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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.

squirrelstakingovertheworld

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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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.”

GayDinosaurTales.com: Celebrate Good Times

 

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.

LibrarianShipwreck

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:

Regarding Offended White People

A fellow blogger re-posted this comment from a DailyKOS thread. I would have shared it directly from his blog, but he’s not set up that way. So here it is with a link to the original by eodell. It’s a rant. And it’s a very good rant.

Regarding offended white people

I’m not sure who I’m addressing this to, since all of the black people here and a lot of the decent white people already know this, and the racist whites won’t get it, but what the hell.

Dear white racists and your fragile fee-fees:

Relax, I’m white, too. Look, I can do the secret handshake and nudge-nudge, wink-wink. Lemme whitesplain something to you, fellow white men: no one buys your bullshit.

That’s because your bullshit runs like this: For historically- and presently-oppressed black people to be treated decently, they must carefully avoid doing anything that could be remotely twisted into behaving like a white racist, even if you’re squinting and looking at it from five hundred meters away in a thick fog. Because that would be racist, and therefore hypocritical, and if that’s the case, they deserve to continue to be oppressed.

Here’s the thing you thick-headed assholes totally fail to get: NO ONE DESERVES TO BE OPPRESSED, PERIOD. You can talk all you want about how it’s okay for black people to be mistreated if— but get this, there is no “if”. It’s not okay, ever. That’s why we call it mistreatment. Your error is to think that it’s ever justified, and your active misdeed is to constantly search for a justification. Black people, collectively, are not guilty of anything. In fact, a basic principle of civil society is that we reject the notion of collective guilt. Some individual black people, like individual white people, have done bad things, and in those cases, may deserve judicial punishments. But even those people don’t deserve mistreatment from some random white guy on the street. And black people in general don’t owe anyone anything as a prerequisite for being treated decently. No one does.

Now I know there are a bunch of you in the back of the room waving your hand and getting ready to launch the argument that it’s racist to complain about white privilege. No, it is not. Complaining about white privilege is not the same as assigning collective guilt to white people. White privilege is a pervasive feature of our society and our legal system. It’s hard to see if you’re white (and you’re not looking or actively trying not to look), but it is real, it is powerfully destructive, and if global warming had the kind of statistical support that evidence of white privilege has, Bill O’Reilly would be haranguing FOX News viewers to install solar panels.

And here’s the subtle point that you folks either can’t or won’t grasp. White privilege is especially the responsibility of white people to fix, not because we’re all racist schlubs like you are, but because white privilege itself means that we’re the ones who have the power to change it. Black people don’t have that power, again because of white privilege, and not because they aren’t sufficiently careful in the way they phrase their complaints about being mistreated. It’s our problem and our responsibility as white people to fix not because whites are collectively guilty, but because it is the responsibility of ALL PEOPLE to fight for decent treatment for ALL PEOPLE. It just happens that, because of our shithead ancestors and a helping handful of historical accident, we white people are the ones who can do something about it. When the finger on the trigger is white, it’s pointless to ask a black guy to lower the gun.

And quite frankly, given all the shit that our black fellow citizens have put up with, and all the shit they have to deal with every. fucking. day., if some of them lose their tempers and say things that aren’t carefully calibrated to kiss your privileged, hypersensitive asses, well, is that actually surprising? You lose your minds when black people just complain verbally about being kicked. Imagine how tough it would be for you to keep your cool if someone was actually doing something to you instead of just talking.

Finally, yes, I know this is pointless. You want to be offended to fluff your fragile egos, and you want black people to please shut the fuck up and stop harshing your mellow. I hate to break it to you, but as long as people are being murdered by the state, given draconian sentences for crimes that in many cases they haven’t even committed, and being held in poverty and privation and a constant state of fear, those of us who actually give a shit about our fellow citizens are going, at the very least, to make some noise about it.

In the meantime, if you can’t be bothered to do your duty as an American to protect your fellow Americans with the considerable power at your disposal, at least shut the fuck up and stop making an ass of yourself.

Regards,
Your fellow privileged white guy

http://www.dailykos.com/comments/1333114/54616395#c494

08.21.2014 Seventy-nine Weeks

How do we survive the loss of a loved one? of a child? of a partner? “Time heals” – and that’s true, to a certain extent. But the passage of time alone cannot mend a shattered soul. It takes a collaborative effort of the head and the heart to escape the crushing gravity of deep grief.

Last year, my friend Lisë endured unbearable loss. The sudden death of her 18-year-old son Eitan… and three months later, the sudden death of her partner Larry. No warning. No mercy. But over these past 18 months, I have witnessed the extraordinary journey my friend has undertaken… to somehow rescue herself from her darkest days. I share this blog entry from Lisë marking 79 weeks since the death of her son. It is such a poignant and uplifting moment that she shares. If you have suffered such an unthinkable loss, or if you know someone who has, I hope this post will offer some hope for the future.

Eitan Stern-Robbins z"l

Seventy-nine weeks.
So this happened.

Connoisseurs Marketplace, Menlo Park, California, 7.20.14

He is grown but young.
The attack from within knocked him flat backward,
tight curls torn open staining black asphalt crimson,
in front of a statue of jeans with a pig snout jutting from the fly,
and a coffee shop.

Aunt’s hands, grandmother’s, cousins, holding, supporting, cradling that head,
eyes rolled back white frozen
cold unseeing but alive, the barest hint of terror.

I recognize this stare,
suspended immobility after the shakes,
gaze blank.

And I stop, and freeze, and stare, seeing, and wring my hands,
an action I thought only appeared in writing, but there they are, the left, the right, holding each other, washing with fingers and skin, pressing against my heart.

A crumpled cream colored towel appears in the relatives’ hands,
supplied by someone,
to prop, protect, that head so it will rest on softness instead…

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A Response to ‘Women Against Feminism’

Blogging, in its highest form, is a conversation. Last week, I wrote a post expressing my own sadness and anger that I live in country which talks about freedom and equality… but too often does not walk that walk. A woman named Lisa clicked the ‘like’ button on my post. That led me to her blog, where I discovered this post that she had chosen to reblog.

We do not have to be white to understand the injustices suffered by people of color. We do not have to be female to understand the injustices suffered by women and girls. We do not have to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender to understand the injustices suffered by members of the queer community. We already possess the only attribute needed to understand each other’s challenges: we are all human. Once you and I understand the injustices we all face, the only thing left for us to do is to act humanely toward each other. It is no coincidence that all of the world’s faith traditions and moral codes share one most basic tenet: Treat others as you want to be treated. What could be simpler? Easier? Less controversial?

I share this post with you because it speaks to the importance of looking beyond ourselves. I am not a woman, but I am a feminist. What about you?

iwantedwings

Imagine this:

The year is 2014. You are a white Western woman. You wake up in the morning in a comfortably sized house or flat. You have a full or part-time job that enables you to pay your rent or mortgage. You have been to school and maybe even college or university as well. You can read and write and count. You own a car or have a driver’s licence. You have enough money in your own bank account to feed and clothe yourself. You have access to the Internet. You can vote. You have a boyfriend or girlfriend of your choosing, who you can also marry if you want to, and raise a family with. You walk down the street wearing whatever you feel like wearing. You can go to bars and clubs and sleep with whomever you want.

Your world is full of freedom and possibility.

Then you…

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“Pick Up The Battle. Take it up. It’s Yours.”

In light of the murder of Michael Brown and the continuing shame of Ferguson, Missouri… these words from Maya Angelou are still, and always, relevant. “Pick up the battle… it’s yours!”

The End

In 2006, Maya Angelou sat down in her home in North Carolina with Dave Chappelle for a conversation that was recorded as part of the Sundance Iconoclasts series.

The entire hour is available on YouTube in four parts. From the 5:00 mark of this clip, Maya remembers her friends Malcolm and Martin… how this is both historical and personal for her, these iconic figures were also her friends… and how the anger in the aftermath of their assassinations was fuel for action. She has a message for those of us who are angry about the state of our country and our world.


 “You should be angry. You must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object. So use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it…

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You are awesome

Sharing this post from blogger Steve Morris, an English chap. We don’t always see eye-to-eye politically, but I enjoy his blend of philosophy and science. Consider the implications of this post: every single person on this planet right now is the most successful offspring of the most successful lineages of the human species. Wow. If that includes the Republicans in America, imagine the ones who didn’t make the cut! I suppose you might also find it quite uplifting, as I did.

Blog Blogger Bloggest

supermanCongratulations on making it here. You’re a survivor. Not only did you survive childbirth, childhood and however many years you’ve lived since (an achievement that sadly most humans in history didn’t manage), but so did your parents, your grand-parents, and all your ancestors back to some single-celled organism swimming through ancient seas.

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The Days of Anna Madrigal

I made the following post at the end of January, as Armistead Maupin’s ninth and final Tales of the City book was published. The Days of Anna Madrigal sat on my nightstand for the past six months; I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Michael, Mary Ann, Brian – and certainly not to Anna.

I finally opened it last week. And I can report that this is a very fond farewell to the ‘logical family’ of Tales. Wickedly funny. Poignant. Wistful. Triumphant. If you are reluctant, as I was, to dive in, do: the waters are as warm and inviting as ever. If you are unfamiliar with Armistead Maupin and his series of novels spanning the last 40 years, check your library or bookstore for the first book, Tales of the City. Most anyone who will see this post is likely to fall in love with these tales. And in that happy event, you’ve got eight more books ahead of you!

The End

They say you should never meet your heroes.

Armistead Maupin Armistead Maupin

Well, I don’t know who “they” are, or who they choose as their heroes… but I can tell you that they are wrong. I met one of mine tonight, and he did not disappoint.

I wonder how many people who will see this even recognize the name: Armistead Maupin. In 1976, The San Francisco Chronicle started running a daily serial by Maupin – and so began an extraordinary adventure called Tales of the City.

TalesoftheCity.coverThe City is San Francisco, and the Tales center on three main characters: Mary Ann Singleton is a naive young woman from Ohio who takes a vacation in San Francisco and decides to stay. She finds a room in a boarding house at 28 Barbary Lane (Macondray Lane steps, in our world) on Russian Hill, presided over by a mysterious woman called Mrs Madrigal. Michael…

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‘The Best Worst President Ever’

From the brilliant Mark Morford at the SF Chronicle / SFGate.com:

Much to the GOP’s bitter revulsion, it turns out a calm, intellectual black man really can run an entire country – certainly far better than an inarticulate Texas bumbler, and even in the face of what is easily the most obstructionist, hateful, acidic and often downright racist Congress in modern memory. Quite an achievement, really.

Be sure to read the entire piece – click here >>> The Best Worst President Ever

 

The End (so far)

 

Clever Sculptures out of Bent Wires and Everyday Objects

I rely on e-MORFES to show me the cool stuff that I’d otherwise miss. Like this: Artist Terry Border takes ordinary everyday objects and bits of wire and turns them into the most fabulous characters. He calls the project Bent Objects: The Secret Life of Everyday Things.

It’ll put a smile on your face.

e MORFES

Artist  Terry Border takes ordinary everyday objects and bits of wire and turns them into the most fabulous characters. He calls the project  Bent Objects: The Secret Life of Everyday Things.

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