The Cartoon Gallery
A Coming Out Story
New and Improved!
The Story So Far archives
My Myspace Profile
Bruce Garrett's Profile
A Tenable Belief
A Brooklyn Bridge
Box Turtle Bulletin
Cherry Blossom Special (E.J)
Mike Daisy's Blog
The Disney Blog
Dispatches From The Culture Wars
Epcot Explorer's Encyclopedia
Joe. My. God
Made In Brazil
Pam's House Blend
Progress City USA
Some Guys Are Normal
Straight, Not Narrow
Truth Wins Out Blog
The Rittenhouse Review
Steve Gilliard's News Blog
Steve Gilliard's Blogspot Site
Page One Q
Talking Points Memo
Truth Wins Out
The Raw Story
NIS News Bulletin (Dutch)
The Local (Sweden)
Pleasant Family Shopping
Discount Stores of the 60s
Photos of the Forgotten
Comics With Problems
HMK Mystery Streams
Mercedes-Benz Owners Club of America
MBCA - Greater Washington Section
May 12th, 2013
A Wee Mother’s Day Story
Once upon a time there was a boy whose mom had to raise him herself. But he had a happy boyhood all the same, and never knew until he was older that he was actually supposed to be unhappy and destined for a life of booze, drugs, crime and jail. He never knew or even suspected that has was disadvantaged in any way. He was happy.
His mom couldn’t give him every toy he wanted but he got practically every book he asked for. He wore a lot of second hand clothes but he never went to bed hungry or out the door in dirty clothes. His mom set a good example, taught him to read before he entered grade school, and all through his growing up years encouraged him to pursue his interests in art, photography and electronics. And one day after he was all grown up he made her very proud when he told her about the job he got working for the Hubble Space Telescope program.
All the time she was raising him a lot of people said he would never amount to much because boys raised by single mothers never did. She lived to see her boy prove them wrong. But really…she was the one who proved them wrong. You see, parents matter. Not how many or which gender. Not whether there is a biological link from parent to child. It’s the person they are that counts. That’s everything. I made it against a lot of odds, but looking back on it all I can very clearly see now that I had a good start on it, because I had one good parent…a good mother.
Thanks mom. Wish you could see what your boy is into now.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Life
Tags: A Life
May 6th, 2013
You Know The Race That Matters When You Loose It
It was the autumn of 1973. I’d graduated from high school the previous June, come out to myself two Decembers before, and that summer I’d just discovered my first crush had moved away without telling me his family was going anywhere. But also that summer I’d also somehow attracted the notice of a cuteling at a coffee house a friend and I frequented, who took an interest in me. He was beautiful and I was dazzled and unlike my first crush, he was perfectly willing to let my camera give him some love. Looking at it in retrospect, I think I might have even been his first crush.
One day he invited me to go with him to watch the quarter mile fuelers run at a drag strip somewhere in southern Maryland. He bought the tickets and even bought us both pit passes. I drove us both in the car I had just bought with money from my first good job at Industrial Photo. It was the first time I got to see the fuelers up close. I love high energy smoke and belching fire stuff like that, and it was a thrill to see them up close like that.
But it was the time of the first oil embargo and I was young and a tad too self absorbed for my own good. As the races went on into the night I got scared the gas stations would close before the races ended and we would be stranded. He noticed and asked me if I wanted to leave early and I said yes. Just as we left the track he remarked wistfully that one of his favorite racers was probably making his last run just then. I was too busy calculating how far we could get on what was still in the gas tank and didn’t notice.
I saw him again the next night at a city park we both used to rendezvous at. It was usually packed with other teens and young adults on the weekends and that night was no exception. I can still see the sad, dejected look on his face before he saw me approach. He gave me a smile and I noticed then how there had always been a little something extra in that smile before because it wasn’t there then. We chatted for a bit and then somehow we both wandered off with other friends. A few months later he had pretty much stopped seeing me altogether. I was still in a knot over the sudden disappearance of my first crush that summer and wasn’t really paying attention to what was right in front of me, and I let it slide.
I’ve been kicking myself over this memory ever since. If I hadn’t been quite so self absorbed back then I might have figured that getting stranded for the night would have been a good thing. Maybe even the best thing ever.
That memory has been nagging at me a lot recently for some reason, so yesterday I decided to see if I could find that drag strip and try to refresh my recollections of the place. I’d heard it had closed ages ago, but thought I could find where it used to me and perhaps scope out the surrounding area and put some of my memories of that night to rest…or at least give them some clarity. I’d thought the strip was somewhere near La Plata, so I drove down Highway 5 to 301 but didn’t see anything I recognized. So I wandered for a bit and then gave in and went home and started Googling. Eventually I found some links and a few images of the drag strip as it is today. Loneliness and regret are like the two pale horses of my love life. This photo could almost be the path I took through it…
But no…it’s what’s left of the Aquasco Speedway. They say some of the most famous names in quarter mile racing raced there. It may have been where I lost the only race that ever mattered.
If you’re out there reading this now…I’m sorry I was a jerk. I hope you’ve won your race.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Life
Tags: Lonelyache, The Jackass Chronicles
April 17th, 2013
Things That Don’t Work In My Dreams
The dream world can be an amazing, lovely place to spend some time. But it has its drawbacks. Some of the following is obvious, some not so much, at least to me…
The Part Of My Brain That Can Read. I am completely illiterate in my dreams. Whenever I come across a book or sign or anything I need to read, I just can’t. I can see the text, I just can’t make sense of it. This is interesting in a somewhat disturbing way: in real life I am a voracious reader, but I’ve read that others experience this same effect in dreams. I assume it’s because that part of your brain is…well…sleeping. Sometimes, but very very seldomly, I remember the text well enough that when I wake up I can then read it. And as you would expect, it’s pretty odd, random and meaningless. Like the title to the book I found on a pile of trash in a bookstore that I was so frustrated I could not read the frustration woke me up and I remembered it and it was “Old Book”
The Part Of My Brain That Sees Color. This is also something I’ve read that others experience. My dreams are almost exclusively in black & white, though lately I’ve experienced the occasional color moment.
Light Switches. Lately in my dreams, whenever I find myself entering a dark room or house and I try to turn on the lights, nothing works. This is usually a prelude to the dream going bad on me, but sometimes it’s just frustrating. I’m writing this post just now because last night it happened again…I was walking into a house to find something, and it was dark inside and I tried various light switches and nothing would come on, and I remember in my dream getting really irritated that I was having “that damn light problem” again so I pulled open some window shades and let light in that way. At least the sun still works in my dreams.
Bullets. While being pursued by thugs or monsters in my dreams, reliably when I reach for a gun the gun works just fine but the bullets have no effect. I don’t get the click, click, it’s EMPTY, effect other friends of mine do. My gun is loaded and I can shoot just fine, but nothing I hit seems to care. It’s gotten to the point now that I usually just start beating the damn things over the head with the gun rather than bothering to pull the trigger.
Toilets. This is usually my dream telling me that I need to wake up and go to the bathroom. When in a dream I get the urge to go, and I start looking around for a bathroom, inevitably in every bathroom I check the toilet is missing. The hole in the floor where it connects is there alright, but the toilet is gone.
Automobiles. This isn’t something that does not work, so much as one very odd thing I almost never do in my dreams, that I would expect after having lived to the threshold of old age to have done at least once. In real life I absolutely love driving. In my dreams I am nearly always walking. Which is also something I like doing, don’t get me wrong. When the weather is nice I am always out for a walk, and I bought my house where I did specifically so I would be close enough to work I would walk it. I grew up in a household without a car, so maybe this is part of it. But I have owned a car since I was old enough to drive and I love to drive too and it’s just odd that in my dreams I never seem to even think to drive anywhere. And what is more, there are almost never any cars in my dreams, even parked nearby. Trains yes. Lots of trains for some odd reason. Train tracks and trains show up in the strangest places in my dreams. But the one and only time I can remember ever dreaming about driving somewhere, it was This Horrible Dream that still creeps me out.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Life
Tags: Schrodinger's Bag O' Laughs, This And That
April 12th, 2013
A Wee Vacation
I’m just back from a brief, ad-hoc Disney World trip. This week was going to be a stay-at-home vacation. I’m helping finance a place to live for my niece for her last semester at college, so until July I have no money for big vacation trips. But pity me not. I have no kids of my own so it isn’t like I’m mortgaging the house to put any through school. I’m just helping out. So this was going to be a staycation but I made the fatal mistake of checking the weather in Florida and then I was off. Spring was darn cold here in Charm City.
I had to do it on the cheap. But I had some advantages. First, I have an annual pass. So I didn’t need to have spare cash for tickets into the parks. Then, passholders get discount offers. So I hit the Disney web site and looked in the passholder’s section to see if there were any specials. There were. I got a really nice price on one of their “value hotels” for three nights. Then I had just over a hundred bucks worth of reward points on my Disney card, which paid for half my eats and drinks in the parks for two and a half days. Then I had accumulated enough Holiday Inn reward points for one free night, so that helped out with motel charges on the trip down and back.
And then…there is my Mercedes diesel. Here’s a few notes from my trip computer, plus fuel chits. This was from Baltimore City to Walt Disney World and back.
Hours (actually driving the car): 32.34
MPH (average): 61
MPG (average): 40.1
That’s a tad over forty miles per gallon in a mid-sized German luxury sedan, and this trip my trip computer registered the best mileage ever, on the stretch from Baltimore to Richmond, Virginia: 44.9. Once I got on the higher speed limit stretches of I-95 my mileage went down a tad. But still. Forty miles per gallon in a car as big and nice as a Mercedes-Benz ‘E’ class is not bad.
Total cost of diesel fuel: $195.57. That’s the highway trip plus farting around in Disney World. The annual pass gets you free parking at all the parks, so having the car with me means I can go when and where I want and it’s not an extra expense. I started out from Baltimore on a full tank. Just over the South Carolina border is Dillon. In Dillon they have the best prices on diesel on I-95 between Baltimore and Key West. Half a tank gets me from Baltimore to Dillon. Another 2/3 tank gets me to Disney World. There are reasonably priced Hess stations in the park, one of which (the one on the way out of Magic Kingdom) sells diesel. So I fill up before coming back, hit Dillon again, and that gets me home.
Even though you don’t have to stop as often for fuel, when it’s bug season you still have to pull up to the pumps just as often to clean off your windshield. But that’s fine because it’s good to take a break. I have a Flying-J loyalty card that gets me breaks on coffee and snacks. So whenever I have to make a Clean The Glass stop I refill my coffee mug and hit the bathrooms, which are usually cleaner at the Flying-J travel plazas than the highway rest stops are.
So a short trip to Walt Disney World was do-able. And now that I’m back and all the housework I’d been planning to do with my stay-at-home vacation is still staring me in the face it was worth it. Sometime later this summer, after my niece graduates, I’ll do a longer stay at a nicer in park hotel. It’ll be dead of summer then…just right for fun in the water parks.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Life
Tags: Disney, Road Trip, Time Out
April 3rd, 2013
Without Shame What Good Is Marriage?
Via Andrew Sullivan…Mark Oppenheimer, who thinks same-sex marriage might just pass muster as long as we still get to stigmatize someone…if not the homosexuals…
So here’s my question to Douthat, Maggie Gallagher, Ross Douthat Brian Brown, the world of conservative evaneglical preachers, and others who are so concerned about same-sex marriage: What does it do your perception of Ronald Reagan that he was a divorcé—and in being the first divorced president certainly helped remove any last shreds of stigma? Would you have voted against him for that reason—as many would have in 1952? Would you discourage people from listening to radio hosts who have divorces in their past (Limbaugh, Dennis Prager), or voting for divorcés like John McCain? If our goal is to work our way back to 1950 Marriage, how are we going to re-stigmatize divorce for wealthy white people? How are we going to make their divorces seem unseemly? In 1950, when a divorced woman moved into the neighborhood, people whispered about her. Are we prepared to whisper again?
As they used to say back in the day…matter of fact as some of my elementary school teachers used to say to my face…I’m the product of a broken home. Oddly, I would not have known my home was “broken” had it not been for so many helpful adults back in the day. Kids hear those whispers too Oppenheimer. But that’s part of the fun isn’t it?
Here’s my problem with shaming divorcees..
That’s my dad under that sheet. Mom divorced him when I was two and raised me herself. And but for the fact that mine was a household with a single divorced women at the head of it, you might even say that I was raised in a good Baptist home. But for that one fact. I remember how mom was treated back in those days. I remember how she raised me by setting an example. Never mind church. Yes I got taken to church. She never cheated anyone, never took advantage, never said anything about anyone in my presence she wouldn’t have said to their face, never drank or uttered a curse word in my presence, paid her bills, lived frugally (well…we had to…) kept her promises and when she passed away people in the town she retired to would come up to me on the street and tell me what a ray of sunshine she always was. But no…it was a shameful thing being a divorced woman. The head of my household growing up should have been the crook. Why, I might not be homosexual if my father had been there. A boy needs a father, and better to grow up learning how to rob people of their savings than to be a homosexual. Provided of course I share some of the loot with a few conservative think tanks.
Dad, let it be said, was always nice to me, and nice to mom. To other people…not so much. And mom loved him until the day she died. But she knew better than to let me be raised by him. Let me tell you a brief little story about that. When I was a teenager dad was earning a semi-honest living driving trucks and cargo around the country. More about that “semi-honest” part in a bit. One summer mom felt comfortable enough letting dad take me with him on one of his cross-country runs and one afternoon we stopped somewhere to eat and rest up a bit. I chowed down in the restaurant and Dad went into the bar next door. He came back, sat across the table from me and with a cheerful smile pushed some papers and a pen across the table at me and asked me to make a mark on the dotted line. I must have raised an eyebrow. Just make a mark there, he said. You want me to sign it, I asked? No…just scribble something. So I’m the obedient son and I did it, and he took the pen and papers back, folded them up and put them in his jacket pocket and smiled warmly at me and said, “You just made your dad five-hundred bucks.”
Aw gee Dad…
So I have this…hunch…that if he had remained the God Ordained Head Of The Household like he was God Ordained supposed to be I probably would not be the sort of person I am now, capable of passing the background check I could so I could be doing the work I do now at Space Telescope. Still, he was my dad and I loved him all the same and I feel these bitter little smiles come out of me whenever I hear some jackass homophobe saying that you can love people without sanctioning their behavior. You don’t say? Know something about that do you? And one day when my brother and I discovered he had no stone for his grave I bought him one, and my brother paid to have it placed, and it reads “Beloved Father” because sometimes you do things not because of what was, but because of what ought to have been.
I have never regretted mom’s divorce. Regretted dad couldn’t have been a better dad, but I suppose he actually did the best he could, the best that was within him to do, and he loved his sons and his wives (he married again…and…divorced again…) as much as it was within him to love anyone. But without a doubt was absolutely for the best for both mom and me that I was not raised by him. And piss on you Oppenheimer, if you think whispering shame at divorcees is a good thing. Never dawns on the likes of you that divorce might actually be a good thing does it? Never dawns on the likes of you that the shame you throw at single mothers is felt by their children does it? We’re just collateral damage in your little culture war aren’t we?
Here’s the problem with jackass social conservatives like him…they seem not to be able to function socially without a bunch of arbitrary rules that can never be questioned lest they get utterly lost in the human relationship thicket. They have no idea what the rules are for, other than they’re there to prop up some sort of civilized behavior, the reason for which they have no clue whatsoever. Homosexuality is shameful because it’s against the rules. Divorce is shameful because it is against the rules. The rules are Very Important because without them we wouldn’t have a fucking clue how to behave toward our neighbors.
I have a wee suggestion. Instead of shaming divorce, how about we shame spouse abuse. How about we shame cheating. How about we shame not setting a good example for children. How about we shame not taking care of children. Ah…but spouse abuse was never one of the rules…was it? Women having to submit gracefully and all. And children…the only thing they’re good for is a reason why same-sex couples can’t get married and women can’t own their own bodies. It’s not like we give a good goddamn about their health or feeding or educating them.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Life Politics
Tags: A Life, The Jackass Chronicles, The Right Wing Mindset
This Really Isn’t About God Is It….
Someone in North Carolina complained that some county commissioners were starting their meetings with a prayer…and this was the response at the statehouse
Republican North Carolina state legislators have proposed allowing an official state religion in a measure that would declare the state exempt from the Constitution and court rulings.
The bill, filed Monday by two GOP lawmakers from Rowan County and backed by nine other Republicans, says each state “is sovereign” and courts cannot block a state “from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.”
Arguments about religion are usually arguments about Who’s In Charge rather than arguments about religion. Same thing with arguments about Intrusive Government. Reverence allegedly paid to God is actually directed at the Tribe, in whose name God serves. Figure they’ll be holding a conclave down there somewhere in the old confederacy to elect the first Baptist pope any day now.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Politics
Tags: Republican America, The Kultar Kampf
March 28th, 2013
Better…Like A Fever Broken…
As I have said many times here, this is a life blog. Nothing more or less. And sometimes life gets a little heavy. Not to scare anyone…I’m fine now…really…but this first quarter was about the worst I have ever had. Every winter it seems the period between Valentine’s Day and April just gets worse and worse. But I think that’s over now. As they say, what has been seen cannot be unseen.
I was in that chilly gray sky of the mind state all morning long yesterday. I’d been that way for weeks and it just kept getting worse and worse. Things went badly at work. Things I should have been able to shrug off that I took to heart. My co-workers were noticing, which only made it worse. It fed on itself. And it wasn’t about nothing either. I’m 59 years old and never had a boyfriend. You can’t walk that far in a life without time spent in the arms of an intimate other and not be damaged by it. We were not made to be solitaries. And I have been betrayed by people I trusted deeply. Or maybe it was my congenital naivety. People who look like that…
So it was deep in that feedback loop that I randomly chanced across that Hemingway quote in my Facebook stream and naturally the first thing that came to mind was a kind of despair that, no this isn’t why I feel the way I do because I have no courage. I do not take risks, I run away from them. Just ask Tico. I am not a good man wounded, I was damaged goods to begin with. Unworthy. The child who was never meant to be. And right then it was as if something tapped me on the shoulder and showed me something about myself that I’d never really looked at before, that through it all I have lived an honest life, because I never thought doing that was something to pat yourself on the back for.
A feeling for beauty…the courage to take risks… Yeah…actually I’ve taken a few haven’t I? And so it goes. I felt right then as though a terrible fever was breaking. Seriously, it was like a smothering curtain had been pulled off me and I felt alive again. Life was good again. The road forward clearer, and…enticing. Then I remembered what had happened to Hemingway. You try to be rational about things, but for a moment I felt like I’d been given a lift up, from a hand that would have known the need.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Life
Tags: A Life, The Human Heart, The Struggle For Our Lives
March 27th, 2013
Courage And Self Esteem
The Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad?
Alice Kingsley: I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers.
But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.
You get into these depressive ruts and you start being critical of your every fault, real or perceived. Nothing within you is good enough. Everything is rotten. Yesterday I was tearing myself up inside for not having the nerve to just go ahead and go down to Washington and with my cameras bear witness to history being made. So just for good measure I took stock of every failure of nerve I ever had in my life, starting with the biggest one of all, that of not being able to tell a certain someone back in 1971 that he had made my heart skip a beat. By the end of the day I knew exactly what a sniveling coward I had been my entire life.
This came across my Facebook feed this morning…
…and I could see in it everything about me, except the courage part. Hemingway wasn’t talking about me. I have the feeling for beauty…it drives me mad sometimes. The truth telling part, yes. Just ask anyone who knows me. The capacity for sacrifice, yes. I can do that. I have done that. I have all of that within me. And I know how vulnerable it makes me. There are times it still surprises me how vulnerable. That is me. I have all of that. But not the courage. I have no courage.
And then it was like I swear a little voice inside said wait just a minute… You’ve been living as an out gay man nearly all your life. You came out to yourself when you were 17 years old, accepted yourself for what you are, two years before the shrinks decided homosexuals weren’t mentally ill after all. You kept it low key for most of the 70s but you never dodged a direct question and never lied to anyone about it, back in a time when you could be, and were, multiple times, fired for being a homosexual. Remember that day when you were still a teenage boy and you stood in front of the bathroom mirror and said to your reflection “I Am A Homosexual” after you read some crackpot who said admitting it was the worst thing a man could do? That day forty-seven states still had sodomy laws on their books. You have spent the past few days…no, weeks…digging up every failure of nerve you ever had. Now remember all those times when you were blind-sided by a question and you had to make a sudden snap decision about being closeted or not. Remember how afraid you were? And you never held back. What the hell is that if it isn’t courage?
Fear. Maybe that’s what’s always at the heart of a depression. Fear of being alone all my life. Fear of dying alone. Fear of walking through my one life never knowing a lover’s embrace. Friends With Benefits is the cheap shelf booze. Once you’ve tasted the real thing you never settle for faking it. The best or nothing, as Gottlieb Daimler once said. Courage. I’m depressed because I am afraid. That doesn’t make me a coward. Anyone with that discipline to tell the truth, and capacity for sacrifice, and feeling for beauty, cannot also be a coward. It just doesn’t compute. I forgot lately, all those times when I did what I had to do even though I was scared shitless. I forgot something I began telling myself in later years when I began looking back on those moments. T.E. Lawrence once said, “The trick is not minding that it hurts.” For me the trick was always not minding that I’m afraid.
And…a bit bonkers…in the way the best people generally are.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Life
Tags: A Life, The Human Heart
March 26th, 2013
Second Thoughts That Tend To Come A Bit Too Late
Today is going to be murder to get through, but it’s my own doing. I let my depressed state screw me over. I should have planned to go down to the Supreme Court marriage Proposition 8 protests/counter protests regardless. I actually took the days off well in advance. But then I cancelled because I have been down ever since Valentine’s Day and I just didn’t want to deal with that part of me. Ironically, that not wanting to deal with the emotional creative part of me is what got me into computers, and making the very nice living I am making now. But there was a big drawback to all of that. This path I chose, has led me to a cliff. Now that the day is here I really want to be down there with my cameras photographing it but management wants not. Ever have one of those conversations with your boss, where the boss looks at you, smiles and says “It’s your call” and you know goddamn well what the call is supposed to be? It was one of those.
Maybe that would have been the reality anyway. So many things are happening at work now. Launch is in 2018 and while that seems like a long way off, there is a lot of up front work that needs to be done. A lot. Probably, it’s no fooling, I really have to be here and stay on top of my work. Maybe making it up on the weekend really just doesn’t cut it. Maybe it wasn’t a question of my boss telling me I could not have divided loyalties in his workspace. Put that artsy fartsy stuff away, you’re an adult now, live in the real world… But this is really stabbing me in the heart now.
Sometimes I wish I could just surgically remove that emotional creative part of me that keeps wanting to make imagery. I hear this thing inside of us drives other artists insane too and it’s been this way all my life, particularly as it’s become lonelier and lonelier and because of that, sometimes I really don’t want to look at what comes out of me. And while it’s had its rewards it cuts me to ribbons too. It is right now. I could have done without it. Life as an emotionless cog in the machinery wouldn’t be so bad.
So now, at fifty-nine, I think I know why the stereotype of the starving artist exists. It isn’t because they can’t find decent work, it’s because they know what will happen when they do, so they stay in their little slumtown lofts and hovels because any work that pulls them away from the creative urge makes their inner lives a complete mess. Well…more mess then what would be normal for them anyway. In the end the choice isn’t live a very low budget life but get to do your work whenever you want to, verses get a good job and appease the creative urge in your spare time…it’s follow your heart or slowly go mad, pick one.
Wish I’d been brave enough to take the poor scrappy starving artist path. Who knows, maybe the boyfriend would have been somewhere along that way. But nerve was always something I had trouble with having enough of. Just ask Tico.
Anyway…to those confronting the haters today and tomorrow…be proud. You are writing new lines in the history books. Wish I could be there with my cameras to get some shots of it happening.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Art Life
Tags: A Life, The Artist's Need, The Human Heart
March 21st, 2013
Seeing Your Gay Neighbor Through Prejudiced Colored Glasses
The struggle for gay civil rights is merely homosexuals seeking approval of their lifestyle…
“The primary challenge that our side faces right now is the intense social pressure,” said Joseph Backholm, 34, the executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington. “To the extent that the other side is able to frame this as a vote for gay people to be happy, it will be challenging for us.”
The more things change the more they stay the same. As far back as Anita Bryant’s rampage on Dade County’s anti-discrimination law, the rhetoric has been that all the fuss about gay rights is merely the homosexuals demanding societal approval of their lifestyle. No matter how you phrase that, (a vote for gay people to be happy) it is ignorant. All you’re telling us there Joseph, is you can’t see the people for the homosexuals.
Anyone who thinks this struggle is only about approval or some frivolous desire for “happiness” has ether never loved or does not think gay people are capable of love. Happiness is in your lover’s smile, and the touch of their hand in yours. All the approval you could ever need is in their eyes when they look into yours. You would know this if you ever loved Joseph. You would know why we fight for the honor and the dignity of it if you could see the people for the homosexuals. We are not asking for approval from the likes of you Joseph, let alone happiness. What we need from you is to take the damn knife out of our backs.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Life Thumping My Pulpit
Tags: Prejudice, The Jackass Chronicles, The Struggle For Our Lives
March 19th, 2013
A Splendid Little War…
Andrew Sullivan has been relentlessly digging up and reposting his horrible Iraq war posts as a kind of public confession and mea culpa. So very Catholic, and I mean that in a respectful way. For all the hostility I threw at him back then I must say now that he has my respect, being one of the few Bush cheerleaders I’ve seen to change their minds about both the man and his war, and while you can argue that this is just a matter of plainly seeing the facts for what they are and you don’t pat someone on the back for doing what they ought to have been doing in the first place, that’s ignoring some hard truths about human nature and what can happen to any of us who get caught up in a mob. Sullivan deserves a great deal of respect in my opinion for so publicly eating crow and more to the point, for setting an example. If more of us owned our mistakes in life instead of passing the buck this would be a much better world.
The rest of us who were right all along need to look squarely at the fact of our utter uselessness. We tried, we failed, and way too often it seems to me, we settled for the sanctimony of being right over making a difference.
Flashback…Washington D.C…March 18, 2003
Tuesday afternoon. I am attending a conference on open source software in government being held at George Washington University. I am here because my project manager is investigating the possibility of moving the system I’ve been working on for the past several years to open source software. Work on the Hubble Space Telescope will go into maintenance mode shortly, and the thinking is that the Institute doesn’t want to spend a lot of money it won’t have on software upgrades, simply because a certain vendor has a business cycle that requires you to do that. At least with open source we would have the option of making any small fixes we absolutely needed to have before the end of the mission ourselves, without breaking our systems that depend on it. The alternative is to stick to the vendor’s upgrade cycle, and pray the new versions don’t break anything in our software, or introduce new bugs and security holes.
Between conference sessions, I wander around the Foggy Bottom area, and back and forth to my hotel, which I paid for out of my own pocket, rather then hassle with Washington traffic, which is a nightmare. The hotel has a nice little kitchenette, which allows me to eat reasonably well without further damaging my budget for the month. Around noon I begin the walk back to my hotel for lunch, stopping to examine a decrepit building right next to the conference hall, that I assume is one of the student dorms. It is, and I see by the bronze plaque by the door that this one is named Lafayette Hall. I read the inscription, which briefly describes the history of Marquis de Lafayette, who fought beside George Washington, taking a bullet in the process, for the freedom of a nation that was not his own, and who later attended the first commencement ceremonies of the university that bore his friend’s name, shaking the hand of each of those first graduates. While I am reading, a snarky voice in the back of my mind is saying Freedom Fries…Freedom Toast… An old friend of mine I’d had breakfast with that morning, told me a joke he’d heard about a man who, while visiting France recently, asked a random Frenchman, “Sir, can you speak German?” When the Frenchman replied that he couldn’t, the American said, “You’re welcome.” I told my friend the Frenchman could just as easily have asked the American, “Sir, what is your king’s name?”
My hotel is somewhat oldish. My room is on the sixth floor and the elevators are small and slow. I press the button and when one finally appears, I see that there are already two businessmen inside. It’s a tight fit for three. As we go up I feel the hair on the back of my neck rise. There are some who you would never know from the look of them to be of the right wing thuggish persuasion, and there are others who hit you with it in waves, in the cut of the clothes, the bullying posture that is as second nature as breathing, and the coldness of the face, particularly when smiling at nothing in particular. I tune them both out, pulling out from a space within me I’d almost forgotten about, a “Yes I’m a longhair, yes I know you hate my guts, and no mister establishment person sir, I really don’t give a flying fuck” attitude, close my eyes, and listen to the elevator floor counter click off the floors to mine. I toy briefly about writing a book, “Everything I know about living under Bush II, I learned from Nixon”. The old elevator rises slowly. I hear one of my companions say, “I hope they don’t cancel our flight out Thursday.” The other chuckles and says, “The war will be over by then.”
by Bruce |
Posted In: Life Politics
Tags: George Bush's America
March 16th, 2013
The Lost Cause
Ever wonder how so many southerners can claim with a straight face that slavery was a benign, even beneficial institution toward black people? Ever find yourself chuckling under your breath when you hear one of them refer to the civil war as The War Of Northern Aggression…?
The Civil War is like a mountain range that guards all roads into the South: you can’t go there without encountering it. Specifically, you can’t go there without addressing a question that may seem as if it shouldn’t even be a question—to wit: what caused the war? One hundred and fifty years after the event, Americans—at least the vast majority who toil outside academia—still can’t agree. Evidence of this crops up all the time, often in the form of a legal dispute over a display of the Confederate flag. (As I write, there are two such cases pending—one in Oregon and the other in Florida, making this an average news week.) Another common forum is the classroom. But it’s not always about the Stars and Bars. In 2010, for instance, Texas school officials made the news by insisting that Jefferson Davis’s inaugural address be given equal prominence with Abraham Lincoln’s in that state’s social studies curriculum. The following year, Virginia school officials were chagrined to learn that one of their state-adopted textbooks was teaching fourth graders that thousands of loyal slaves took up arms for the confederacy.
At the bottom of all of these is one basic question: was the Civil War about slavery, or states’ rights?
Read the whole thing and if you’re of a certain age you find yourself remembering how the further south you went, the more ridiculous their version of the civil war became. And you remember something else…how you just laughed it off and went along, because there was no sense rubbing their noses in it after so long. The war was a thing of the distant past…a relic of history, a plot device in spaghetti westerns and TV shows. The union won, slavery was defeated, a new South was born from the ashes. Well…yes…but so was the Ku Klux Klan. And almost one-hundred and fifty years after the war the party of Lincoln is now the party of John C. Calhoun, the intellectual godfather of the confederacy.
That has had consequences, among them being continuing and relentless political attacks not only on the rights of minorities, but more basically on the union itself that so many northern soldiers fought and died for. And since the nation’s first black president was reelected it’s only gotten worse, the outright calls for succession louder.
How did it happen that we seem right back where we started, minus only the slaves in chains but little else. It was the bloodiest war this nation has ever fought and in the spirit of healing and reconciliation the valor and bravery of confederate soldiers was honored, even as we all seemed to agree that the cause of the war, slavery, was a stain on both the southern slave holding states, as well as the northerners who kidnapped black Africans and and sold them into southern slavery. But almost immediately the south began denying it had any culpability at all in that war, and the victorious north eventually just accepted it as yet another of the south’s peculiar institutions. It was a mistake. When I was a kid in the 1960s we treated the lost cause mindset as the source of lighthearted joking…
My boots have touched Yankee soil! Now I’ll
have to burn them!
Yes, yes…war of northern aggression…whatever… But it is no joke. Compare modern Germany’s acknowledgment of its Nazi past, and the horrific crime of the Holocaust with the south’s of its antebellum past and slavery, and then compare the political mindset of even conservative Germans nowadays with that of the southern republican base and you see what cultural denial buys you.
…an audience member from North Carolina, 30-year-old Scott Terry, asked whether Republicans could endorse races remaining separate but equal. After the presenter, K. Carl Smith of Frederick Douglass Republicans, answered by referencing a letter by Frederick Douglass forgiving his former master, the audience member said “For what? For feeding him and housing him?” Several people in the audience cheered and applauded Terry’s outburst.
They cheered. They didn’t look away in embarrassment and discomfort, the way a German audience would if some lout among them defended Hitler for improving the lives of Jews by taking Germany out of economic depression. They cheered. They cheered because they grew up in a world where all their comfortable conceits about themselves and their history are never disturbed, lest they find themselves asking troubling questions about whence they came and who they are.
We did not start a war that killed more Americans then all our other wars combined just so we could keep other humans in slavery…we did not kill hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans, our neighbors, for the cause of white supremacy…it’s a lie…we’re good Christian people…
And thus the sins of the fathers became the pride of the children, and all the racism, sexism and homophobia, all the bitter hatred of a democracy that protects the right of black people to vote, let alone drink from a white man’s water fountain, and all the acid resentment toward a world that insists on moving forward to that better tomorrow, despite their best efforts to hold it down so they won’t have to acknowledge what their Heritage actually Is.
After the presenter, K. Carl Smith of Frederick Douglass Republicans, answered by referencing a letter by Frederick Douglass forgiving his former master, the audience member said “For what? For feeding him and housing him?” Several people in the audience cheered and applauded Terry’s outburst…
The lost cause isn’t lost because it was defeated, it is lost because it leads people into an endless darkness from which few ever return.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Thumping My Pulpit
Tags: The Abyss, The American Gutter
March 15th, 2013
Your Son Will Die Of AIDS…Not That We’re Praying For That Mind You…
Now drops the other shoe, as it reliably will…
Two things that people need to see to realize what this fight has always been about are the humanity of gay people and the bottomless vitriolic hatred of our enemies. Behold that process in action: a son comes out to his father who sees the son he loves, not a homosexual monster. This father declares his love for his son has opened his eyes. Thank you Mr. Portman, but reality isn’t through with you just yet. Now that your eyes have opened, you get to see who the real monsters are.
Prepare yourself. You may think you have seen the bottom of the human gutter. But it has no bottom.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Thumping My Pulpit
Tags: Hate, The Abyss, The American Gutter
When The Homosexual Menace Is Your Own Kid
I’m reading these headlines yesterday…
And thinking pretty much what Matthew Yglesias tweeted this morning: “Glad Rob Portman’s for marriage equality, but wish conservatives could muster empathy for problems that don’t directly affect their family.”
On the other hand he didn’t go on a warpath against homosexuality like some conservatives have when they found out they had a gay kid (Hello Phyllis Schlafly…William Knight…Alan Keyes…). Let me make an educated guess here: Portman thinks love is an integral part of marriage.
How many times have you heard them saying in the kook pews, in the context of arguing against marriage for same-sex couples, that marriage isn’t about love? How many of those are the sort of people who you would expect to have their eyes opened when a child comes out to them? At some point you have to conclude that this entire battle has been over the sanctity of love, and nothing else.
All some people seem to be able to see in the trappings of marriage is the authority part. I now pronounce you… They forget the part about What God has joined… I don’t think you have to be a believer to see the truth in that. The higher power isn’t in the part played by the clergyman or whoever is officiating at the ceremony. The ceremony is an act of acknowledgement; a mutual recognition, on the part of everyone concerned, of a fact that has already occurred. The higher power, the actual presiding authority, has already acted. Think of the officiator as a conductor for an ancient score. Public declarations are made, promises sworn between a couple, and between them and their community. We are here to witness… The higher power is love. What it has joined, let no one cast asunder.
What sort of person says that love is not the central fact of marriage? The same sort who throws their gay child out into the streets, that’s who.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Thumping My Pulpit
Tags: Marriage, The Struggle For America, The Struggle For Our Lives
March 14th, 2013
Notice: Please Ignore My Cheapshit Prejudices And Focus Instead On My Sickening Behavior
Oh fer sure…
“Just because I believe states should have the right to define marriage in a traditional way does not make me a bigot.” -Marco Rubio, speaking at CPAC
No. It makes you an asshole. It’s the reasons why you want to deny gay people equal marriage rights that make you a bigot.
by Bruce |
Posted In: Photography
Tags: Gratuitous Anti-Gay Hate, The Bigot Mindset, The Jackass Chronicles
Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com