Paris Is Burning

Nations wage war with their militaries.

Those without a military resort to terror.

It has always been so, and always will be.

The West has been at war in the Middle East for many decades, or 50 years, or a century… depending on who’s doing the counting. The United States and its allies have been at war in the Middle East for at least 25 years – since the first Gulf War in 1990. Continuous war.

And the terrorist retaliation has been continuous, too. The bombing of the Beirut Marine barracks… the first WTC bombing… the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania… the USS Cole… 9/11… Madrid… 7/7… all of the beheadings of innocents… Benghazi… Charlie Hebdo… so many more. And now these atrocities today in Paris.

We constantly hear from our leaders that “there is no military solution” in the Middle East. And yet, we are involved in active wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria… all of which seem to be escalating even as we talk about “winding down”. Republicans in America openly talk of greatly expanding these wars. Democrats seem perpetually unable to end them.

For as long as there is war being waged in the Middle East, there will be terrorist actions in response. If that begets more military attacks, there will be more terror attacks. All of the militaries of the world, together, cannot stop terrorist movements. And all of the terrorist movements in the world cannot destroy their enemies. All we can do is to wound each other, grievously, and perpetuate the hatreds. We all know this, instinctively, don’t we?

One day, perhaps, there will be leaders who possess the wisdom and the will to end war, end terror. And redirect those vast resources to improving the lot of humanity. They will need the support of their people who can no longer bear the death and destruction. What will it take to get there?

If we can end war, we can end hunger, disease and despair. If we don’t end war, it will end us.

from the video "Hard to be The Bard"

Hard To Be The Bard

Dedicated to writers everywhere. The novelists, essayists, poets, journalists, authors, diarists, historians, lyricists… and the most noble of all the scribes: bloggers! We do it, even when it’s hard, because there’s a bit of the Bard in each of us.

Something Rotten is one of the hottest tickets on Broadway this season, nominated for 10 Tony Awards including Best Musical. And Christian Borle, who plays The Bard, won the Tony for Best Featured Actor. Enjoy his performance of “It’s Hard to be The Bard”.

If you’re in a part of the world where that YouTube video isn’t available, head over to to find it there.



Pointless, Incessant Barking


Reminds me of me. But I’ll be back soon. The presidential campaigning has begun in America. Sixteen months till Election Day. While I’m sure it looks like a complete clusterfuck to the rest of the world, here’s the good news: The Republican Party is in the process of self-destructing. And they’re already putting on quite a show.🙂


United States Defaults On Debt To Its Veterans

If a nation cannot afford to tend to the physical and psychological wounds suffered by its soldiers in war, then that nation simply cannot afford to go to war.

Such is the current situation in the United States. And it is beyond shameful. The amount of money we commit to spending on new weapons systems is measured in the trillions. Yet somehow, Congress cannot manage to fully fund appropriate medical and psychological treatment for wounded veterans. What exactly do the politicians mean when they proudly proclaim that they “Support Our Troops”?

I’ve started the following petition on the White House website. If it gets 100,000 signatures in the next few weeks, the White House will officially respond. And maybe that will be a start. Nothing else seems to be working – in this country that talks a good game about the price our veterans have paid for our “liberty and freedom”. It is time for the government to shoulder its share of the burden. You don’t have to support war, but we must acknowledge the horrific cost of our wars and help those who bear that cost. It is a debt we owe them. And we have been defaulting on that debt.

Please click on the link below and sign the petition. And if you are not an American, I hope you’ll repost this link on WordPress and other social media for your American friends to see. Thanks all.

Part Three of an untitled unnumbered part series.

Last week, my friend Rebecca learned she has a golfball-size mass of cervical cancer. She has responded to this change of plans with her trademark spunk, pluck and verve. And she’s blogging the experience. You don’t have to know R, or have cancer, or a cervix… to be inspired by her courageous spirit and funny-as-hell take on the absurdities of a life-threatening diagnosis. She has named her cancer Ricardo. And he is toast.


It’s been one week. One Whole week since Dr. Skinny Indian Lady diagnosed me with the C word. The Canc. The thing that we all now know as Ricardo. It seems like it’s been a lifetime, it seems like Ricardo and I have been on vacations together. Fought about what to make for dinner. Which pair of shorts would look better with this Hawaiian shirt Ricardo? DO NOT WEAR THOSE SANDALS IN PUBLIC RICARDO. That’s how long it feels, like Ricardo and I are in a full blown dysfunctional relationship. BUT it’s only been a week, which goes to show you how long this road to remission is really gonna be. Anyway onto one subject I must address before I enter into the realm of cancer related topics.

Barry Manilow is gay? This has just shattered all of my dreams of a heterosexual relationship with him. I thought MANDY was…

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Surely there has been some mistake…

Today’s mail brought a fat envelope containing “Your New Card!” I opened it and stared at my new AARP membership card. I believe it’s called “blinking disbelief”. Or, as my friend M-R down Sydney way would say, “Fuck me dead! This is appalling!”


AARP is the American Association of Retired Persons. Or, it used to be. Now they are just AARP. Pronounced “ARP”. (In Boston, it’s “AAAHP”.) No matter what they call themselves, everyone knows that AARP is the club for senior citizens who crave discounts and early-bird specials. “Milkheads” as my friend Jenn has called them since we were kids. The card should be delivered on a lace doily. With complimentary samples of Metamucil and Viagra. And a reminder to turn off the left-turn signal… and step on the f@ck!ng gas!

Just to set the record straight:

I did not enroll.

I am not retired. (Underemployed, but not retired.)

I don’t want to dine at 4:30pm. Cocktails still run to 8 o’clock.

I am deeply in denial that my age begins with a 5.

I am clinging to the marketing age group that still lumps me in with the 40-somethings.

I have nothing against old people. Some of my best friends are old people. Some of them are older than dirt. (And you know who you are.) (I hope.)

But. I. am. not. there. yet.


That felt good. Thanks for listening. If you took offense, please get out your quill and leave a comment. I’ll go look for my spectacles.

The End


Songs Left Unsung

Thirty-five years ago an invisible monster started stalking the streets of New York and the hills of San Francisco. The first mention of it in the media was ‘the Gay Cancer’ story in the New York Times in the summer of 1981. AIDS would go on to kill nearly 40 million people worldwide, with a death toll that still exceeds one million people each year. This disease decimated several generations of gay men in the United States. It also ignited an historic and powerful community response among gay people and our straight allies which changed the course of the disease – and of civil rights in America. This cataclysm is one of the defining global events of the late 20th century, reflected in our politics, literature, music, film and art… but it played out on a much more personal scale. One person, one life, one death at a time. Countless hearts have broken, oceans of tears shed… with amazing courage and dignity shown in the face of disaster.

One of the first blogs I followed was Gay Dinosaur Tales by a fellow WordPresser named Matthew. Our paths have overlapped a bit, both geographically and experientially, though he had about a ten-year headstart on me. It’s been a bit like finding a big brother I didn’t know I had. I love the way he writes about coming to NYC after graduating from Kent State and the decade he spent coming of age as a gay man in Gotham in the 70s and early 80s.

Matthew recently announced that he was taking a break from publishing his blog. I hated the idea, and told him so. But I resigned myself to not seeing any posts from him for awhile. Then, unexpectedly, there was a new post from Gay Dinosaur Tales! It’s very much in keeping with his reminiscences of life in NYC – but this one was something else. It’s a part of his story that he hadn’t yet fully shared, and he needed to now. (click on the link below)

Like all the most involving stories of life and love and loss, its power comes from the truth and the details of the people in his life, his relationships with them, in that time, in that place. Matthew’s story stands on its own by bearing witness to this chapter in his life and remembering those who went before him. But it also reminds us of the dangers of superstition trumping science in our own time, when there is still no vaccine for fear and ignorance.

“I’ve often said, if I could go back to any one job in my life it would be here–this time–this place–that me. That is, until the world collapsed from underneath our feet.” Celebrate Good Times



No Fucks Left To Give

Just before President Obama delivered his State of the Union address to Congress last week, the official White House Twitter account sent this eat-my-shorts (tan suit*) reference:


Chez Pazienza at The Daily Banter penned a brilliant reading of the President’s thought bubble, which I encourage you to enjoy:

The White House Just Trolled Everyone, Proving Obama Has No F*cks Left To Give

* If you missed last summer’s TanSuitGate then (1) ignorance is bliss and (2) find out more here.


As Flies Are We To The Gods – Part MMXV

As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods. They kill us for their sport.
– Shakespeare

The world has been drowning in the bloodshed of religious violence for thousands of years. Greece vs Egypt vs Rome vs Turks vs Mongols… Christians vs Muslims vs Jews… Shia vs Sunni… Catholics vs Protestants… eternal hatreds, endless wars. We like to think of ourselves as advanced and enlightened, but our medieval roots are showing.

Nine years ago, this commentary was published following the violent reactions of religious extremists to the publication of a Danish cartoon. So we don’t have to wonder what the late Christopher Hitchens would have to say about today’s massacre at the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo. It’s worth another read, and sadly just as relevant now as it was then.

“Therefore there is a strong case for saying that the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, and those who have reprinted its efforts out of solidarity, are affirming the right to criticize not merely Islam but religion in general. And the Bush administration has no business at all expressing an opinion on that. If it is to say anything, it is constitutionally obliged to uphold the right and no more. You can be sure that the relevant European newspapers have also printed their share of cartoons making fun of nuns and popes and messianic Israeli settlers, and taunting child-raping priests. There was a time when this would not have been possible. But those taboos have been broken.

Which is what taboos are for. Islam makes very large claims for itself. In its art, there is a prejudice against representing the human form at all. The prohibition on picturing the prophet—who was only another male mammal—is apparently absolute. So is the prohibition on pork or alcohol or, in some Muslim societies, music or dancing. Very well then, let a good Muslim abstain rigorously from all these. But if he claims the right to make me abstain as well, he offers the clearest possible warning and proof of an aggressive intent. This current uneasy coexistence is only an interlude, he seems to say. For the moment, all I can do is claim to possess absolute truth and demand absolute immunity from criticism. But in the future, you will do what I say and you will do it on pain of death.

I refuse to be spoken to in that tone of voice, which as it happens I chance to find “offensive.” (By the way, hasn’t the word “offensive” become really offensive lately?) The innate human revulsion against desecration is much older than any monotheism: Its most powerful expression is in the Antigone of Sophocles. It belongs to civilization. I am not asking for the right to slaughter a pig in a synagogue or mosque or to relieve myself on a “holy” book. But I will not be told I can’t eat pork, and I will not respect those who burn books on a regular basis. I, too, have strong convictions and beliefs and value the Enlightenment above any priesthood or any sacred fetish-object. It is revolting to me to breathe the same air as wafts from the exhalations of the madrasahs, or the reeking fumes of the suicide-murderers, or the sermons of Billy Graham and Joseph Ratzinger. But these same principles of mine also prevent me from wreaking random violence on the nearest church, or kidnapping a Muslim at random and holding him hostage, or violating diplomatic immunity by attacking the embassy or the envoys of even the most despotic Islamic state, or making a moronic spectacle of myself threatening blood and fire to faraway individuals who may have hurt my feelings. The babyish rumor-fueled tantrums that erupt all the time, especially in the Islamic world, show yet again that faith belongs to the spoiled and selfish childhood of our species.”

Read the full article at Slate:
Cartoon Debate: The case for mocking religion, by Christopher Hitchens

“Mockery of religion is one of the most essential things, because to demystify supposedly ‘holy texts dictated by god’ and show that they are man made, what you have to show is their internal inconsistencies and absurdities. One of the beginnings of human emancipation is the ability to laugh at authority… it is an indispensable thing. People can call it blasphemy if they like, but if they call it that they have to assume there is something to be blasphemed – some divine work, well I don’t accept the premise.” – Christopher Hitchens 16 May 2013

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The Moral of the Story

A blogger friend of mine reblogged this piece, and I am compelled to do likewise. I have felt like a dragon spewing fire all day by blog, tweet and post. I am angry, and I am angriest at those who aren’t angry at all. But anger only gets us so far. And we pay a terrible price for it in the long run.

So I share this excellent piece by TheLuddbrarian, “The Moral of the Story”. It is so thoughtful and intelligent… and those are the two qualities most glaringly absent in the midst of racist hatred. Thoughtfulness. Intelligence.

The notion of “mutual aid” being the foundation for the evolution of human society and advancement is so simple, it is instantly recognized as truth. Yet in these troubled times, we seem so far removed from mutual anything — let alone any sense of obligation to each other as human beings.

I will be honest: I am not hopeful. At least not for the foreseeable future. Perhaps our species will find its way back to cooperation, obligation and mutual assistance. If that is to happen, it will be thanks to countless conversations that must begin now, like waves lapping at the shore. And to that end, I share this. Because my flamethrower is tapped out for now.


When surveying the news of recent days, weeks and months it can be a rather troublesome exercise to ask the question: what is the moral of this story? Granted, not every story has a moral—the news is not a fable, after all—and sometimes the lesson to be gleaned is not a particularly uplifting one. Indeed, it may be a lesson that we had been certain we had learned so long ago as to make the retelling seem anachronistic. And yet, even if we are seeing the headlines courtesy of the latest technological innovations the content of those headlines is a reminder that we are not as far removed from yesterday as some would like to think.

From Ferguson to Cleveland to New York City – it is proving to be a brutally cold winter. On Tuesday, December 2, Americans were encouraged to participate in the festive showing of conviviality known…

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The new rules for black people in America

The new rules for black people in America:


Black people are supposed to fight to be considered human.

Black people are supposed to fight to have our deaths matter.

Black people are supposed to fight to make it so that if we are strangled to death or our 12-year-olds are shot while unarmed in front of millions of viewers, it should be considered a violation of the law.

Black people are supposed to fight legally, using the channels that declare these killings “not that bad”  in the first place.

Black people are not supposed to disrupt traffic, or group together in public spaces.

Black people are not supposed to inconvenience Christmas shoppers.

Black people are not supposed to get angry.

Black people are not supposed to break things.

Black people are not supposed to mess up property.

Black people are not supposed to yell.

Black people are not supposed to get emotional.

Black people are not supposed to…

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Photo credit: Scott Heins / Gothamist


Photo credit: Scott Lynch / Gothamist

Photo credit: Scott Lynch / Gothamist