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March 6th, 2016

Peace And Quiet

It was after you sent those last photos of your wunderbar vacation that I felt something had changed inside me. Skiing isn’t exactly a risk free sport and I’ve fretted often about your safety on the slopes. This time it was different. For one thing, you sent me those photos right after I’d suggested I might be coming down to your neck of the woods for a short vacation, which I needed desperately. You’d been so quiet and then all of a sudden it’s Look At My Lovely Ski Photos With My Honey.

Yes, yes… It wasn’t hard to figure you sent me those to keep me away. I’m on vacation now Bruce, so don’t bother coming down. But you weren’t. I made a bet with myself that you’d be there after all. And you were. For all I know those shots were from some other trip you took years ago.

But that was just the first flew flakes that started the avalanche. The start of it came before, when I asked myself looking at your photos how I would feel if something happened to you on the slopes. And to my shock the answer came back: I’d feel free. That was when I knew the crush was gone. All there is after that is a hopeless longing for something that’s dead and that’s how people fall into abusive relationships. And I had already started to be afraid that was what this had become. Right from the start your teasing had an element of belittlement to it. The gay kid who accepted himself and went on to live in the world for better or worse as the person he was just couldn’t be allowed to stand taller than the one who fled into the closet. I had to be taken down a few notches to stand in your presence.

It was getting old. Another kid from our school, ironically another youngest brother in another family of Germans who came to this country, used to like doing that to me too. He did it all through school and like you, vanished from my life without a trace, only to come back into it decades later with a big chip on his shoulder for working on the space program and driving a Mercedes-Benz, while he was living in a shack in the attic of a decayed theater in Pennsylvania, and working off some sort of community service at a Mennonite kitchen. As if the kid who was raised by a single working mother and went to school in second hand clothes would ever hold someone’s economic status against them. I had to tell him to go away. Thank you for not making me do that to you.

Freedom! Thank you for not being a possessive narcissistic dick and letting me go. I was worried right up to the end that you would try some manipulative thing and smack me down while keeping me on the hook. Yes, I pushed it. It was deliberate. Because I needed closure. I’m too old now for this shit.

I spent 33 years searching for you. And all that time I thought you’d be the braver one. The stronger one. And you weren’t. You made your allegiances as you told me a few months ago, and all they asked in return was that you let them put a knife in your heart. And you did. Last November the last thing I heard as I left was you complaining that you’d let yourself get trapped in a life you didn’t want. “I did it to myself…” you kept saying as I left. I would have liked to have talked it out with you but that was on the other side of the fence you’d put up so I kept my mouth shut. And anyway, where else was the guy going who told me a few years earlier that he couldn’t tell sometimes who it was he was looking at in a mirror? My last blog post creeped you out did it? Let me guess where…

But teasing is only fun when there is a bedrock of honesty between friends and you don’t want me that close.

Honesty. That’s what they try to kill in us gay kids first. We have to hate ourselves. That means we have to lie to ourselves. And once you start that, it’s hard to know when you’re telling the truth to anyone else, let alone yourself. You told me once that when I’m on my deathbed it won’t be all the times I had sex I’d be thinking about. Well that would depend on how much I’d loved them I suppose wouldn’t it. Yes, actually thinking back to those times I spent in the arms of someone I was deeply in love with would be a lovely way to go out.  I can tell you this though: when I’m on my deathbed what I won’t be thinking about is all the people I could never let see the real me.

What I realize now is I spent 33 years searching for you, and I found myself. When I found you again I was desperate to prove to you that I wasn’t the awkward little dweeb you saw back in school. So I babbled on and on about the work I did for the space program, about the stuff I did fighting for gay equality, until you told me not to talk about any of that in case your wife heard it. I gave you things from work, beautiful Hubble photos of the stars and galaxies, and mission patches. I showed you my artwork and my photography. I was trying to prove myself worthy. And all that time it never dawned on me that I’d Actually Done All That.

Falling in love with you back in high school made me believe in the honor and the dignity and the righteousness of gay love and romance. I could have ended up like so many of our generation, hating myself, living hand to mouth in a cocoon of self loathing, believing such as me did not deserve any better. I have seen so much of that…so terribly much of that. I escaped it thanks to loving you. Or rather, loving the brave, intelligent, noble heart I thought was you. So now you close the door tightly shut on me and I honestly have to say Thank You again, for showing me that I wasn’t the one who had anything to prove after all. And maybe I wasn’t such a little dweeb back then either. Back then it was hard to believe someone like you would even notice me.

I had to scramble all through young adulthood to find work because whenever the boss detected Teh Gay in me I was shown the door. But I kept walking forward. And now I’m a system software engineer working on the James Webb Space Telescope, and a published editorial cartoonist, and a recognized photographer who still gets the occasional newspaper or wedding photography job. I designed and wrote the code for this web site, all but the WordPress blog you are reading now, and even there I’ve tweaked the code a tad where I needed it to do something it wouldn’t out of the box. I might not have accomplished everything I set out to do, but I’ve accomplished a lot, and in some instances way more than I ever dreamed, and I’m not the one bellyaching about the life I’m leading now.

I’ve been living as an out gay man nearly all my life.  I came out to myself when I was 17 years old, accepted myself for what I am, two years before the shrinks decided homosexuals weren’t mentally ill after all.  Yes, I kept it low key for most of the 70s but I never once dodged a direct question and never lied to anyone about it, back in a time when I could be, and was, multiple times, fired for being a homosexual. I can still remember the day when I was a teenage boy and I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and said to my reflection “I Am A Homosexual” after I’d read some crackpot that said admitting it was the worst thing a man could do.  On that day forty-seven states still had sodomy laws on their books.  I used to dig up every failure of nerve I ever had when I came to visit you.  What I should have done was remember all those times I was blind-sided by The Question and I had to make a sudden snap decision about being closeted or not.  Yeah I was afraid. But I never held back. Because by then I could see something with frightful clarity.

The closet is not a safe space.

It is not a comfort zone. It will not protect you. It only protects bigotry and hate. Our silence, gives them permission to suck all the joy and exuberance out of our lives. Our silence gives them permission to make their stepping stones to heaven out of our hopes and dreams.

I wasn’t about to go there. Yes, it was a struggle. Some days I thought I had no viable future ahead of me. But I persevered. And I’ll tell you what…even in the depths of poverty, living hand to mouth in a friend’s basement, I never once considered going back into the closet as a solution. I just couldn’t see myself lying to myself, let alone to others. Because I knew down to the bone there was nothing wrong with being gay. I always had falling in love with you to look back on, and remind myself that life is good after all. 

Then I found you again. And for a while it was wonderful. But in these last few years you put toning it down as the price for your company. Something happened to you. Something changed. And you let them put a leash on you. And that meant I had to wear it too if I wanted to stick around. And I acquiesced because every time I stood before you I turned back into that awkward little teenage dweeb, all shy and amazed that you would even talk to me. Slowly but surely you nudged me into a closet I once swore I’d never live in. It was becoming corrosive. I had to push it. Because I Am Not That Anymore.

Truth be told, I saw this coming years ago. I just didn’t want to believe the guy I fell so madly in love with once upon a time wasn’t the brave, strong, noble heart I thought he was. I wish I could go back in time and show the kid I was then the adult you turned into. Yes, you’re married. Lots of gay men of our generation are. And many of them love their wives dearly. And it is not in my heart to judge any of them, or you, for it. We live the hand we’re dealt. All you can do is try to make it a better world for the next generation. I was perfectly fine with ours being a long distance friendship and nothing more. It would have been a dream come true. I live in Baltimore. I have the best job in the world and a little house of my own. You live here and have the life you have. We’re nearly a thousand miles apart. It seemed to me that it was for the best. Distance would keep either one of us from causing any trouble to each others lives. We might never be as close again as we were back in school, but life goes on. It could have been wonderful, even so. But you were afraid of even that little contact between us if it had to be honest, and when it came to my having to closet myself just to be your acquaintance then I had to make a choice between self respect and honesty. And that’s a choice I have a Lot of experience making by now. It’s Easy. You choose honesty because there is no other way. Except you didn’t at some point long ago. And now you’re stuck.

Well I’m not getting stuck with you. Not even with you. You should have expected this. I should have expected this.We needed to both open our eyes to each other’s reality.

Different metals behave differently in the fire. You want peace and quiet. I want a life. We went our separate ways long ago. They say men don’t change, they reveal themselves. I wish I’d never seen it, but on the other hand it’s better that I have. When I was seventeen shy little awkward dweeb that I was I deserved better than you. I’m 62 and I’ve lived a lot of life and seen a lot of things and struggled to achieve a lot of things and crashed and burned a bunch of times and soared among the stars other times and I sure as shit deserve better than you now.

And the really achingly sad thing is that you deserve better too. But…we make our own beds.

Your peace and quiet begins now does it? No.

Mine does.

[Edited once…and again and again and again…because I really need to get this off my chest exactly right…]


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Peace And Quiet

Message In A Bottle

To Whomever German It May Concern…

Did you get pissed off last night because I spent all that time talking to that other guy? Really? No…Really??

You told me he was going on a road trip. Road trips are a big deal with me. I didn’t spend 60k for a car they say you can put 100 thousand miles on and it’s only just broken in because I wanted a status symbol. I Love Road Tripping!  But…you know that. That’s probably why you told me he was going on one.

He showed me his plan and I showed him the tons of road trip photos I have on my smartphone and my Facebook page and we talked road trip stuff and then he mentioned backpacking and I showed him that photo of me back when I was 30 with my pack on and we talked backpacking stuff.

Then he spent practically the rest of the night trying to find where you went because he knew we were friends (as opposed to acquaintances) and that I wanted to spend some time with you before it was time to go. And you’d bugged out.

You do that sort of thing. Like you suddenly get pissed off at me because of something I didn’t see coming and I would have avoided if I had seen it. And then it’s months before you talk to me again.

Love how you tease me every time we meet. You can launch yourself into a tea party tirade about how Obama has wreaked the economy with a perfectly straight face and if I didn’t know any better I’d swear you meant it. Of course, when I suggested with my own straight face that Trump was a good alternative the look on yours my dear German was priceless. Yes, I can tease back.

But teasing is only fun when there is a bedrock of honesty between friends and you don’t want me that close. For some reason. After I joked about Trump you said I was hard to read sometimes. No I’m not, and neither are you. And that’s really the problem all along isn’t it. We’re birds of a feather on the same wavelength every time we meet and you still can’t handle that. So you keep me at arm’s length. And then misjudgements happen.

Did you really get jealous? I swear…sometimes it’s like you forget I spent 33 years searching for you.  By now…don’t you know?

 


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Message In A Bottle
February 29th, 2016

Dreams…

I just woke up from what was probably the most wonderful dream I’ve ever had. And no, I wasn’t having sex. Actually, since I hit 30 I’ve almost never had dream sex,

I was asked out on a date. That’s never happened to me in real life. Never. I’ve always had to be the one who asked. And usually I got the you’re a nice guy Bruce but it just wouldn’t work answer back.

I won’t go into the details, but me and the object of my affections were both teenagers in this dream, and he was someone I was madly crushing on (and still am…but I said I wouldn’t go into details…). What made the dream even more enchanting was some fairly old fashioned family members were watching all this go down and gave me a signal they approved of the nice boy asking me out, once they’d had a chance to size him up.

It was like a slice of life from a better world, a better life. I woke up feeling Wonderful.

I’m 62, going on 63 now. I’ve had my three strikes. I know it will never be. I think this must be how acceptance feels. I’m okay with the dream I just had. Better than okay. Some dreams don’t have to come true after all. They can just be dreams.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Dreams…
February 22nd, 2016

A Small Awakening After A Long Winter

Put my bird feeders back up over the weekend. After I’d finished I noticed I seemed more awake, more aware of…everything…than I had in a long time.

I’d stopped feeding a couple winters ago (counting this one) because the mess was getting more annoying than I wanted to deal with. Birds are messy eaters and the shells get tossed every friggin’ where. Plus the additional cost of stocking up on big sacks of seed before winter set it was more one year that I wanted to bear.

But there was more to it, and even back then I knew it in that just-barely-aware space where you put things you flinch away from looking at too closely. Somehow I’d just lost interest. It’s weird, but looking back on it now I think I know why. The front yard was Claudia’s hangout and when she died, counter intuitively, I lost interest in the bird feeders.

I think it was the feeders were something I enjoyed looking out at. Watching birds at the feeders is one of those little joys I’ve indulged ever since kidhood. I’d have them out on the apartment balconies everywhere mom and I lived. One of the big deals of having a house of my own was I could really indulge it if I had a nice yard and space to put up different kinds of feeders for different kinds of birds. Then it happened and afterward I didn’t much care about the front yard anymore. Or more specifically, looking out the front window.

It’s odd and interesting how emotions can seem to be about one thing when they’re really about something else. I had no noticeable aversion to looking out the front window at the front yard and the street. I did it often if only to check on the weather and my car from time to time. My house being an middle-group rowhouse doesn’t have side windows, so the front, which faces the south, is my main source of sunlight. So it always got its blinds opened first thing in the morning. Had there been something making me actually flinch away from the window I’d have noticed it and walked it back to the source. But it was only disinterest in feeding the birds starting that winter. That little joy didn’t matter much anymore for some reason. So I took the feeders down. And without the feeders I never bothered looking out that window much, except to check on the weather, and the car. It’s been years since it happened and I still sometimes get flashbacks of glancing out that window and seeing Claudia thrashing on the street, and knowing in that instant she’d been run over.

Last Friday while telecommuting I saw a chickadee hopping around on my Japanese maple looking for the feeders that used to be out there and I thought I should go dig out one of the small sunflower seed feeders. It was a chore because all the feeders were in a storage container under the backyard deck and the outside door to it was still blocked by the huge pile of snow I’d shovelled off the deck. I could get to it from the basement door but I just knew it would be covered in funnel spider condos which I just didn’t want to get near without a lot of de-spider spray. Plus it was blocked off with workshop items like the table saw and ironically, the storage cans where I keep the wild bird seed.

But I got into it anyway and cleared out the spider encampment (I swear this spring I’m hiring an exterminator to de-spider the space under my deck) and worked my way to the container with the bird feeders in it. I ended up taking most of the stuff in it out. As I began setting things back up in the front yard something apparently awakened inside. I found myself trekking to the Wild Birds Unlimited out in Cockeysville and buying some new feeders and mounting poles, and some fresh suet cakes for the woodpeckers. And when I’d finished I looked at my front yard it seemed with fresh eyes, like as though for the past couple years I’d not really been seeing it right there in front of me.

Figured it might take me months to get my old customers back. They were all there by the end of that day.

 


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Small Awakening After A Long Winter
February 8th, 2016

Your love fills me with joy…for which I must repent.

Puritan Valentine’s Day Cards!  Oh yes…

puritan valentines

 

A friend on Facebook says, “For that special someone you’re willing to tolerate until one of you is dead.”


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Your love fills me with joy…for which I must repent.
January 25th, 2016

Two Sides That Are Not As Far Apart As You Think

This came across my Facebook steam this morning, and managed to re-ignite an anger I try very hard to keep contained…

Celibacy at Gay Christian Network: What’s that all about?

It was the following passage, right at the beginning of the linked article. I read stories like these and they make me really angry about what has been done to gay people…not only in the name of religion to be sure, but a certain sort of fundamentalist religion bears a lot of the blame…

On my first full-day at the Gay Christian Network annual conference, meeting in Houston, Texas, January 2016, I met a gay man, my age mate, who told me that for the past twenty years he has lived his gay Christian life committed to celibacy, but no more. Relatively recently, a pastor of a Southern Baptist church from his home state told him he could fully embrace his sexual orientation as a gift from God and enter into a same-sex marriage if he so desired. The man was, to use the expression, bursting with joy as he told me this…

…and I just want to go grab both sides A and B and yell in their faces while trying to shake some life back into them: get that goddamned cult leader off your back, whoever they are, however sincere they seem to be…Especially if they are sincere…You Do Not Need Third Party Permission To Be a Human Being!

And no, this isn’t about my being an atheist getting all holier than thou about religion. I have always had this reflex toward religiosity, or any politics for that matter, that is controlling. And that’s what this is all about; not denial of sex but denial of the heart within. There is no meaningful distance between I Give You Permission To Have That Intimate Heart-To-Heart Body And Soul Companionship and Permission Denied But Feel Free To Ache For It Until You Die Or Else God Won’t Love You And Neither Will We. None. Zero.

Listen to me, it isn’t Jesus you need to know better…it’s yourself. Love and desire are wonderful beautiful things. Finding it in another is one of this life’s perfect joys. The philosopher Lao Tzu said that being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Shame can only corrupt it, turn it against itself, lock you inside an insidious barbed wire fence. And the loveless soul soon becomes the empty shell for others to live vicariously in. If your faith isn’t a light within you, then it is a shroud someone’s wrapped you in. Unwrap yourself Lazarus, and go live life. 

And love God if that’s where you are, or love an amazing and sublime godless cosmos if that’s where you find yourself, and especially find someone to share it all with and love each other wholeheartedly, and don’t ask Anyone’s permission!

 


Posted In: Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Two Sides That Are Not As Far Apart As You Think
January 22nd, 2016

To Whom It May Concern…

I guess the thing that really surprised me is I always thought you’d be the braver one. I never considered myself brave, just stubborn.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on To Whom It May Concern…
January 12th, 2016

A Young Gay Guy In The Year 1977

While researching the events of 1977 and Anita Bryant’s campaign, I came across this via a Google image search that turned up this Jack Davis cartoon in the July 1978 issue of Mad magazine…

MadJuly78-JackDavis

It might seem surprising now how low class Mad Magazine’s attitude toward gays was…

Mad #145, Sept ‘71, from “Greeting Cards For The
Sexual Revolution” – “To A Gay Liberationist”

…but this blog post puts it into context: it wasn’t just the times, but also the 50s mindset of the staff. The liberal free spirit I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony mindset of the 60s-70s didn’t usually extend to Teh Gay. Check out the limp wrist in that Jack Davis cartoon. This is the world I came out into.

That summer of 1977 I had to listen to the BBC on my shortwave radio to hear the news from Florida because none of the TV and domestic radio news bothered to say anything about something that was obviously not of interest to decent normal people. Close to midnight sitting by the shortwave I learned that three out of four voters in Dade county had voted to kill an ordinance that simply said gay people ought not to lose their jobs or their housing simply because a boss or a landlord found out they’re gay. The next day as I walked through the city I found myself counting down three people for four I passed…trying to grasp the scope of how much people like me were still loathed.

Then later that December 1977…I watched the Christmas TV special that’s been on my mind the past couple days…


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Young Gay Guy In The Year 1977
January 11th, 2016

The Social Media Winds Blow…Coldly On Some Of Us…

The Outcasts are grieving today. Not all of us however, for the same reason. But because the tears at least are genuine, I will hold my peace. For now.

It’s true. I have to admit it, finally. Embrace my inner militant homosexual for the militant that he is. Go take a look in the mirror and admit that the completely unremarkable, vaguely distracted longhaired geek staring back at me is actually pretty hard core. Yes…yes I am. I reckon. I’ve said this before: A militant homosexual is a homosexual who thinks there isn’t anything wrong with being a homosexual, and a militant homosexual activist is a homosexual acting like there isn’t anything wrong with being a homosexual. It’s not about how many marches you’ve walked in, or protests you’ve attended, or how many petitions you’ve beaten the streets for signatures. It’s the mindset. That is the alpha and the omega of it. Because if you speak up for yourself or act up for yourself like you really mean it, whether it’s on the picket line or the checkout line, whether its facing down the Phelps clan or the boss or that kindly neighbor next door who wonders why teh gays want to destroy marriage for the rest of us, they will call you a militant homosexual. And so you are.

I’ve wandered amidst the quilt panels, remembering faces, hearing voices lost forever now to my ears. I’ve listened to the stories of survivors of ex-gay therapy, read their writings on the wall, surprised the bricks underneath weren’t crying too. And I’ve seen what the closet has done to so many good hearts. That’s the worst. So many good hearts. So many hopes and dreams of love and joy and contentment, never to be. There was nothing wrong with us. There was never anything more than simple, common everyday human prejudice and bigotry laid against us, grinding our hopes and dreams into other people’s stepping stones to heaven, or at least into a tiny shred of self respect they had no hope of earning for themselves. We had to be monsters so other people could be respectable. We had to bleed so other people could be righteous. We had to hate ourselves, so other people could admire the troglodyte they were.

When I was a teenager I fell madly in love with a classmate. I thought he hung the moon and the stars. It was the most wonderful thing I’d ever experienced. It blasted my denials about myself to dust. I’ve never felt a shred of shame since. Decades later, both of us old men now, I listened to him talk about how a life lived in the closet made it difficult some days to tell who he was looking at when he looked in a mirror.

Well I know who I’m looking at when I look in mine. And I have no patience. None.

That’s all I have to say.  For now.


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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Social Media Winds Blow…Coldly On Some Of Us…
January 6th, 2016

Some Days You Really Miss Rod Serling…(continued)

I think now my little Twilight Zone fantasy can be better. As I wrote it the other day it’s kinda obvious. What it needs is more of that humanity Serling and the writers he brought on board back in the day gave it. (and yes, I’ve been tweaking it ever since I put it up, but I think now I’ll just stop…). I think now that a better progression through the events of history would be if the men around Fearless Leader gradually began to see how wrong it was for them to appropriate the history of those events for themselves, and the tragedy of those who actually did come face to face with tyrannical state power, and as each change of scenery happens more and more of them begin to question what it was they were there to protest in the first place, and turn to the people they suddenly find themselves with and…apologize for comparing themselves to them.

And as they do this, fewer and fewer of them pass on to the next scene in history until the only one left is Fearless Leader, who never learns the lesson.

And maybe the last scene isn’t Tienanmen Square and instead of Sand Creek it’s that wildlife preserve but during the Indian Wars of the late 1800s and Fearless has been dropped in the middle of a roundup of the Indians who once lived there but were force marched out so the white land owners could move in. With the Union Soldiers is one of the old Land Barons mentioned at the beginning of the episode but he has his father’s face and he tells Fearless that they have to get off His land and Fearless says (not really getting that he looks like all the other Indians to this man) wait…not me…it’s our land…at which Land Baron shoots him…or the soldiers drag him off…and we get the closing narration…

standoff land history


Posted In: Politics Thumping My Pulpit
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January 5th, 2016

Some Days You Really Miss Rod Serling

This came across my Facebook stream, in relation to the militia kooks occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon…

twilight zone oregon federal building standoff-sm

In case you haven’t read by now, the militia heros that declared themselves ready to occupy the cottage at the preserve by force of arms for years if necessary until the government ceded the land to them…didn’t bring with them any food…

19492266-standard

Internet ridicule has swiftly followed…

send snacks

Somewhere else I read they were also asking for socks.

This is all very good snark material, but that picture of Rod Serling got me to thinking about what he’d have possibly made of all this. The Twilight Zone wasn’t merely comic book weird tales and amazing stories. Within its otherworldly take, Serling took on the social, moral and political issues of his time, and because his stories were so good as to be timeless, ours as well. The more you watch those old black & white episodes, the more you appreciate what he managed to accomplish in the Hollywood system, and the more you miss him. If TV was a vast wasteland back then, it’s a toxic landfill now.

You can imagine it opening with the militia, (which Twitter quickly dubbed Y’all Qaeda) talking to reporters from the front door of the cottage. Perhaps the local sheriff steps forward to beg them to leave peacefully before anyone gets hurt. The townsfolk don’t want you here, we’re a peaceful law abiding community, the men you’re defending were found guilty of setting fires on public land by a jury of their peers. They could have killed those firemen and rangers. Please…just go…before anyone gets hurt. And the militia spokesman with the cameras rolling (this is late 1950s TV) just recites his boilerplate about freedom, tyranny and the lawless federal government taking our land and persecuting the ranchers. Waving his rifle in the air he says he and his men will occupy the land for as long as it takes and like the patriots who fought for America they too are willing to die for their cause if it comes to it. 

…at which point the camera might pan over to Rod Serling, who might say something along the lines of…

Meet [name of militia leader], American patriot, who with his men has just invaded a small wildlife sanctuary in a remote part of Oregon to defend freedom from the scarecrows contained within pamphlets and newspapers printed by extremist madmen. But tonight those scarecrows will step off the printed page and accept his challenge, because what he and his men don’t yet realize is the land they have occupied…is in the Twilight Zone.

The camera backs away from the militia news conference, and begins to pan over a gathered small crowd watching the proceedings. We hear the militia man arguing with the sheriff in the background, while various townsfolk express their opinion that they should leave before someone gets hurt. Others that they have a point, the federal government doesn’t seem to listen to the people anymore. Someone says they’d listen if more of us voted. Somebody else whispers that they’re not fighting for the ranchers, they’re fighting for the old land barons who owned everything here including the water, before the government cut them down to size. 

The camera comes back to the scene in front of the cottage. The sheriff warns the militiaman that the longer they stay the more likely someone will get hurt. The man repeats his claim that they are willing to die in the fight against tyranny.

The scene changes to night. The camera pans from armed watchmen outside to the interior of the house, where we see these guys are just playing soldier. They brought plenty of ammunition but nobody figured on food and the water to the cottage had been turned off for the winter. There is some argument about what to do next, but the leader is still in control. Unfortunately, he’s just a schoolyard bully in a grownup body. He has neither military experience nor common sense. They bed down for the night.

Then they wake up to find themselves in a Jewish ghetto surrounded by SS men. They have some weapons, but now there is a military force arrayed around them, not a small town sheriff and a few men.  Now we see what they’re really made of and none of them are even close to soldier material, nor martyr either: they’re cowards and it shows right away, first in the leader, who like all bullies collapses into a self pitying heap when confronted with anyone bigger and stronger. His men quickly follow. The Jews in the room with them look on in disgust. The soldiers outside begin firing.

They all die. Then they wake up again in teepees at Sand Creek surrounded by soldiers. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Then they wake up again and they’re in a southern black church during the civil rights days surrounded by a lynch mob led by the local sheriff. Again the cowardly behavior. Again the looks of disgust from the people in the church.

Then they wake up in a small house in ancient Rome, there is a makeshift cross on the wall…Roman centurions are outside. The men rend their togas and try to wave white surrender flags out the windows while the Christians inside look on in disgust. The centurions  break down the door, charge inside with their short Roman swords…

…and they wake up in Tiananmen Square…

…at which point the camera pans over to Rod Serling, who might look into the camera and say something along the lines of…

Every tyrant is a thief and every thief a potential tyrant, and the items of value for their taking are more than simply money and land, but also culture, history, and valor. These things, intangible though they are, contain the sum of all wealth and human nobility that ever was and will ever be, and while they may be stolen and worn for a time, they can only be lived by the those who have earned them. A word of warning to anyone who would cast themselves in the role of martyr in the defense of liberty: you might just get an audition…in the Twilight Zone…

Of course, Rod Serling would write a better story and better words to speak to the camera than I could ever put in his mouth. But a kid who grew up in the black & white TV days can still imagine what it would have been like.

ammon-bundy-bw

 

tiananmen_square-bw 


Posted In: Politics
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Some Days You Really Miss Rod Serling

Yes, He’s A Kook…But What Do You Think That Means?

Just in case you’ve forgotten over the holidays how batshit crazy this man is, this clip from The Rachel Maddow Show is well worth watching.  The clips of his news interviews over the birth certificate are instructive.

Just a few weeks ago George Will was warning that a Trump candidacy would destroy the conservative movement

One hundred and four years of history is in the balance. If Trump is the Republican nominee in 2016, there might not be a conservative party in 2020 either.

But the suit and tie conservatives like Will, bellyaching that Trump might destroy the conservative movement, need to point their fingers in the mirror instead. Trump is what he is, because the kook pews are what they are, and the kook pews are what they are because the country club crowd found them useful enough to enable them. Will to this day idolizes Ronald Reagan, who began his successful campaign for the presidency in 1980 in a Mississippi city near where James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were murdered for registering black voters, with a speech about state’s rights. He knew perfectly well what Reagan was doing that day. They all did.

Yes, Trump is nuts. What do you think that means? The moral judgement attaches to those who knew better, or could have known better had they wanted to, but took the belly flop into the gutter anyway. Morality is choice, and Trump just is what he is and his followers just are what they are. The judgement on bargains made with the devil attach to the bargainer. Donald Trump is the face in the conservative mirror.

Donald_Trump

 


Posted In: Politics Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Yes, He’s A Kook…But What Do You Think That Means?
December 25th, 2015

I’m Missing A Christmas Card This Year…

Met my old lover in the grocery store
The snow was falling Christmas Eve
I stole behind her in the frozen foods
And I touched her on the sleeve

She didn’t recognize the face at first
But then her eyes flew open wide
She went to hug me and she spilled her purse
And we laughed until we cried

We took her groceries to the checkout stand
The food was totaled up and bagged
We stood there lost in our embarrassment
As the conversation dragged

Went to have ourselves a drink or two
But couldn’t find an open bar
We bought a six-pack at the liquor store
And we drank it in her car

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how

She said she’d married her an architect
Who kept her warm and safe and dry
She would have liked to say she loved the man
But she didn’t like to lie

I said the years had been a friend to her
And that her eyes were still as blue
But in those eyes I wasn’t sure if I
Saw doubt or gratitude

She said she saw me in the record stores
And that I must be doing well
I said the audience was heavenly
But the traveling was hell

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to time
Reliving in our eloquence
Another ‘auld lang syne’

The beer was empty and our tongues were tired
And running out of things to say
She gave a kiss to me as I got out
And I watched her drive away

Just for a moment I was back at school
And felt that old familiar pain
And as I turned to make my way back home
The snow turned into rain

-Dan Fogelberg, “Same Old Lang Syne”


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I’m Missing A Christmas Card This Year…
December 24th, 2015

Age And Wisdom

Regards Kentucky’s new governor, that quote of H.L Mencken’s about democracy being based on the theory that the people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard kept coming back to mind. Whilst looking it up I stumbled upon this one…

The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.
-H. L. Mencken

Yeah. About that. There’s this beautiful quote of Issac Newton…that I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. The wisdom there is this: that even if you take care to walk though your life with your eyes open and your mind curious, you will still only see what was there for you to see. And that portion is very small.

Don Juan (I’m showing my generational age group now) said that the second foe was Clarity, and that to defeat it you had to keep in mind that your knowledge was merely a light in the path before you, and you do not see what is on either side of that path. Jacob Bronowski said that all knowledge is bound within an area of uncertainty and we must treat what we know with humility. As people get older, myself included, they tend to put great stock in their accumulated life experiences. But you have to be careful. Yes, it was real. But it was only the smoother pebbles and prettier shells you found. There was a greater ocean around you that you will never know.

That doesn’t mean your life experiences are worthless. It was real. It was wonderful. But you need to keep in mind that it was only a part of the whole. And that greater part is huge. Infinite practically. You learned a lot. Treasure it. Pass it on. But remember: the ocean remains.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Age And Wisdom

Code Yellow!

Continuing in our series of Homeland Security Color Alert Code illustrations. Because you all want to be safe and secure in these uncertain times don’t you? Well we’re not from the government and we’re here to help! Our color coded alerts will keep you informed and up to date on everything you need to be afraid of.

Today’s color is YELLOW: Hit the brakes or the gas…think quickly now…

Alert-Level-Yellow


Posted In: cartoon
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Code Yellow!
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