I'm all excited about seeing Boy George spin records at the dance party tomorrow night...so the only thing I'm thinking about is outfits, dance moves and the metaphysical...ya know, the usual.
Anyway -- here's a fun site to waste some time: www.cultnews.net. They talk about Star Trek, Madonna, Moonies, Skinheads, UFO believers and Scientology...ya know, the usual.
That's it from me...I gotta break a move and bike to the bank! Be safe! Be well! And join a cult while you're at it...we're thinking of ways to develop a de-programming unit within the United Church of Bitchitude and Latter-Day Drunks -- and you could be our first test subject.
Have a good weekend!
I'm so tickled today, kids!
I just read that some folks are trying to establish a co-operative photographic darkroom in my neighborhood.
I've been chatting about getting together a group of folks for an old-school pin-hole camera day...
There's more info here and these are the early ideas about the space:
The DarkroomIf you're interested in finding out more information about the co-op, please e-mail: Nick Clark or Amanda Riley.
Our Mission Statement: The Darkroom is a co-operative of fine art photographers inspired to preserve the quality of a traditional art form. Through combining the darkroom with the gallery space, we provide a venue for the artistic community to explore and execute their creative ideas from beginning (conception) to end (wall space/gallery show). As a co-operative (like minded group of artists) we will provide an artistic presence thereby (that will) enriching the community around us.
We know that there are other people in the St. Louis area that are as passionate about "fine art" photography.
So…we are going to blend a photographic cooperative and Shaw's Gallery into a place where people can come together, produce work and view fine art.
This is what we will have to offer any photographer at 1818 Thurman directly behind Shaw's gallery.
-- A shooting studio 30x40 12ft ceilings with nice natural light (in the future).
-- Film loading room for 4x5 and 8x10.
-- Film process room with film dryer, distilled water machine, temp controlled water.
-- Four enlarger work stations, 35mm to 8x10.
-- A 29ft sink for B&W processing up to 39x49 prints, temp controlled water.
-- Final print wash / print viewing sink with temp controlled water.
-- Dry mount press with all the tools to frame your final print.
-- Shaw's Gallery to show and sell your fine prints.
Do you get it? This can be a kind of a one stop for photographers that would like to take it one step further.
-- You expose your film in the field or in the studio.
-- Process your film in the darkroom.
-- Enlarge your prints in the darkroom.
-- Mount and frame your prints in the shop.
-- Then show your "fine prints" at Shaw's Gallery.
We would like to assemble ten to twenty people that would like to share their photographic knowledge and experiences together in one of the best photo collectives in the Midwest .
I've been working on a collection of short stories for a while now. They are disarmingly poignant and peppered with pop culture references, as is my way.
I was starting to feel like I'd finessed a couple of them into something truly good and
the other day, I overheard some goth gal up in the Hot Topic talking about another Augusten Burrough's original. It’s sordidness bears a freakish similarity to my own night of depravity with a mentally retarded midget stripper.
"Fuck him!" I thought - meaning Augusten, not the stripper - which isn't as likely to happen these days, now that I'm not a huge seething mess of substance abuse. And while we’re on the subject matter of junkie-mess authors, I’d just like to say one thing to Mister Burroughs, “Ya, know, Augusten – you have Julianne Moore playing your mother in a movie! Can’t you just enjoy your royalties, your husband and your recovery and give the rest of us a break?”
And don't even think of asking why I was in a Hot Topic in the first place!
"Screw it…fine!" I thought - realizing that pretend-telling-off Augusten would do me no-good. I would simply have to write about and even more sordid evening that I once spent with a very handsome, rugby-playing, Polo-shirt-wearing, jock in a jock-strap computer programmer. Yeah...he sounds all cute and hot (which he was) but he also convinced me it would be fun to hang out with his "friends" in a crack house!
Trust -- all I wanted was a blow job -- I think crack (as in cocaine) is vastly over-rated. But he needed his fix -- and...well...things just seem to happen that way in my world. Some people who want a blow job get a blow job. Some people, like myself, find themselves turning blue and passing out in slings, sleeping with mentally retarded midget strippers or following a super-hot dude into a crack house, just for a little man-on-man action.
Blow jobs! Hah! Who needs 'em? I have another craft to perfect and enjoy....
So - I've been focusing my energies on writing about blow jobs rather than getting them.
This lady comes out with an even better fucking book!
In case you don't remember the tale of Ashley Smith -- she's that widow from Atlanta who got kidnapped by a convict named Brian Nichols after he shot all those people in a courthouse.
This CNN transcript details how God's magic infused the Widow Smith's conversation with the escaped fugitive:
I said, "Do you believe in miracles? Because if you don't believe in miracles -- you are here for a reason. You're here in my apartment for some reason. You got out of that courthouse with police everywhere, and you don't think that's a miracle? You don't think you're supposed to be sitting here right in front of me listening to me tell you, you know, your reason here?"Well, it turns out that Brian Nichols went back to jail higher on a kite on the Widow Smith's illegal stash of crystal meth!
I said, "You know, your miracle could be that you need to -- you need to be caught for this. You need to go to prison and you need to share the word of God with them, with all the prisoners there."
In her new book she explains how "the seven-hour hostage ordeal in March led to the realization that she was a drug addict..."
Ummm...I don't wanna sound cynical...and I'm glad this lady is off drugs and didn't die...but if all it takes is one crazy mixed up night with a messed up ex-con, a bag of meth, and some horror stories about drinking and drugs - then where the FUCK can I sign up for my book deal?
I thought that Augusten Burrough's had the recovering-junkie-mess market covered -- but here comes Miss Hot Mess Hotlanta taking it up another rung.
If stories like this keep popping up, I'm gonna have to do a big-fat line off Karl Rove's semi-flaccid dick while engaging in a phone interview with Charo to ever get anything published!
And just you wait -- once little Francis Bean writes her story -- it's all over for any of us who aspire to shock and inspire. She's what? 12.....the clock is ticking, kids....better get sordid than sorry, I guess.
Oh! And just for fun -- say hello to published author Rob Thurman. I have no idea who he is, where he lives, or anything like that. We just have the same name and he said hello, so I figure I'd give him a virtual plug!
Actually -- I'm really just wondering if he's totally cute, preferably gay, hopefully single and definitely into blow jobs...now THAT might be a story!
First of all, I would like to thank Bradley for asking me to play a small role in his Wicked birthday extravaganza on Saturday. He was certainly an outstanding and superlative Wicked Witch of the West!
I enjoyed playing a talking/singing Goat, and making six or seven costume changes during my time onstage as an Ozian, a Preacher, a Guard and a Flying Monkey! I felt like Cher - humming a few bars every now and then -- and then dashing off stage to put on a new outfit. It was very melodramatical. And I was mostly on key. Mostly.
In retrospect, we staged the St. Louis premiere of Wicked after only three rehearsals -- which is a pretty amazing theatrical feat. Granted, it was a very limited and exclusive engagement: it was staged (illegally) in a second floor drawing room and the folks in attendance left the party so shit-faced that all they can remember is that we were really good!
I guess that's the best kind of theatrical debut, after all!
Secondly, looking towards the West, here's a birthday salute to So Wrong Ago.
And lastly, a bon voyage to an Angry Black Bitch who just left on vacation. I'm guest blogging over at her site -- and today's post is an homage to the melodramatical stylings of Douglas Sirk!
That's it from me today!
Some gay folks up in the blogosphere are hollering because a Christian school in Ontario, California expelled a student for having gay parents.
I don't know how many times I've read today: it's so sad...so disappointing...so discouraging...
I would argue what is the most saddening and disappointing is that there are 31 public schools in Ontario, California where this child could have gone to school -- and her gay parents decided to subject this child to an (essentially) fundamentalist Christian school education instead.
In this day and age -- there's any number of progressive, religious organizations that welcome gay folks. If gay parents continue to to send their children into hostile, anti-gay environments, then stories like this will continue.
The bigger disappointment is not that religious zealots are acting like religious zealots -- it's that gay folks continue to keep going to the fundamentalist altar, expecting a different result.
The other day, Pope Benadryl issued orders for witch-hunts to begin in Catholic seminaries. They're out there, right now, looking for "the gays..."
I think it's time that all y'all that are Catholic and gay should abandon your hopes in the Pontifical Protector of Pedophiles.
Face the facts that the religious right hates you and go find a church that will welcome you. Stop whining and hollering that the right-wing world doesn't love your gay ass.
I question you to question yourself: is this really advancing your religious and spiritual growth by fighting this battle?
Or would it be better to start using your energies to further the cause of good within a worthwhile organization rather than constantly engaging in this battle against prejudice and evil within a corrupt organization?
Trust that I'm considering these very issues myself these days.
And I'll report back to you once I've made my decision on where my energies are going to be directed...
The military is now actively recruiting high school drop-outs.
Universities are losing funding because of Don't Ask - Don't Tell.
Vatican-ordered gay witch-hunts are starting.
An Angry Black Bitch has her own line of fashion merchandise!
A Dutch TV show plans to televise an on-air personality shooting up on camera.
POINT + COUNTERPOINT
Dubya is drinking again!
It's the last fucking day of summer -- and all I care about right now is a ride on my bike and getting a big, beefy burrito for supper!
No news, I'm starting to think, is definitely good news.
That is...with the exception of an Angry Black Bitch launching her own line of fashion merchandise!
Please...my ass needs a work out - not a whooping!
Have a good one, y'all!
Tonight, the Sundance Channel will begin airing Transgeneration, a series that aims to reveal, demystify and explain the world of transgender folks by televising the lives of “four college students switching more than their majors.” One of the students is Raci – a self-described poor, Filipino, deaf transsexual, who…well…clearly has a lot of issues to address in her life.
But addressing issues is what college is all about, I suppose.
Let’s take, for instance, the Free to Be organization at the University of Vermont. Free to Be is the student organization dedicated to advancing issues relevant to the GLBTQI community. And just in case you don’t know – GLBTQI stands for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Intersexed. Yup...gay ain’t gay, honey – it’s GLBTQI.
Anyway -- Free to Be is conducting the Translating Identity Conference, which is “directed towards trans people and others...who are fairly unfamiliar with the transgender movement and the topic of gender identity.”
Now that sounds all very academic and well-intentioned and stuff, doesn’t it? I clicked around the site and found this little tid-bit in their conference notes, which, well...read for yourself:
There will be a no-scent policy in effect at the conference... Please think carefully about all the products you use and avoid using scented products before and during the conference. Scented products can include shampoo, soap, hair gel, hair spray, perfume/scented oils, skin lotion, shaving cream, makeup etc.Can someone please tell me how a transgender conference can be a transgender conference without some MAC Cosmetics and Helene Curtis?
I guess in Vermont you’re only free to be a soap-dodging, overly-academic, allergic-to-everything, arm-pit-funk advocating transgender person.
I wondered if things were better for our transgender friends on a nationwide scale, so I looked to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force – which provides some suggestions of how “to be inclusive and improve the quality of life for Trans people” at their annual Creating Change Conference:
-- Please do not assume anyone’s gender, even people you may have met in the past.So...if I extrapolate all this information, it seems to me that:
-- A person’s external appearance may not match their internal gender identity.
-- You cannot know the gender or sex of someone by their physical body, voice, appearance or mannerisms. It is best to ask, “What pronoun do you prefer?” or “How do you identify?” before using pronouns or gendered words for anyone.
-- In group situations where you don’t have an opportunity to ask someone what words they prefer, try using gender-neutral phrases like “the person in the red shirt,” instead of “that woman or man.”
-- One way of acknowledging Trans people’s needs is to designate restrooms gender neutral. In bathrooms, many Trans people face harassment that can lead to anything from deep discomfort to arrest or death. Regardless of what bathroom you are in, please let everyone pee in peace. Each of us can decide for ourselves in which bathroom we belong.
Transgender equality is based on removing:
And then you add:
-Gender-free pronoun usage
Sprinkled in with challenging:
-Assumptions based on clothing and appearance
Then what kind of transformation are we really talking about? I don’t think we’re talking about someone born with a penis wanting to have it removed...I think it’s more than that.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for making this world a better place for poor, Filipino, deaf transsexual college students, but is telling people to eschew Aveda and jettison gendered pronouns the real way to create a dialogue or create change?
If we’re supposed to abandon any and all of the above signifiers of gender – then what are folks transitioning to and from in the first place?
Is this goal of the GLBTQI movement really based on allowing folks to “pee in peace” or have we become a movement more focused on sanitizing culture, language and creating a gender-less, automaton-like experience for everyone?
Fundamentally, I’m left wondering how have we gone from being a movement that began with a group of pissed-off trannies and butch dykes kicking some cops’ asses at Stonewall to becoming a politically-correct, gender-free, bowel movement in a scentless bathroom stall where you’re only free to be someone else’s notion of who you should be?
And how, I must ask, is that any different from the current state of affairs?
I dunno about you – but gimme some old fashioned trannies and bull daggas who don’t take shit from anybody. That’s a cultural revolution, honey!
The folks who started the gay movement may have a difficult time finding their way in academia, in the world of politics or on the Sundance Channel on Tuesdays – but they’re welcome in my world any damn day of the week!
A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover.Ummm...what we have now is a stable climate?
Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years.
All I know is that I'm glad I've pretty much given up driving, I've given up DSL (at home), I'm getting used to not watching TV and that I've riding my bicycle 5-15 miles every day for the past month.
It's a simpler life, that still has its complications -- but it's decidedly simpler.
When Tina Turner steps up and starts singing We Don't Need Another Hero....automobiles, Katie Couric, wireless internet and this blog won't mean a damn thing...I just need to be looking fit and trim in my chain-mail here-comes-the-apocalypse outfit.
Like I said before, if it's the end of days -- I'm going out skinny!
Have a good weekend, y'all...
Better get over that fear of needles, kids!
If you're in need of an HIV test -- the state of Missouri has suspended Oral HIV testing -- and you'll need to get pricked before you go waving yours around willy-nilly.
Here's the info:
Currently all Oral HIV testing in the state of Missouri is temporarily suspended for an unknown period of time. Only testing by blood is currently available. Current blood testing is available through:
--Community hospitals and clinics
--The St. Louis Health Department
--Saint Lous Effort for AIDS
Oral HIV testing has been suspended due to the following:
1) There is a nationwide shortage of the chemical reagent that is used to process the OraSure Oral HIV test.
BioMerieux (BMX), the company that produces this reagent, is working on the shortage. As of early this week, we do not have a timeline of when we can expect this issue to be resolved. The State Public Health Laboratory (SPHL) has been in contact with the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) who is attempting to obtain more information and updates regarding this issue.
2) The St. Louis region is over the allotment that the state has allowed for our region.
More Oral HIV Tests have been submitted from the St. Louis Region than the SPHL has budgeted (or has supplies) to test. It is our understanding that the Metro AIDS staff is working to resolve this situation; however, until the reagent issue is resolved, the St. Louis region will need to hold off on testing.
The State does not have a timeline for this to be resolved.
Keeping it brief...and in my briefs after yesterday's shame-inducing report from the CDC.
Anyway, Cindy Sherman in strolling into town tonight with a retrospective show and I'm so totally beyond tickled.
I loved her work this very first time I saw years and years and years ago -- and I've followed her career ever since.
It surprised me to hear from some of the folks handling media for tonight's event that she's shy.
I know I won't be shy tonight -- coz' I have every intention of meeting this woman who has recreated and reinvented herself in thousands of way before the camera's eye. She's always alone in her images...and I have one simple goal: to get snap shot with her, for my own personal collection. That way I'll have my very own Cindy Sherman!
Cindy Sherman: Working Girl
will include rarely seen works from the beginning of the artist’s career in the mid-1970s. Primarily culled form her private collection and from family members, this exhibition offers a unique glimpse into the early development of Sherman’s career and how these early photographs informed the work that made her one of the most admired and influential artists of her generation. Cindy Sherman will attend the exhibition’s opening. A catalog published by the Contemporary will accompany the exhibition.
Ummm...well...let's see where to begin.
The CDC conducted a survey of sexual behavior and...umm....it seems
Males 30-44 years of age reported an average (median) of 6-8...sexual partners in their lifetimes.Now, granted - these were self-identified 'straight' men -- but -- 8 sex partners (total) in 44 years?
Straight people who read this blog -- is this true? Are y'all really that well behaved?
Slutty minds need to know.
Mark your calendars for the next meeting of the United Church of Bitchitude and Latter-Day Drunks - taking place October 1st at the grand opening of a downtown nightclub, featuring our much beloved brother (and sister) Boy George!
It is an especially joyous and blessed day for me - being an old queen who loves house music and owes a great deal of respect to this macro-biotic eating, MAC-makeup loving, gender-bending inspiring, soulful-ass singing, Hare Krishna chanting, falling-disco-ball dodging, now DJ-spinning queen of all queens. Bow down, mister! It's time to check your karma now...
Props to Brother Amin + Sister Sonja for doing their part to bring house music back to the children in St. Louis and for doing it with some much-needed sparkle! I do not know these kids and can personally take no credit for this amazing night. All I can do is open my big mouth and holler...which...well...I guess I just did -- and post their press release, which...well... I just did, too (see below)!
See ya there!
BOY GEORGE SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1ST, 2005
Who: Boy George, DJ Tomislav, Trevor Matthews VS. Adrian Fox, That 80’s Club!!
What: 21 and over - Boy George for his first ever DJ appearance in STL!!!!
Where: The Formula – GRAND OPENING – 1204 Washington Ave. Saint Louis, MO
When: The party kicks off at Formula at 10pm on Saturday night. Entry limited to capacity!! Get there early.
Cost: 15 Dollars – Pre-Sales
Formula is hosting there Grand opening party of the year, and did we mention that it features a exclusive performance by the international Superstar DJ Boy George! Downtown will be hopping on Saturday, Oct. 1st. Many surprises await you inside the venue, so you will just have to show up to find out.
Admission is 21 and up with proper I.D. 21 and up with proper ID to drink.
Tickets for this show can be purchased in advance for only 10 Dollars – www.groovetickets.com, or the Day of the show at Formula.
Tickets holders will gain priority in entrance to this one of a kind and very special event.
BUY TICKETS HERE:
More Info About the Formula Club: www.theformulaclub.com
I'd like to share this with y'all. It comes from the United States Conference of Mayors -- they all kinda get together and talk about things every so often:
This September, The U.S. Conference of Mayors is once again [emphasis mine -rt] joining with a coalition of more than 179 government and private organizations including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the American Red Cross to mark "National Preparedness Month."The list goes on and on and on and all I can say is...wow!
During the month, each coalition member will encourage citizens to take simple steps to prepare themselves and their families for a terrorist attack or any other type of emergency.
Once again, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Department of Homeland Security, 179 organizations and the Red Cross all signed off on this great little project and circulated it to everyone in the mainstream media.
And see what's happened, once again?
Folks are just bickering, yammering, screaming, hollering and engaging in politics and nastiness as usual. It seems to me that no one wants to take accountability for his or her actions -- across the board.
Everywhere in this land of the free, where freedom clearly means freedom from accountability.
I, for one, am going to do my part to be a better citizen, person, friend, son, brother, blogger, biker, employee, manager, human being, volunteer and so on...once again.
I just want to be prepared for the day when I can stand up and say...that's what I said I'd do...and that's what I did.
Which, for once, would be a welcome change.
Former President Bill Clinton is in China for the Chinese Internet Summit. This article from the UK provides some backstory.
When asked about the ongoing repression of media in China, in light of the anniversary of 9-11, Clinton said:
"I think it should be a cautionary tale for Americans, for Chinese, for people all across the world to remember what really caused this horrible act is that these people became gripped with the madness of believing that they were so right and the rest of us were so wrong that they could kill totally innocent people in pursuit of their political objectives.''It's interesting to note this report from Bloomberg news:
President George W. Bush observed a moment of silence to remember the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, four years to the minute after the first hijacked plane smashed into the World Trade Center in New York.In honor of 9-11 and the ongoing repression of media in China, I'd like to share with y'all a blog from China that I read quite often. This woman could go to jail simply for voicing her opinion -- and her post yesterday Reason I am not in Jail like other Chinese Dissidents... is a very strong and a very real reminder why I should be thankful today, sitting here in my little coffee shop, checking out news and blogs from around the world, coming up my own opinions and expressing them as I wish, when I wish and where I wish.
The president made no remarks as he, Vice President Dick Cheney, First Lady Laura Bush and Cheney's wife, Lynne Cheney, stepped out to the White House lawn...
Here's to you, Glutter! Keep posting!
Here's to you, Bubba! Keep talking!
And...um...I guess...here's to you, Mister President. Your silence says more than I ever could.
As recovery efforts continue, the government reverses it decision to prevent media from documenting recovery efforts. Army Lt. Col. Richard Steele said:
"We're not going to bar, impede or prevent" the media from telling the story, he said. "We're just not going to give the media a ride."They weren't asking for a ride in the first place, asshole.
If the media had relied on federal officials for a ride into Katrina -- they might be telling a different story now, huh?
My head was still a scattered mess for most of the day. But during my bike ride today, a strange sense of clarity came to me.
Let me explain.
Every day, I get between 5 to 6 appeals for donations. For my money and my time. And my ass is broke and my time is finite.
I’ve also been observing the debate going on in this country:
And all I have to say is this: It’s all bullshit and I’ve had enough.
I’m tired of seeing this country’s fate determined by polling numbers and political maneuvering. I’m tired of both major political parties posturing and accomplishing nothing.
I want to see something done.
And since I have a blog, I’ve come up with a solution that at least 14 people will read – and I welcome your feedback and I invite you to join me in getting some shit accomplished.
My experience this past weekend proved to me that volunteers and citizens can accomplish more in 24 hours than our government can.
But volunteer efforts lose their effectiveness over time.
We all get tired – we all have lives to lead and jobs to work and things to do.
And from all I keep seeing – more clearly needs to be done.
This is my proposal.
PRESCRIPTION BY CONSCRIPTION
Everyone 18-25 will be drafted into a selective service. My proposal has two services to choose from: The Red Rangers and The Blue Brigade.
And that means everyone.
Male-female and everywhere in between. Yes, ladies – you’re included, too! I was raised believing in equal pay for equal work. I was also raised with you play – you pay. You want that right to choice – well, here’s your chance to fight for change!
There’s also none of that Don’t Ask - Don’t Tell bullshit – you’re in the Army now, kids. And just in case some folks cannot understand that gay people can serve our military -- our new and improved Blue Brigade loves homos!
I would love to see how many homos would be popping out of the closet then – clamoring at the chance to fight for social justice.
I’d also love to see how many of those who have been in-favor of this war would still be -- if people were faced with the very real reality that their child could die fighting this war in Iraq.
I’d also love to see how many of those very same folks would urge their kids to be gay – just to avoid going overseas.
Please ask!!!!!! Please tell them you’re a cock-sucker, Trevor! Please!!!!!!!!!!!
Now – whether the gays are allowed to serve (ahem) or not -- this army of two is faced with two tasks – getting us the hell out of the Middle East and taking care of business down South!
Here’s how it all works!
Here’s where your vote matters.
All those red states – your kids – we’ll ship their asses off to fight America’s commitment to Democracy in Iraq!
Blue states – your bleeding heart asses will be sent down South to dig some ditches, rebuild some schools and end poverty and racism! Forget your Ivy league and weekend jaunts to Urban Outfitters. You’ll be outfitted in polyester and you’ll be in a league of the hardworking poor you so condescendingly write, blog and speak about.
There ya, go! We’ll rebuild the country (sooner or later) and we’ll end the war (sooner or later).
All of this takes time and money and resources – but we’re a great country, aren’t we?
We’ll just borrow more money!
To my pals on the right – we’ll appease you with a new National ID policy – implemented by the The Department That Already Knows Everything About Your Ass, Anyway!
All those problems with illegal immigrants, well – look: we just got a whole helluva lot more people now to fight your wars and rebuild your beloved country!
Now some of you might actually have to pay a living wage to the people who will replace your housekeepers and the migrant workers you employ in your corporations, your agri-businesses ventures and your factories – but no sacrifice is to small to protect America, huh?
To my beloved liberals – time to start practicing what you preach, assholes.
Personal freedom has a price, you lazy bores. And it’s not just an automatic withdrawal once-a-month from your checking account to NPR and a once-a-year purchase at a silent auction at [insert your favorite charity here].
You can talk all you want to about education and healthcare for all. If your asses actually did some work that actually benefits others, you might learn to appreciate a hard day’s work – and the thought of “going to college” so you can get a “good job” might suddenly change when you realize that the folks who dig ditches, build buildings, take out the trash, police the country and protect our citizenry actually have difficult and challenging jobs. Those are good jobs, too. And they’re a lot more in-demand today than a degree in Art History and those cozy computer science jobs that are being outsourced, aren’t they?
You can’t really outsource shoveling can you? And most of all – remember that privilege is wrong, remember?
Well…your privileged asses will soon discover the value of some hard-ass work and what it’s like to have nothing but a bed to sleep in (if you’re lucky).
You might also learn a thing or two about other people’s lives – which is the core to your political ideology, now, isn’t it?
Great thing about being drafted, kids – you’re guaranteed healthcare – during your service and afterwards.
And then there’s that lovely little G.I. Bill.
Maybe you’ve seen the commercials on TV with that attractive black teenager telling his mother how he’s going to the Army to learn how to be a man, just so that he can go to college?
Well, step up, whitey! You’re going to die saving Democracy or do something with your time that doesn’t involve keggers!
While all the red state kids are
dying I mean fighting for freedom in Iraq, our Blue State Bohemians will be setting up schools and workshops and healing circles and recovery programs throughout a great deal of the United States.
They’ll also have to work with real life victims of abuse and violence and drug addiction. The poor people aren’t just an abstraction you write about sipping your latte at Starbucks. If you’re reading this – you’re reading the words of a real life working-poor person who grew up in poverty. Fortunately enough for me, I grew up never thinking I was poor – until some condescending asshole in the Financial Aid department informed me that I was “legally poor” and that I could apply for more financial aid if I wanted to.
I got a second job, instead.
Equalize a generation’s experience and you’ll equalize our future.
That’s my hope.
Sure – some assholes will be crafty and manage to avoid serving their country. But that’s okay – those folks have a job to do in my vision for the future.
They can go to our mayor’s offices and our state Capitols and then off to Washington, D.C. – where they can perfect the fine art of evasiveness and dodging responsibility. The poor, poor politicians – they’re just not capable of being anything other than what they are.
Bags of hot air.
WHERE TO START
My queer ass, at the age of 34 doesn’t quite fit into this plan.
Darn it, just the luck.
But if my ass could get my student loans waived and/or have the opportunity to return to school and have some guaranteed fucking healthcare – my ass would be willing to go and do whatever I need to do.
Step up, Howard Dean...step up, John Kerry...step up, Karl Rove...step up, Mister President.
And I'll step up, too. And I'll blog it all too. Trust.
I just want to see some leadership – I want to see a clear direction – I want some hope that’s real.
My willful, back-talking, queer-as-a-three-dollar-bill-ass might not fit into anyone’s definition of an ideal soldier.
But I can dig a ditch if I have to. And I’d have a great time in a barracks, too… I have before. Trust. I grew up 30 miles from Fort Knox.
Truth be told – the military is so, totally, gay! But so is the bathroom at Neiman Marcus…but that’s a story for another day…
In times like these, I’m reminded it’s all about being an army of one.
And boot camp begins now.
Many journalists are outraged, citing censorship (among other issues) as a reason for reporters to be present to document the tragedy and it’s real (and horrible) aftermath. Others are defending the order issued by the embattled Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Mark Tapscott, a former editor at the Washington Times newspaper who now deals with media issues at the Heritage Foundation, said the FEMA decision did not amount to censorship. "Let's not make a common decency issue into a censorship issue," Tapscott told Reuters. "Nobody wants to wake up in the morning and see their dead uncle on the front page. That's just common decency."I have to disagree with Mister Tapscott. And I disagree from a very personal and a very less-than-impartial perspective. The line between one man’s decency and another man’s dictatorship is a very fine one. And the distinction, I would argue, is not in the act of debating the distinction – it’s whether or not the debate occurs in the first place.
When I woke up on a cold December morning in 1995 and I read a story about my father’s death and saw a photograph of his dead body being airlifted from our family farm, I was saddened and pissed and angry and upset and horrified.
But I was saddened and pissed and angry and upset and horrified by his death, not the news coverage of his death.
I could have screamed and yelled and hollered about decency – but the issue at hand was his death and how he died – not whether the photographer (who also went to high school with me) was doing his job.
I will never know if the news coverage kept one farmer from crawling up into a grain silo to meet the same fate my father met, and I will never know if one person’s life was radically changed by reading about the horrible accident that killed my father.
I do know that folks responded with kindness and sympathy when they read that story. I do know how the small farm community where I am from reacted when they read of his death and saw an image of his dead body being recovered. And their response brought some comfort to my family. The small community where I am from reacted with the outpouring of sympathy and kindness and generosity that I saw this past weekend when I volunteered at a hurricane relief event here in St. Louis.
At one point this past weekend, a cameraman showed up to document our efforts as we assembled basic hygiene kits for the survivors of the storm. He arrived during a lull and shot footage of a group of frustrated volunteers waiting for more supplies to be delivered. To his credit, he waited and was able to shoot footage of a 4 year old jumping out of his mother’s car, carrying a bag of soap, water, bandages, washcloths and other materials. It was, to sound a bit cynical, the ideal photo-op.
The camera crew left and within minutes, my friend Tim arrived – with a car full of supplies – and our efforts began, again. Tim did not enjoy the benefit of a televised cameo, but that’s not why he spent the amount of money he did in buying us much-needed supplies. I know he didn’t do it for this public thank you – but I greatly appreciate his efforts and his generosity – and I’m sure someone in Louisiana appreciates the soap, washcloths and supplies we assembled this weekend.
I bring this up to highlight the important role that media plays in an open and free Democracy.
The task of media is to capture and recount the experiences of our existence. Sometimes they capture moments of frustration and despair; sometimes they capture moments of promise and hope; and sometimes they capture moments of tragic and sad consequence.
All of this depends on their ability to do what they are supposed to do: which is document and detail the reality of events as they, themselves, experience. Never forget that living-and-breathing men and women are handling those cameras and writing those stories – and what confronts them can uplift their spirits and can rip apart their souls.
I think of the New Orleans police department’s media spokesperson Paul Accardo who killed himself when he could no longer confront the reports of death, dying and suffering that were filling his office. His death is a very real and very sad reminder that media and the reasonability of media can be a terrible burden – even for seasoned media professionals.
Anyone and everyone who works in media has a responsibility to document and record the experiences that they, themselves, experience.
Denying them that opportunity, for whatever reason, is tantamount to censorship. I firmly believe that the government should never, EVER, be able to restrict our Constitutional right to document our nation’s history – from the bright eyed four year old who delivered supplies to the four year old who drowned in his mother’s arms.
I’ll be the first to admit that the barrage of images coming out of the South has deeply troubled me. I’ll be the first to admit that I can be a hyper-critical bordering-on-hypocritical asshole when it comes to media. But I made a simple decision when I felt overwhelmed and freaked-the-fuck out by what I was seeing on television and reading and seeing in the blogosphere: I turned off the TV – and closed my browser.
I said it before and I am trying to wrap my thoughts around an expression that’s been making it’s way around the newspaper where I work: All we know of this world is what we choose to know.
And when our government decides which experience, or story, or image, or thought can be broadcast, printed, televised or recorded…well…that is censorship. Especially when it is cloaked in the shroud of decency.
How the story is told…if it is told at all…is left to the discretion of writers, editors, news directors, publishers, bloggers and so on.
Whether you watch it, read it or react to it is your decision to make.
My life and my experiences will always shape the way I view, interpret and react to the world. The same goes for everyone alive today and the generations to come who will look back on these very challenging days and assess our failings and our successes.
If I have been successful in documenting the failings of my life, it’s been by keeping a journal (in one form or another) for almost two decades. Tucked among the pages of one of them is that story about my father’s death and photograph from our local newspaper. It’s a very real testament, at least to me, of how he died and tells a story of those who still mourn his loss, the paramedics who tried to save his life, the reporter who wrote the story and the photographer who did his job.
Which is a decent living, in an often indecent world.
Where I’m from, there’s a saying about folks, rocks and glass houses – maybe you heard it?
And right now, there are a lot of folks without any houses to live in.
Right now, there are a lot of folks who are dead. Will we ever, truly, know how many?
Right now, Sergeant Paul Accardo’s family, friends and colleagues are mourning his death. The New Orleans Police Department's chief media spokesman put a loaded gun in his mouth last week and pulled the trigger. He simply didn't want to live anymore.
And right now, I see stones flying left and right…I see stones being thrown with and without purpose…I see anger and dismay and rhetorical rage.
And it’s like the shattering of a glass house to me -- a thousands falling daggers – sharp, painful, hateful, cutting, destructive.
And I have to tell you kids, there’s a part of me that understands why Paul Accardo pulled that trigger.
Despite the overflow of compassionate and generous response from all corners of this planet, there’s an inhumanity about witnessing the destruction in the South that is simply staggering.
And I’m not talking about the staggering devastation from the storm itself. The continuing frenzy of media reports and blog entries and political accusations – despite their verity (or lack thereof) – are painful to watch, read and hear. At least they are for me. Perhaps I internalize things too much – identify with the losses too closely – feel that I should be doing more – and only wind up feeling detached and demoralized; pissed off, yet overly pious; fatigued – but totally restless.
And all I have is this damned blog as a vehicle for self expression. Because running around the streets muttering like this is bound to get me bound and gagged. Blog Interrupted – The Sequel.
I took some time off a while ago to go searching for a kinder, gentler, sober-er Rob – and just when I thought I’d found him by co-founding the United Church of Bitchitude and Latter-Day Drunks – a whirlwind of rain and wind and an onslaught of far crueler human vituperatude ( I know that’s not a word…neither was sober-er…so just play along) has left me feeling like I’m bleeding a slow-death from a thousand little cuts.
I thought it was clever – how the initials for the United Church of Bitchitude and Latter-Day Drunks was UCBLDD.
You see blood.
I don’t know about you, but when I see blood, I examine the wound and determine if it needs stitches or simply a bandage, or I determine if it can be ignored. Sometimes it just involves waiting, regardless of my choice of treatment – waiting to see if a trip to the Emergency Room is in order. NO! I’m not a cutter. I’m just a klutz.
Metaphorical or literal – this country has blood on it’s hands – and this waiting…this waiting…this waiting is more than I can bear. Right now, I cannot ignore the blood I see. But I feel so ineffectual…it’s like being thrown into the middle of an open heart operation, feeling like I should know what to do, because I got good grades in school and watched a couple of episodes of MASH, Trapper John, M.D., and E.R.
Some folks criticize blogs for being overly personal, for their inaccuracy, for their descent into me-me-me land…but sometimes they’re handy…like right now.
Tonight I was in a vicious mood -- the thought of talking to anybody about anything necessitated a bike ride across town, to find refuge in the middle of a busy coffee shop. The smoking section inside is full – as are all the tables outside on the sidewalk patio.
It’s crowded here tonight and the kids inside are playing pool. They’re laughing and giving each grief for being lousy pool players. Outside, the gay boys are flirting and looking all cute in the latest almost-fall fashions. The college girls are smoking cigarettes and talking shit about somebody. I think somebody got a boob-job over summer break. They keep making boob-like gestures. It’s enough to almost make me laugh.
All around me, I see folks going about their lives, doing everyday normal things – and for some reason – I cannot.
I cannot find joy (for long) in the everyday. In the so-called normal. In what I used to like to do. Alone. Especially with friends.
It’s a very strange thing, indeed – to run into a crowd to find some time alone. To find peace of mind among noise and strangers.
I’m content in this coffee shop with its huge plate glass windows, its concrete floors, its greatest hits of the 80’s 90’s and today...
Shereef don't like it
Rockin' the Casbah
Rock the Casbah
Shereef don't like it
Rockin' the Casbah
Rock the Casbah
I’m content to watch life go on around me. To see folks living life with some humor, joy and companionship.
Sooner than later, I’ll be ready to walk outside again and resume life as normal.
I just hope that the wait is not too long.
This morning, I biked over to the History Museum. There’s a quote that’s etched inside and outside the building that I wanted to use for a future blog entry or sermon. I spent the rest of the day focusing my energies, working out and helping a friend rehab his home.
Biking home tonight, I was thinking about everything that I needed to do or say about the fallout from Miss Bitch Katrina. I was also thinking about asking some folks who were thirty-somethings in the 1970’s what life was like for them back then, in-the-day.
Seeing the mess that we’re in today – I wanted to ask them:
What did you think, feel and do about the Vietnam War?I admit I was feeling all-full of judgmental wrath – ready to ask snotty, bitchy questions about decisions made in the past that are still plaguing us today.
What did you think, feel and do about Nixon’s abuse of the Presidency?
What did you think, feel and do about the oil crisis?
What did you think, feel and do about the growing unrest in the Middle East?
What did you think, feel and do about lingering racism in this country?
Etcetera, Etcetera, Etcetera…
I seriously wanted to know…know what their priorities were, if their priorities had changed, if they’d stayed committed to the causes that mattered to them at that one point in their lives…and what they think about what they did – and if they wondered if they made the right or the wrong decisions in their lives.
In trying to think of the questions I wanted to ask, I started to think of moments during the past 34 years when my life changed in a sudden and extreme way.
A few things popped to mind.
The day Christa McAuliffe and her fellow astronauts died, I was at home. It was a snow day, that day in January 1986. I was 15 and, of course, on the telephone (we didn’t have Instant Messenger back then). I was trying on some new clothes. You see, even though the buses couldn’t make it down the back roads of the rural area where I grew up, the UPS truck could. And I got a package from J.C. Penney, with some belated birthday presents.
I remember trying on an emerald green shaker knit sweater – the kind that had big wooden buttons down the front, talking with a girl name Leanne about how much we hated somebody. It’s not important whom we were talking about, even though I remember quite well. We were teenagers, so we hated everyone, except each other. Best friends forever…
Next thing I knew, the news was reporting that the Space Shuttle had blown up. I was glued to the television and on the phone for hours.
I haven’t spoken to Leanne for almost two decades now.
I remembered being alone, living in New York, watching television when reports started airing about a very disturbed and angry man opening fire on the Long Island Railroad. It was December 1993 and I was 22 years old. I was flunking school but was a grade-A party-mess. I decided that day that New York wasn’t the place for me, for a variety of reasons. I called my mom and told her I didn’t want to continue graduate school the next semester and that I needed to come home and dry out. It was a painful confession – but one that probably saved my life. Within months, I was home and within a year of that, I witnessed my father dying in an accident on our family farm.
CHALLENGE OF THE SUPER FRIENDS
My mind goes from somber to sordid as pivotal moments start stacking up with more frequency. Picture it – St. Louis, August 1997. My first computer. My first week online. My first online hookup.
He was a feisty, fiery, funny and furry man who had the entire series of Super Friends on tape. He invited me over to his place to play Hawk Man and Green Lantern. No Wonder Woman metaphor here, kids. Trust me, there are things I would do with a lasso or rope that Lynda Carter would never dare.
We arranged to meet at his apartment for an illicit rendezvous with an explicit interest in 1970’s cartoons as an excuse for meeting. I called my dear friend Kelly to see if he had the 4-1-1 on this fella (Kelly didn’t) but I told him where I was going (just in case). You see, as gay boys in their mid-twenties, we hated almost everybody – except for people like us.
I went over to this fella’s place and had a great time. Strolling home late the next morning, I turned on the TV and saw that Princess Diana had died overnight. The media is so sick, I thought – horrified by the Paparazzi, the media circus and the way Mother Teresa’s death (on the same day) was reported as an-almost casual aside. But I still taped Diana’s funeral on my VCR.
To this day still, I am prone to question my opinions about media and the legacy of those two women. And trust me, thoughts about sassy, sexy fellas into Super Friends (and UPS drivers) will cross my mind, from time to time
I was 26, then…and Kelly and I still chat at least once a week,
When I was 30 years old when terrorists struck on 9-11. I was in the midst of a very naughty conversation with a very special phone friend. We weren’t talking about anything we hated, but what we really, REALLY liked…
I looked up at one point in our very special conversation and saw an airplane hit the World Trade Center on my muted television set.
“Um….I have to go,” I said before hanging up the phone, zipping up my pants and dialing my dear friend Mary (who traveled to New York frequently) to see if she was safe. She has home – safe – and we sat and watched the crisis unfold, together on the phone, alone with our televisions.
The world shifted in ways that we still do not comprehend. In my early 30’s – knowing whom to hate and whom to like became a lot more complicated.
Mary and I still speak a couple of times a year, now that she’s left this country. And I don’t remember my phone sex buddy’s name.
A few hours ago, I was on the phone with my dear friend Ryan (a weekly, sometimes daily confidant) chatting about Celine Dion after she got all rowdy on Larry King in response to Hurricane Katrina. I was browsing the Drudge Report on one computer and online porn on another. My, how so many worlds can collide in such a short amount of time...
“How can I like Celine Dion?” he asked, truly stumped over the latest pop-culture turned-upside-down, confusing-as-shit event of the day. We were debating whether or not Celine had had an epiphany or whether he was having one.
And then he stopped abruptly. I heard an audible gasp, “Oh…my God…Rehnquist is dead.”
And my mind imploded.
I am 34 – and right now…right now…I have chosen that I will not write a post filled with surly, why didn’t you know better questions. Because right now, this country has one huge ass environmental nightmare to deal with – that is now coupled with two huge ass political/legal/social battles. On top of that, there’s an illegitimate war, an oil crisis, an uncertain economic situation and America has to face some of the most severe charges of racism that have ever been leveled against this country.
And now…now I am stumped. I mean really stumped.
So I can’t be all accusatory and snarly to those folks who came before me – and demand they answer my questions. Because the scope of the questions that confront me today are bigger than I admit than I can deal with. Perhaps the same is true of my predecessors, as well.
I’ll leave you with the quote that started and will now end my day:
The past is a dangerous place to visit. It is beauty…It is also a burden. It is where we go, many of us, to remind ourselves who we are and even sometimes to find out.The burden just got steep. Real, real steep.
– Eddy L. Harris
But the beauty is that I still have a lot of dear friends to call (for various reasons), to Instant Message, to e-mail, to help rehab homes, to dine with, to laugh with, to bitch with and so on. And I feel most fortunate that most of them will tell me that it doesn’t matter if the 80’s are back – emerald green shaker knit sweaters with big wooden buttons still suck ass.
And while today was spent analyzing the past and thinking about the future – I am, right now, only thinking of the present.
And right now, what I need to do is sleep, after I make a few phone calls. I hope somebody’s still awake.
And even if they’re not – I’m still calling my mother tomorrow, before I head out to volunteer for Katrina relief. It will be a relief to hear her voice – and see my friends at the Greek Fest tomorrow and the days to come.
I’m fortunate to have a home to go home to -- here and in Kentucky.
I’m fortunate to know I have friends and family – and I know where they are.
A fucked up situation for this country just got more fucked up – but I have to remember that I am fortunate.
And I cannot forget those who are not.
Looking up at my clock, I realize that when I began writing this, it was yesterday and that today was then tomorrow.
And isn’t that the way it always is…and always will be?
For me…and for everyone else, whether I like them – or not.
Before Ms. Bitch Katrina fucked up our country, my Labor Day Holiday looked like a typical holiday weekend:
* Art openings and parties to attendBut now, I have to confess that I feel the need to do something that really matters for somebody other than myself. That's the rub when you get up on your soapbox -- you have to get off it and practice what you preach.
* A United Church of Bitchitude and Latter Day Drunks Sunday Luncheon at the Greek Festival
* A Japanese Festival to attend
* 3 freelance projects to finish
* A yard to mow
* Laundry to wash
An Angry Black Bitch and I will be collecting, assembling and helping out the fine folks below this Sunday from Noon - 1 P.M.
That's church time, y'all -- and the United Church of Bitchitude and Latter Day Drunks is ready to get to work.
Personally, I know I have to do something more with my hands -- something more than just typing. The time for typing will come later.
I just need to feel like I've made some sort of contribution before I sit my ass down to eat some baklava at the Greek Fest, which we will still attend, by the way.
That's just the way a Bitch and I were raised:
"Don't be strolling on in for Sunday Dinner, if you can't get your ass out for Sunday Service."
- - - - -
Health Kit and Flood Bucket Drive
Saturday and Sunday
Sept. 3 and 4th
9:00am - 9:00pm each day
Deer Creek Shopping Center parking lot,
between Big Bend and Laclede Station Rd, in Maplewood, MO.
We'll be collecting kits and items for kits that meet the guidelines set by United Methodist Committee on Relief. These kits have the essentials needed to take a small step towards recovery after a disaster.
*Volunteers are needed at the collection site, and may have to assemble the kits from donated materials.
*One or two hour shifts would likely be the ideal arrangement, but if you can stay longer it would be great!
* Time is of the essence.
Please pass this information along to anyone you know.
If you know of any business willing to donate materials or other supplies, please pass this on.
There is much still to do.
Please respond to Dale Chambers (314) 724-1905
if you are available to volunteer as well -- or just bring your ass on over with some money or some of the items below.
Guidelines for Health Kit
A Health Kit contains specific items:
1-hand towel (15" x 25" up to 17" x 27")
1-comb (large and sturdy, not pocket-sized)
1-nail file or fingernail clippers (no emery boards or toenail clippers)
1-bath-size bar of soap (3 oz and up)
1-toothbrush (single brush only in original wrapper; no child-sized brushes)
1-large tube of toothpaste (4.5 or larger, expiration date must be 6 months or longer in advance of the date of shipment to Sager Brown)
6-adhesive plastic strip sterile bandages
All items should be placed inside a sealed one-gallon plastic bag. No money, notes, religious or political literature, or other items should be placed in the kits.
In this day and age, words like that are likely to get you shot and killed.
But haven’t they always? People died and will continue to die to fight for what they think is right.
And I will tell you this.
I am not afraid to die, anymore.
But I don’t wanna get shot dead by some crazy ass cracker from the clearly inept Department of Homeland Security who mistakes my right to free speech as a call to pick up guns and start looting a K-Mart for a television I have no interest in watching anymore.
So, let me be clear.
This revolution does not require guns for you to protect yourself and this revolution does not need bombs to blow some shit up. You might need a baseball bat, but that's your decision to make, not mine.
This revolution only requires thoughts, words and actions.
It has been said that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. And it has also been said that doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result, is the definition of insanity.
So let me address those two issues: how to affect change and how to achieve some clarity.
You need to sit yourself down and think about what you’re doing in this world and you need to come up with some opinions that are truly your own. Turn off the CNN, the NPR, close down this browser, turn off the Clear Channel, put down the New York Times and think.
Think for yourself, for once, about what you want your country to be.
Think for yourself, for once, what you really believe in.
Think for yourself, for once, what matters for the future.
And after you’ve done that, please come back – and let’s see if we agree.
Now that you’ve decided what you want to do, you need to get off your ass and put yourself into motion. This is what I’ve been thinking about that I’d like to share.
There are thousands dead in the South. There are millions of people without homes. There is loss and devastation like I have never seen in this country. And our government and the citizens who put those fools in office are equally to blame.
Democracy’s finger does not just point towards Washington. It points at each and every one of us that has a right to vote and how we chose to cast that vote – if and when we do.
But it is not just the South in which things are difficult and challenging.
Things are very getting very hard for a lot of folks – in your block, in your neighborhoods, in your towns and in your cities .There is a crisis in healthcare, there are people who cannot read, our brothers and sisters are hooked on methamphetamines, our children are strung out on Ritalin and Gameboy and our political, religious and media leadership lie to us each and every day.
This revolution does not require you to believe in Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Jehovah, or an unnamed God.
The revolution can not be purchased at Urban Outfitters or at Target.
The revolution will not be accessorized or customized and does not require for you to be tranquilized.
This revolution does not lend itself to one particular political party.
This revolution is not just my idea or one bitch’s idea – or one group’s decision.
This revolution is you and what you chose to do to in this world.
Buying someone else’s philosophy or purchasing someone else’s shit will not make you a better person, or change your life, or make a difference in the lives of people who are lost, afraid, weak, lonely, isolated, strung-out, addicted, powerless and dying from thirst in the middle of a flood.
This revolution will offer you no answer what will happen to you when you die.
Because no one knows what happens when your mind shuts off and your body grows cold.
The revolution will be based on what’s real -- in this life – right now -- and not in the next. Salvation is not the goal of this revolution. Salvaging what is good, what is right, what is just and what is promised to us in our Constitution is the goal of this revolution.
The revolution started when folks said hell no to taxation without representation, the revolution started when Harriett Tubman rescued her brothers and sisters from slavery, the revolution started when Helen Keller communicated to a world she could neither see nor hear, the revolution started when the first blogger said “that’s bullshit” and exposed some lies.
The revolution started years ago, continues today and will go on as long as folks think for themselves and act in accordance to their principles.
The revolution is the revelation that accumulation and soulful stagnation results only in frustration and aggravation.
The revolution is now.
So what are you gonna do about it?
I didn't want to write about Katrina and the waves today.
So, I wrote about Debbie Harry instead.
But I found myself earlier this evening unable to turn off the news, unable to ignore the streaming video at CNN's website.
I couldn't (or wouldn't) stop myself from watching the dead bodies floating in the water. It hurt my heart hearing the screams of children in the background in almost every report coming out of the South. From every news vehicle. On every network. Even Fox.
Children are armed with guns and are raping other children in New Orleans tonight.It's ugliness and inhumanity and cruelty and depravity in everything I watch and hear.
Thousands of people are dead, or feared dead, and thousand more my die soon as resources arrive too little, too late.
Fingers are being pointed at officials for being ineffective and for squandering resources and tax dollars.
Critics are chiding those who were too poor or too foolhardy to leave the city.
And it seems too easy to just turn it all off and escape into the frill and fluff of distraction and make-believe.
And so I turn to history for guidance.
I'm turning tonight to one of my childhood heroes for encouragement. But I'm not choosing fiction, so Lynda Carter is staying on her shelf.
Instead, I turn to the words of Helen Keller.
Unable to see or hear this world, she found a way to make meaning out of this horrible human mess we call life.
She once said:
Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings.And perhaps that's just a platitude from some blind-ass, deaf, white lady from Alabama -- but I find some comfort in her words.
Seeing and hearing the horrors of this world almost broke my spirit tonight.
But I will not lose hope.
I'll refuse, resist and revolt if I have to...
But I will not lose hope.
I'm reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Ms. Keller.
The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.And through all this mess, all the horror that still awaits this nation, I hope I can find someone's vision for this country that I can believe in again.
Otherwise, I'll have to find, start or create a vision of my own.
And so, it seems, the doors of CBGB’s will be shuttered and padlocked.
But not without a fight…
According to this article, CBGB’s owner will “cut the locks” to keep his rock venue open if he has to -- and I have to admit that I’m finding myself hoping that he does get that damn belligerent about it all. And I’m hoping that Debbie Harry is with him, too…bolt cutters in hand, hair a mess, cigarette dangling outta her mouth.
Just the other night, I was biking home listening to Ms. Harry on my iPod.
I know its probably not the safest or wisest of decisions to bike at night listening to music, but I was feeling all defiant and discordant, listening to Blondie, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Peter Murphy and some Siouxsie Sioux.
True to form, I was being all nostalgic about my youth, thinking about another man who’d recently hurt my heart, thinking about how one moves on from disappointment. I remember thinking about what it would take to free myself from this colossal pile of emotional and financial crap that seems to plague my thoughts so frequently.
I was biking as hard as I could – hoping that the adrenaline rush would make me feel that surge of invulnerability that I remember so well from those teenage days of black eyeliner and a bad attitude.
Affectation or affliction?
I was disappointed a lot less then, or so it seems. In others. And in myself, especially.
The night was beautiful and it was well past 2 AM – which I guess makes it morning – and I was feeling a bit mournful, thinking about a conversation I’d just had at a gal pal’s house warming party. She’s a doll, a dear friend, a drummer and a development director.
My, how we’ve all grown up...
I was half-humming a Blondie song, half-hoping that I could shake the malingering memory of this fellow house warming fella I’d chatted with earlier that night.
It had started out great, you should know -- we were talking about a recent indie rock show – and somehow the conversation nose-dived into a discussion about various home improvement projects and varnishing Quarter Round.
I rounded a corner as my mind floated from topics like:
iPods, iTunes and illegal downloads…
Late nights and laminates…
Flooring financing or financial freedom…
And all I could think is that I’ve become such a sell-out…such a poser…
I was trying to reconcile how leading a pseudo-upscale, pesto-preparing, tapenade-tasting, Martha Stewart Living lifestyle could jive with my indie-music, punk rock, alterna-girl, goth-fag roots.
By this point, I was about two blocks from home, still mulling over how I managed to easily jump from punk rock to Pergo, all the while sipping mango juice and Pellegrino, when I saw a kid jumping a fence.
He’s this 16 or 17 year old kid who lives down the street – and a block over.
He’s a cute kid with a super fit-mom and a kinda-hot dad who just moved into a house that had recently been rehabbed.
Now, I dunno what to think about all these formerly-suburban people that are moving into my neighborhood with alarming frequency. The streets are better lit, for sure…but is this progress?
Or is this just gentrification?
Is my neighborhood really getting any safer?
Or is my rent just gonna go up because some white people moved into a rehabbed house where a black family used to live?
But that’s another topic for another day…
This kid was climbing over the new privacy fence that borders their yard and I found myself hoping like hell that this kid was sneaking into his house – that he’d been at a rock show – that he was out way past curfew – that he was drunk or stoned – that he’d just gotten laid – or maybe a combination of all of the above.
He shot me the stink-eyed look that I know far-too-well from my own teenage years. I just smiled and waved, which resulted in a huge shit-eating grin spreading across his face.
I’m no Gladys Kravitz, doll...just a good ole Uncle Arthur...biking his faggot-ass home listening to some strung out white chick with fucked up bangs carrying on about this-that-and the other…
He flipped up his thumb, signaling it was all good and then bounced down into his backyard, out of sight…
I hoped he had to sneak in through a window or through a door he’d left unlocked. And I remember hoping he wouldn’t get caught – so he could and would do it again! Rock on, you bad-ass kid...
I wondered, as I turned the corner on my block, if the Pergo floor in his newly-rehabbed house would squeak as he tried to sneak into his room?
And suddenly, I didn’t mind being the kinda guy who could chat about Pergo, Pellegrino and punk rock, even though I Smelt Like Teen Spirit the year that child was born. Refreshed by the teen spirit I saw acting up a few blocks away, I made my way up my stairs, carrying my bike and simply went to bed. In my decrepitude, I’ve given up on getting drunk and getting laid at a party...
That kid reminded me then and now that the spirit of CBGB’s lives on:
-- in every every back-sassing girl who still plays drums in a garage bad (even though she manages a spreadsheet by day)
-- in every overly-agonizing middle-aged fading hipster (with a blog, a bad attitude and an even worse credit rating)
-- in every bad-ass teenager (that could potentially sneak out of his parent’s Crate + Barrel-rehabbed dream home).
It lives on in every act of defiance and every dream of doing your own thing.
And dreaming -- unlike pesto, Pergo or the cover charge at CBGB's -- dreaming is free. And so is this download of Blondie's song by the same name.
Enjoy and rock on, dudes and dudettes!