Monday, May 17, 2004

Marriage Party Ruined by Uninvited Guests
Thousands of heterosexual couples woke up today to discover their marriages had been trashed the night before by hundreds of Gays and Lesbians lined up to be married in the eyes of the State of Massachussetts. Okay Jerry Falwell, Pat Roberts, Rick Santorum et ilk, your worst nightmare has occurred. Same sex partners were afforded state recognition of their committed relationships for the first time today in Massachussetts. Yes, fuckit, Gays and Lesbians got married! For the next year at least, couples who want to be married can be. Their marriages will not be recognized by the federal government right away, maybe not for a long time, but I wouldn't bet on never. Here's what most people don't get: Massachussetts is not leading the way. It's just reflecting reality. Same sex couples have been forming bonded legal relationships for years now. There is no compelling reason not to allow same sex marriage outside of religious bigotry, and that is banned by the Constitution of the United States. A lot of states are rushing to amend their own constitutions to "close the loopholes." You know the loophole I'm talking about, the one about establishing a relilgion, and equitable justice before the law. That is just plain sad. They won't win in the end. Bad amendments can be undone, just ask the Women's Christian Temperance Union.

In the next few months, thousands of very normal people are going to visit Massachussetts and get married. Nobody can stop them. You bigots who call yourselves Christians might as well get used to it. This isn't about you. It's about us.

To you men and women who are causing all these problems in Massachussetts by your refusal to participate in your own marginalization, Mazel Tov!

Posted by Houston on May 17, 2004 at 07:07 PM in Gay Marriage | Permalink
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And given the Goopers' love of lucre, I'm amazed that Mitt Romney hasn't been the loudest drumbeater in favor of the SJC's decision. Hetero weddings are a multibillion dollar industry: why shouldn't states be vying to cash in on the homo flava? Just think of all the extra business the florists, bakers, reception halls, etc., are going to be doing in Massachusetts for the next few weeks at least. Wouldn't that go a long way to trimming some of those horrid budget deficits so many states and localities are suffering under?

Posted by: Michael | May 17, 2004 at 07:33 PM

You have got to love Massachussetts. If you go to the old cementary right in Plymouth, read the head stones. Now these go back to the 16 and 17 hundreds. You will see several places where a man and his wife are buried together. Next to his grave you will see his "consort's" grave. It makes me laugh that these are the people that were so religious. That wouldn't go over today. It use to be where blacks and whites couldn't marry, or you had to have a marriage certificate to check into a motel, and so on. People ought to not get their panties in a wad and just let it go. It is just a matter of time before it is legal everywhere. So what? I really think we have bigger issues to worry about than if 2 people love each other and want to commit to each other.

Posted by: CarolC | May 17, 2004 at 07:36 PM

Ain't it the truth! This is a tsuami of change, though. It's not just a wave, but a tidal wave of huge proportions. As blase as I am about everything, this makes me very excited. It is an historic day. I'm writing another post about it even as I distract myself here in the comments.

Posted by: Houston | May 17, 2004 at 07:59 PM

Don't sweat it hon, it's not YOU, it's THEM!

Posted by: wanda | May 17, 2004 at 08:40 PM

I'm a Christian, and I'm in favour of homosexual marriages. And my stance is not unusual in Canada. We have a gay cardinal, and my city has an openly gay mayor (or rather did - he resigned two days ago to run for provincial office). I don't understand what is up with all the intolerance. But then again, we're a big friendly country. It's time all of the US got with the program.

Posted by: ellen | May 17, 2004 at 08:51 PM

You have a Gay cardinal? That reminds me of a story. Several years ago, I was spending Christmas with my friend, Leon Richardson, in East Texas. We have been friends for a long time, and we are much alike in our exuberance. Anyway, we both do Christmas, and we both have certain collections of Christmas stuff. One of those things is Cardinals, as in the birds. Anyways, I was visiting Leon and we'd been celebrating our friendship for about two days when I noticed the towels in her bathroom. There were two beautiful red cardinals on the towels. I washed my hands, powdered my nose and walked into the kitchen and said, "Leon, can I have the towel set with the Gay cardinals on it?" "What Gay cardinals," she demanded to know. Well, her lovely set of towels had a pair of two bright red cardinals. She gave them to me the following Christmas.

Last summer, Ellen, I proposed to at least two fine young Canadians at the rodeo in Calgary. I don't think I'm going to make it this year, but next year, God willing and all, I'll be up there looking for me a husband.

Posted by: Houston | May 17, 2004 at 09:37 PM

We are living through history. This is big, big, big. May be someday people will realize that it is about human dignity. That is a very powerful Supreme Court opinion in Lawrence v. Texas where Justice Kennedy said that people have a right to have their personal relationships recognized with dignity.

We got a little more human today, people!

Posted by: Jaye | May 17, 2004 at 09:51 PM

"We got a little more human today, people!"

Perfect, Jaye. I really, really hope so.

Posted by: andante | May 17, 2004 at 10:58 PM

Ha ha. Loved the gay cardinal towel story, Houston. And yup, Calgary is known for its gay cowboys. Put the saddle on the stove; we're ridin the range tonight yee haw.

Posted by: ellen | May 18, 2004 at 04:46 AM

49 to go!

Posted by: oldcatman | May 18, 2004 at 09:18 AM

I'm just sad that California wasn't the first .... waaaaa

Posted by: TIMMY! | May 18, 2004 at 11:32 AM

Friday, May 14, 2004

Martini Time

If certain drugs were cheap and legal, I might have habits other than the ones I do, but my favorite legal high is a Bombay martini. This has been true since my first initiation into a cult of martini drinkers in New Orleans back in the 60s. I readily concede that gin is not a taste enjoyed by many, but for me it was always the high I was after. My favorite drinking line is, "After one martini, people like me. After two martinis, I like people." In my youth, gin quickened my wit and sharpened my tongue, giving me entree to a very charming society of people wherever I have lived. Fueled with two martinis, there were few individuals who once in my sights eluded me. If it's a good party with direction and focus, two martinis will bring on the next act, dinner. Dessert has always depended on the chemistry of the evening, don't you think? (By the way, we're talking good sized drinks, here, so two is usually adequate. After two, I'm about as high as I'm comfortable being in a social setting, public or otherwise. After three I think you're just drunk. Then you're never as charming as you think you are, and when you're as old as I am you're just pathetic. Been there, wrote the book, starred in the movie.)

The Perfect Social Experience

I love dinner parties at a set table, and I think six is the most optimum number. I've always favored even numbers. I think that's probably something Southern, but I'm just guessing. I think that's silly now, but I still think in terms of even numbers only now I don't get flustered by someone bringing someone extra or someone missing at the last moment.

Heads up here. This is an important truth. There are cheap highs and and there are substantial highs. Here is a parable. An English noblewoman, who knew both of Queen Victoria's prime ministers, Benjamin D'Israeli and William Gladstone, was asked by an acquaintance which of the two was the more interesting, both being considered great. She replied, "After lunch with Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the wittiest, most brilliant, most charming person on earth. But after lunch with Mr. Disraeli, I felt that I was the wittiest, most brilliant, most charming person on earth."

Through fate and circumstance, I have a few interesting stories about how I came to be in this place at this time. I really can tell stories for hours. To everyone I bored to death in the past 40 years, this is my first, and last, public apology. I'm sorry for thinking I was the only person at the table with stories to tell. I have since learned better. Mine may be better -- or not -- but each of us has a story to tell. The substantial high is to hear someone tell his own story in a magical setting. Oh, yeah.

While I am not a drag queen, I have been influenced by several who taught me that illusion is the most powerful tool in an urban queen's purse. You don't need to bust your balls, you need to set a pretty table, serve simple food, a good wine, good bread. Although I cook well enough, to me it's the social aspect of the dinner party, so I'm happy to get a grilled chicken at Safeway, toss baby greens, steam some asparagus real quick, some good sourdough bread, sorbet for later, wine from my own collection and I've got a perfect evening for less than $20 out of pocket. Served, of course, on Ashworth china, (named for my family), silver on loan from a friend with a good story, but who thought I would have more fun with it (ask me later and say "huntly gordon"). I use wine glasses that I inherited from My dear friend who also left me a house in the country just because he thought his family should know someone like me. (That was mean, Kenny. When I see you in hell, I'm going to give you grief for that. Another story, ask me later.) Of the dozen or so serious affaires des coeurs in my life, only two did I not meet at a dinner party. No, make that three. No wait, four. Maybe five. Let's just say I met several interesting people with whom I later became intimate at dinner parties.


My social life has changed quite a bit with my moving to Oakland. My place in S.F. was 538 square feet. That's small. I called it my Holiday Inn Condo, after all, it had one window, one door, one bathroom, one closet, with the bonus of a small galley kitchen thrown in as well. That place was so small. The first thing I did was buy a wall bed for $3,000 and mirror every other wall. We urban drag queens know about illusion. At least it looked bigger, and I made it interesting. I owned Holiday Inn condo for 4 years and sold it for $100,000 profit. With the profits, I bought a place in Oakland 3X its size. I had a good life from that tiny place, but I suffered being so cramped. My imagined people had big houses with white columns. In my fantasies we must have always had help, because let me tell you, I have a two-bedroom, two-bath place now and it seems I'm working for it rather than it working for me. I wish I had help keeping it clean.

All of this is apropos of what? I just gave you a snapshot of my life. Not my "Gay" life, just my life. I don't wake up in the morning and say, "here goes GAY Houston off to work." Like Popeye might say, "I 'yam whats i 'yam." We single gentlemen with flair experience real discrimination everyday. I do not walk around with a sign that says, "Queer, Kick Me!" The enmity by which we are held by a substantial number of people in this society finds us all on its own. The problem with bigotry is that it is mean spirited. This punk working and hiding behind the mask of an Immigration clerk, got to be mean and hateful just because. Just. Fucking. Because.

Anyway, it's just something to think about. I'm playing mostly this week-end. Cocktail party Saturday night and theater Sunday evening in Mill Valley. Next week I'm meeting my sister, Michelle, in Sacramento for the National Genealogical Society's annual gathering. I did mention that I'm kind of sort of into genealogy, right?

Bon week-end, mes amis. Bon week-end.

Reading this made me feel as if I were in the company of someone brilliant,witty and charming, why did you have to stop? Write me a book Houston, filled with never ending stories. I want to drink your words like a bottomless cup of coffee on a cold winters night.
Your talent is surpassed only by your charm and good looks. Would only that I were a man or you a woman. What a sweet life we could have.

Posted by: wanda | May 14, 2004 at 10:00 PM

After tee martoonis I would be charmed to know you as a friend. Not a gay friend, you know, just a friend.

Posted by: Dave | May 15, 2004 at 06:09 AM

That's another nice thing about growing mature. Our relationships no longer are based on sexual dynamics. One of the things I love about the straight men I know is that they are the much more physically demonstrative than Gay men. I love getting big physical hugs in the middle of the street and more than half of the ones I know plant big sloppy kisses as well. Oh sure, cheap thrills, but the older I get the more I'm satisfied with any thrill. What I like about women, Lesbian or straight, is -- well, just about everything. I'm one of those Gay men who hangs out with women. It just sort of comes natural. Always have. They're easier to dance with for one thing.

Posted by: Houston | May 15, 2004 at 08:53 AM

Gay, shmay - I don't give a rat's behind who or what my friends prefer as intimate partners. None of my business, and irrelevant to our friendship. All I can say, Houston, is if I had a jammie party, I'd invite you. What fun we would have.

Posted by: ellen | May 15, 2004 at 10:01 AM

BOMBAY GIN......was my sister's favorite--she a diabetic now and shines away from alcohol! When I did drink,
never did go for gin--I preferred a GOOD Vodka, straight up with a bottle of water chaser---one hit of the Vodka and the bottle of water kept me hydrated......
and peeing a lot!

Posted by: oldcatman | May 15, 2004 at 02:04 PM

I don't drink much now at all, can't keep the weight off if I drink, but I used to like to do shots of gin before going out to drink beer. Tanqueray was preferred. We called it drinking christmas trees...

Posted by: Dave | May 15, 2004 at 02:29 PM

I love a good martini. Stirred not shaken. Olive not onion. Teetotaler that I am, two would probably have me dancing with the coatrack.

Posted by: wanda | May 15, 2004 at 10:44 PM

You sound like a real fun guy to be around that's for sure and looking at your photo, I can picture you with that Bombay Martini LOL Thanks for visiting my site by the way, hope you come back :)

Posted by: Kim | May 17, 2004 at 03:24 AM

I hope your weekend went as planned and you had a great time.

My favorite drink is tequila (preferably a stiff Margarita) and it brings out the truth in me (not always in a good way).

I miss dinner parties with friends and laughter. Around here it's more like throw it out there and get back before the stampede!

Posted by: Brenda | May 17, 2004 at 07:51 AM

Martini's are soo cool, but I can't get into them. Sometimes I order them and pretend like I'm cool.

Posted by: TIMMY! | May 18, 2004 at 11:35 AM

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

From all accunts Nick Berg was an alright guy. He was in Iraq looking for opportunity. You know with over $50 billion being thrown around, there's lots of opportunity. He was no more an enemy of the Iraqi people than Danny Pearl was. If its a contest to decide who can be the most barbaric, the bastards that killed Danny and Nick win. They are pigs, and the sty in which they live is one of their own creation. They can't hang that one on us. Before we were ever there, Arabs and Muslims couldn't butcher each other fast enough. Religion of peace, my ass. You're not better than us, so work your way out of the victim mode and figure out a way to create a future. Are you ready to love your children more than you hate others?

We all need to accept responsibility for our extremists. You moderate Muslims own your extremists just as we own ours. If we allow our history with each other to be written by our extremists, we will not know peace in our lifetime. I preach this simple truth with the absolute hope and prayer that someone is over on your side preaching the same truth. Abu Ghraib and the execution of Nick Berg hang around each of our necks like albatrosses. They are related only in that they show both sides the other's potential for evil. You preach to your people. I'll preach to mine.

Most Americans think it's horrible what happened at Abu Ghraib. We're processing it right now, even as I type. It really is against our principles and it violates how we see ourselves. We will investigate it. We'll even make a movie about it. Sure, it'll tell it from our point of view, but we will process it. That's our way. How will you Muslims process this brutal murder of an innocent man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time? Doesn't it worry you just a little that the men who murdered Nick seemed to enjoy it just a little too much?

For all apperances, Nick Berg was an adventurer, but he was not an enemy of the Iraqi people. He saw opportunity which demonstrates more optimism than by which most Americans see the Iraqi future. Heads up, my friends, not all of us are your enemies.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

I have known many mothers. Some women are instinctively good at it, some indifferent to it. The biological function may be the same for birthing, but there's a big difference from experiencing birth and raising a child. Motherhood is about raising the child. I'm old enough now to appreciate aspects not apparent to me when I was young. For example, those who have the instinct, seem to have an unlimited amount of nurturing they are able to pour out on any child they encounter. My sister Michelle seems to have that. I felt it a lot from a lot of women when I was growing up. Believe you me, when you're the cutest kid in the world, you get smothered in a lot of bosomy hugs. I always felt loved. That's what motherhood means to me. Thank you Dorothy for always making sure I knew I was loved. Thank you, Minnie Hyacinth, for helping Dorothy.

Motherhood is like a marathon race. The challenge is just to finish the course. Your kids are on the sideline throughout the entire race, sometimes cheering you on, sometimes throwing up obstacles. Hell, sometimes they are the obstacles. To those of you in the race, rock on!

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Saying Good-bye to Hero

"But the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.'' Ralph Waldo Emerson A passage underlined in a book belonging to Pat Tillman.

Yesterday, a lot of people who knew Pat Tillman and a lot of people who would like to have known Pat, paid tribute to him in San Jose. Gwen Knapp covered the service for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Just when we thought we had a pure and simple hero, a millionaire athlete who gave up wealth and fame to become the ideal patriot, to make the ultimate sacrifice, his friends and family complicated everything. They turned Pat Tillman into a human being Monday, showing us what was really lost during that ambush in Afghanistan, insisting that we question every assumption we've made since he died an icon on April 22.


Tillman's youngest brother, Rich, wore a rumpled white T-shirt, no jacket, no tie, no collar, and immediately swore into the microphone. He hadn't written anything, he said, and with the starkest honesty, he asked mourners to hold their spiritual bromides.

"Pat isn't with God,'' he said. "He's fucking dead. He wasn't religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he's fucking dead.''

His brother-in-law and close friend, Alex Garwood, described how Tillman handled his duties when he became godfather to Garwood's son. He came to the ceremony dressed as a woman. Not as a religious commentary. He was doing a balancing act.

"We had two godfathers, no godmother,'' Garwood explained. And what NFL player turned Army Ranger wouldn't don drag to make that math work?

Who on earth was this guy?


"He talked about gays,'' Lyle Setencich, the former ASU assistant said. "He asked me, 'Could you coach gays?' " Setencich told Tillman yes. He could, and he had. He repeated that at the memorial service, televised on ESPN, in front of the sports world, showing another side of a coach, another side of an American hero.

I wish there were a million more like you, Pat. I would like to have known you better and for a lot longer.

[This is double posted, here and on my new web address here.]
Abu Ghraib Prison
Watched Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer tonight. "The system works," Sec. Rumsfeld said over and over again. The Army already had six investigations going before the story broke on January 16.

My inclination is to believe the details, but my conclusions aren't the same as Rumsfeld. First, I'd like to hear an assurance from Sec. Rumsfeld that there has been no abuse of prisioners since that date. I believe our men in uniform are good, sincere, earnest, dedicated... I could go on, but you get my drift. Sec. Rumsfeld, can you assure us, your fellow countrymen, and the world, that there has been no abuse since then? Sorry to put you on the spot, old sport, but we do need to be reassured.

Sec. Rumsfeld cautioned us all about equating abuse and torture. If the abuse is designed to break down a prisoner's will, that is torture. The reservists have claimed so far that they were being encouraged to do what they did. That is the most serious charge so far, in my opinion.

I have noticed a strong inclination by those in charge of blaming the lowest ranking soldiers involved with the offenses. That makes me very uncomfortable. Even if not a single officer knew what was taking place at the prison, every officer that walked through those gates is as guilty as any SP4 who may have actually had contact with the prisoners. Gen. Janis Karpinski said she wasn't even allowed into that part of the prison. Whoever gave that order should also be charged with dereliction of duty.

Now let's talk about abuse. We promised the Iraqis that we would give them a list of all people being held by American forces. The promise was made in February for April. It is now May, and there is no list of prisoners being held by American forces. None of those being held have been charged. Even warfare has better rules for the treatment of prisoners. There is no excuse.

We have become a force of occupation, brutal occupation. We are not going to withdraw tomorrow, so let's set some ground rules today.

1. A list of names of all prisoners, men and women. That list is to include the dates they were arrested and the suspicion upon which they were arrested. Can't say "charge" very well, can we?

2. Establish a procedure for prisoners to find out the charges against them. If we want to teach the Iraqis about democracy, let's begin by teaching them about habeas corpus. I know Bush and Ashcroft want to get rid of that in this country, but they haven't yet, and we're not going to let them. Whether by design or not, American forces are acting like Nazis in Iraq. That has to stop.

3. The President, Vice President and Sec. Cheney must stop using words that dehumanize the opposition forces in Iraq. The words thugs, hoodlums, terrorists, etc., contribute directly to the abuse of detainees. It's not rocket science, y'know. If the President calls them thugs, is this not permission to treat them like thugs?

This is a black-eye on our military, and on our country. Before the pictures were released, I would have said it was up to the accusers to prove their case. Now, it's up to us to prove that those pictures are not representative of how we are treating the Iraqis.

We deserve better leadership than this.

Posted by Houston on May 04, 2004 at 07:05 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink
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Excellent post. Thank you.
Do you mind if I quote you and this post in my blog?

Posted by: Faramin | May 05, 2004 at 08:54 AM

Yes, the true colors are showing now, or as we say on the golf links, "the wheels fell off"

Posted by: Dave | May 05, 2004 at 09:04 AM

Please do, Faramin, and welcome to my blog. I visited yours quickly, but have marked it so I can visit later and get a point of view different from my own.

Posted by: Houston | May 05, 2004 at 02:01 PM

I agree with a lot of this post.

But I wanted to disagree with something....

"American forces are acting like Nazis in Iraq."
I think thats an absurd comment that American army can be compared to the Nazi regime.

Also, I think Bush should not only stop using de-humanizing words, he should stop using words he would have to look up the meaning in the dictionary for.

Posted by: TIMMY! | May 05, 2004 at 03:25 PM

I think the "like Nazis" comment was a little over the top in retrospect, but consider this. In the middle of the night there's a banging at the door. It's kicked in, soldiers wearing evil looking equipment barge in screaming words at you in a foreign language, hitting you with their rifles if you're too slow to comply. All of the men in the house are hooded, handcuffed, and dragged away, not to be heard of or from for months on end. Besides Iraq, the other picture in my mind of this behavior is Warsaw, 1939 and 40.

We're not Nazis, but sometimes the techniques used seem uncomfortably familiar.

Posted by: Houston | May 05, 2004 at 05:36 PM

I talked about this with a friend today and he said, if we can have abuse of inmates in the Harris County Jail, we can have it in Iraq. We deny that it happened in Viet Nam--see what happens when Kerry tells the truth about it, he gets called "liar" and "unpatriotic" and worse--and what we deny, we do again and again.

What is our response to prison rape--make jokes. The thing that we are afraid of is that these captors are no different than anyone else. They too are someone's kid, father, sister, daughter, brother, husband, wife. Becaue of the potential for anyone to act that we, they must be lead not to behave that way.

Bush said these were not the Americans he knows. Yeah, but we can't say at the same time that what happened was nothing more serious than frat boy behavior. Shit. Can you believe that? I am sure Bush doesn't know anyone raped in prison or while living in a tiger cage in Hanoi. Oh, wait, he knows John McCain but he treated McCain like hell in the primaries.

Denial, what a bitch of a river.

Posted by: Jaye | May 05, 2004 at 06:47 PM

What Jaye said. Excellent post, darlin'.

"have noticed a strong inclination by those in charge of blaming the lowest ranking soldiers involved with the offenses" - bothers me very much, too. It seems contagious in this administration.

Posted by: andante | May 05, 2004 at 06:52 PM

I don't mind if upper ranking officers blame lower ranking soldiers. As long as they take responsibility for not taking care of their lower ranking soldiers and allowing it to happen.

Houston, I understand your comparisons, but as you know, that is what happens in unconventional warfare. Same type of things happend in Vietnam when the "Men in Green Faces" took people in the middle of the night.

Posted by: TIMMY! | May 06, 2004 at 11:59 AM

Came via a link from Faramin's.

Great post. Please do not quit writing about these atrocities. Fortunately or unfortunately, American voice goes farther than non-American one.

Posted by: barak | May 10, 2004 at 09:23 AM
But one helluva guy. "But the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.'' -Ralph Waldo Emerson A passage underlined in a book belonging to Pat Tillman.

Yesterday, a lot of people who knew Pat Tillman and a lot of people who would like to have known Pat, paid tribute to him in San Jose. Gwen Knapp covered the service for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Just when we thought we had a pure and simple hero, a millionaire athlete who gave up wealth and fame to become the ideal patriot, to make the ultimate sacrifice, his friends and family complicated everything. They turned Pat Tillman into a human being Monday, showing us what was really lost during that ambush in Afghanistan, insisting that we question every assumption we've made since he died an icon on April 22.


Tillman's youngest brother, Rich, wore a rumpled white T-shirt, no jacket, no tie, no collar, and immediately swore into the microphone. He hadn't written anything, he said, and with the starkest honesty, he asked mourners to hold their spiritual bromides.

"Pat isn't with God,'' he said. "He's fucking dead. He wasn't religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he's fucking dead.''

His brother-in-law and close friend, Alex Garwood, described how Tillman handled his duties when he became godfather to Garwood's son. He came to the ceremony dressed as a woman. Not as a religious commentary. He was doing a balancing act.

"We had two godfathers, no godmother,'' Garwood explained. And what NFL player turned Army Ranger wouldn't don drag to make that math work?

Who on earth was this guy?


"He talked about gays,'' Lyle Setencich, the former ASU assistant said. "He asked me, 'Could you coach gays?' " Setencich told Tillman yes. He could, and he had. He repeated that at the memorial service, televised on ESPN, in front of the sports world, showing another side of a coach, another side of an American hero.

I wish there were a million more like you, Pat. I would like to have known you better and for a lot longer.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Last Year at this time

I was curious as to what was going on in my mind a year ago at this time. La plus ca change, la plus ca meme.


How fast do you type? I type somewhere around 100 wpm. Oh, sure I can do gusts up to about 125, but sustained speed seldom exceeds 100. Why do I type that fast? Well, that's a longer story.

I had nine weeks of typing my senior year. I wanted to go home early, but this was back in the days when you did what you were told to do (I graduated in 1965). So, forbidden to go home, I took typing. I did all right, but I developed a nervous tic, sort of. I started ghost typing instead of just drumming my fingers. Practice is practice, though and over time, I became a very fast typist.

The very first day I was in the Army, they had us all lined up and trying their best to scare the shit out of us more than we already were. We were about to be dismissed when the c.o., a captain whose name was never important to me for some reason, asked if there were any questions. I held up my hand. "What's your question, soldier?" He barked. They never spoke normally, for some reason. "Sir," says I, "Is this where I tell you I can type faster than you can speak?" Never let a comedian know that you think he's funny. The captain, tightly controlling the urge to giggle, if captains giggle, shot a quick side glance to my drill sergeant who rolled his eyes to keep from smiling, firmly replied, "No, that's later." It did come later, too. My MOS (military occupational speciality) was 93B or Speed Typist. (That number may not be right, it's been too long ago and my DD-214 is at the office, but the Speed Typist is the translation.) My weapon for the two years I was in the army was a typewriter.

What I am not, however, is an accurate typist. Oh, sure, I could take the easy way out and use Spell Check, but half the time I forget and just make the post without adequately proofing it. Spell check is great for finding those words you consistently mispell and your eye never notices, because it's just impressed into your mind wrongly. Bachelor is one of those words for me. I have always added a "t". I know better but cannot break my fingers of the habit of adding that t.

While reading my Sitemeter log, I noticed a hit coming from a Google search page where someone had searched for "confirmed batchelors" and Ms. Google says, "Don't you mean confirmed bachelors? Yeah, maybe they did, but the very first hit was an old posting by yours truly here hinting about being Gay by calling myself a "confirmed batchelor." That's a bit embarrassing, but we all have a favorite or two massecrations of the language. I just made up that word, but I work with lawyers, so making up new words out of old ones comes naturally now.

Okay. Nap time.
Best Referral Yet

I like to check periodically to see where my readers are from and figure out how they got here. This morning I noticed a search engine name new to me called the After Hours Zone. It's an adult porno site, near as I can tell. Someone searched for "small tits nude gallery" and my webpage was #45 on their list. As proud as I am for the hit, I have no idea why my blog came up. Dear reader from the After Hours Zone, were you surprised by what you found on my blog?

[UPDATE: The link to my blog was deleted from the search results. I didn't think they could do that, but they did. It's just as well. There is no small tits nude gallery on this blog.]

Addendum to Saturday. I promised this cute little dykling from Scotland that I would put on me kilt and take a picture and put it up on my blog. She's real curious to see what a Scottish cowboy looks like. I convinced her that Houston was a Scottish name and to prove it, I had my own kilt. I stretched the tale a little, but heck, that's just my nature. Someone asked me which tartan I wear, since Bridges isn't an obvious Scottish name, y'know? I replied that I wore the royal Stuart tartan because a queen is a queen is a queen! My new friend's name was King and she's from the west coast of Scotland, near Glasgow. "What kind of a Scottish name is King," I asked. She was so cute. In her sweet brogue she replied, "Well, we used to be MacGregor's, but at one time in Scottish history, twas legal to kill a MacGregor on sight." Good point. Twas a pleasure meeting you, Aileen. Her second middle name was Fiona which is as popular in Scotland as Ashley is here.

Did you know that in Germany you have to choose your child's name from an approved list? It's true. I remember reading that in a story once where a couple wanted to name their child Che. The authorities would have nothing of it. This subject came up again last night at wine tasting. Jeff, Scott's friend from h is college days (who lives here bytheway), was about to leave for L.A. where his wife hospitalized wife was about to deliver their first child, a boy. We asked if he and his wife had named the little feller yet, and he said no, then asked for suggestions. Although Wolfgang was suggested, it was quickly discarded despite the fact that its one of the more popular names in Germany and Austria. (I don't know about Switzerland.) Andres thought it might mean something like "Wolf path" since wolf is wolf in German, and gang is like a passageway. Anyone know otherwise, let me know in the Comments. Our group decided the baby should be named Cardinal. This is in part because Jeff's last name is Sims. Get it, cardinal sims? I didn't at first, either. Maybe it was the wine, but last night it seemed funny.

Aileen, the picture's coming. I promise.


I went to a couple of parties Saturday in San Francisco. The first was a backyard picnic which was billed a celebration of Spring. The real reason was for Brian's friends to say goodbye to Angie, Brian's girlfriend for the past several months. Angie's moving to Boston. Brian's heartsick in his own affable way. I adore Brian. He's smart, incredibly goodlooking, sensitive, great sense of humor and has a collection of friends who are just like him. Like most parties in San Francisco, there were at least five nationalities at the party, three different racial groups, all variations of sexuality, with conversations in English, French and German.

I arrived with a small British flag in observance of Loyalist Day that everyone in the blogosphere was talking about on Friday. My grandmother's people, the Ashworths, were notorious loyalists in South Carolina during the American Revolution. Oddly enough no one had ever heard of Loyalist Day. I'm sure I read it correctly to be Saturday, May 1. Oh well. Oh, and it was also Derby Day so we had plenty of mint juleps.

Later, my friend Katie had a zinfandel tasting at her house. Our regular group consists of Katie, her cousin Scott and his wife Laura, Gil and Amy, and Terry and Yolanda. Last night, we were joined by Jeff, a classmate of Scott's at Columbia, Monica, a law school chum of Katie's, and Andres, a quiet young man from Berlin. Lovely evening.

I'm not a true connoiseur of wine, although I have a nice collection in my cellar. That's real easy to do in California when you live next to the wine country. Wine tasting is a favorite pasttime out here. It usually involves a nice drive in the country, visits to half a dozen tasting rooms, and a nice picnic lunch at one of the wineries.

Today I'm reading and doing some writing. I also intend to have a nice long nap. Tonight a group of us are going to see Josh Kornbluth's Red Diaper Baby.

I love week-ends.

Friday, April 30, 2004

Quick Question

So, at 23, John Kerry, fresh back from a nasty war where he was wounded and decorated for bravery, was so angry that he threw away medals that he had come to regard as a whore's payment. Mistake? What, being angry or throwing away momentos of a bad vacation? Kerry's owned up to all that. Has Bush ever acknowledged his specific acts of misbehavior, such as his DUI? Bush is allowed a free pass for everything he did before he quit drinking?

When I got out of the army, I was mad. It took me two or three years to get over my anger, and I didn't even go to Vietnam! I knew bunches of boys who did go, though. Bunches. Most of the regular soldiers I served with my two years in Alaska were fresh from tours of duty in Vietnam. There were a lot of angry young men, many of them broken in spirit and body. Our anger stemmed from the same source, and that was the devaluation of our lives, our ambitions, for the pursuit of a failed war and a failed idea.

Let's set the record straight. Vietnam was a mistake from the gitgo. Waging it a long time did not make it a righteous cause. 58,000 dead did not make it a righteous cause. George W. Bush sure didn't think it was worth anything. I am as proud of my years as a draft resister as I am my years in the army. I have absolute admiration for men like John Kerry who put their lives on the line for their country, even when they knew or suspected that their country was wrong. I have the same equal respect for those young men who quietly moved to Canada. It takes great courage to face an enemy shooting at you, but the choices are simple in that situation. It takes a more sublime form of courage to leave your family and your friends and go and live in a strange land. (No offense, Canada, for the "strange land" remark, eh?)

I'm digressing again. My point is this: why are Kerry's actions at 23 more significant than Bush's actions at 23. Both of them acted like young men of 23. I think we'd all be better served if we talked about the issues: unemployment, runaway health care costs, pollution, stewardship of our environment.

I'm just saying, that's all.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Poetry on Fridays

There are many who will not understand Charles Butowski's poetry. This is what he had to say about it:
"My contribution", he wrote in 1974, "was to loosen and simplify poetry, to make it more human... I taught them that you can write a poem the same way you can write a letter, that a poem can even be entertaining, and that there need not be anything necessarily holy about it."

fire station
(for Jane, with love)

we came out of the bar
because we were out of money
but we had a couple of wine bottles
in the room.

it was about 4 in the afternoon
and we passed a fire station
and she started to go

"a FIRE STATION! oh, I just love
FIRE engines, they're so red and
all! let's go in!"

I followed her on
in. "FIRE ENGINES!" she screamed
wobbling her big

she was already trying to climb into
one, pulling her skirt up to her
waist, trying to jacknife up into the

"here, here, lemme help ya!" a fireman ran up.

amother fireman walked up to
me: "our citizens are always welcome,"
he told me.

the other guy was up in the seat with
her. "you got one of those big THINGS?"
she asked him. "oh, hahaha!, I mean one of
those big HELMETS!"

"I've got a big helmet, too" he told

"oh, hahaha!"

"you play cards?" I asked my
fireman. I had 43 cents and nothing but

"come in back," he
said. "of course, we don't gamble.
it's against the

"I understand," I told

I had run my 43 cents up to a
dollar ninety
when I saw her going upstairs with
her fireman.

"he's gonna show me their sleeping
quarters," she told

"I understand," I told

when her fireman slid down the pole
ten minutes later
I nodded him

"that'll be 5

"5 dollars for

"we wouldn't want a scandal, would
we? we both might lose our
jobs. of course, I'm not

he gave me the

"sit down, you might get it

whatcha playing?"

"gambling's against the

"anything interesting is, besides,
you see any money on the
he sat down.

that made 5 of

"how was it Harry?" somebody asked

"not bad, not

the other guy went on

they were bad players really.
they didn't bother to memorize the
deck. they didn't know whether the
high numbers or low numbers were left. and basically they hit too high,
didn't hold low

when the other guy came down
he gave me a

"how was it, Marty?"
"not bad. she's got . . . some fine

"hit me!" I said. "nice clean girl, I
ride it myself."

nobody said

"any big fires lately?" I

"naw. nothin'

"you guys need
exercise. hit me

a big red-headed kid who had been shining an
threw down his rag and
went upstairs.

when he came down he threw me a

when the 4th guy came down I gave him
3 fives for a

I don't know how many firemen
were in the building or where they
were. I figured a few had slipped by me
but I was a good

it was getting dark outside
when the alarm

they started running around.
guys came sliding down the

then she came sliding down the
pole. she was good with the
pole. a real woman. nothing but guts

"let's go," I told

she stood there waving goodbye to the
firemen but they didn't seem
much interested
any more.

"let's go back to the
bar," I told

"ooh, you got

"I found some I didn't know I
had. . ."

we sat at the end of the bar
with whiskey and beer
"I sure got a good

"sure, baby, you need your

"look at that sailor looking at me!
he must think I'm a ...a ..."

"naw, he don't think that. relax, you've got
class. real class. sometimes you remind me of an
opera singer. you know, one of those prima d's.
your class shows all over
you. drink

I ordered 2

"you know, daddy, you're the only man I
LOVE! I mean, really...LOVE! ya

"sure I know. sometimes I think I am a king
in spite of myself."

"yeah. yeah. that's what I mean, somethin' like

I had to go to the urinal. when I came back
the sailor was sitting in my
seat. she had her leg up against his and
he was talking.

I walked over and got in a dart game with
Harry the Horse and the corner

Charles Bukowski

Poetry takes many forms to many people. To me it's about putting power in the words. Salute, Charles. Special thanks to my friend Mark who has been showering me with Bukowski poems this past week. Would you like one more? Go on, you know you do. Okay, just a short one.

when you're young
a pair of
high-heeled shoes
just sitting
in the closet
can fire your
when you're old
it's just
a pair of shoes
in them
just as

Charles Bukowski

Oh, yeah. Cats. Say hi, Beau.

Be at peace, dear friends, be at peace.
Buy me, mommy, buy me!

Sara, my West Virginia blogroll cousin, over at Hillbilly Sophisticate warns us about curio shops that spell it "shoppe" instead of "shop." They might be selling some of these:

Picture courtesy of Jerry of the WVTS Morning Show. By the way, Jerry's looking for a co-host, a female with a sense of humor, which is more than Jerry has. This is what Jerry's worried about:

Do you think that society feels that sex and plush penises are so cute and funny that even children should also enjoy in on the fun? If not, do you think that stores like this should have very visible warnings at the entrance that it contains adult material? Should the store manager inform the employees to ask children to leave the store? Do YOU allow your children to patronize these adult stores? There is a "Record Store" in Kanawah City that sells more adult porn items than anyplace in town. Do your kids buy their "music" there? Should they have an indication at the door that they're "More than just a music store?"

Again, I have NO problem with the store selling whatever trash they want.... but let's at least keep the kids out ok? They'll have enough problems dealing with sexually transmitted diseases down the road.

Lighten up, for chrissaka Jerry. It's a stuffed toy in an adult curio shop, er, I mean shoppe. It's not going to cause a kid to get syphillis just from seeing it and wanting one.
Reading the Right

I don't recommend it, but I just did some blogsurfing on the Right hand side of the dial. This is what I've learned. All newspapers are bad and do everything in their power to discredit Bush. Here's what one guy said:

"In my view, the press, especially the Seattle press, would eat up [pictures of the flag-draped coffins] as an opportunity to stir up anti-war sentiment. Some of us have short memories it seems. It was in Vietnam that anti-war elements in the media used the pictures of war dead to incite resistance to the war effort. Unfortunately, there are many here in America who like the Spanish, have no stomach for the sacrifice required to secure peace and freedom." How many things are wrong with this short paragraph?

His next sentence is equally chilling. "As I've said earlier, it's time to take the gloves off. It's time to recognize that we have enemies both foreign and domestic. Hit them hard, hit them fast, and get our boys home."

Then, our old buddy Misha calls Kofi Annan "kaffir anus." Hairy Fish Nuts informs us that kaffir is the Afrikaaner equivalent of the word "nigger." Way to go, Misha. I wonder if Republican wingnut Mulatto Boy likes it when his right-wing pals call anyone a "nigger asshole"?

In response to what someone over at Indymedia said about the death of Pvt. Pat Tillman, this guy had this to say: "The writer of this vile hatred deserves a claw hammer in the head. Seriously, I hope someone beats him to death and sets his corpse on fire." I read some of the Comments but you all know what they're like when they go into a feeding frenzy.

Had enough? You know they're just joshing us, don't you? Dont you?

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

State of Hate

The Virginia House of Delegates passed overwhelmingly the following bit of bigotry:

“A civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage is prohibited. Any such civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement entered into by persons of the same sex in another state or jurisdiction shall be void in all respects in Virginia and any contractual rights created thereby shall be void and unenforceable.”

Nice place, huh? You Virginians must be very proud of yourselves and your Legislature. (Via The Washington Blade.)

[I changed the heading. It begged it of me.]
Remember this one?

That Boudreaux, he sure is a card, ain't he?

[Update: My bad, I thought everyone had seen the original picture of Boudreaux. I'm looking for it, but you can have your very own fun with Boudreaux here. (Hat tip to Hairy Fish Nuts.)

Monday, April 26, 2004

Finding Time for Myself

Right now my life is more interesting to me than the campaign between Kerry and Bush. Kerry's fight is similar to mine, but it is not mine. My opposition to Bush does not make for a warm embrace of Kerry. I'm not sure why Kerry wants to be President other than his incredibly high opinion of himself. That's not going to be enough on November 2. As I've said many times before: Kerry is very smart, much smarter than I. He has a lot of friends who are smart. They are going to have a lot of money to wage this campaign. It is their business. I have given them my money and I pledge them my vote because I see the Republican Party as an evil mix of Christian bigots and capitalist opportunistic exploiters who control all three branches of government and about 98 percent of the wealth in this country that is not controlled by the government.

I wish I knew more about what Kerry is all about, but so far he just sounds like corporate Republicanism without the christian fundamentalists. As near as I can tell, his credibility to early primary voters was his hero-veteran status, and the nomination was decided before it got to California. That pisses me off. California and African-Americans find themselves in the same boat; we are taken for granted. It's probably going to take Barney Frank himself out here giving me a blowjob before I get enthusiastic for Kerry, and it's going to be Kerry--if and when I do, not JFK deux.

I think I'm burnt out on politics. Kerry can run his campaign without my opinion and probably do pretty good. California will probably go 60-40 for Kerry in November. Nothing I can do here will influence anything. I think if I can draw my focus back to the here and now of my life, I think my writing will be more interesting. I am not in the same league as some of you in my ability to focus, analyze and write. I'm not denigrating myself, I'm complimenting you. Who'd have thought this good ol' boy from East Texas would hang out with such swells?

I had one unsolicited comment from a nasty old queen who said she read my blog and thought I was bitter. I am only bitter when I talk about politics. I need to work my way past that. I'd like to take my blog in the direction of Winding Road in an Urban Area. Jaye shares intimacy with observation and experience. That's what I would like to do. I want to write more about popular culture and my interaction with it. I have no doubt as to her political persuasion, but that itself is not her focus. I do not want to be thought of as a bitter old queen, even to casual observers just passing through.

Meanwhile, I may have a date. A second date. The first one went real well. If a perfect world, I wouldn't have time to blog for at least a couple of days.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Remembering the 60s and 70s

I just finished reading Beach Music by Pat Conroy. In my previous post, I sort of hung him out to dry. I've given some additional thought to the subject, and I have some disclosures to make.

I moved to San Jose, California with my mother and two sisters in 1963. We drove from Texas to San Jose in a 1959 Ford. I can't remember if it was a Galaxie or a Fairlane, but it was a standard shift and didn't have air conditioning. We looked like the tv version of the Beverly Hillbillies with our belongings piled high onto the car. We looked like Okies who didn't get the memo about the depression being over.

I hit California like a dry sponge hits water. I soaked it up. Ever see American Grafitti? That's exactly what I was thrown into. What a high. The Californians loved me. I was smart, had a cute accent, obviously liked them. The next year of my life was probably my best. Then my mother tricked me into returning to Texas to graduate from high school at the same school at which I started in 1953. So lucky me, I get to graduate with the kids with whom I started school.

I started at Vidor Elementary School in September 1953. I was living with my grandmother, my brother, and my grandmother's oldest daughter, Elsie, who had a severe learning disability. We lived in a 4-room house built by my grandfather out of left over lumber back in the late 1940s. We had a front porch, a living room, a kitchen where we ate meals, and two bedrooms.

This is me after the second grade. I had just turned 8.

There was a back porch and behind that, a chicken yard through which one had to navigate to get to the outhouse. The greatest fear I had growing up was having to go to the bathroom in the outhouse at night. Two reasons, darkness and chicken shit. In the South, darkness is a force of its own. There's shit out there when it's black and you can't see the hand in front of your face. And those fucking chickens didn't respect the fact that it's not nice to shit on the path between the house and the outhouse. (Creative exercise 1. Imagine you're five years old running through terrifying darkness to the outhouse, barefoot, and stepping in chicken shit. Now, do you feel sorry for me?)

That was the first grade. I also went to school there for the 2nd grade, 6th grade, 9th grade, and 12th grade. My family settled this county 200 years ago. For 200 years, White people have been calling us "niggers" behind our back. We have fought them, tooth and nail, the entire distance. They have never gotten away with it. We are not Black. We have never been Black. We were never slaves. We always believed we were not Black more strongly than those who called us Black. From 1800 to 1820, we were called Free Men of Color in the U.S. Census. From 1820 through 1900, we were called Mulatto. None of these things were we called to our face. We believed ourselves to be White and never agreed to anyone else's terminology. After 1900, they finally gave up and agreed with us.

I mention this because it backgrounds my interaction with my high school classmates in 1964-65. In my year and a half in California, I had blossomed. I was exposed to so much more information that I exploded. I became someone new. In my junior year, a woman by the name of Edith Finkelstein taught me American history. Edith had a batchelor's from Cornell and a masters's from Yale. She taught me history instead of myth. It revolutionized me. I debated, learned to speak French (finally!), visited my first world class city, San Francisco. I was a member of the honor society. I had a set of buddies who enjoyed me and helped me to have the appropriate adventures one has at 16. God bless Herman Osorio, my speech teacher who so generously helped me overcome the intellectual handicaps of being a Southerner.

And then my mother tricked me into returning to Texas. I recognized that I was being tricked just as my mother was returning to California. I begged her not to leave me there. She left. I turned my attention to the reality of my situation. If you think the character Jordan Elliott in Beach Music had attitude, you should have known me the Fall of 1964. Of all my teachers, only one had enough empathy to be supportive and not defensive. His name was Bill Stafford, what a hunk. Hairy chested, empathetic, played the guitar, ... God, did I have a hard on for him. We stayed friends for 20 years after that year, but I've since lost him to the universe. Good luck, you sensitive hunk you.

I drew a group of misfits around me. David Lewis, Guy Berger, Billy Stanley, Margie Hollenbach, and others. I had others, Errol Marioneaux, Jim Brown. I gave that bunch of super bright nerds and social rejects a community of each other. We finished high school together, went off to college with each other and lived the same time frame as Beach Music. Conroy made up the case against Jordan Elliott, but I was charged with 8 counts of draft evasion in Judge Joe Fisher's court in Beaumont, Texas in 1971.

Conroy did cause me to remember the sights and smells of growing up country in the last century. We Southerners like to think we have a special connection to the land. I grew up with open windows and no air conditioning. I do remember the sounds of the night. I can remember laying in bed with my grandmother listening to the sounds of panther in the swamp and woods behind her house. I remember the smells of the southern night. I remember the smell of gardenia in my grandmother's bedroom. I remember the smell of honeysuckles on the back porch. I remember a musky smell my grandmother said was a snake. I remember the smell of chicken shit when I stepped in it.

By 1964, my grandmother had indoor plumbing, a smaller porch and a tv. I liked her old house better, although I did not miss the outhouse.

This is a digression story, but I've got to tell it anyway. In the summer of '55, my mother brought her new husband to meet her mother and her two children. He brought with him two boys, Michael age 7, and Ronnie, age 5. I was showing them around my grandmother's farm, checking them out, so to speak, when Michael disappeared. He must have been missing an hour or more when my grandmother asked out loud where he might be. We called him. He didn't answer. We started searching. A city boy can come to harm getting lost on a farm. After searching for an hour or more, as I walked past the outhouse, I heard someone whimpering. "Michael?" I ask. "What's wrong?" "I can't figure out how to flush it." And that's a true story.

I can't tell anymore of this right now. It's an exhausting memory. I have never focused my life on where I've been. Jaye teases me about writing my memoires. I don't know how to begin telling the story when I think the best part is yet to come. I think if my life is interesting enough to be told, it'll be a biography and not an autobiography.

[This is a ghost version that I deleted. Imagine my surprise when I saw it published. I have made a few changes for the purpose of spelling and grammar. It is incomplete, but I still find it hard to write about certain periods of my life. The best I can do now is to hint about those periods when I remember others with whom I interacted.}

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Time for Air!

I finished Beach Music by Pat Conroy. It sucked me in like a cheap harlequin romance, which it pretty much was. I hope all of you Pat Conroy fans don't start hating me, but frankly, I thought the book overly maudlin and sentimental. His characters became caricatures. How remarkable was growing up in the 60s when the most outside person was a military brat who could skateboard? Dude! How cool is that. Okay, I was there, too. The sixties and seventies, not Bumfucknowhere in South Carolina where the cotton is dry and the living is easy, if you're white. It didn't even matter if you were Jewish. Lord, towards the end of the book I got so cynical as to say to myself that he was imagining this one to get him an Academy Award, and just to make sure, he threw in the Holocaust. Holocaust films always get the award. I'm so cynical that I imagine Pat saying to himself, "Let's see how that Streisand bitch turns this into a movie about herself!"

On the other hand, I found it a fun read. I grew up with all those characters. Hell, I was one of those characters. Place me a few hundred miles away and have me growing up with families that also had known each other for a couple of hundred years. They knew us; we knew them.

I grew up in a peripheral family. We weren't White and we weren't Black. Each generation of my family had new scars as we fought from being marginalized by the dominant White society. We have never been good enough to be White, and we never suffered enough to be Black. Maybe that makes me more sensitive to that kind of slight. Pat Conroy, and writers like him, seem to have grown up in a South devoid of humanity outside his own social circle. Am I unkind here? You know every family in that book had a Black maid, a Black yardman, knew at least one person from the other side of town, yet there are no characters in his life of any class other than his own. What were the rest of the people in that town, chopped liver?

I thought Prince of Tides a great book in the finest of traditions of Southern writers. I'm not nearly as sure now. Maybe it was schlock, too. Don't get me wrong. I read a lot of mysteries, and even an occasional romance novel. A book does not have to be great to be entertaining. Pat Conroy entertained me greatly today. He did not, however, impress me.

I'm just saying, that's all.
Escaping for the Week-end

And it's Wanda's Fault

Last week in a comment, Wanda referenced Pat Conroy's Beach Music. Curious, I picked it up and started reading. Now I can't stop. I started reading it Wednesday on my commute. Thursday I read on the commute and for about an hour before going to bed. Friday, on the commute, through lunch, and last night for about three hours. Already this morning I've read two of the three hours I've been up. Ain't it great when a book captures you like that? I'm off now to Waterford, South Carolina with Pat Conroy and a fascinating cast of characters. We'll be there all week-end. Ciao bella, sugahs. I'm outta here.

Friday, April 23, 2004

And by popular demand...

Beauregard experiences ennui.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Poetry Fridays and Cat Blogging if Beauregard Wakes Up in Time

e.e. cummings. #54 of 100 selected poems.

you shall above all things be glad and young.
For if you're young, whatever life you wear

it will become you; and if you are glad
whatever's living will yourself become,
Girlboys may nothing more than boygirls need:
I can entirely her only love

whose any mystery makes every man's
flesh put space on; and his mind take off time

that you should ever think, may god forbid
and (in his mercy) your true lover spare:
for that way knowledge lies, the foetal grave
called progress, and negation's dead undoom.

I'd rather I learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Polls? I don't need no stinkin' polls!

Gallup 3/26-28
Bush: 51 (+7)
Kerry: 47 (-5)

Pew 3/22-28
Bush: 44 (+2)
Kerry: 43 (-6)

Newsweek 3/25-26
Bush: 47 (-1)
Kerry: 48 (-)

Fox 3/23-24
Bush: 44 (-)
Kerry: 44 (-)

Count me among the mystified. How can rational people still be for Bush? Maybe it's Kerry. Hey, maybe Kerry's just a decoy candidate. You know, get Bush to spend his gazillions trashing the wrong guy, and at the Democrat convention, out will pop a knight in shining armor who will lead us to victory.

I wish I liked Kerry more. It's hard to have faith in someone you don't feel warm towards. When I hear Kerry sound more hawkish than Bush, I'm distressed. It suggests to me a campaign strategy is already in place. Maybe it's a good strategy. Who am I to say? My instincts tell me that the Kerry campaign is not getting a coherent message out. Kerry has not convinced me to vote for him despite my being for anybody but Bush. Of course, I'm voting for him, but it's not because of anything he's said or done.

I know, breathe deeply. There's six months to go in this campaign. Anything can happen.

Sunday, April 18, 2004


Wanted: a burly intellectual with a keen sense of humor who likes to read on Sunday mornings. Apply within.

I slept in this morning. A hour or so before I woke up, I dreamed about the morning. It was cool. It was a bright, sun-filled morning with birds singing, flowers in bloom. I imagined myself getting up and taking a five-mile walk around Lake Merritt, stopping at a small cottage to admire an incredible hill of irises and to chat with the two handsome men who live there. Back home, the coffee's made, fresh orange juice is on the table, and the Sunday morning paper. There was another character in my dream. He never had a face or a voice, just a presence, and it felt good.

I woke up to a gray morning that wasn't inviting. My back hurt from house cleaning on Saturday, so I didn't feel like a walk. My head hurt from my sinuses stuffing up during the night. I had to make the coffee myself, and there was no orange juice. No Sunday paper either. That presence? Probably that damn cat snuggling up under my arm early in the morning. Sigh. Make it an exasperated sigh.

My mother is due tomorrow for a short visit. She's 77 and in good health. Hell she's still working fulltime. She says she's going to continue working until she gets her social security payment up to $1,000 a month. She started late in that department. Her husband of 20 years divorced her when just before she turned 62. Having been a housewife most of the previous years, she wasn't well prepared for retirement alone. She chose to be contentious and petty in divorcing her husband, and between the two of them, they let the legal cost of the divorce consume about half of what the communal estate was worth. I told my mother she was paying a hefty "stupid tax." However, she didn't ask quarter and she didn't give quarter. The son of a bitch wronged her, and sons of bitches need to pay when they wrong a lady. And ladies have to pay when they spend their retirement money making those sons of bitches pay. So she works full time. She's a tax preparer for the leading name company of that industry.

We have not always been close. One of the characters in YaYa Sisterhood says that all Southern women model themselves after one of the women in Gone with the Wind. I sure as hell understood that. My mother was Scarlett O'Fucking Hara herself. This is my mother the year before I was born.

Dorothy Ruth Droddy English

My siblings and I were always supporting characters in her play, never the other way around. She was married 4 times, had 2 significant affairs, and one significant other that was with her for over five years in her late sixties. My mother comes from a line of such women that stretches back into the late 1700s. My mother is a Redbone woman, although she considers the word vulgar and demeaning. She was a beautiful woman, and she used her beauty as a tool with which she manipulated men. She retired from men around the age of 70. Frankly, none of her children believed her at the time, but she didn't say it for our benefit, she was just announcing a new phase.

I have not always given Dorothy high grades as a mother, but all four of her kids turned out pretty good. What other criteria does one use to judge a parent? We weren't always happy, but we were always fed and clothed. We weren't given a silver spoon, but we were taught that if we were going to have a silver spoon, we'd have to work hard for it ourselves, no one was going to give it to you. I resented her several times as a child, and I was only with her parttime. She shared my upbringing with her mother.

The most generous thing my mother ever did for me and my two sisters was to bring us to California in 1963. She had been married to the World's Greatest Asshole for about 10 years at this time. He had recently returned from Saudi Arabia and had taken a job in California. By now she despised him almost as much as I did, so when asked why was she going back to him, she calmly answered that women did better in divorce in California than they did in Texas. A year later she divorced him.

Then she tricked me into returning to my grandmother's in Texas to finish high school. I figured out that I was tricked and barely spoke to my mother for the next ten years. Jane Kazmarek who plays Malcolm's mother in Malcolm in the Middle says to Malcolm in one episode that she doesn't worry about him because she knows he's going to do alright. That was my mother's attitude towards me. She was right, but I think it was a lucky guess. So when I was finishing high school in Texas so I could afford to go the University of Texas as a state resident, she was in California with my two sisters, a good job, her looks, and a red Impala super sport with a white leather interior. She always had a certain style. I was real mad during those ten years I was mad at her.

I'm old enough now to appreciate my mother as a character. She was and continues to be the star of her own life. She and I are now close friends. I have no fan more loyal, nor friend more dependable. She is still the star, though, and retains the ability to relegate others to a supporting role. Last year I had a dinner party for her, and I was recounting a childhood memory, my mother corrects me in front of my guests and says, "That never happened." If it happened when she was off stage, to her it never happened.

Since 65, she has been around the world, missing only Africa and India. She loves New York and has been there twice, once alone. Five years ago, she went to China with a cultural exchange group. She went to Paris and Normandy with me. In Paris, she got to go on stage at the Folies Bergere and jitterbug to the music of World War II. Another year, we did a pilgrimage with one of her granddaughters to Ireland where she imagines her family is from.

She fell and broke her hip last year. That scared the bejeezus out of us. She's had a full recovery, but no longer do we have the luxury of thinking her invincible. Now when she takes off in her car to see my sisters 500 miles away, I worry a little bit more than I might have before last year. She has not turned over the job of worrying about her to me yet. I hope it doesn't become mine by default anytime soon, either.

Oh, and she despises Bush and Republicans everywhere. Say hi, Dorothy.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Poetry and Cats

First, poetry for our chimp-in-chief, Biff "You know, like wow, I'm the President" Bush.

Friend, that open mouth
Reveals your
Whole Interior ...
Silly Hollow Frog!
- Anon.

Now for cats. Beauregard again. Who else?

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Giving President Bush Some Help

The pressure of speaking to the press got the better of President Bush Wednesday evening, and as a result he was unable to remember any of the mistakes he has made, much less the most serious mistake. The Center for American Progress is conducting an online poll to help the President by allowing people to vote for the worst mistake. I'm sure they'll send a nice note to the Prez and inform him of the final vote.

I'm still ranting about the press conference Tuesday night. I can't quite put it down. I was and continue to be shocked by his articulateness. He also excused himself for lying by saying he can only say what he has been told. To prove his point, he proceeded to lie about the amount of mustard gas that was "found on a turkey farm." We also know that "people hide things because they have something to hide." The man is truly clueless. It's almost enough to make you wish it were Jeb there instead of George. Almost.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Attention, Texans

Lisa over at Kamikaze Kumquat has uncovered a gem. You gotta go visit Juanita's, the World's Most Dangerous Beauty Shop. First, Juanita's takes on Gov. Hairdo and his Special Session of the Legislature to raise sin taxes in order to pay for everything. That is so very Texan. In a previous article, Juanita tells us about a recent Tom DeLay visit in Rosenburg (which I believe is in his district near Sugarland) where he rudely told a bunch of teachers they were living in an alternate universe. He's right about that, but not in the way he intended. Go visit Juanita.

Remember when we used to send these little fun links around to each other on email? I just got one from a friend. It was fun. Alcohol and Ammo.

Where Did That Body Go?

Some Christian sects actually go looking for the body on Easter Sunday. Only when they don't find it do they proclaim, "Hallelujah, He's Risen!" It's a little late to call off the celebration for this year, but it looks as though they found it. (Via Lisa, at Kamikaze Kumquat)

I saw Jesus in a tortilla once, but I was more hungry than I was curious, so I ate him.
TBogg Nails It

..."There was, you know, kind of departments that at times didn't communicate.." -Biff Bush

He's just three "like" 's and one "so I'm all..." away from being a 14-year-old girl at the mall.

This is the clown the Right sees as a strong war president? Is inarticulateness a sign of strength? I didn't get the memo.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Squawk, squawk, squawk!

Have you made any mistakes? Him, haw, him, haw, him haw.

Have you failed in any way? Him, haw, him, haw, him, haw.

Have you failed to communicate the importance of the war against terror? Him, haw, him, haw, him, haw.

Shorter, simpler Bush: No. It's not my fault. This is very difficult. I don't speak very well. These are tough questions. No, I communicate well, it's that some people hear stupidly. It's not my fault.

Shorter, simpler Ashcroft: It's Clinton's fault.

Back to shorter, simpler Houston. That man was so inarticulate that I almost felt sorry for him. Almost. He has absolutely no right in the world to claim victimhood because it's such a tough job and he has to read all the time. I'm pretty damn sure if he read half the shit that comes at him from day to day, he'd be more articulate that what we heard tonight. He'd at least know a few more words to use.

Kerry's op ed piece in the Washington Post today annoyed me to no end. It reminded me that Kerry was not my first choice.

Buckle up, folks, we're in for a bumpy ride. Hold on to one another. The election in November is not the great battle between the forces or darkness and evil on one side, and Justice and Liberty on the other. It's still important though. I have only one issue and that is the composition of the Supreme Court. I see that as the crucial issue. Kerry at his worst will do better than Bush at his best. Nothing else matters. What matters if Iraq is free and we aren't?
France, a Report

I am an unabashed francophile. When I was a kid growing up in East Texas, I used to imagine that I was French, even to the point of pretending to speak French. I studied French as soon as it was offered in school. To this day, I still drink red wine, eat several varieties of cheese, and love hanging out at cafes along the Boulevard St. Germaine. I'm only saying this because I'm about to make fun of France.

Wanda needs some light hearted distraction. This was sent to me last year when everyone was making fun of France.

Travel Advisory for France

Travel advisory for Americans heading for France The following advisory for American travelers heading for France was compiled from information provided by the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Food and Drug Administration, the Center for Disease Control and some very expensive spy satellites that the French don't know about. It is intended as a guide for American travelers only and no guarantee of accuracy is ensured or intended.

General Overview
France is a medium-sized foreign country situated on the continent of Europe, and is, for all intents and purposes, fucking useless. It is an important member of the world community, although not nearly as important as it thinks. It is bounded by Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and some smaller nations of no particular consequence or shopping opportunities. France is a very old country with many treasures such as the Louvre and EuroDisney. Among its contributions to Western civilization are champagne, Camembert cheese, the guillotine, and body odor. Although France likes to think of itself as a modern nation, air conditioning is little used and it is next to impossible to get decent Mexican food. One continuing exasperation for American visitors is that the people willfully persist in speaking French, although many will speak English if shouted at repeatedly.

The People
France has a population of 54 million people, most of whom drink and smoke a great deal, drive like lunatics, are dangerously over-sexed and have no concept of standing patiently in a line. The French people are generally gloomy, temperamental, proud, arrogant, aloof and undisciplined; those are their good points. Most French citizens are Roman Catholic, although you'd hardly guess it from their behavior. Many people are Communists and topless sunbathing is common. Men sometimes have girls' names like Marie and they kiss each other when they hand out medals.. American travelers are advised to travel in groups and to wear baseball caps and colorful pants for easier mutual recognition. All French women have small tits, and don't shave their armpits or their legs.

In general, France is a safe destination, although travelers are advised that France is occasionally invaded by Germany. By tradition, the French surrender more or less at once and, apart from a temporary shortage of Scotch whisky and increased difficulty in getting baseball scores and stock market prices, life for the visitors generally goes on much as before. A tunnel connecting France to Britain beneath the English Channel has been opened in recent years to make it easier for the French government to flee to London.

France was discovered by Charlemagne in the Dark Ages. Other important historical figures are Louis XIV, the Huguenots, Joan of Arc, Jacques Cousteau and Charles de Gaulle, who was President for many years and is now an airport. The French armies of the past have had their asses kicked by just about every other country in the world.

The French form of government is democratic but noisy. Elections are held more or less continuously and always result in a runoff. For administrative purposes, the country is divided into regions, departments, districts, municipalities, cantons, communes, villages, cafes, booths and floor tiles. Parliament consists of two chambers, the Upper and Lower (although, confusingly, they are both on the ground floor), whose members are either Gaullists or communists, neither of whom can be trusted. Parliament's principal preoccupations are setting off atomic bombs in the South Pacific and acting indignant when anyone complains. According to the most current State Department intelligence, the current President is someone named Jacques. Further information is not available at this time.

The French pride themselves on their culture, although it is not easy to see why. All of their songs sound the same and they have hardly ever made a movie that you want to watch for anything except the nude scenes. Nothing, of course, is more boring than a French novel (except perhaps an evening with a French family.)

Let's face it, no matter how much garlic you put on it, a snail is just a slug with a shell on its back. Croissants, on the other hand, are excellent although it is impossible for most Americans to pronounce this word. American travelers are therefore advised to stick to cheeseburgers at McDonald's or the restaurants at the leading hotels such as Sheraton or Holiday Inn. Bring your own beer, as the domestic varieties are nothing but a poor excuse for such.

France has a large and diversified economy, second only to Germany's economy in Europe, which is surprising since people hardly ever work at all. If they are not spending four hours dawdling over lunch, they are on strike and blocking the roads with their trucks and tractors. France's principal exports, in order of importance to the economy, are wine, nuclear weapons, perfume, guided missiles, champagne, high-caliber weaponry, grenade launchers, land mines, tanks, attack aircraft, miscellaneous armaments and cheese.

France enjoys a rich history, a picturesque and varied landscape and a temperate climate. In short, it would be a very nice country if French people didn't inhabit it, and it weren't still radioactive from all the nuclear tests they run. The best thing that can be said for it is that it is not Spain. Remember no one ordered you to go abroad. Personally, we always take our vacation in Oklahoma City and you are advised to do the same. -finis

I'll be back later tonight with some thoughts on Ashcroft's testimony and Bush's press conference.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Got an Easter Bonnet?

Size Queen! If you want some more pictures, visit my gallery.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Flying Pigs

This is Ramona.
Snapshots of Ourselves

1: Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, find line 4. Write down what it says:
"day. In one sense we can all relax, because" (Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment by Thaddeus Golas)

2: Stretch your left arm out as far as you can. What do you touch first?
A bookshelf

3: What is the last thing you watched on TV?
Jim Lehrer's Newshour on PBS Friday night

4: WITHOUT LOOKING, guess what the time is:

5: Now look at the clock; what is the actual time?

6: With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?
Cafe Music by Paul Schoenfeld being played on From the Top, a classical music program for young people.

7: When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
A few minutes ago. Playing with plants on my deck.

8: Before you came to this website, what did you look at?
David's motorcycle on BlogAmy

9: What are you wearing?

10: Did you dream last night?

11: When did you last laugh?
At dinner last night

12: What is on the walls of the room you are in?
From Right to left: a thermostat; an abstract painting; another abstract painting; a flying pig; a mirror; a moosehead made of paper mache; a candleabra; and a collection of stars of all sizes, and a bearskin rug. (It's a big room!)

13: Seen anything weird lately?

14: What do you think of this quiz?

15: What is the last film you saw?
At home, on DVD, Sordid Lives

16: If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy first?
A ticket out of here.

17: Tell me something about you that I don't know.
I'm a recovering Republican. Sober now for 36 years.

18: If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?
Distribute wealth among nations a little more equitably.

19: Do you like to dance?
More than my body does.

20: George Bush: is he a power-crazy nutcase or some one who is finally doing something that has needed to be done for years?

21: Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?

22: Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him?

23: Would you ever consider living abroad?
I'm moving to Paris as soon as I retire which will be between now and six years.

Okay, that's someone else's 23 questions. I think I'm going to come up with my own quiz of questions. Can't right now, I'm heading off to the 25th anniversary party of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at Dolores Park in San Francisco. My best friend, Huntly, is their pope, Dementia I. He likes for me to drive him to their events because I have a black cadillac with lots of gold on it. I used to be afraid of going to their events. You know, lightening and all that. Why take chances. What if god doesn't have a sense of humor? Lord knows his followers don't. Then god spoke to me and told me it was alright, and that She would be there too. I'll take some pictures and report back tomorrow.

Last night Katie had her first seder. Not bad, all things considered. It's not exactly traditional to do a fifth night seder, but she's a working girl. The food was good, the Haggadah was awful. I think it was written by a friend of hers. The haggadah is the roadmap for the service. The biggest problem was too much of the writing was too small for these old eyes to see. The next problem was it was too "new agey." Since God is a Black lesbian, I don't think She matters if we occasionally slip and call her "He."

Happy Easter to all. I worked for two weeks on a "what do I believe as a Gay Christian" essay that I decided wasn't written well, despite my earnest desire to share my innermost feelings. Oh, well. I'm off to play.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Guess What They Have in Mind for Homosexuals?

Those Assembly of God folks sure have a keen sense of humor. NOT.

It may not have been as gruesome as Mel Gibson's movie, but many parents and children got upset when a church trying to teach about Jesus' crucifixion performed an Easter show with actors whipping the Easter bunny and breaking eggs.

People who attended Saturday's show at Glassport's memorial stadium quoted performers as saying, "There is no Easter bunny," and described the show as being a demonstration of how Jesus was crucified.

Melissa Salzmann, who brought her 4-year-old son J.T., said the program was inappropriate for young children. "He was crying and asking me why the bunny was being whipped," Salzmann said.

Patty Bickerton, the youth minister at Glassport Assembly of God, said the performance wasn't meant to be offensive. Bickerton portrayed the Easter rabbit and said she tried to act with a tone of irreverence.

"The program was for all ages, not just the kids. We wanted to convey that Easter is not just about the Easter bunny, it is about Jesus Christ," Bickerton said.

Performers broke eggs meant for an Easter egg hunt and also portrayed a drunken man and a self-mutilating woman, said Jennifer Norelli-Burke, another parent who saw the show in Glassport, a community about 10 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

"It was very disturbing," Norelli-Burke said. "I could not believe what I saw. It wasn't anything I was expecting."

Cooking for Jesus

I stole this recipe from Norbizness over at Happy Furry Puppy Time. It just sounds divine. (Hee hee, pun intended.)

(1) Resurrection Rolls: Give each child a marshmallow, this represents Jesus... Then wrap up the coated marshmallow tightly in the crescent roll.. This represents the wrapping of Jesus' body after death... Place in a 350 degree oven for 10 - 12 minutes (The oven represents the tomb--pretend like it was three days!)... When the rolls have cooled slightly, the children can open their rolls and discover that Jesus is no longer there, HE IS RISEN! (The marshmallow melts and the crescent roll is puffed up, but empty). Alleluia.

Good Friday

Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises?
Who takes off his eye from a comet when that breaks out?
Who bends not his ear to any bell which upon any occasion rings?
Who can remove it from that bell which is passing a piece of himself out of this world?
No man is an island, entire of himself;
Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less,
As well as if a promontory were,
As well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind, and
Therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

John Donne

Iraqi dead: 8,800 - 10,600 and rising
Coalition Forces: 744 and rising

Thursday, April 08, 2004

How was Condiliar's Performance?

I confess I had little to no interest in Dr. Rice's testimony. No one in Bush's administration is capable of telling the truth. I listened to her briefly, trusting that I could find a summarization of her testimony in the blogosphere. I never expected it to be done as quickly and succintly as this. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Neal Pollack's summarization of Rice's testimony to the 9/11 commission:

Lie, lie, distortion, half-truth, pander, manipulation, pseudo-intellectual bombast. Dodge, dodge, feint, lie, dodge, avoid, subject change, lie, slander, pretentious generalization, character assassination, bald-faced lie.

Oversimplification, undersimplification, condescension, insult, insult, lie, avoidance of responsibility, avoidance of question about avoiding responsibility, cheap political point, utter, malicious lie.

Grimace, slither, dodge, lie, deliberate misinterpretation of history, nonpartisan character disparagement, narrative designed by public-relations experts to create maximum “connection” with American public. Appearance of professionalism, resoluteness, capableness, preparedness. Major omission of lie to create partial truth. Lie for political convenience. Lie for partisan gain. Lie to protect the economic interests of an incredibly small number of people. Reception of flattery. Dispersal of flattery. Abuse of good will afforbed by ten people who are trying to gather evidence without partisan bias. Backhanded dismissal of all criticsism. Denial of any responsibility in orchestrating what will almost certainly become the most tragic and bloody war of this generation.

Rinse and repeat.

I came across this over at NTodd's place.