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Archives, March 30 to April 19, 2005

Tuesday April 19, 2005

…When Homosexual Activity Is Consequently Condoned, Or When Civil Legislation Is Introduced To Protect Behavior To Which No One Has Any Conceivable Right, Neither The Church Nor Society At Large Should Be Surprised When Other Distorted Notions And Practices Gain Ground, And Irrational And Violent Reactions Increase.

Thus Sayeth Pope Ratzinger. Did I say no more cartoons until after finals? My mistake…

Copyright © April 19, 2005 by Bruce Garrett
All Rights Reserved.

Link

Monday April 18, 2005

Scary Steven King Dreams

I’m dreaming that I’m driving to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to visit some gay friends. From Baltimore, Gettysburg is not all that far away. This is a day trip I’m taking, and I have three gay friends with me in my new car, and we’re all chatting easily as I drive with the windows down and the moonroof open through some very lovely Maryland, and then Pennsylvania countryside. Eventually we get to a small and cozy old house in Gettysburg, that has a large plot of land around it, with a very nice stone walled garden on one side of the house. We meet more friends inside, and go out into the garden to eat, drink and chat. It is a warm summer afternoon, neither too hot nor too cold. There is a slight breeze in the air, and a bright blue sky overhead.

I don’t recognize any of these people, but somehow in my dream I know that they are all gay friends of mine. We chat about this and that in this beautiful garden. The couple who owns the house has clearly done years of carefull loving work on it. The garden is surrounded by these old low stone walls that must date back hundreds of years I think. It’s a very peaceful setting, and I feel this warm, serene ease being there, and in the company of these other gay folks. I am sitting on one of the low stone walls with several other guys, chatting easily about this and that. As we chat, about a dozen bright yellow birds, American Goldfinches, land on the wall near us. We watch as they fly a short distance to one of the garden’s Azalea bushes, now in full rosy bloom. Yellow birds hopping around in a rose red bush, looking for some food I suppose. The sight is lovely. One of my companions remarks on how colorful they are, and I agree.

The goldfinches fly off, and almost immediately about a dozen or so starlings land on the stone wall near us. My companions ignore them. Some people don’t like starlings, they’re not very pretty birds, but I like and even admire them in some ways. They can find homes in the most amazing of places in and around humankind’s structures. Their flocks make these spectacular air formations, that weave and turn and undulate in the sky as if the entire flock had a single mind. I’m told it’s behavior they evolved over time in their European homelands, to confuse and evade hawks and other air predators. And starlings make this cheerful, goofy song that sounds to my ear like the squeeky wheel noise of the old fax signals I used to hear on my shortwave radio when I was a kid. No other bird makes a song quite like a starling’s. It’s bizzare and goofy and cheerful and just brings a smile to my face whenever I hear it. But starlings are not welcome in most places, because their flocks can get Huge, and they make a lot of mess.

So my companions in that lovely garden there in Gettysburg ignore the small flock of starlings. As I watch, one of the birds walks awkwardly over to me. It’s beak is crooked. Its feathers are unkept. Its eyes are two black holes in its head. It walks over the stones to me, and fixes those empty eyes on mine, and in a dry crooked voice, begins singing The Battle Hymn of the Republic to me.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday April 17, 2005

Not Quite Clear On The Concept

I’m standing in line at the Mcdonald’s on Falls Road. I’m hungry for something from the grill, and the Mcdonald’s is a short walk from my house. I want to buy a fish sandwich, which I’ll take home and add a few items from the fridge to and then snack on while I’m doing classwork. The line is moving slowly. My eyes wander to the food preparation area behind the counter.

I see one of the food assemblers pulling various meat patties out of warming trays and think back to my first job at the Burger Chef on Rockville Pike, back in the summer of 1971. Back then it was slap frozen hamburger patties on a moving chain conveyer belt that would pass them over an open flame cooker. I’ve always liked meat cooked over an open flame. But the burgers we made there, that way, had to be cooked to order and you tried to anticipate demand so that you didn’t have any left sitting under the hot lights in the burger tray for long. Sitting burgers quickly went dry and hard. Now apparently, they cook stuff on the grill in large batches, and hold them in these warmer tray things.

As I watch the food prep guys work, I notice one of them is being bothered by an itchy ear. He takes an index finger, covered by one of those disposable plastic sanitary gloves they wear back there nowadays, and jams it in his ear and twists and digs like he’s trying to get a half pound of ear wax out of there. Then he pops the finger out and, still wearing the same disposable sanitary glove, reaches into one of the warming trays, takes out a meat pattie and plops it onto a bun.

Good thing they wear disposable gloves while handling the food around here… So I decide to go elsewhere for a snack…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Signature Maneuver

Via Brad DeLong, via Matthew Yglesias, via Knight Ridder Newspapers. Blog surfing kinda works that way…

Quick… You’re the president of the United States, and you wake up one morning to find that the current issue of a report that’s been documenting terrorist attacks for the past 19 years says that there were more terrorist attacks last year then in any year since the report began documenting terrorist attacks. What do you do?

Oh…and the president of the United States that you are, is George Bush…

WASHINGTON - The State Department decided to stop publishing an annual report on international terrorism after the government's top terrorism center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985, the first year the publication covered.

You know…that guy Clear Channel called Our Leader. Click your heals three times Dorothy, and repeat after me: “There’s No Leader Like George…There’s No Leader Like George…There’s No Leader Like George…”

Several U.S. officials defended the abrupt decision, saying the methodology the National Counterterrorism Center used to generate statistics for the report may have been faulty, such as the inclusion of incidents that may not have been terrorism.

I’m a seer. No. Really. I prophecy that the Bush Administration will scour the world for the best minds in the business, bring them together to really really really look at the problem of terrorism, and they will come up with a really really really better way to count terrorist attacks, and publish a much much much better report that’ll show a truest really real number of attacks there were in 2004. I prophecy that this newest really truest true number will be smaller then the one in the previous untrue flawed bad report. Okay…you say any seer worth their salt could foresee that do you? You say a dead pig on a stick could foresee that do you? Ha! I further prophecy that the Bush Administration will compare the number in their new report, to the numbers in the old report, to prove once and for all that terrorism is being beaten back by Our Leader. There. Am I a prophet or what?

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Saturday April 16, 2005

Where The Hell Is Our Age’s Lewis and Mencken? We Need Them Badly!

This American Prospect article reminds me that I need to read Sinclar Lewis…oh and H. L. Mencken too. I’ve never read Elmer Gantry. I need to correct that. We need writers like them today, now. Mencken especially, for his dogged unwillingness to soft peddle the conflict between fundamentalism and civilization, the way nearly all writers today somehow feel they must, if they don’t want to be labeled bigots.

Buy and read your copies now, before the next republican fundamentalist supreme court rules them indecent…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Page Five…In Which I Get A Slap Upside The Head…

So it’s finally finished now. If you’ve already read the first four pages you can go directly to the final page by clicking on the graphic below.

Or click Here To Start At The Beginning.

It’s been a trip. This is the first serious multi panel cartoon I’ve ever attempted. And it’s the first time I’ve ever tried to do anything in a purely line art style (although I cheated a bit on one panel of page four). Right now I’m feeling a bit of weary relief, and satisfaction. And I have a hell of lot more respect for all the years of work Howard Cruse put into Stuck Rubber Baby. It took him years of grinding work, and I understood that completely right from when I heard he had started the project. And his artwork his just fantastic…all 210 pages of it. You can see the moment you lay eyes on it how much work it had to have been. But it’s one thing to understand something in the abstract, and another to actually experience a small portion of it for yourself.

This cartoon, from stray thought wandering around in my brain to finish, took about five months to complete, and it’s only five pages. Back in the middle of last December, a chance conversation brought back to mind the time my friends took me to see my first porn flick, a typical teenage male rite of passage. But I went with them full of excess baggage in the form of just about every misconception about my own sexuality there was, and instead of finding a little teenaged fun at the Viers with my friends, I just got all stressed and confused. I can look back on that part of my life with a little humor now, and it occurred to me that there was a cartoon there. I gave it some more thought over the next few weeks and a definite storyline began to develop. So I wrote out a few pages of scenes and dialogue, and played with it for a while as it began to take shape. And as that story began to take shape, I began to get ideas for others, based on other events that happened to me back then. I began to think it might be fun to put some of what I experienced growing up as a gay teenager in the 1970s into comic form.

It took me just a week or so to turn my script into a set of panel and stick figure layouts. Then it took about seven more to make a set of full scale page layouts with more detailed, but still rough pencil drawings. These got transferred to 2 ply bristol boards. I put each row of drawings on each page on its own board, largely because I am so used to working on single panel cartoons that I needed to keep each bite of the project small. I tape my work to small masonite boards that I can turn this way and that while I’m working, and I just couldn’t see doing that with a big full page piece of artwork. It took me an average of 20 hours to finish each board, and then another four fiddling with them in Photoshop, which was basically touching up here and there, and lettering. That process would probably go a lot faster if I had a digitizer, instead of having to do touchup work with a mouse. It took another three hours or so to put the html page for all the pieces together. So figure just about shy of 80 hours for each page, from transferring the layout roughs to the finished product. Mind you, I have a full time job, and I’m trying to finish my CS degree too here.

So it’s been a lot of work these past few months. But I’m really pleased with the way it turned out, and I’m feeling psyched to go on with the big story arc I’ve been talking about here.

But this is it for now. I won’t be posting any more cartoons here until after finals. I need to take a break and finish my semester. Then I’ll start on the big project. Hang on…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday April 14, 2005

Applause!

Via Atrios, from The New York Post:

Antonin Scalia spoke Tuesday night at NYU's Vanderbilt Hall, "The room was packed with some 300 students and there were many protesters outside because of Scalia's vitriolic dissent last year in the case that overturned the Texas law against gay sex," our source reports. "One gay student asked whether government had any business enacting and enforcing laws against consensual sodomy. Following Scalia's answer, the student asked a follow-up: 'Do you sodomize your wife?' The audience was shocked, especially since Mrs. Scalia [Maureen] was in attendance. The justice replied that the question was unworthy of an answer."

No, no…you don’t get it peon. The law is only for little people like you, not me… Somebody needs to put this question to that little Mussolini every time he speaks in public.

Justice Scalia, do you sodomise your wife? Have you ever sodomized you wife in a state or country where and when sodomy was against the law? Has your wife ever sodomised you?

No, no…you don’t get it peon. The law is only for little people like you, not me…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

From Our Department Of Friends Who Need Their Own Blogs…

My friend John informs me there may be a reason why XM is a tad less interested in giving left of Tom DeLay viewpoints a place to be heard:

Amongst the investors (That sounds so much better than "owners") of XM radio are GM, Hughes and... and... Clear Channel.

Gee, I wonder why they're so right-wing friendly? Isn't Clear Channel supposed to a liberal's dream come true, a major corporation with a conscience?

Or am I thinking of someone else?

oh, I know there was that minor complaint about Clear Channel lining Bush's pockets with cash in exchange for favorable regulations. And then there were those pro-Bush, pro-war rallies it organized in a number of cities. And they might've gotten a little bad press for practicing political-based censorship, after the Dixie Chicks dared to speak honestly about our beloved lord & savior, George Bush.

Other than that, they're quite Liberal.

Did you know they own the rights to Air America in the Boston market? They have it on two different radio stations. Of course, you can't receive a signal from either one of them in the greater Boston area.

I'm thinking that it's because Boston is physically so small -- tiny compared to most "Major" cities -- that the signal has difficulty reaching more than a few feet from the tower.

And radio signals can't cross water... right? That explains it. Places like Cambridge, Watertown & Newton appear to be bordering the city of Boston on a map, sure, but there's a river separating them. So they're not really touching Boston.

I mean, there's certainly nothing to suggest that Clear Channel would have political motives for denying entire markets the Air America radio network. It's just a matter of resources. As a small, Ma & Pa operation, Clear Channel wouldn't know how to go about boosting a signal so that listeners could actually hear a broadcast.

I guess Clear Channel just isn't into profits.

Money is for loosers. Property is for wimps. Real capitalists acquire governments.

Oh, and John forwards this, from JohnKerry.Com which you need to know, and which I am passing along while I can, before the Bush FCC decides that citizen bloggers aren’t allowed to promote a political viewpoint anymore…

This week, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will make a fateful choice on the John Bolton nomination - and Senator Lincoln Chafee (R- Rhode Island) holds the decisive vote.

That's why I'm writing to urge you to forward the following email to anyone you know in our neighboring state of Rhode Island. It's critical that the Senator hears from people all across his state.

Senator Chafee is under enormous political pressure from the White House and right-wing organizations to cast the deciding vote in favor of Mr. Bolton.

That's why we're urging Senator Chafee's constituents to contact his office immediately and call on him to resist that pressure. Remember to be polite and to say that you are a Rhode Island resident. Here are Senator Chafee's office phone numbers:

Washington D.C. (202) 224-2921
Newport (401) 845-0700
Providence (401) 453-5294

And While We’re All Calling Our Politicians…

On his radio show today, Michelangelo Signorile was urging listeners in states with moderate republican senators to call them and urge them not to allow the republican majority to take away the filibuster. The stakes on this one are as high as they get. If the republicans succeed, they’ll go right to work stacking the courts, not merely with conservatives, not merely with right wingers, but with theocrats. If you don’t want the United States Of America to become a theocracy, you need to do everything you can to prevent the republicans from putting theocrats on the bench.

If you think this is hyperbol, consider the following from the bill, introduced into the senate by senators Shelby, Brownback and Burr (R – Taliban), titled, Constitution Restoration Act of 2005

Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an entity of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer or agent of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official or personal capacity), concerning that entity's, officer's, or agent's acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.

Dig it. They want to impose a theocratic rule of law on the United States of America, and strip the courts of their power to stop it on constitutional grounds. But, think about this a minute, what actual theocracy ever embraced the billionaire crony capitalist class? Pat Robertson owns south african diamond mines for chrissakes. You can tell a real theocracy, by how fast its economy flies into the 10th century. These people don’t want a theocracy. They just want to rule. They want to see an end to the democratic autonomy of citizens. They want to see and end to liberty and justice for all. It’s the Lost Cause we’re still fighting over, 140 years after the end of the Civil War.

You hear a lot about how hypocritical southern religosity is, how the bible belt has for example, more teenage pregnancies, more std’s more divorce, more billboards per mile advertising strip joints then anywhere else. But southern religosity isn’t about piety at all. Strictly speaking it isn’t about Christianity either. It’s about slavery and the social pecking order.

Ed Kilgore over at New Donkey writes:

Far beyond elementary school, in the broader southern white culture I grew up in, there was an odd exultancy about Appomattox that had nothing to do with vicarious relief at the end of that brutal war. No, we drank in the details of Lee's peerless dress and manner at the moment of surrender, and were encouraged to think of the shabby Grant's generosity in victory as little more than the acknowledgement of a superior being--and a superior, if Lost, Cause. A Cause, moreover, that was about everything other than the ownership of human beings--about states' rights, about agrarian resistance to capitalism, about cultured Cavaliers defending civilization against philistine Puritans, about Honor, about Duty.

And that was the essence of Confederate Nostalgia in those days: a cult of romantic defeat, denial, self-pity and pride. I never quite shared it, even as a child, but never quite understood its pathological depths until its mirror images in Serbian and (some parts of) Arab culture became part of world events in more recent years. And remarkably, I get the sense Confederate Nostalgia is not only surviving, but perhaps even reviving among people too young to know its nature and political usages.

So now, in many heated conversations with my fellow white southerners--and occasionally with Yankees who've been caught up by the Romance in Grey--I find myself insisting on an acknowledgement of the reality of the Confederacy, and its consequences for our home region.

It was an armed revolution led by a planter class that could not tolerate restrictions on the "right" to transfer its human property into the territories.

It was a "Cause" centered in the states most dependent on slavery, made possible by a secession bitterly opposed by poor white farmers in much of the region, and imposed on them by the narrowest of margins.

It was a rebellion whose success entirely relied on the calculation that the people of the North would not sacrifice for abstactions like the Union and Freedom.

Its inevitable defeat plunged the South and all of its people into a century of grinding poverty, isolation, and oligarchical government. Its heritage has been used again and again to justify racism and every other sort of reactionary policy.

I look at Appomattox and see the end of a disastrous folly that killed over 600,000 Americans, maimed far more, and made life miserable for those of my ancestors who survived the Planters' Revolt. No romance. No victory-in-defeat. Just carnage and destruction in a bad cause made no better by the good men whose lives and futures it claimed.

The Lost Cause is making a comeback. Slavery did more then ruin the economy and military capacity of the south. It utterly destroyed their ability to make moral judgments. Generations later, they still haven’t recovered. They still believe that the master classes have the right to own people. Note how after the Terri Schiavo affair, they began not only to attack the courts, but the right of people to make living wills. Self determination, even in death, is something they regard as violating the natural order of things. The reason they went into apoplectic hysterics over Terri Schiavo’s death and not Sun Hudson’s was that in the case of Schiavo, her human autonomy was upheld (and Sun, being black, was further down on the pecking order…). It is not a culture of life, but a culture of master-slave they’re fighting for. This is, this was always, a fight about autonomy, and the only moral order in the world the confederates know is that there are masters, and there are servants. People do not have unalienable rights, they have a place in the pecking order. It the only understanding of society they have. It is all the religiosity they know. Christ is not the savior, he is not the wise teacher, imploring us to love one another. Christ is the good shepard. God will provide. The master always provides. But you must obey.

Slavery taught them this. The autonomous, self reliant human cannot be fitted into their world. Reason is autonomous, so they are against reason, against science, against naturalism. They love rich and powerful monopolists but hate the free market. Their capitalism is of the crony variety. Environmentalism tells the master that his servants own their bodies, own the food and water and air that goes into them, and so he cannot foul them at his pleasure, and worse, that we all share the same good earth and its fate together…which means at some level we are all equal. It is anathema. Autonomy destroys the only world they know and understand. They provoked a war that killed more Americans then all our other wars put together over it. They are getting ready to do it again.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday April 12, 2005

Finally…A Car Radio I Can Listen To…

I’d pretty much stopped listening to radio years ago. My world these days is swimming in advertising and I try to attenuate that noise wherever I can. It’s a kind of self defense reflex. Our lives are short, and the most precious possession you have is your time. Advertising, by its nature, trys to steal little moments of that time away from you, so it can persuade you to buy something. When its only scattered here and there in your life you can tolerate its little momentary thefts. But these days it’s everywhere, and getting more and more relentless in its demand that you Stop And Listen To Me Now, Right Now. As advertising becomes more agressive, you have to become more agressive in shutting it out. If it were not against the law, they’d call you while you were at home sleeping, because they’d know for sure you’d be there.

As advertising took up more and more air time on the radio, the radio just became less and less a part of my life. Radio nowadays is swimming in advertising, particularly during rush hour, for the obvious reason that there are so many captive listeners stuck in traffic then. Cassette decks, CD players, and lately, a connection to an iPod or suchlike device are about the only way you can listen to music while driving your car anymore.

So radio tries other ways to attract an audience. Talk radio works for it because its content can’t really be canned. As more local stations were eaten by the big radio conglomerates, with their demands for increasing revenue and cutting costs, advertising ate up more and more air time, and the radio stations all started sounding pretty much just like each other…all playing the same crap. So more and more of the on road audience fled to their cassette and CD players. This is why the shock jocks happened. Shock made people take notice, and that meant ratings, and that meant dollars. Exit Harden and Weaver and The Joy Boys. Enter Greaseman. Enter Rush Limbaugh and Mike Savage. It was a race to the bottom at the speed of sound. And as to why it took a turn to the hard right, as opposed to random shock from all over the political spectrum, well…

The text at the bottom reads, “A political public service message brought to you by Clear Channel”. Clear Channel is the biggest of the media corporations that have utterly destroyed local radio, but the others are pretty much cut from the same political cloth. And by the way, take a look next time you’re driving down the highway at who owns most of the billboards you see. There’s a reason why people were afraid that lifting the corporate ownership limits on local radio stations would lead to a loss of political diversity.

Now try listening to that non-stop river of venom directed at gays, at liberals and democrats for supporting gay rights sometime, if you haven’t already, and try to imagine what it’s like, if you aren’t gay yourself, to be a gay person hearing that crap, and just nothing but that crap, coming out of your car’s radio. And if you don’t want to listen to that, what’s left? Just the same big radio conglomerates, feeding you whatever empty pap they think will attract the biggest audience, or more likely, whatever musical content they or one of their board members have an investment in.

Once upon a time one of the joys of going on a road trip was listening to the local radio stations along the way. You got to hear all the different stuff the people in those distant cities and states listened to every day. It was fun. Last year on my trip through the great plains I just couldn’t turn the radio on without getting an earful of crap, crap and more crap, or a blast of hate, hate, and more hate. When I did manage to find a decent station, it would quickly fade away into the static as I drove down the highway, and then it would be back to crap, crap and crap, or hate, hate and hate. That was when I began to seriously think about getting a satellite radio installed in my car.

From my experience with cable music channels, I knew what the advantages of satellite radio were likely to be. Yes, you’d pay a subscription fee, but if you hate the constant barrage of advertising in the environment it’s a small price to pay to actually hear music come out of the speakers more often then not. And subscription radio makes it easy to find the music you like, by offering so many discrete channels of it. There is rock from the 50s, 60s, 70s and so on. There are usually several kinds of classical channels from hard core to opera to pop. There is a variety of dance music, golden oldies, jazz, swing, broadway and so on. It used to be you had one or two stations in the neighborhood of your musical tastes, and even then most of what they played wasn’t really what you wanted to hear. Subscription radio makes it easier to zero in on what you like.

With satellite radio you get all that, plus a constant signal no matter how far away you’re driving. When it first became available, I had mixed feelings about it, fearing that it would just further accelerate pop culture conformity. But with the small handful of big radio conglomerates all simulcasting the same crap all over the country anyway, conformity all across the dial is pretty much what you get anyway. The people in Wichita I can tell you for a fact, are mostly listening to the same damn things the people in Baltimore are. What satellite radio can do is bring diversity back to the airwaves again, perhaps even more then it ever was before, even in the good old days.

For minority groups, like your gay and lesbian neighbors, local radio at its best still meant that only those of us blessed to live in a large metropolitan area could even hope to hear media that spoke directly to us, and even at that maybe only for an hour or so once a week. For us the new media technologies, like satellite radio are a godsend. Even in the big cities it’s hard for a station to be profitable catering specifically to us, and never mind the protests of the homophobic right. But a signal that reaches all of us anywhere, from New York to Hayes Kansas, should be able to get a big enough audience to make a go of it. But the satellite radio companies have to take notice of us first. As of my writing this, only Sirius has a gay channel, OutQ, and it’s a good one. Columnist Michelangelo Signorile has a dynamite afternoon talk show on it, that makes for a very nice refuge from the all hate all the time radio you get on the broadcast dial (although Air America is starting to chip away at that in some cities). But XM it seems, could not care less about us as an audience.

When I was driving across the great plains last year, a few hours of listening to the constant barrage of hate radio made me almost make a bee line to the nearest place I could get a Sirius radio installed in my Prism. I didn’t do it, only because I didn’t have it in the budget then. But it was a near thing. Sirius OutQ isn’t the only thing I’d have wanted to listen too while driving cross country, there’s a nice swing channel and a nice techno/trance dance channel too. But damned if Signorile wouldn’t have been nice to listen to on OutQ as an alternative to Rush, and Savage, and Schlessinger, while watching the great spaces of the western states and the plains sweeping past as I drove down the highway. Yes, it’s a hostile world I am travelling through, but even way out here I am not alone… I made a promise to myself to be able to listen to Sirius OutQ, or something like it, on my next trip.

Well, as it happened, I bought a new car. And as it happened, the car came with a satellite radio. Alas, Honda made its deal with XM, not Sirius. I shopped and compared for months before buying my new Honda Accord and I have not experienced a single moment of regret for going into new car debt over it. I’m still in New Car Love. It’s a beautiful car and a great piece of engineering…just about my perfect touring car. But I knew when I bought it that the radio would probably have to go. And Honda really threw me a curve.

The Honda came with a really nice dual climate control system, with all the bells and whistles, including a big LCD display to show me what it was up to. Very nice. But then the jackass engineers at Honda, who I otherwise have nothing but the very highest regard for (and man…the engine in my new car is really, really sweet) merged the climate control system with the radio for chrissakes, which makes installing a third party radio a really big ugly mess.

I saw that god awful mess coming when I laid eyes on the Accord’s radio for the first time in a dealership, while I was still in my checking the specs phase of car shopping. It was a stumbling block for a long time. But in the end I could get a much nicer Accord with a stick then I could get a Camry with a stick, so I went with the Accord, accepting that the radio was going to be a problem, but figuring I’d work it out somehow. Ha. Little did I know.

When I drove it off the dealer’s lot, I had a three month free preview of XM radio. It amounted to a parsed down version of their channel list, with just enough of it to give me a taste. Fine. But their channel line up really didn’t strike me as being as good as Sirius’, and there was no Gay radio anywhere in it. Funny that…

…or not. Their news/talk lineup also seemed to tilt very heavily to the right. There was one “America Left” channel. In addition to the “America Right” channel, there was “Family Talk” which they advertise as “Providing straight talk, listener interaction, Bible-based teaching, sound advice and family-friendly entertainment. Presented in partnership with Salem Communications.” Salem Communications is a religious right organ, which claims to be the third biggest broadcaster in the top twenty-five markets. They have many links to the hard right in American politics. XM also has “Ask” which is a call in advice channel featuring among others, Dr. Laura. ‘Nuff Said. They offer Fox News (sic), CNN and MSNBC…in other words, the absolute worst network news they could find, along with BBC and the Weather Channel tossed in. So when I wrote XM, several times, asking if they planned to add a Gay channel, it was with more then a little suspicion that they wouldn’t even bother getting back to me.

They didn’t.

So that left me with a daunting chore. That damn Honda factory radio just didn’t look like it was going to make it easy to switch. Worse, as I began using its CD player, I noticed its gain was noticeably lower then the gain on the radio (both satellite and regular), and it had a high pitched whine that I remembered all too well from the early days of CD players. You need serious filtration on the analog to digital converter in a digital audio stream or you will get this really piercing high pitched whine that will just drive you nuts. And to add insult to injury in this day and age, it wouldn’t play MP3 CDs. Ugh. And this was the nice factory radio. So Sirius or not, the radio had to go.

But the more I looked into it, the more I began to worry that I was going to have to do something to the car that would look just awful…like hanging a completely separate radio under the dash somewhere, or in the glove compartment. I really, really didn’t want to do that, as the one of the big selling points for me on the Honda was how nice the interior looked. I felt like I’d bought a luxury car the day I took it home. So I did some calling around and finally found a custom car sound company that was not only willing do the install for me, but seemed to know up front that it wouldn’t be a simple task. But I was told, and overjoyed to learn, that there actually was a conversion kit out there. But it had a downside: I had to give up the dual climate control system. Oh, and it was about $170 all by itself, never mind the price of the radio and installation. Here’s a link to a PDF document (you’ll need Adobe reader to view it) that briefly describes the issues involved. Scroll down to where it says Metraís New Accord TurboKit: Will a $200 Kit Sell? I feel lucky now that somebody even bothered to produce such a kit.

They could not reuse the factory installed satellite radio antenna blivit on the roof of my car, because it would only listen to the XM satellites, so I had to haggle with them about where to put the new Sirius antenna. I wanted everything to look as if it were factory installed. It took them a week to get the conversion kit, and they didn’t get the special wiring harness that was needed to take my dual climate control system down to a single control system. So they had to order that and I ended up having to go back a couple of times to get the installation done. But they did a great job and when it was done it all looked like factory new. The nice LCD climate control/radio display is gone, which makes the console look a tad emptier and plainer, but that’s minor.

And the sound! Oh gosh it’s so much better now. I bought a Kenwood EZ700SR, with a Sirius tuner built-in. The “EZ” designation means that it’s simpler to set things, like volume, tone and fader settings, that should be simple but almost always aren’t on the many-mini-button sets you usually see nowadays. It plays my MP3 disks, as well as Windows Media encoded files, and it has jacks already on it for an iPod or suchlike device. And Sirius is a great service. Better, much, much better in my opinion then XM, particularly if you’re a part of the blue state reality based community. I get OutQ now, but also Air America, three NPR channels and several world news channels. There is a Swing channel, and a really nice techo-trance dance channel. I like their sixties channel and their Symphony Hall channel.

And with the subscription I got a logon I can use to listen to Sirius over the web too. So with my home broadband connection I don’t really need one of those pluggable satellite tuners you can pop into a home or car radio.

It’s great to be able to listen to radio again after all these years. And I’m taking notes on the new music I’m hearing. I haven’t bought a new CD in over a year, but I already have a short list of stuff I’m looking to buy now. I haven’t bought any new CDs because I haven’t listened to any new music. I haven’t listened to any new music, because I’m not wading through a sea of radio advertising just to listen to a fairly limited range of music. Now that I don’t have to do that anymore, I’m discovering a lot of stuff I’d like to add to my collection. Can someone in the music business please add two plus two?

I’m going to send the picture below along to Sirius, XM and Honda. Sirius, to thank them for making OutQ available to the gay community. Honda needs to know that even though they make great automobiles, their customers might want to install their own radios in them and they just friggin need to deal with that! And XM needs to understand that their deals with Honda and other auto manufacturers notwithstanding, they need to pay attention to the Gay market too, because not even an atrocity like Honda’s infernal climate control-plus-radio contraption will keep an audience locked into a company that is not willing to serve them.


I Want My OutQ!

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday April 11, 2005

It’s A Beautiful Place…Just A Lot Of Ugly People In It…

I Will go on my usual great plains/southwestern road trip this year. I am not going to let the gutter crawling bigotries of the people of that land keep me away from its beauty. But I will make an effort to spend as little as possible, outside of the reservations this time. And a good part of the reason why, is this Open Letter To The Citizens of Atwood Kansas, by a gay man who gave that little splotch on the great plains its own world class web site for its little newspaper, only to have almost a thousand out of the town’s thirteen hundred or so citizens vote him into the offical Kansas State Pariah class:

An open letter to the Citizens of Atwood.

I sincerely apologize that I cannot represent Atwood anymore. I am completely disappointed and heartbroken (for lack of a better word) at the actions of my hometown, a community that always says how much it cares for others.

You know when I first created AtwoodKansas.com I did so because of my desire to do everything I could to save my hometown from dying like so many other Midwestern towns.

Even though when I grew up there, I was not treated very well, I still had a love for my hometown that only grew stronger as I grew up. Living in a metro area with 7 million people really makes you understand what the word "home" means.

I hear a lot of stereotypical things said about Kansas when people find out where I am from, and every time I stick up for my "home" because I knew that the people making those remarks didn't really know anything about Kansas. They had no idea that Kansas is not ìso flat that when your dog runs away you can see him for 3 daysî, they certainly did not know what it is like to experience sweet smell of alfalfa in the summer or what itís like to run into the middle of a dust before it disappears. The majority think of Kansans as Redneck farmers who are racist, bigoted, un-educated, and "slow". I would tell them otherwise.

However, the Citizens of Atwood certainly lived up to a few of those stereotypes this past week! Way to go!

I've never kept it a secret that I'm gay, so it makes me wonder if Atwood would have accepted my gift that made Atwood the 8th city in Kansas to have a world class website and the 5th newspaper in the state to have a website, knowing that the person who made it was gay? Or would they just let the town wither and die to make spite themselves and feel holy?

I did not have a choice to be gay. How do I know it was not a choice for me? Simple, because I knew by the time I was 5. So unless a 5 year old knows that he wants to be ostracized, singled out, hated, threatened, and condemned just for being different, there is no way it is a choice. Those of you who went to school with me throughout Elementary and Junior High knew also because you would call me ìfagî or ìgay wadî and a few of you would even beat me up regularly.

So either my brain was so advanced that at 5 years old, that I subconsciously made a choice to become gay or it was hardwired into my brain at birth. Now by the time I finished High School, even though I knew I was gay, I tried to hide it and I had a lot of girl friends. But in my heart I knew, it did not feel right.

Now since I know I'm now going to be the topic of many Gossip-mongers in Atwood, I'll respond to a few things before more rumors get spread...

There’s a lot more in this howl of anger and pain. Go read the whole thing. I guarantee you I will be thinking of this as I cross the great plains later this year. I am an old and experienced hand at taking the cheap route to California, and this time, in addition to my AAA Atlas, I’ll have a copy of that red/blue election 2000 map along with me. There may not a whole hell of a lot of blue out there, but there’s enough for me to hop from one spot to the other on my way, without spending a lot of money in between.

[Update…] Daniel Lippold has taken down his original howl and has or will allow Atwood Kansas to buy the domain from him, so we likely won’t be seeing any indication whatsoever that Atwood has, or ever had, gay citizens again, let alone one that gave them a presence on the world wide web. But if you look around on Google you can still find the original text, in places like here. I’ve saved my own copy so if you still can’t find it send me an email and I’ll forward it along.

And Now For Something Completely Angry

Burt…Stop Calling Me! Swear to God every time I hear about what’s happening to gay and lesbian Americans in the red states, like the above I think of you and the others who thoughtlessly, cheerfully, unleashed this torrent of hate on me and countless others. I always knew you’d do it to me…I always knew they’d do it to me…all your goddamn bellyaching about Clinton this and Clinton that, all your goddamn parroting of Every Single Brain Dead Slogan You Ever Fucking Heard Rush Limbaugh Yap Yap Yapping. I knew it was over when you looked me in the eye years ago and told me my sexual orientation was a choice. That was after we’d known each other for…how long? And you didn’t fucking Ask me Once how it was for me. No…the right wing hate jockeys fed you crap about your “best friend” and you just ate it up, and never mind what I might have to say about it. After all…I’m just someone who Knows First Hand what it’s like, and on the kook side of the political spectrum asking anyone who knows crap about something, anything, is something only elitists or communists or America Haters do, isn’t it? Real Americans just nod their heads and babble whatever Talk Radio tells them to babble, don’t they? But I always had this naive hopeful, idealistic streak and I just kept hoping that I was wrong, that knowing me would make you think twice before casting that vote for hate, that we were friends. But no…you did it, and now look at what’s happening. Okay…To Hell With You. I don’t Care what you fucking think anymore! If I fucking want to hear it I’ll tune in Rush Limbaugh and let him spit in my face for a few hours. I don’t need to hear it from you, or anyone else who I’ve invited into my house and my heart. Go Away. Just Go The Flying Fuck Away. I Am Not The “Some” In “Some Of My Best Friends Are.” Leave Me The Fuck Alone! Go Away! I don’t want to see your face, or hear your voice, or their’s, ever again in this life. And if we pass each other on some distant eternal shore, I swear I still won’t know you! Go Away!

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday April 10, 2005

Book Meme

No one’s invited me to play the Book Meme game…but I’m gonna anyway…

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be [saved]?

Easy one: Jacob Bronowski’s Science And Human Values. It has the added advantage of being a small book, and so hopefully easier to memorize exactly right. This book opened my eyes in a way no other has, to the likenesses between science and art, and how they are both noble work. And it is a profoundly moral book. Read the chapter on The Habit Of Truth and you can see how utterly bereft of morals and values (and virtue) books from the likes of right wing scold William Bennett are. Bennett’s morality is empty at it’s heart, null and void and utterly soulless. Bronowski shows us how morality is, at it’s heart, in the search for truth, not the empty rote recitations of dogma.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

His name was Vanyel…

The last book you bought is?

I suppose Yaoi doesn’t count…but if it does then, Passion, Volume 2. Otherwise, it’s Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, which I’ve been told is better then The Da Vinci Code, which I also haven’t read yet either.

What are you currently reading?

C++ Data Structures – Third Edition by Nell Dale. Sorry… but that’s the truth.

Five books you would take to a deserted island?

1. Science And Human Values
2. The Boys On The Rock by John Fox
3. Coyote by Peter Gadol
4. The Charioteer by Mary Renault
5. The Fountains Of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

Since I picked this one up off the web, and nobody sent it to me, I reckon I’ll pass it along to the first three people who read this blog entry. You know who you are.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Page 4 – In Which I Get An Eyeful…

Page four of my five page cartoon is up. You can go directly to it by clicking on the graphic below:

If you haven’t read the previous two pages, you can start at the beginning here.

I couldn’t get page five out too, and finish my classwork for the weekend. But I’m close. I reckon I’ll have it up by Wednesday at the latest. And then I’ll take a wee break, after which I’ll start on the other, much longer storyline, about how I came to finally get a clue…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Culture Of Death

Over at Kos, Hunter asks a good question:

Does the conservative who can get closest to openly endorsing judicial assassinations without getting dragged off in handcuffs get to take home a pie or something?

I know you’ve heard this before, but hell, what if this had been a conference of democrats or liberals or progressives and one of there popular speakers said something like this. The mainstream news media would be all over it, that’s what. There would be 24/7 coverage, with that guy’s words being replayed over and over again until every democrat on capital hill and every democrat in every statehouse in every state had denounced them. But it’s okay, when you’re the religious right.

As a gay man, I know exactly how this works. They’re trying, not just to intimidate, but to actually incite violence, because nothing intimidates better then violence, and they want the ones who can’t be intimidated dead anyway. A terrified homosexual is a good homosexual. A terrified judge is a good judge. And if terrifying them doesn’t keep them in line, they need to be dead anyway. And they’re the culture of life.

And the republican party’s power base. Republicans can’t win without their votes and they know it. Devil. Due. Get.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday April 8, 2005

Friday Baltimore Blogging

Body Shop - Falls Road
Body Shop – Falls Road

Window - Crowther Lane
Window – Crowther Lane

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday April 7, 2005

How The Republican Lie Machine Works

Consider the smear campaign regarding the Terri Schiavo memo noted below as a typical case. Media Matters has a timeline, naming names, showing exactly how the accusation that the memo was a democratic party forgery walked up from the gutter of the right wing blogs, to the mainstream news media, and became conventional wisdom right until the moment it became…ah…”inoperative”. It’s a great case study and it highlights the role embedded republican shills like Howard Kurtz play in mainstreaming the lies of the right wing gutter. This is how the machine works.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Culture Of Lies

Toward the end of the Terri Schiavo death watch, the right wing asswipe circus began howling about a leaked memo from the republican leadership, which outlined all the nice political advantages that could be milked from that one family’s tragedy. Among other things, the memo indicated that…

This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue.

This is a great political issue, because Senator Nelson of Florida has already refused to become a cosponsor and this is a tough issue for Democrats.

I remember reading it and, since I’m pretty much in a state of outrage stack overflow constantly these days anyway, I shrugged it off. Oh look…a memo saying the republicans want to milk this situation for all it’s worth…and who the hell thought they wouldn’t??? I’m shocked…shocked…that there aren’t fifty memos like this circulating on Capital Hill right now… But for the same reason that gay hating bigots will say they only hate the sin, the republican leadership would never admit to playing to the extremist theocratic kook pews. Oh no…the culture of life are we… Right.

So the usual suspects in the Mighty Wurlitzer, the grand old smear machine, got going to denounce the memo as a dirty democratic forgery, and the Washington Post reporter who broke the story, as a liar, and who knows, maybe even a democratic liberal communist homosexual to boot. Except…well…

WASHINGTON (AP) ó A one-page unsigned memo that became part of the debate preceding Congress' vote ordering a federal court review of the Terri Schiavo case originated in Florida Republican Sen. Mel Martinez' office, Martinez said Wednesday.

The memo ó first reported by ABC News on March 18 and by The Washington Post and The Associated Press two days later ó said the fight over removing Schiavo's feeding tube "is a great political issue ... and a tough issue for Democrats."

"This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue," said the memo, which was described at the time as being circulated among Senate Republicans.

Martinez told the AP's Matt Yancey and other news organizations in a written statement "he discovered Wednesday that the memo had been written by an aide in his office."

"It is with profound disappointment and regret that I learned today that a senior member of my staff was unilaterally responsible for this document," Martinez said.

Oh, bullshit. Next time he takes a crap, maybe he’ll discover he has an asshole too.

For a good roundup of how the republican smear machine tried to discredit the reporting on the memo, see John Aravosis. Note that the Washington Post’s own Howard Republican Shill Kurtz tried to smear his fellow Post staffer. I have long since stopped wondering how these people can look at themselves in a mirror. Krutz is married to Sheri Annis, a GOP strategist who worked on the the re-election of President Smirking Liar. He knew damn well when he joined in the smear that the memo was geniune. There can be no rational doubt that all the major players in the smear campaign knew the memo was genuine, because they’d all probably seen it before it was leaked. It was written by the leadership for them to read in the first place.

And what do you do when you get caught in one big fat lie? Well…of course… you go on to the next…

Culture Of Life. Family Values. Morality. Mr. President, who’s your favorite philosopher…why Jesus Christ, because he changed my life…

There’s a great scene in The Great Train Robbery (1979), where Edward Pierce (played by Sean Connery) is asked during his trial why he’d done it. It was a daring robbery, and the tabloids were calling him a Robin Hood, that he’d taken a swing at the big railroads, thumbing his nose at them, that he was standing up for the poor, the disenfranchised and so on. Connery looks at his questioner with this marvelous bewhilderment, and says simply “Because I wanted the money.”

If you’re still asking yourself why the republicans are doing it, stop. They want the power. That’s really all there is to it.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Tuesday April 5, 2005

Wish List

I have an Amazon Wish List over on the left. Like most people who have one I know, mine’s mostly a reminder list. It holds things I’d like to buy at some point, but they’re not needed right this minute. They’re things, mostly books and videos, I’d like to have, and would enjoy having, but they’re not on my urgent necessities list. In other words, they’d make swell gifts. But mostly I just buy this and that from the list as I find some spare cash.

I have another wish list, and I’m afraid nobody can buy me the things on it, because they don’t exist. I’d like them to exist. If I saw one of them suddenly become available I’d probably snap it right up in a heartbeat. None of them should be terribly expensive. They’re all things you might expect to find in the pop culture marketplace. Only they’re not there.

The Adventures Of Superman – First and Second Seasons, DVD. The George Reeves TV series on DVD. That is, the black and white broadcasts done before it became so childish I couldn’t even watch it as a child. Some episodes have straggled out here and there, but there really needs to be a completion set. There is a small cult following for the first season, with Phyllis Coates as Lois Lane. Those episodes were more noir, more two-fisted crime fighting then the subsequent episodes with Noel Neill. The stories are darker, the villains more evil. Apparently D.C. comics found them too much for the kiddie audience they were aiming for, and after season one the producer, Robert Maxwell, got the axe and was replaced by Whitney Ellsworth, who turned Maxwells’ hard edged criminal heavies into bumbling kiddy show idiots. But the second season with Noel Neill had it’s bright moments too. Two of the entire series best episodes, Panic In The Sky, and The Clown Who Cried are from that season.

The Adventures Of Superman – Second Season Original Soundtrack. This was actually 1950s canned TV music, from a company called MUTEL, which provided canned music to low budget TV productions. Varese Sarabande Records actually released cues used in the first season, and I really wish they would complete the set with the music cues used in the second. Whoever was doing the music editing on that show really picked exactly the right music for it. For some of us of a certain age, that music, not the John Williams movie score, is what plays in the background when that character comes to mind (and George Reeves will always be Superman). Season two had some very evocative cues that I’d very much like added to my collection of film music.

A side note… I found it really jaw dropping to learn while reading the Sarabande liner notes for the music to season one, that most of the cues were likely (the exact origins are still not known) scored for a documentary film on native Americans. The canned music cues originally came from three movies. The first two were old crime movies, Open Secret and The Guilty. But the third film used, and I quote from the liner notes:

The third score was an absolute whopper - it became the backbone rhythm of Superman's first year. If Phil Spector had teamed up with Stravinsky, Honegger, and Dukas, it would have sounded like the walls of sound on tracks 4, 8-21, and 33-34. The chases were orchestral dynamos with muscular brass, pounding percussion, crashing cymbals, and soaring string lines. The misteriosos stalked and lurched and wandered into dark corners. Wrote Bruce Eder in The Village Voice, "The quiet moments creak and groan like Pink Floyd digesting Saint-Saens, while other sections surge like a Prokofiev ballet in the hands of King Crimson..."

So who wrote this and why does it sound so strange? No one is certain, but the clues point to a score orchestrated by Jack Shaindlin in New York for a documentary concerning American Indians - hence, the tribal-rhythmic chases and thick, struggling battle chords heard throughout Superman's first year. The suspected composer was one of two Shaindlin ghost writers: Lan Adomian, or Richard Mohaupt, a master of orchestral violence. If this rings true, what we've been hearing in Superman all these years are Native American idioms transformed into weird musical shapes by a Prussian modernist, with a whole tone debt to Hindemith, Honegger, and the "Les Six" composers of France.

Those “weird musical shapes” were later digested by a whole slew of old B movie composers. If you have copies of some of those first season Superman episodes, or a good memory, think back and it’s obvious that it was pre 1950s cowboys and indians music you were listening to all that time…which is just amazing because it absolutely worked as superhero crimefighter noir music too. Which just goes to show that a great film score can stand apart from the film it was created to support.

Anyway…back to my list…

The Dark Crystal – Original Soundtrack CD. Why the hell hasn’t this been released to CD by now??? That music is wonderful. I count myself lucky to have the LP version, but I’m scared to death to play it because I don’t want it degrading anymore. They released the score to Labyrinth…why not Dark Crystal?

Run Wild, Run Free – Original Soundtrack CD. From the film adaptation of the novel The White Colt by David Rook. Beautiful evocative music. I wish I had a copy. I have an “original score” lp but it, like most original score products, misses the mark. (read the words “original score” the same way you read the words “food product”)

The Space Explorers – DVD. A favorite cartoon from childhood. Beautiful shots of the planets, taken from an educational film, and what must be the definitive art deco rocketship. Our understanding of the solar system and space travel has changed profoundly since it was made, but I would still like a copy for my library.

The Muppet Show – DVD Seasons 1, 2…ect… I know there are Muppet Show videos out there, but there needs to be a completion set. I hear its in the works, so maybe this can one day go from my wishing it existed wish list, to my I’ll buy it someday wish list. And speaking of the Muppet Show…

Sam And Friends – DVD Jim Henson’s first TV adventure. I remember watching this as a preschool kid living in Washington D.C. What I can still remember of it, still strikes me as funny. Henson’s quirky, gentle sense of humor is something I deeply miss.

Supercar – Original Soundtrack CD At least half the excitement I got as a kid watching the old Gerry Anderson Supermarionation shows came from the music of Barry Gray. There are two Thunderbirds soundtrack sets out there. There needs to be sets from the other shows too, but particularly from Supercar, which had lovely cues that were used and reused throughout the other Anderson shows.

The Complete George Pal Puppetoons – DVD I have a laserdisc collection of the “best of”, but as always, their best of isn’t exactly mine. It got most of them, like Tubby The Tuba and Tulips Shall Grow but there are others I clearly remember that aren’t on it, that I would love to have. A completion set shouldn’t be that big or costly.

Sky King – Season Three DVD. I liked the Cessna C310B Songbird more then the T-50.

Cisco Kid – Seasons 1, 2…ect DVD

Commando Cody – DVD Republic’s black leather rocket jacket guy got his own TV series for a short time. I always wanted one of those things.

Maya – Original Soundtrack CD Great Riz Ortolani score.

Wilhelm Furtwangler – Death And Transfiguration and Tchaikovsky Symphony 6. The 1938 recording with the Berlin Philharmonic of the Tchaikovsky piece and the January 1950 recording with the Vienna Philharmonic of the Richard Strauss piece are regarded as definitive. I agree…nobody I’ve listened to has touched these. So why aren’t they on CD somewhere?

That’s all I can think of for now.

[Update]

Oh yes…

Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea – Season One. The black and white episodes with Henry Kulky and Chief Jones. Special effects Legends LB Abbott, and Howard and Theodore Lydecker did the effects for the series and they made my eyes pop when I was a kid. But after season one the plots just started getting weirder and weirder.

The same effects crew did the work on Lost In Space, and I see that there are sets of seasons one and two of that show now on the shelves. And I reckon I’ll add season one of Lost In Space to my wish list eventually, and not the subsequent seasons. Nobody jumps a shark like Irwin Allen. By the time he got to Time Tunnel, his TV shows were jumping the shark mid season.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Monday April 4, 2005

“…the good are often buried with their bones.”

Jeanne D’Arc on the passing of John Paul II:

I become paralyzed under the weight of all I want to say. That's especially true when I'm dealing with something as paradoxical, and as personally inspiring and distressing, as the the Catholic Church. How much value do I place on a note left at the Wailing Wall, asking forgiveness for centuries of Catholic anti-Semitism and mistreatment, and how much on shoving Pius XII and Anne Catherine Emmerich toward sainthood? How deeply do I value the "preference for the poor," and how angry do I remain over the papal finger waved in Ernesto Cardenal's face? How do I measure the relative weight of of one of the world's most consistent powerful voices against war and economic oppression, and one of the world's loudest voices for repression? I'm not just thinking of the most well-known forms of repression -- the Church's misogyny, its homophobia, its discomfort with anything related to sex. The intellectual repression is equally disturbing, and in the long run, probably more dangerous. Under John Paul II, this Church has renewed and elaborated its tendency to be an intellectual bully, silencing explorers and dissenters.

...

In the meantime, I feel a bit trapped between the bizarre hagiography on CNN which is giving some of the most reactionary elements is the Church (as well as, bizarrely, some of the peculiar brand of Protestant that has been condemning Catholics to hell for generations) the opportunity to craft for public consumption a holy and uncriticizable version of Ronald Reagan, an infallible George Bush, and the understandable hostility coming from some on the left.

You should read the rest. I’ve been waiting to hear that sound of dissonance from Catholics, regarding the apotheosis of John Paul II by the American religious right since the deathwatch began. I know, because I have family located somewhere in that dark and surly landscape, just what the religious right thinks of Catholics, and it is frankly astonishing to witness them singing the praises of a man whose church they routinely call the whore of Babylon.

You walk on thin ice whenever you try to wedge one culture’s understanding of reality into your own. The right loved John Paul II’s gay bashing. When he called same sex marriage a new ideology of evil they had orgasms. They loved his crackdown on intellectuals and humanist priests. They’ve been dancing in the ashes of liberation theology ever since John Paul II wagged his finger at Ernesto Cardenal. Oh, they loved him…when he helped in the neverending struggle against liberty and justice for all. He was useful in his own way. But the Catholic right is not the protestant right, and especially not the American protestant right. All that applause John Paul II is getting now from the kook pews, is coming from people who fully expect to have orchestra seating at the second coming, while watching Jesus hurl every Catholic on the face of the earth into the lake of fire, right along with the jews, the gays, the feminists, the intellectuals and all the other heretics. They’ll applaud that too.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Corrections…

Sorry about the confusion last night, for those of you who tried to read the new cartoon from the beginning. I needed to upload a corrected page two and forgot. It’s up now. You can start at the beginning here, or if you’ve already seen the first two pages, you can go directly to page three here.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Sunday April 3, 2005

Page 3 – In Which Our Seventeen Year Old Hero Investigates The Dark Underbelly Of Adulthood In Suburban Washington D.C., Circa 1971.

Page three of my five page cartoon is up.

If you haven’t read the previous two pages, you can start at the beginning here.

Pages four and five really go together, so I’m going to make a big effort to finish the cartoon by next Monday. Thing is, I have a major class project to finish next Sunday too. So it may be late Monday by the time the last pages go up. But stay tuned…

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Happy Loose An Hour Of Sleep Day

You did set your clock forward…right? Sleepyhead.

Now Find Me Someone Who’ll Give Me The Quote I Want

Via Atrios, via Crooked Timber, the New York Times shows you how your news media writes stories about important matters (it’s like making sausage, only more disgusting):

Even as his own voice faded away, his views on the sanctity of all human life echoed unambiguously among Catholics and Christian evangelicals in the United States on issues from abortion to the end of life.

need some quote from supporter

John Paul II's admirers were as passionate as his detractors, for whom his long illness served as a symbol for what they said was a decrepit, tradition-bound papacy in need of rejuvenation and a bolder connection with modern life.

They’ve fixed it by now, but you can see the original here.

John Paul II was good for one thing and one thing only, and that was proving finally, and for all time, that a passionate anti-communist isn’t necessarily passionately anti-communist because they’re passionately pro-liberty and justice. Kinda like the war on terrorism and Islamic militancy, isn’t actually about defending liberty, democracy and the power of reason over dogma.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Friday April 1, 2005

Busy…busy…busy…

Expect lite to no posting over the weekend as I have two class assignments to turn in plus page three of my cartoon to finish. I can do it, but it’s gonna be a full weekend of work doing it. Luckly (or not) the weather for the weekend looks perfectly awful, so I won’t be tempted into going on any short drives with my new car.

I need to plug Raw Story onto my web site list on the left. I’m hitting it more and more lately, as it’s a great source of news and information, usually distilled from many sources, that you either don’t find in the mainstream media, or can only find if you’re willing to dig beyond the crap they usually put on the front page anymore. The Raw Story front page automatically refreshes every so often, so if you’re like me and you work in front of a computer nearly all day long, you can leave it up in the background and check it from time to time for the latest.

And…can someone please stuff a sock in these people’s mouths…?

Ind. Business Told to Hide Nude Statues

Edinburgh, Ind. (AP)

The Venus de Milo had better wear a top and Michelangelo's David should put on some pants if they're going to be seen at a yard art business.

Bartholomew County officials told the business near Interstate 65 that it must move cement copies of the classical statues - and about 10 others - out of public view because they are obscene under Indiana law.

"It's not fair to point out our business, and personally, I don't find them offensive," Ginger Streeval, a co-owner of White River Truck Repair and Yard Art, told the Daily Journal of Franklin for a story Wednesday.

Frank Butler, the county's zoning inspector, disagreed.

"They have nudity ... and that should not be in the view of a minor," he said.

Indiana's obscenity law prohibits the display of nudity where children might see it, he said.

The law also stipulates that such material is harmful for minors if, "considered as a whole, it lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors."

The sheriff's department and zoning officials cracked down on the business about 25 miles south of Indianapolis after receiving two complaints about the statues.

But Ken Falk, legal director for the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, said nudity has been part of art for hundreds of years and that using nudity to define obscenity could raise serious constitutional questions.

"Just because something is nude doesn't mean it's obscene," he said. "If that were the case, most Renaissance art would have to be put into back rooms or hidden."

It’s not the nudity, it’s the beauty that offends them. It’s not seeing beauty in the human body, but seeing it in the human, that offends them. Can somebody please close the grate on whatever sewer these people are crawling out of? Please?

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Thursday March 31, 2005

Department Of Hoary Rhetoric

Today’s example comes from spawn of the University Of (surprise, surprise…) Texas:

I'm a word snob. Working with words all the time has made me sensitive to what words mean and when they are used -- or not used -- properly.

I'll correct myself in the middle of a conversation, much to the annoyance of the other people involved, and I sometimes have to bite my tongue to stop from correcting others, which really is not a great way to make friends.

However, I can't help but notice that so many words used today have no meaning whatsoever. They're just filler -- not filler like the "ums" and "uhs" for which your public speaking teacher counts off, but filler that has taken the place of actual real words that have a purpose.

Those meaningless words, and the lack of care put into our language, are slowly forcing it into the toilet.

...

Gay used to mean happy, cheerful and light-hearted. The dictionary still has that definition, but now the connotation for gay is somewhat less light-hearted and somewhat more homosexual.

Gosh, I know the feeling Heidi. I can remember when the words Family and Values actually meant Family and Values and not Let’s All Hate The Homos.

I'm actually angry about this.

Why? Because language is what I do. Words are my paint, language my pallet.

Your paint? Your pallet? Grow up. No…wait… Grow the Fuck up:

Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands and goes to work.
-Carl Sandburg

Word.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Wednesday March 30, 2005

The Hunger For Strange Fruit

Why is it not surprising that this guy is a republican?

(Columbia) - In a meeting Tuesday, South Carolina senators were discussing whether or not to go ahead and vote on a ban on same sex marriages or hold a public hearing first. In the middle of that discussion, Republican Senator Luke Rankin of Horry County, quoting another lawmaker, made the comment, "Let them have a fair hearing, then hang them."

It was a comment that caused quite a stir in the meeting and in the gay and lesbian community.

I’ll bet it did. And I’ll bet it got a few laughs from his fellow republicans too. I’ll bet they haven’t lost their taste for Strange Fruit down there.

by Bruce Garrett | Link

Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


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