Thursday, April 30, 2009

HR 1913 - The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act

It passed. Thank God. But not before the wingnuts took to the floor of the House to try to kill it -- and like good Holocaust Deniers everywhere, they even attempted to deny that Matthew was a victim of a hate crime. The worst of the worst, though, was Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC). Her speech in the well of the House was astonishing by the depth of it's political demagoguery and utter lack of truth. If this woman is a parent I pity her children. It's bad enough she gets to vote on legislation of national importance. She should, if she had a decent bone in her body, immediately resign her position in the House.

I'm grateful that Keith Olbermann is on the air -- and isn't afraid to take on wingnuts like her. Last night he took on three. For an appetizer he devoured Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), who is just plain batty. Then, for an entree, he chomped into Rupert Murdoch. Finally, for dessert, he lacerated Ms. Foxx (at 2:43).

Keep in mind, the legislation passed in the House. A Senate version has already been introduced by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA). The speed at which things are changing in this country can be breathtaking at times -- which makes the wingnuts even wingnuttier than usual.

I thank my Higher Power, whom I call God, for having kept me alive long enough to see a day when things seem to be really changing for me and people like me.

Here's Keith's "Worst Person in the World" from last night (04/29/09).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Weather We're Havin', Ain't It?

It was about a thousand degrees here in the east over the weekend. Or so it seemed after an endless freezing cold, wet spring.

In true Noo Yawk style, the inhabitants of the greatest city on the face of the earth (except, of course, for wherever you come from - or live in now - or lived in sometime and still have a soft spot for) stampede into the great park at the center of that city, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux over 150 years ago - in order to divest themselves of as much clothing as is decently possible and to cool off, play, read, pitch some woo and relax amidst the greenery therein.

Here are some shots from the weekend - most taken in and around the Sheep Meadow of fabled Central Park (click on the photos to embiggen them):

And, of course, the twinks were out in force:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fear and Torture

I just watched the YouTube clip of Shep Smith of Fox News going ape-shit over the subject of torture. "We do not f*cking torture" he screamed.

Shep's kind of cute and if I were still drinking I might hit on him. But I'm not. However, I do agree with him. The United States does not f*cking torture.

Look, I was born at night, but it wasn't last night. I know the world is a nasty piece of business and we need to be on our guard all the time and sometimes we might have to resort to some pretty nasty tactics in order to preserve, protect and defend our national interests.

But we do not f*cking torture.

I cannot wrap my brain around the idea of us having a high-handed attitude of righteousness as we lovingly shove human rights and democracy down other people's throats (whether or not they want it) on the one hand, as we "faux drown" terrorists in extraterritorial hellholes created specifically for the purpose of being beyond our laws and Constitution, on the other.

We do not f*cking torture. If we do f*cking torture we can give up all pretense of being what we claim to be. If we do f*cking torture then we are no better than the zealous religious idiots who flew their planes into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and the fields of Pennsylvania.

We may have lost the most recent battles for our national soul, also known as "The Bush Years", but it is not too late to win the war for it.

We all know how far up the chain of command that nonsense went (all the way). We all know that Condi and Dick and Rummy and Georgie-Porgie signed off on it. We all know that for 8 years the White House suffered from a dual-diagnosis of stupidity and eagerness.

Prolonging our national nightmare by revisiting these matters in Congress, when there are far more important and loftier things we need to be doing, would be a further waste of our national wealth and psyche.

I think that it is time to move forward and upward, out of the muck and into the light.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

She Lit Up My Life

Tharon Musser passed away last Sunday. She was born on January 8, 1925 in Roanoke, Virginia. Her dad was a clergyman.

Her name will, most likely, mean little to you unless you're a real afficianado of the Broadway stage. Tharon was a lighting designer, which is a little like saying that Picasso was a painter. Both are true but there's a lot more that could, and should, be said about the subjects.

Tharon lit the shows of my youth. Not incidentally, she also lit the shows of Stephen Sondheim. She lit "Follies." She also lit "A Chorus Line." And "Dreamgirls." She won Tonys for all of those. She also designed the lighting for "Applause", "A Little Night Music", "Pacific Overtures", "The Act", "Ballroom" and "42nd Street (original stage production - 1981)". I'm here to tell you, this woman could paint a stage in light. And she painted a lot of them.

She was an innovator. "A Chorus Line" was the first B'way show to use a computer to activate the cues. It was considered radical at the time. She used computerized lighting more and more as the years went by. Anyone who saw the original production of "Dreamgirls" will instantly recall the 4 giant, castered lighting towers that whirled and spun around the stage during the show -- uncredited chorus members who danced from beginning to end -- the entire show being (mostly) lit by them in computer-controlled, lightning-fast changes that dazzled the audiences of the time as much as Jennifer Holliday's rafter-rattling rendition of "And I am Telling You (I am not going)".

Tharon Musser did that. And today, 27 years later, the hairs on the back of my head still stand up as I recall that knock-dead evening of theater. Thank you, Tharon, for being a part of it.

Tharon is survived by her life partner, Marilyn Rennagel, who is also a lighting designer.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Meme du Jour

Courtesy of my friend Bev over at Funny the World, comes this meme du jour:

1. What color is your toothbrush?
Blue and white (it's electrified!)

2. Name one person who made you smile today.
My 12-Step sponsor, Luke.

3. What were you doing at 8 am this morning?

5. What is your favorite candy bar?
Payday. It's got nuts.

6. Have you ever been to a strip club?
Yes. And before you ask, it was a straight strip club -- I was still working on Wall Street at the time and it was considered part of my job to "entertain" clients. So shut up.

7. What is the last thing you said aloud
"What is the last thing you said aloud." My lips move when I read.

8. What is your favorite ice cream?
Hands down, Butter Pecan.

9. What was the last thing you had to drink?
Coffee. I'm having it now.

10, Do you like your wallet?
I do. It's a Coach. I've had it for about 4 years, but I've had the same model of Coach wallet for about 25 years. It's a tri-fold. It's perfect.

11, What was the last thing you ate?
A turkey and cheese on whole wheat.

12, Have you bought any new clothing items this week?
Probably. I'm on a shoe-buying binge. The old ones are getting disgusting.

13, The last sporting event you watched?
I watched the Yankees get their asses handed to them by Cleveland yesterday afternoon, but I turned it off after the third inning.

14. What is your favorite flavor of popcorn?
Just plain, preferably with butter. Just like my hero, Bev.

15. Who is the last person you sent a text message to?
I don't "do" text.

16. Ever go camping?
Yes. Every where from Baxter State Park in Maine (where the Appalachian Trail begins) to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. I actually like camping.

17, Do you take vitamins daily?
Yes. Centrum Silver plus a Biotin pill and a B-12 sublingual.

18, Do you go to church every Sunday?
For what? Look, let's get this straight. I believe in God, I just don't believe in YOUR God. Okay?

19, Do you have a tan?

20,Do you prefer Chinese food over pizza?
No. I'm an equal-opportunity vomiter.

21, Do you drink your soda with a straw?
Soda is out because of carbonation. I drink a lot of Crystal Lite.

22, What did your last text message say?
I don't "do" text.

23, What are you doing tomorrow?

25, Look to your left, what do you see?
The window looking south towards Peddie School. It's a nice view.

26, What color is your watch?
Black band, stainless case, black face with white numerals.

27, What do you think of when you hear Australia?
"Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" and Olivia Newton-John. I'm pretty gay.

29, Do you go in at a fast food place or just hit the drive thru?
I don't "do" fast food.

30. What is your favorite number?
Whichever number will cause me to win MegaMillions.

31. Who’s the last person you talked to on the phone?
My friend Richard T. He called last night around 7:30 p.m.

32. Any plans today?
Yup. A 12-Step meeting in Plainsboro, NJ, then maybe a quick trip to Sam's Club.

33. How many states have you lived in?
Seven. In chronological order: Delaware, California, Tennessee, Maryland, Washington (State), New York and New Jersey.

34. Biggest annoyance right now?
Summer traffic on Friday afternoons on the NJ Turnpike (does EVERYONE in New York City have a beach house down the Jersey shore????)

35, Last song listened to?
"I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz. It's ubiquitous these days. I like his voice so I hope he doesn't become a "one-hit wonder."

36. Can you say the alphabet backwards?
Bwahahahahahahahahahaha. No.

37. Do you have a maid service clean your house?
Only when we rent a beach house. I don't want foreigners to know how we Americans really live.

38. Favorite pair of shoes you wear all the time?
My Jack Purcell blue canvas sneakers. I would wear them to work if I could.

39. Are you jealous of anyone?
No. It's a pointless waste of energy based, primarily, on self-pity.

40. Is anyone jealous of you?
I would hope not. See 39, above.

41. Do you love anyone?
Yes. Dozens. Am I "in love" with anyone? No.

42. Do any of your friends have children?
Yup. My friends seem to fall into two categories, either "Scorched Earth" or "Be Fruitful and Multiply", but almost nothing in between.

43. What do you usually do during the day?
Oh, blog, read other blogs, blog some more, cop an attitude when asked to actually "work", blog some more, read some more blogs...

44, Do you hate anyone that you know right now?
No. Wow. That's a change. I don't hate my ex anymore. I wonder when that happened?

45. Do you use the word ‘hello’ daily?
Yes. Part of my duties include answering phones.

46. What color is your car?
"Arrest Me Red."

47. Do you like cats?
I'd better or my friend Jan would stop talking to me.

48. Are you thinking about someone right now
Yes. My friend Jan.

49, Have you ever been to Six Flags?
Are you kidding? I live about 20 miles from Six Flags Great Adventure -- I LOVE bodacious roller coasters and Six Flags has got 'em. But the crowds can be overwhelming.

50. How did you get your worst scar?
It's about 12" long and runs down the inside of my left forearm. It's where they harvested a vein (and they were clearly in a hurry when they did it) during my quadruple-bypass surgery five years ago last month. That scar is a constant reminder to me of how badly I used to treat myself and how lucky I am to be alive today.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Up the Lazy River

Today's title refers to the Amazon, of course, as in Amazon dot com. Specifically, it refers to the flapdoodle that arose this past weekend over the de-listing of LGBTQQ titles from their rankings.

Apparently this is important. I don't know why exactly, but it is. I know this because my friend Rob Byrnes (aka FARB) had totally lost his shit was somewhat discomfited over it. And any enemy discomfit of Rob Byrnes is an enemy discomfit of mine. He was particularly incensed discomfited by it since he just had a new book (fabulous... you should read it... called "Straight Lies") published and, let's face it, authors these days count on e-tailers like Amazon to really move the merch.

So after I read Rob's rant piece (love the [lack of] alliteration) I delisted my shopping cart and wish lists from Amazon and sent a sternly worded email to some faceless drone in Mumbai who poses as their Customer Service Help Desk.

A scant 24 hours later I got a reply.

Then I posted this on Joe.My.God's blog:

"You wanna know what I think? I think that, for economic reasons only, the cataloging was outsourced to a country where ... well, let's just say that there's a totally different cultural bias regarding subjects such as "gay" and "lesbian" and "bisexual" and "transgendered" and "queer" there. A place where, in fact, the entire population remains largely skittish on the subject of sex in general.

And nobody in corporate bothered to double-check the work.

That's what I think. (the Amazon form reply was signed by Gajalakshmi S.)"

I stand by that theory. I think it was nothing more than the finance department trumping the editorial staff.

It's worse than a global conspiracy.

It's capitalism run amok. As usual.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Post-Christian America

The cover story on this week's issue of Newsweek is about life in what it terms "post-Christian America", i.e., an America which has moved well beyond the old-time religion of our forefathers.

As we all know, of course, there never was such a place. Rhode Island, the article points out, was founded by dissidents from all the other major religions as a place of safety from the tyranny of Massachusetts (Protestantism) and Maryland (Catholicism). We were always a mixed bag of beliefs (and non-beliefs). There is nothing new about that.

What is new, though, is that Americans are moving away from organized religions towards individual theologies based on a belief "in a Higher Power" but without the need for any human authority to act as God's muscle here on earth. We are far less religious these days, but far more spiritual.

This sounds suspiciously like every 12-Step Program I've ever heard of. The grandaddy of 12-Step programs, Alcoholics Anonymous, began in 1935 in Akron Ohio. One of it's founding tenets is the need for it's members to develop a belief in a "Power Greater than Ourselves"... leaving it up to the individual member to decide for him or herself exactly what that Power is.

This is very bad news for the RRR (radical religious right) aka "fundies" (fundamentalists) who would like to impose a born-again, literal fundamentalist theocracy on the nation; to outlaw abortion on demand (and, eventually, all contraception); to drive all LGBTQ people back into self-loathing closets and to "restore" our nation to it's pristine, newly-founded, condition. Which, by the way, never really existed.

Despite the outcome of Prop 8 in California last November, last Friday's unanimous vote by the Iowa Supreme Court and the outcome of the votes of the Vermont legislature and senate yesterday have triggered a seismic shift in America's thinking on the subject of gay rights in particular and fair play and full equality in general.

I believe that the culture war is over (or nearly so). The Right has lost (decisively).

Next subject?

UPDATE!! Anti-Gay National Organization for Marriage Launches New Campaign in wake of recent events.

--- more update: it turns out they're all actors. somebody turned up the audition tapes and posted them on Youtube, too. Gee, you can't even trust Christianist Fundamentalists anymore.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Painful Truth

I hate admitting when I'm full of shit. Doesn't everybody? But there's no escaping it. I am.

I went to FARB's book-signing last week (see: "Famous Author Rob Byrne's" blog in my preferred reading list, below to the right). It was in a gay bar in Hell's Kitchen Clinton, here in New York City. Ordinarily I don't go into gay bars because I'm in recovery and, as I often tell myself, I have "no business being someplace full of people who drink." That's one thing I tell myself. Another thing I've been telling myself for the past 11 years is that I'm not dating because I'm "afraid of repeating past mistakes" in terms of picking the wrong people to get involved with.

Lies. All self-deluded lies.

I realized, almost as soon as I arrived at the bar, that I was exceedingly uncomfortable. Not because other people were drinking and I wasn't, but rather because I was in a roomful of gay men, without the benefit of a 12-Step structure (i.e. a "group" or a "meeting") and I had nothing... absolutely nothing... to buffer me from the prospect of having a regular conversation with regular guys.

An "on-line" acquaintance of mine, a gay woman whose name is irrelevant here, walked in and I practically threw myself into her arms, I was so relieved that at last there was someone I could talk to without the added pressure of that person being a male.

Unfortunately, that didn't work out so well because, it turned out, she was there on a mission -- to check me out as possible dating material for another gay male friend of hers. I wanted to scream when she told me that.

As I was trying to find Rob to say my "goodbyes" for the evening he tried to introduce me to a couple of other friends of his, male of course, and by then the pain was so great I practically sprouted wings and flew down the steps and out the door. Talk about being "light in the loafers!"

Humor aside, the next few days have been painful. I am not the person I thought I was (I always thought of myself as Mr. Gregarious). Yet without the benefit of loud music, a dance floor, cigarettes and gallons of booze, I simply don't know how to act around gay men.

I've been sharing about this at all my 12-Step meetings since last Friday (including an LGBT meeting I attend in Pennsylvania on Saturday nights). I've been sharing about this with my sponsor, too. And with other members of my so-called "executive committee" of close recovery friends (all men, all straight, all married -- another friggin' clue that I might have "issues" with gay men).

Sigh. Yet more work to be done. I am a work in progress. And as we're fond of saying, it's Progress.... not Perfection.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Straight Lies

I don't know too many famous gay authors (I do know a couple of ostensibly straight ones), but I do know Rob Byrnes.

Well, he has a new book which was published this week. Here it is:

Tonight, April 2, is the launch party for his latest opus. It's being held at the Ritz Bar and Lounge, 369 West 46th Street, from 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM!

I intend to be there. If you're in the NYC metro area, you should be there, too.

Hell, you'll get to meet lots o' writers & bloggers and gawd only knows what else.

See ya there!