our environment begins at the moment of conception, which is different for each of us. Consider a child born to a young, healthy married couple or the infant born to a malnourished, unmarried, homeless, 15-year-old girl.  We all enter this world without choice of family or circumstances. Later in life, we can choose with whom we associate, but we cannot choose our ancestors. There is a vast difference in the environmental factors affecting each of us.

As an infant, you were not born angry, anxious, or depressed. You were not intent on criminal acts or mischievous behavior. You were innocent. You were born into this world with a specific genetic and biological make up. You were also born into a certain life style and family circumstance. As a child, you were pushed and pulled, bent and molded, to fit in and adapt to your environment.

An infant born into a loving, nurturing family, willing and able to provide beyond the basics of food, clothing, and shelter starts life with positive advantages. This baby will have the benefits of extended family, educational opportunities, and social enrichment. The family supports the youngster in community activities, such as the church choir, school, sports, and holiday celebrations. This family values books and travel. They have the wherewithal to provide money and invest time to maximize their child’s potential.

Not every child is this fortunate. This is not to say there is fault involved. A child born into poverty or with a chronic medical condition is not always the product of loveless, inattentive parents. What if the pregnant woman is in an auto accident resulting in a premature birth with complications? What if the mother is in the military, enduring vigorous and rugged living conditions prior to knowing she is pregnant? What of children born in war-torn countries? There are infants born to drug using parents. Children are often born to parents who are reckless and engage in self-endangering behaviors.

Life and death are decided by adults. Abortion, war, homicide, suicide, are not the decisions of children. Many youngsters suffer from the harshness of their environmental conditions during their developmental years. Do not mistake this as condemnation to a troubled and unfulfilled life, because now enters factor three, our unique personality.

Picture Me Perfect

When presented with situations, we all have the right of choice. There are those who must touch the hot stove. They are burned. They are angry at the stove. They go back and do it again, expecting a different outcome. They are burned and again blame the stove. They are outraged. They are hurt and believe it wasn’t their fault. They are angry, often strike out, retaliate against others, and feel justified in doing so.

You shake your head in amazement, bewildered. You ask, When will they learn? How can they be so foolish? Why don’t they ever listen? What will it take for them to understand? The answer is that no one is ready until he’s ready.

Perhaps you remember the adage, You cannot put an old head on young shoulders. Most of us take advantage of the wisdom of others. When they speak, we listen. We consider the options, explore possible alternatives, and weigh positive and negative outcomes. We can learn from the mistakes and experiences of others, without having to endure the events ourselves.

After all, must all drug counselors have been drug users? Must all obstetricians have given birth? Must all music lovers have been musicians? No, but they can teach, explain, and behave in ways that help us learn if we are open to it. When the student is ready, the teacher arrives.

There is the child who, despite warnings, chases the bumblebee. Loved ones forewarn, admonish, and run interference, to no avail. They wait for the ultimate outcome. The child succeeds in catching the bumblebee and gets stung. Some will respond to the child with comfort, support, and acceptance. Others will respond with blame, anger, and rejection. Sometimes the response of others helps us do better in life, sometimes it does not. Some may present a good example, others a bad experience. Either way, we learn from those in our life.

Our thoughts and feelings lead to our behavior and this is the essence of our unique personality traits. Each of us has a personal worldview. This encompasses how we assess events in our lives and the world at large. It also includes how we react and respond within our environment.

If you were able to write the perfect life script for yourself, what would it look like? What do you value the most? Some possibilities are health, security, wealth, loving relationships, or career success. Name the things that are most important to you and why. Once you know what you want and need, you can make a plan to have these things in your life to find success, happiness, and peace.

This is an edited excerpt from a book by Dr. Valerie Allen, Beyond the Inkblots: Confusion to Harmony.    Amazon.com/dp/1478146117

Dr. Valerie Allen is a licensed school psychologist and board-certified case manager. She has taught students from elementary school through graduate studies in the fields of education and mental health. She is a popular author of children’s books, short stories, fiction, and non-fiction. Amazon.com/author/valerieallen

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The collaborative partners of the Greater Red Hills Awareness Initiative seek to broaden the public’s recognition of the breadth of natural, historical and cultural amenities of the region. This increased public awareness begins with the residents of the Red Hills Region. Project partners want to ensure that Red Hills’ dwellers are familiar with the exceptionality of their home.  Learn more about the Greater Red Hills Awareness Initiative and partner organizations.  For more information, please contact:  Brian Wiebler, Red Hills Outreach & Education Coordinator,850-893-4153, ext. 345; brian@ttrs.org    Learn more at www.redhillsregion.org   and http://talltimbers.org/

The Red Hills Region is a 300,000-acre area located between Thomasville, Ga and Tallahassee, FL.  Known for its rolling hills, red clay soils, abundant lakes, the region is rich in biological diversity, historic resources, and scenic beauty.  Often called the land between two rivers, the Red Hills Region is nestled between the scenic Ochlockonee and Aucilla Rivers. The region serves as a lifeline between coastal and northern wildlands.  Natural, historical, and cultural wonders abound throughout the Red Hills.  Over the centuries many cultures have left an imprint which is reflected in the wealth of historic sites found in the Red Hills, from Native American ceremonial mound centers, Spanish missions, antebellum plantation mansions, tenant farms, to an array of other tangible reminders of the Red Hills’ history.  Many of these sites and districts are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are open to the public. The collaborative partners of the Red Hills Initiative invite you to explore the many wonders of the region


   Backstreet Blues Chophouse and Oyster Bar
6500 SW Archer Rd, Gainesville, FL, 32608,  (Right next to Cloud 9 Spa!),  Phone: 352-363-6792  We had the great good fortune to be taken to Backstreet Blues Chophouse and Oyster Bar by our son to celebrate his dad’s birthday on Wine-Down Wednesday. It was hard to choose from the exciting menu.  Among us we tried a wide variety.
STARTERS:  Unique cocktails and wine along with MONDO DEL FORMAGGIO, Chef’s choice of gourmet cheeses served Crostini, an OYSTER SAMPLER  4 pairs of any oyster varieties.   Several Salads including the grilled WHITE HOUSE CAESAR SALAD AND THE CHOPHOUSE SALAD.

ENTREES:  Our youngest member had the 8 OZ FILET, the most tender cut.  The birthday boy had the 18 OZ PRIME RIBEYE, the most flavorful of all of their steaks. Our host had the NEW ZEALAND SOUS VIDE LAMB CHOPS served atop a fig Balsamic reduction. He said he had never had this dish as well prepared.  My personal choice:  FRESH GULF RED FISH served with a lemon-and-butter crabmeat sauce. Excellent delicate flavors with a good-sized portion!  And finally, our vegetarian had TUSCAN BRUSCHETTA with the soup du jour.  For details about each dish, check out their website http://www.backstreetblueschophouse.com/home.html
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