this shit is insane

December 16, 2012

I turned off the news sometime before the election and have not turned it back on since. So I learned about the recent mass shootings, here in Portland and then in Connecticut, through friends or people talking at work. In the past, with tragic events like these, I have been glued to the radio or the TV, in a manner that has  almost always ended up making me feel a little gross — like I was on the verge of crossing some line between “witnessing” and understanding the tragedy and potentially gawking. I went online today to read, for the first time, about the Connecticut shooting. I read a list of the victims names. I’m not sure  I need much more from the news media than that.

Does it really take shooting six years olds for this country to tackle gun control? Jesus. Seriously. Jesus. Christ. At least 88 people have died this year in mass shootings and everybody was somebody’s someone – a sibling, a parent, a best friend, a favorite colleague, a room mate, a spouse or a partner, someone’s teacher or student or coach or neighbor or favorite or cherished whoever that they looked forward to seeing or talking to every day or every week or month. And all of them are gone now. And that’s just people being killed in mass shootings. In 2010, over 8000 people were murdered by firearms.  Those people were somebodys’ someones too. And they gone forever too.

It is amazing to me how in this country, civil liberties have been eroded over the last 11 years, and how as a citizenry we’ve gone along with the erosion. So now we’re up to our eyeballs with scary bullshit, like surveillance and wire tapping and detention and national ids and government secrecy, etc. Just gave away the store for so called  “national security.” But back the fuck off of “personal security,” right?! Because in this country you cannot touch the right to have a fucking assault weapon. Maybe this is weak line of reasoning and it’s flawed thinking to compare the two things, but I can’t help but thinking that there’s some thread there about our collective unconscious or conscious.

Oh, and after we talk gun control, maybe we can talk mental health services.


veterans day 2012

November 13, 2012

Reposting my 2010 Veterans day entry. Also, thinking of my dad’s friends, are now my friends, and are who are vets too. Vietnam vets. I bet anything, Joe goes out to visit Dad’s grave today. That’s the kind of stand up thing he would do.

An excerpt from Chris Hedges’ War is the Force that Gives Us Meaning:

I learned early on that war forms its own culture. The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug, one I ingested for many years. It is peddled by myth makers -historians, war correspondents, filmmakers novelists and the state-all of whom endow it with qualities it often does possess: excitement, exoticism, power, chances to rise above our small stations in life, and a bizarre and fantastic universe that has a grotesque and dark beauty. It dominates culture, distorts memory, corrupts language and infects everything around it, even humor, which becomes preoccupied with the grim perversities of smut and death. Fundamental questions about the meaning, or meaninglessness, of our place on the planet are laid bare when we watch those around us sink to the lowest depths. War exposes the capacity for evil that lurks just below the surface within all of us.

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random thoughts at the start of a new year

January 4, 2012

The sun is starting to set and I do believe that the day is just a little bit longer than it was a week ago. Which is how it works. Minutes get added on to minutes and then some time in April we notice that the sun is setting and it’s a few minutes past 8pm. If it’s not cloudy. I mean we notice the time the sun sets if it’s not cloudy.

Right now the sky is covered with scattered clouds, turning orange and pink on the their undersides as they move closer to the bright strip of light that hugs the horizon. It’s kind of spectacular looking. It’s like the end of the world is right over there.

I had the good luck to start 2012 off in the company of funny, warm and generous friends. I don’t tend to look for signs, but still, I’m hoping that it is a sign of nice and friendly things to come.

Last night I remembered that it was my dad’s birthday. He would have been 86 this year. I swear I’m better at remembering his birthday now that he’s dead. When he was alive, neither one of us were good at remembering each others birthdays, or at least letting the other person know we remembered. I don’t know who started forgetting first. I’d like to say him, because he was a crappy dad, but it could have been me, because he was a crappy dad. I don’t mean for this to be a crappy dad story, though, because remembering his birthday makes miss him and makes me wish I would have written his birthday down on a calendar and called him every year no matter what kind of dad he was.

January 1st was the 35th anniversary of the ordination of the first woman Episcopal priest. And I was there. It happened in the church I grew up in.

I was 14 years old when Jackie Means got ordained at All Saints church. I think almost the whole congregation was there that day for Jackie, squeezed in along with everybody else who wanted to see history happening. I don’t remember much of the service, except for Martin Bell singing one of Jackie’s favorite songs that was from a folk mass he’d composed and Jim Taylor giving speaking fervently about the historical nature the event. What I remember most were the body guards and news people and the cameras and the protestors, a number of whom came from our own congregation. They wore black arm bands. They held signs, I think. I’m pretty sure they even stood up during the service and condemned Jackie’s ordination and called it a heresy. It was sad and strange. These were people I’d grown up with, people who’d probably been at both my baptism and my confirmation, people who were kind of like a second family. After that day, they were gone from our lives.

It was amazing and overwhelming to be there. Because of the personal significance to my church family at All Saints and because I really loved Jackie and was cheering for her the whole way and because I’d never been as close I was that day to experiencing a cultural shift. I was sitting there and something historical was happening 10 or 20 feet away from me, which would change the Episcopal church forever.

Strangely, I barely remember Jackie at all that day, a day that changed her life forever too. I suppose that’s because I was 14 and in the throws of a typical narcissistic adolescence and it was crowded and hard to see and there must have a ton of people around her after the service at whatever reception was held in the parish hall. But I remember the first time I took communion from her a week late and how moving that was. But Even with my hazy memory, I’m still grateful to have been there the day Jackie was ordained and grateful to have stood with Jackie. It is amazing thing at 14 to get the chance to stand up for something real like that and I feel lucky to have been at All Saints during the years she served as our associate priest. She was good to us and good to me. Thanks, Jackie and congratulations on 35 years of remarkable service.


to blog or not to blog

October 28, 2011

The last several days I’ve thought of some great opening lines for new pieces of writing and then gotten distracted and forgotten them before I could write them down. In one instance I was falling asleep and I told myself I’d remember the line in the morning. But of course I didn’t. What’s so frustrating is that I always carry around in my pockets a pen and a small notebook. Plus, I keep paper and pen by my bed. I am my own worst enemy

For me a good first line is like a hook in a tune. It’s the way into whatever “story” I’m trying to tell. Even if it the line gets moved around and it does’t end up being the first line, it feels crucial to making the writing compelling or at least interesting or at least worth writing. Hopefully worth reading.

I’ve been reflecting back on how this hasn’t been a very prolific year for me with regard to blogging, something I find kind of disappointing because part of the reason why I haven’t posted is I waste so much time online reading taste and trend blogs like hypebeast and uncrate or looking at Facebook photos of friends of friends. It’s like I’ve replaced my junior high penchant for watching TV with being online. Ugh. But the other issue is I’ve run into so many things this year that I don’t want to blog about or don’t know how to blog about. For instance I’ve spent a lot of time this year thinking about aging and gender and relationships and I don’t want to explore any of it publicly. And then there’s the state of the world, which has seemed so extremely shitty and exhausting this year and has left me speechless. I don’t know how to find the write word to talk about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan or the famine in Africa or the Norweigan massacre or the uprisings in Egypt or Syria or any individual country involved in the Arab or the debt ceiling crisis or the killing of Osama Bin Laden or the tornadoes in the Midwest or Hurricane Irene or the collapse or the Euro. The whole world seems to be in upheaval in 2011.

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a tuesday

May 4, 2011

My house faces west and there are two big windows in front. Perfect to view sunsets. Tonight’s seems kind of hopeful, which is what spring is all about, if you exclude floods and tornadoes and other acts of nature batting last that tear people’s lives apart. I guess hope has context.

Passing on some stuff I’ve  found interesting or amusing:


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when all else fails talk about the weather

February 25, 2011

It  snowed this morning. Maybe an inch total. By 2pm it almost all melted and then it snowed again. There were flurries, big fat flakes, and I thought, now here comes the real snow storm. But that only lasted for about a half hour, forty-five minutes tops, and now it’s mostly gone, save for piecemeal blankets covering some front yards and patches that sit on top of whatever cars have been parked in the same spot all day. Not much of a storm, although I hear it’s supposed to get icy and cold later tonight. Poor daffodils, trilliums, and fairy bells. Things have already started blooming here and this late snow might be a killer to those first hints of spring.

A day of Pandora tuned to the Radiohead mix. Pretty good stuff, although predictably melancholy. Don’t know why it took me forever to figure out how to hook up the laptop to the stereo, but no use beating myself up for missing the obvious.

I’ve been reading a bunch about queercore. Did queercore happen in Indiana? Or did I just miss it? Maybe I was a boring homo. Gosh, that would suck. I did know some Sally’s Dream people, though, and in retrospect they seemed kind of like a queercore-ish kinda band?

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queer art

October 1, 2010

I’ve seen a fair amount of queer art here in NYC and it’s been an interesting experience to think about it. At first I struggled with a lot of what I saw. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say I was not impressed or a little bored with the pieces, mainly because I was seeing a lot of the same kinds of stuff that I’ve seen over the last 30 years, which are basically variations on the themes “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” and “look at our bodies and watch us fuck.” For instance, when we are at PS1 I saw this giant photo collage by A.L. Steiner where there was lots of nudity and some shots of people making out and having sex, which were mixed in with a handful of photos of buildings and parking lots. And I thought to myself how many times do we have to go through this, make this particular statement, perform our visibility!? We’ve been saying “we’re here” since at least Stonewall, and we’ve been documenting what we do with our queer bodies since the Greek amphoras, which isn’t really true as the idea of an actual queer identity came along much, much later than the Greeks. But even if I omit antiquities, there’s been a butt load of queer body based art produced in the three decades since I’ve been out, including work by Judy ChicagoRobert MapplethorpeBarbara HammerJill  Posener and Tom of Finland. And that’s just to name a few. I keep wanting to think we’ve made some kind of progress as queers or as a culture more accepting of queers, which could result in queer artists doing something other than exploring their queer identity. But this horrible bullying and these tragic suicides have made me realize that every generation that “comes out” reinvents “coming out” all over again. And when they do they are still coming out to the potential of shitty world, less shitty than it was for me, but still shitty enough to make things unbearable. So of course those creatively inclined pick up mantel of art to protest, to assert themselves, to be seen and heard and to flip off the shitty world. There continues to be a constant need to get our queer lives and our queer bodies out in front of the larger culture, if for no other reason than to assert that we messily alive and trying to figure out what that means, and that alone is enough to make our lives as valuables as anyone else’s.

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america, wake the f*ck up

October 1, 2010

This shit should not still be happening. Young people should not be killing themselves because they are gay. The miserable bullying bullshit is despicable behavior. I’m sad and outraged. The college kids in this story should be expelled, at the absolute very least, if not charged with some criminal activity. God, I just can’t believe this is how it it is.

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topographically speaking

September 25, 2010

I was in Indiana before coming to New York. RU and I spent 5 days racing around Hoosier land visiting friends, family, certain country roads and various old haunts that seem forever lodged in my brain because they always show up in my dreams, or at least that’s what I realized driving down 10th street in Bloomington. Even when place is not central to my dreams, some block in Indianapolis or some corner in Bloomington figures into the scene.

While in we were Indianapolis RU and I drove by my great aunt’s old apartment building, which is across from Crown Hill Cemetery, where my dad and a number of his cousins are buried, which we also visited. I don’t have a lot of sentimental attachments to graveside visits. We didn’t do a lot of it growing up, as most of our close relatives weren’t buried in Indiana, so this was more of a matter of fact checking that my dad’s grave marker looked like the one we ordered. And it did.

We visited the sites of some of Dad’s cousins too and we drove up to the James Whitcomb Riley tomb, which at 842 feet was assumed to be the highest point in Indianapolis. And although it does seem you are perched above the miles and miles of flat terrain that make up Indy, the highest point is actually southwest of there on bluff called Mann Hill, which rises to almost 900 feet.

RU has remarked a number of times how the Indy seemed kind of vacant, which is strange considering its the 14th most populated city in the country. I don’t think its just that she’s not used to the big parking lots or the empty fields in the suburbs. Everything seems stretched out and everyone’s in a car. The first ring of suburbs on the near north side is becoming a ghost town, and while the neighborhoods close in are getting revitalized, there’s still lots of empty lots between the big old houses that line College and Central Avenues. Even driving I-70 from the airport to downtown was strange as it was almost empty and it was 6:30pm a weeknight.

I never see all the people I want to see in Indianapolis or spend as much time with them as I wish I could. And that always leaves me feeling a little sad. I wish it wasn’t such a trek to fly home or that I could at least fly directly to Indy, instead of spending an extra couple hours flying through Denver or Minneapolis or Chicago.

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words fail

June 10, 2010

The suicide bomber in today’s news was no more than thirteen years old. That’s what I read in the news. Thirteen fucking years old! It’s beyond tragic. Tragedy doesn’t get at it. It’s just horror, man. I keep trying to imagine the kind of madness that led up to a child at a wedding wearing a vest of explosives and pulling the pin on a grenade, and I flail around, numb. I can’t get my brain or heart around it.

I think of the Joseph Campbell quote, “Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy,” and I wonder was he thinking of something as horribly fucked up as this. How does one participate in this? Protest the war? Write letters to congress? Give to a peace group? I don’t know how to do this.