>Thursday, Des and I set out to see the bull elephant sculpture with the huge dick in the United Nations sculpture garden. (Nothing promotes international understand and peace like bronze elephant cock.) Unfortunately, the sculpture garden is closed for renovations. This may explain why I could never find more information on its hours when I searched the UN website and then called repeatedly. (The calls sent me through a maze of despair in why I pushed many buttons, but never actually spoke to a human.)

Fortunately, the elephant is situated near the street. Ironically, it is impossible to see the elephant's genitals because it is literally surrounded by a lush, overgrown bush. At least that makes me laugh.

Now that the weather has returned to August, it was very steamy and hot as Des and I pounded the pavement of the concrete jungle known as Manhattan yesterday, seeking adventure for my book on things to see and do that are off the beaten (subway) track. We were lead to Theodore Roosevelt's birthplace, which is awesome. Many of TR's safari victims, namely a lion, an elephant foot (not penis), and rhino's foot, are displayed. The tour guide, a very knowledgeable volunteer former history professor named Russell, explained that while TR indeed was an amazing conservationist, the times were certainly different.

"He took a disturbing amount of pleasure in shooting things," Russell acknowledged.

Still, Des and I agreed that TR is pretty much our favorite US president. The times were very different in some ways, and shockingly similar in others. TR stood up for the rights of labor over corporations, health care for all, public parks so that everyone could enjoy the outdoors, and the sense that "with great wealth comes great responsibility," the motto of his Quaker grandmother. (I am glad that her words left a great impression on him than those of his own mother, who grew up on a plantation in Virginia and supported the Confederacy during the Civil War while his dad went off to the front to provide logistical support to Union troops.)

Before I left my apartment, I read a nauseating article in Rolling Stone about the profiteering that is going on in Iraq by corporations allied with Republicans. Not only are they scamming billions from taxpayers and the administration could not care less, but they are directly responsible for the death and mutilation of hundreds of Americans - both troops and civilians - in their fraudulent work. Grover Nordquist was quoted (and maybe this was in a New York Times op-ed, not the magazine article - I read them both at the same time) as saying that they are working hard to get the US back to where we were before that "socialist" Theodore Roosevelt ruined everything. Yet if only our current leaders followed the civilized example of Theodore Roosevelt and served the people instead of indulging their savage blood-lust for money, we'd be a lot better off. It's sad when I look back fondly at the turn of the century as more enlightened.