Bruce Garrett Cartoon
The Cartoon Gallery

A Coming Out Story
A Coming Out Story

My Photo Galleries
New and Improved!

Past Web Logs
The Story So Far archives

My Amazon.Com Wish List

My Myspace Profile

Bruce Garrett's Profile
Bruce Garrett's Facebook profile


Blogs I Read!
A Tenable Belief
(Steve Boese)


A Brooklyn Bridge

Alicublog

Wayne Besen

Box Turtle Bulletin

Cherry Blossom Special (E.J)

Daily Kos

Mike Daisy's Blog

The Disney Blog

Disney Gossip

Brad DeLong

Demagogue

Dispatches From The Culture Wars

Egregious Moderation

Epcot Explorer's Encyclopedia

Envisioning The American Dream

Eschaton

Ex-Gay Watch

Hullabaloo

Joe. My. God

Made In Brazil

Pam's House Blend

Peterson Toscano

Progress City USA

Slacktivist

Slacktiverse

SLOG

Some Guys Are Normal

Straight, Not Narrow

TBogg

Fear the wrath of Sparky!

Truth Wins Out Blog

Wil Wheaton

James Wolcott




Gone But Not Forgotten

The Rittenhouse Review

Steve Gilliard's News Blog

Steve Gilliard's Blogspot Site



Great Cartoon Sites!

Howard Cruse Central

XKCD

Scandinavia And The World

Dope Rider

Willie Hewes

The World Of Kirk Anderson

Ann Telnaes' Cartoon Site

Ted Rall

Bors Blog

John K

Penny Arcade

Friendly Hostility

Downstairs Apartment




Other News & Commentary

365 Gay
(GLBT News)


All Facts & Opinions

Baltimore Crime

Cursor

HinesSight

Page One Q
(GLBT News)


Michelangelo Signorile

The Smirking Chimp

Talking Points Memo

Truth Wins Out

The Raw Story

Slashdot




International News & Views

BBC

NIS News Bulletin (Dutch)

Mexico Daily

The Local (Sweden)




News & Views from Germany

Spiegel Online

The Local

Deutsche Welle

Young Germany




Fun Stuff

It's not news. It's FARK

Plan 59

Pleasant Family Shopping

Discount Stores of the 60s

Retrospace

Photos of the Forgotten

Boom-Pop!

Comics With Problems

HMK Mystery Streams




Mercedes Love!

Mercedes-Benz USA

Mercedes-Benz TV

Mercedes-Benz Owners Club of America

MBCA - Greater Washington Section

BenzInsider

Mercedes-Benz Blog

BenzWorld Forum

October 29th, 2014

Come, Let Us Reason Together. No…Not You…

The Southern Baptists are still trying to figure out what to do about The Homosexual Menace

ERLIC Conference On Homosexuality

The Christian Post is reporting that there has been plenty of healthy and outspoken debate on the issue of “the homosexual lifestyle” at a conference hosted by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Commission in Nashville. Much of the debate has taken place on Twitter (#ERLC2014).

The conference is live streaming.

The Christian Post describes it as a conference to address “…how Christians should react to the ongoing battle between those framing the homosexual lifestyle debate as a civil rights issue and those supporting what they believe to be biblical moral values, including traditional marriage…” Oh…is that what it’s all about is it?  Guess who was invited…

And guess who wasn’t…

As the Christian Post would have you see it, the conference attracted “plenty of fireworks” mostly on “social media”.  But Theocrat In Chief  and Baptist Pope in Waiting Richard Land stood firm…

“The gay community is never going to find the Evangelical response satisfactory because we’re not going to accept their behavior.”

Their behavior.  Their behavior.  Their behavior. Still can’t see the people for the homosexuals can you Richard.  And you never will.  But is that “the Evangelical response” or is it simply the knee jerk dance of the irredeemable bigot? You lost this fight decades ago Richard. Those voices outside the doors Richard…do you hear the people sing…?

Back before there was a commercially open Internet…back in the stone knives and bear skins days of DOS PCs, 800 baud Modems and dial up BBS systems, I saw the world change right before my eyes. Before home computers had powerful multi-tasking operating systems, back when 640k of system ram was considered more than most people would ever need or use, little computer bulletin board systems sprang up everywhere. At first, they just connected the people in their local dialing area. Then in the mid 1980s some of them banded together into an amateur computer network called FidoNet.  Back in those days I was on a local BBS system that had a gay Fidonet echomail board called Gaylink. It had participating BBS systems on it all over the world. I had an uncle back then who was a HAM radio operator. He kept trying to interest me in taking up the hobby, telling me about all the people all over the world he was able to communicate with via shortwave radio.  And I kept trying to tell him about all the people all over the world I was communicating with via FidoNet. The world was changing before my eyes.  Still, as a young gay man, I knew there were things that would never change.  And then they did.

Gaylink was mostly a social forum. We chatted about this and that…a little politics, a little dishing. It never really got very serious. One day a message from a BBS in the Netherlands appeared. It was short and to the point:

I’m 14 years old. I think I might be gay but I’m not sure. How did you know about yourself? What was it like?

And from literally all over the world this kid began getting coming out stories. Not the one where you come out to family and friends. The one where you come out to yourself.

Some of them were painful to read. Some were hopeful. Some were amazingly nonchalant. There were folks whose parents disowned them. There were others whose parents completely accepted them. Some people struggled for years with it. Others seemed to have always known and accepted it. There was romance. There was heartbreak. I sat down and for the first time ever, really thought about my own experience coming to terms with my sexual orientation and wrote it down for this kid and the whole world to see. And I could sense that something…wonderful…was happening.

It went on for two weeks. We never heard a peep from the kid throughout that entire time. And the stories, from all over the world, from people in all walks of life, just kept coming and coming. We all began talking to each other, seeing common threads in our lives that we all had, which set us apart from the heterosexual majority. Seeing those things that made each of us unique and at the same time those things we all seemed to share, no matter where we lived, no matter what culture we were raised in. Then the kid spoke up one last time:

Thank you. You’ve all given me a lot to think about.

That was it. We never heard another word from him. Maybe we gave him what he needed to accept himself. Maybe he was just confused about his own awakening sexuality, and what it meant to be homosexual. At that age, who knows? Maybe he wasn’t what he represented himself to be. That was as easy then as it is now. But as I watched that event unfold I realized that there had to also be hundreds of others, maybe even thousands, all over the world, generation upon generation, watching that conversation, hungry for those same answers to that kid’s question.  And I saw it then, what this new technology could do for us as a people. We no longer had to see ourselves through heterosexual eyes.

Now look at this again…

But they have their voices now.  And they will use them. We will speak our truths to the world, and we will be heard. Weep for the old days Richard Land, when you could tell us lies about ourselves from the pulpit you were thumping and we believed them because yours was the only voice we could hear. They are gone. You kept gay voices out of your conference, but you couldn’t silence them outside of it. And that is the reality bigots like you have had to deal with for decades now, since all there was for an online social space were the first primitive personal computers and some modems. Your song and dance took place, fittingly, at the Opryland Hotel. An actual conference was held in the virtual street outside. You can keep gay voices out of your church. You can keep them out of your theology. But you can’t keep them in the closet. Not anymore.

by Bruce | Link | React!
October 16th, 2014

Don’t Hate Me Because I Disagree With Your Right To Exist.

disagreement

 

Yesterday after work I got into some old color slides I’d previously scanned in of a picnic I’d been to back in the late 80s with other members of a gay BBS system, and posted them to my Facebook stream. A bunch of folks in my friends list who were there, and their friends because I’d made the photos seeable to friends of friends, chimed in with details on faces I didn’t recognise and reminisces. Many reminisces. Some folks in the photos had passed away and we remember them.  The rest of us had merely aged a tad and we remembered how it was back in the day when we were young. And for a wonderful few moments of life we could all be people. Just a bunch of folks remembering a lovely picnic we’d all once had together once upon a time. Thankfully those moments aren’t now as few and far between as they were that day back in 1989 when we had our picnic.

This morning I see this fragrant old crap from Bristol Palin in my Facebook stream…probably bellyaching about the fact that same sex couples in Alaska can get married now, just like the opposite sex couples do…and I have to remember that the human gutter still can’t see the people for the homosexuals, still regards all the decades it spent kicking us in the face as a mere disagreement, something we should all just take in neighborly stride.

Yes, we hurled every filthy lie about you we could manage during the Proposition 8 campaign, but you shouldn’t be so mean and hateful to us. Yes, for decades we’ve waged a multi million dollar scorched earth political campaign to deny you equal rights, smearing you as child molesters, destroyers of the family and civilization and spreaders of disease and social decay, but you shouldn’t be so mean and hateful to us. Yes we’ve incited violent religious passions against you here in the U.S. and now since that act is folding here, in Africa and Russia, where we tell anyone who will listen that homosexuals want to rape their children and destroy their families and their countries, and wherever we go we do our level best to see to it that gay people are brutalized, beaten and murdered, but you shouldn’t be so mean and hateful to us because after all we are only disagreeing with your lifestyle. We have a right to disagree with your lifestyle.

Fine. We have a right to our lives. Understand this you pathetic bigots, bullies and cowards, the days when we suffered in silence in the closet are over. Those photos I posted to share among some old friends weren’t just a bunch of homosexuals having a picnic; they were photos of a bunch of homosexuals who were using the emerging computer technologies to reach out to one another. And the day we started doing that was the day we no longer had to see ourselves through heterosexual eyes anymore.

I remember that transition time vividly. When I came out to myself back in December of 1971, everything I knew about homosexuals and homosexuality I’d learned from the heterosexual majority. Then came PCs and modems and in a heartbeat that all changed and we could talk to each other, could see ourselves for the human beings we actually were, not the monsters we were taught we were. And we stopped listening to the likes of you.

You think it’s hateful of us to stand up for our own human dignity do you? Well we’ll just have to agree to disagree about that. Now fuck off!

by Bruce | Link | React!
October 6th, 2014

“What Did You Expect?” Asked The Scorpion

This came across my news stream the other day…

How Being Gay ‘Decimated’ This Man’s Life Savings

It relates the story of a gay man who took a new job and moved his spouse and their teenage son from a good home in Massachusetts to Nebraska, where there are precisely zero protections for gay people.  He went into it thinking it was a dream come true job. The company recruiter had assured him that the company was “very affirming”.  But the problems began almost the instant they settled into their new home and he into his new job. It was a disaster, financially and emotionally. Now you may wonder why any gay person would leave Massachusetts for Nebraska and expect to be treated like anything other than human garbage. Certainly the company lawyer did…

One day, after losing his job, Paul heard from the company’s lawyer, who asked him the same question that his boss had already raised. “‘What did you think was going to happen in this community?’” Paul recalls the lawyer saying. “‘We’re a Republican town, we’re a conservative town and we’re a Christian town.’”

Not exactly what the recruiter told him, but they probably approach their jobs a bit differently.

Let this man’s story be a warning. Regardless of what you are told, regardless of how friendly they may seem, if the place they want you to move to is homophobic and the company calls that place home, no matter how good the offer looks, take a walk.

One other thing: Read that company lawyer’s spiel again. We’re a Republican town, we’re a conservative town and we’re a Christian town. When someone complains about republicans, conservatives, and Christians being called bigots, laugh in their face and tell them you’re only reading what’s on the label they’re proudly wearing.

 

by Bruce | Link | React!
September 30th, 2014

Gaining A Body, While Losing A Heart

This came across my Facebook stream this morning…

Another Year of Decline for U.S. United Methodists

Unfortunately, 2013’s picture is no different from previous years: the vast majority of annual conferences are in a membership and attendance decline.

This is written from a religious conservative point of view, so it’s unsurprising they see the decline of the progressive churches in the denomination as validation of their stand against the homosexual menace. But look closer, at what the self assured fail to see right in front of their noses…

It’s hard not to look at the list of fastest declining annual conferences in light of the continuing debates over Scriptural authority and sexual morality within the United Methodist Church. Of the 16 fast-declining conferences listed above (excluding Rio Grande’s unusual circumstances), at least 12 have passed resolutions at recent annual conference sessions stating their support of the LGBTQ movement, and another (Alaska) belongs to a jurisdiction that has done the same. Meanwhile large and growing UM annual conferences have overwhelmingly rejected such resolutions.

And there it is…“passed resolutions”.  Oh they did, did they?  Yes, and that’s all those churches Could do for their LGBT members and their families and friends…pass resolutions. They can’t marry the same-sex couples within them. They can’t allow their gay members to fully participate in church life. So the people of conscience in them are leaving. But note that this isn’t conservatives leaving liberal congregations, that’s people leaving Methodism because they can’t in good conscience stay.

Yes, yes…some conservatives in those churches may also be moving to other congregations more in tune with their bar stool prejudices, but that can’t explain the numbers you see there. What’s happening is people in more liberal parts of the country are leaving the denomination itself.  And it goes further…

“Nones” on the Rise

The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.

That’s an article from October 2012, but more recent Pew polling finds the trend continuing. Look here…

…many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37%), and one-in-five (21%) say they pray every day. In addition, most religiously unaffiliated Americans think that churches and other religious institutions benefit society by strengthening community bonds and aiding the poor.

With few exceptions, though, the unaffiliated say they are not looking for a religion that would be right for them. Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics…

And over and over again what you see triggering this abandoning of organized religion is distress over the way churches are treating women and gay people. And in denominations structured in a rigid top down hierarchy, that distress is going to be most pronounced in the progressive congregations that can do nothing except utter polite words of protest. Unlike denominations such as Baptists (I was raised in a Baptist household), they can do nothing other than appeal to the conscience of the powers that be. But that tomb is sealed. Or…they can walk out the door.  And maybe just keep going.  But for people raised in those churches, that can be a horribly traumatic experience. Like the wounded survivors of a bitter divorce, they’re deeply reluctant to go back to the altar.  More and more people, especially young people, seeing the cheapshit prejudices of their neighbors being cloaked in and even validated by their religions, find themselves not only on the other side of the church door, but questioning the whole christianity/religion thing.

So there is an overall decline in religiosity happening now in America and the west, even as the conservative churches gain membership. That isn’t growth, it’s hardening of the arteries.  Of course the more conservative churches are holding onto, or even growing membership: they’re fine with the law the hierarchy is laying down on those matters.  Some of the commenters in that article above seem to realize this and they’re fine with that. They want the progressives out. They may get their wish. But the ones that go, whether they remain Christians or not, will eventually find there is a richer, more deeply spiritual life to be lived out in the world, than inside a tomb.

by Bruce | Link | React!
September 24th, 2014

Let’s Be Real…

Native American poet and author Sherman Alexie (Reservation Blues, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven) tweeted this earlier today…

@Sherman_Alexie: When someone says “Don’t overthink things” they mean “I’m worried that my entire life is a lie.”

Not sure what happened to him to make him make that observation, but I know what happened to me.

by Bruce | Link | React!
September 22nd, 2014

Insomnia TV Theater

I popped awake around 3am this morning and eventually wandered downstairs and flipped on the TV.  God I love MeTV.  Some of the old shows I used to watch as a kid I never really got when I was that young.  One of those was Route 66, which is just amazing to watch now that I’m older and been around the block a few times.

This morning’s episode was titled “Love Is A Skinny Kid”, which is from a line of dialogue that will probably haunt me to my grave.  Buz and Tod find themselves in a small Texas town when a young woman wearing a very disturbing Japanese Kabuki mask gets off a bus. She burns a doll on a stake in front of someone’s house, and a crowd gathers and the local sheriff takes her into custody. Then the following exchange happens between Buz and Tod…

Buz: I can still smell it.

Tod: Mm-hm.

Buz: No, I mean the hate. That girl — she hates so hard it came right through the mask. You know what I mean?

Tod: No, I’m not sure I do.

Buz: I guess you gotta be around it the way I used to be. It’s like … malaria. One sniff of it, it comes right back. You can forget anything, except … hate.

Tod: What about the little item that makes the world go ’round?

Buz: Love? Love’s a … a skinny kid, that can catch cold and die, from just standing outside a locked door, begging to come in. But hate … now that’s a tiger in the hall. Hot or cold, it busts in, chomps out a piece. And it never grows back.

Wow… Just…wow…  Some of those early TV shows had some amazing writers working for them. And actors. That episode, in addition to regulars Martin Milner and George Maharis, also had Burt Reynolds, Tuesday Weld, Veronica Cartwright and Cloris Leachman in it. All of them gave amazing performances. But the writing…I never really appreciated it…couldn’t have back when I was a kid. That line, Love’s a skinny kid that can catch cold and die from just standing outside a locked door, begging to come in…But hate…  It will haunt me forever.

skinny kid mask

by Bruce | Link | React!
September 14th, 2014

Message In A Bottle…

To whom it may concern…

Thank you for giving me permission to stick to my script for A Coming Out Story as I originally wrote it.

Also for some much needed motivation to get working on it again!

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
September 3rd, 2014

Renewable Energy Is A Good Thing…Pouring Sludge Into My Car’s Engine, Not So Much…

Link to this post here on my blog about the problems with running biodiesel in modern diesel automobiles, from a MB Sprinter owners forum, leads me to this MB fact sheet (PDF document).

Biodiesel Information for Mercedes-Benz Vehicles 2014 Edition

I had a brief argument with a guy in Kansas about all this. The problem here is the religious zeal of the ideology behind it. Weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels is a Good Thing. Mandating bio fuels without regard for what they’ll do to modern engines isn’t getting us there if what people experience is catastrophic engine failure and massive repair bills.  Two winters ago, before taking the drive out to California in my new ‘E’ class diesel, I worried about what I was hearing regarding the proliferation of biodiesel my car can’t drink. What I was told by a mechanic at a Mercedes dealership, was I could always get pure petroleum diesel at an oil company owned filling station because that was all they sold. Truck stops and independently owned filling stations might sell bio, but the oil company ones didn’t. Now the oil companies are not very high on my list of things I approve of, but I found this to be a big relief.  Not any more.  Several states have apparently now mandated at least B10 only, everywhere.  I suspect paying for the repairs to people’s engines when a steady diet of B10 has completely trashed them, let alone paying owners for the lost value of their automobiles, because basically those states have made all the passenger car diesels that can’t take that fuel worthless, isn’t in the cards.

There’s a lot of bullshit going on here in the biodiesel camp, and a lot of deliberate misrepresentation of what some diesel automobile makers are saying. In the above document Daimler makes it abundantly clear that they do Not approve biodiesel in their vehicles in percentages above B5, and even then only those biodiesel blends that meet ULSD specification ASTM D975. The document says straight up: “Diesel fuels between B6 and B20 or higher pose risks of engine and fuel system damage, and are not approved by Mercedes-Benz.”

I don’t know how you can interpret that as “Mercedes approves B20 so long as you keep an eye on the oil level” but that is what some people are saying glassy eyed on that MB Sprinter forum. No…what they are saying is if you can’t avoid using diesel higher than B5 (thank you jackass state legislatures!) then here is what you can do to minimize the risk of damage to your engine:

• Fill up with ULSD (B5 or less) whenever possible, from a name–brand fuel station.
• Regularly monitor your engine oil level if you have to use B20 fuel. (this is because biodiesel has a tendency to accumulate in the crankcase oil)
• Strictly follow the oil change intervals quoted in the instrument cluster and within your maintenance booklet, and use
ONLY engine oils and filters approved by Mercedes-Benz for use in the vehicle.
• If you do not plan to drive your vehicle for several weeks, fill your vehicle’s fuel tank completely in advance with ULSD
fuel. (this is because biodiesel has a tendency to sludge up when it just sits in the tank for not very long periods of time. Even the states mandating B10 or higher are saying during the winter months filling stations can sell B5 because it does not have the cold weather sludge characteristics higher percentage biodiesel blends do.)

That does not constitute approval of B10-B20, it only acknowledges a problem they have no control over…the one H.L. Mencken noted when he said that an idealist is someone who, noticing a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes it will also make a better soup.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
August 26th, 2014

Message In A Bottle…

Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.
If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.
Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements;
lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.
But in that coffin – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change.

It will not be broken, it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.
The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation.  -C.S. Lewis

Real, that.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
August 19th, 2014

You Should Wonder About This From Time To Time…

Walking in to work this morning, I came across a small and very old woman trying hard to push her loaded grocery cart across the street before the light changed. She didn’t make it, so I stood out in the street and waved oncoming traffic around her. She looked to be going from the big new Giant into the rowhouse neighborhood just down the street from that intersection which wasn’t too far for her to go. But at that age nobody moves very fast either.

She began struggling to get her grocery cart up over the curb and onto the sidewalk and I walked over to help her.  It took me back years.

I was raised by a single working mother, and grew up in a household that couldn’t afford a car until I was well into my teens.  One of my duties as the “man of the house” was pushing the loaded grocery cart back home from the store a couple miles away. It wasn’t difficult, not even for a young boy. If you balanced the load just right on the wheels once you got it moving it was pretty much easy to keep it moving.

foldable_shopping_cart

When I was 7 or 8 and I would look down at the wheels and pretend I was driving a car.

Nowadays the grocery carts have four wheels on them.  I suppose that’s for older people like the lady I was helping just then, who couldn’t always keep a two wheeled cart balanced. We struggled together getting her cart up off the road and onto the sidewalk, she had the thing pretty well full. I’m guessing it was her food for the next couple weeks. But we got it up and she thanked me and went on her way, happy I hope to see a little politeness still left in the world.

I looked up. The light had turned red again and a city police car was stopped right there at the crosswalk. The cop inside was looking at me, smiled and nodded and I smiled back and went on my way. I suppose it does the police good to see people actually helping each other out from time to time too.

…and then I wondered what would have happened had I been a young black male and he saw me and that old woman struggling there with that grocery cart.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
August 13th, 2014

The Gutter Speaks…

“He had it all, but he had nothing. He made everybody else laugh but was miserable inside. I mean, it fits a certain picture, or a certain image that the left has. Talk about low expectations and general happiness and so forth…”  - Rush Limbaugh on the death of Robin Williams.

I would rather suffer the burden Robin Williams had and let it beat me down like it did him, than endure that empty void Limbaugh has where a conscience ought to be and let it put a smile on my face while it tells me I’m so much better than all those bleeding hearts.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
August 12th, 2014

Depression, Madness, And Those Of Us Who Slip Between The Fingers Of Concern

It’s not often another story of celebrity death makes me feel like the floor went out from under me, but that’s what news of Robin William’s death by suicide did.  I was heartbroken in that instant, as were a lot of people. The word “celebrity” demeans someone like him. He was an artist, an actor, a tremendous creative talent. He could be the gifted stage comic, the manic genie in Disney’s Aladdin, and then you look and he’s the evil Walter Finch in Insomnia, and then you look again and he’s John Keating in Dead Poets Society, and then you look again and he’s Peter Pan.

Williams it seems, was battling depression.  I follow a bunch of very talented and creative people on Facebook and Twitter who are also battling depression. That’s, the clinical depression, which is a thing unlike those bouts of sadness and loneliness and loss we all face at one time or another in our lives. It’s a thing, a real medical clinical thing. People who experience it speak of it as a gray cloud that hangs over everything and never goes away. They say it sucks the energy and joy out of everything.  I have had my moments of grief, I’ve had it so bad I’ve stood at the threshold of suicide myself many times. But it’s never been like that. And what comforts me as I walk into old age and I find myself standing at that threshold once again is I’ve seen the darkness come and go over and over and over again and I know from experience that sooner or later It Will Go Away, and I just have to keep walking through it.  So I am told, it’s not like that when you have clinical depression.  For those folks, that gray cloud never goes away, at least not without medication. I know I can always count on time making mine go away.  But I also know how easy it is for people like me to lose our balance, and fall into a pit we may or may not get back out of in time.

The writer David Gerrold wrote this on Facebook the other day…

I don’t know the details of what Robin Williams was dealing with and I won’t speculate.

I do know that when you have a mind that works that fast and makes that kind of connections, flashing from moment to moment, assembling new pieces out of fragments of old experiences, it’s exhausting.

Sometimes my mind does that, all the circuits firing at once, and it shows up in stories — and leaves me emotionally drained, sometimes for days. It’s hard to live inside a brain that active. (And no, I’m not comparing myself to Williams, I’m only noticing my own experiences and extrapolating from there.)

He gets it. Whenever someone so creative and talented kills themselves, you will always hear a bunch of people saying, to the effect, that madness and genius go hand in hand.  I can’t begin to tell you how much I hate hearing that.  I’m not about to wrap myself in the robes of ‘genius’ by any means.  I don’t even like the concept of a single measure of intelligence.  I think there are a lot of different kinds of intelligence.  And I always flinch at calling myself an artist.  But I am.  There are many kinds of artist too.  Some of us paint and draw.  Some of us do photography, or music, or act.  We are writers and poets.  Some of us pursue the engineering arts. And it isn’t madness we have, it’s brains that contain a whirlwind…flashes of insight, connections, moment to moment, all firing at once.  Constantly.  Someone on Facebook I follow posted a graphic with the message on it that, (recalling it from memory) to understand how having a creative mind feels, imagine you’re a browser and you have 2,868 tabs open all at once.

Williams had that.  He had to given that amazing, wonderful ability he had to mentally jump from one random connection to the next on stage So Quickly.  He had to have that whirlwind going on inside. You could see it. It just delighted you.  And you could see it delighting him even as he was doing it.  It’s not madness, it’s art. I don’t know that this necessarily makes you unstable, but I know from my own experience how vulnerable it can leave you if you don’t have something to anchor you, something…someone…to always bring you back home.

For the artist depression has to be an even bigger hazard, one that multiplies the risk you already have of losing your balance if you’ve already got those 2,868 tabs open. I’ve never had that overarching clinical depression, so I wouldn’t know. All I’ve ever been is sad. Just…very very sad. But I know what it’s like living with a furious mental cascade that just won’t stop unless you apply some chemical brakes and getting lost in it is oh so easy and losing your balance…maybe it was sadness, maybe it was some sudden crisis that came out of nowhere…and then the whirlwind in your mind throws you into a place you may or may not make it back out of.

This is why a lot of us end up not as suicides but as overdoses. The lucky ones have that anchor. Others, too afraid of the overdose or blessed like me with bodies too timid to handle a lot of drugs without getting violently sick long before the overdose can even get close, dive into their work as a substitute for the anchor, the home, the place of rest. I know how that is too. But when work becomes less a passion and more a crutch then it can have the same effect as drugs in that it allows you to deny and ignore the central problem in your life until that one moment when the crutch can’t bear the weight and it snaps and there you are and you’re on your way to the bottom of a pit and you can’t stop falling.

Bunch of highly talented and creative people I follow who’ve been open about their fight with clinical depression, are feeling very sad now for Williams, but also afraid for themselves. If he lost the fight, then what chance do I have?  They need to be told the are loved, and cherished, and not alone in their fight.  I’m afraid of a different thing. I don’t have a fight with depression. I have a fight with a hoary old stereotype about artists and madness that I am convinced is getting  a lot of us killed too. You can call what our brains do to us madness I suppose, but it adds a little something to the world, and the thing is, we don’t have to get lost in it.  We just don’t.  The problem is people seem to think we’re supposed to. It’s part of the deal.

The shooting star. The one who lived so miserably and died so tragically, but oh look at all the wonderful things they left behind for the rest of us to enjoy!  We don’t all suffer from depression, but we could all use a little sympathy too, and a little help.  Because that inner whirlwind makes it hard to find that anchor, that intimate other, or others, who can see what the others can’t because they’re used to you behaving like you’re not quite all there, that that can see that you’re losing your balance, and seeing it, can take you by the hand to that place of peace and quiet you need to be in to get it back.

I know from experience that when I get lost in a whirlwind of grief or loneliness or sadness I can just wait it out.  But I also know that it’s not a sure thing.  I have come so very close to it.  One of these days you might find yourself reading right here about the one time I couldn’t walk myself out of it.  I told my brother once that if I died alone and especially if it was by my own hand, I wanted him to burn everything…all the artwork, all the photography.  I was at a point in my life where it sickened me to think of people enjoying the artistic spoils of my miserable life.  He flat out refused, and I’ve moved on to a place where I don’t care anymore.

what-is-a-human-being

[Edited a tad...]

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)
August 11th, 2014

Life’s Little Ironies Only A Gay Person Of A Certain Age Will Fully Appreciate…

#1: Having “Dude, Get Real!” hurled at you by someone who will probably be buried in his closet because not even the Grim Reaper will be able to pry him out of it.

you wish

…collect the entire series!

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
August 5th, 2014

One Person’s Fountain Of Youth Is Another’s Fountain Of Old

I follow I Facebook group devoted to “classic” TV shows.  This photo came across that stream this morning…

goodnight chet-sm

Techno geek that I am, the first thing I latched onto was the TV camera. Just look at it. It’s friggin’ Huge. And it was probably only capable of capturing video in black & white. That gatling gun lens mount is what they used to adjust the field of view before zoom lenses became a thing. The tripod it’s on gives a hint of how heavy it was.

I should feel so terribly old looking at this but I don’t. What I feel is Ha! I can record better video from the little hand held device in my pocket than that hulking monstrosity could and transmit it to the entire world from just about anywhere I happen to be standing.  I’m sixty years old now, and something I’ve noticed is that progress makes some people feel old while it leaves others always feeling young…

…because you’re always having to learn new sh*t! All this time I’ve been attributing that constant twenty-ish mindset I have to a state of arrested development and that’s not it. It isn’t that I never grew up, it’s that I never got tired of growing up.

And that’s the way it is.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
August 4th, 2014

The Militant Homosexual I Became Was Nurtured By Hollywood’s Homosexual

A friend on Facebook turned me onto this…

vito_documentary

I have both editions of “The Celluloid Closet” published while he was still with us. If any one thing could have been said to have radicalized my attitudes toward gay equality it was this one, even more so than “And The Band Played On”.  The book opens with a story about how a gay friend of his was telling another gay friend about a new movie that had a gay character in it, and the other friend immediately asks how the character dies. In a nutshell, that’s how it was.

I ordered the DVD of Vito and it came Friday and I had housework to do so it just sat for a while. Last night before bed I watched the first two thirds of it. It filled in a lot of blanks for me because I only knew of Vito Russo from his groundbreaking film history The Celluloid Closet. I didn’t know, but I should have guessed, how the activist predated the historian. The part showing him struggling to pull together all the hidden threads of our presence in the movies really brought back home to me that sense of isolation and cultural invisibility I hadn’t felt in decades.

Back in the 1970s, that homosexual characters were occasionally included in movies, either for laughs if they were flaming sissies or as the embodiment of unnatural evil, was something probably everyone knew. Russo was the first person to actually gather all the pieces together, all the little walk on toss off parts along with the major roles, all the sissies, all the evil psychos, all the tragically dammed, and look at all critically.  And the book he produced hit gay people everywhere who read it like a ton of bricks, because you knew the scapegoating and stereotyping weren’t just how your heterosexual neighbors were taught to look at you, but also how you were taught to see yourself.  Heterosexuals could dream of the happily ever after, could see that dream on the silver screen, could picture themselves there, having that life, or something like it.  Hollywood flushed our dreams into the sewer from the moment we first walked into a movie house.  We weren’t lovers, we were sissies, we were dangerous sexual psychopaths, we were the butt of dirty jokes, we were the personification of unnatural evil, we were pathetic, we were terrifying, we were not human. But you really didn’t see it all that clearly because the one thing we were most of all was something not to be discussed in public among decent normal people.

Then Vito Russo gathered it all together and put it in front of us.  And it just took your breath away…to see it all there, laid out in front of you.

And it made you angry…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off
Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


    What I'm Currently Reading...




    What I'm Currently Watching...




    What I'm Currently Listening To...




    Comic Book I've Read Recently...



    This page and all original content copyright © 2014 by Bruce Garrett. All rights reserved. Send questions, comments and hysterical outbursts to: bruce@brucegarrett.com

    This blog is powered by WordPress and is hosted at MomoWeb. Some custom design was done by Winters Web Works. Some embedded content was created with the help of Adobe Photoshop for MacOS and/or The Gimp. I proof with Firefox on either Windows, Linux or MacOS depending on which machine I happen to be running at the time.