Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Next Up, Anti-Choicers Recruit at a NOW Meeting

Apparently, this flyer was handed out at the Central Market in Austin, Texas, which is slightly smarter than handing them out at the pride parade, but only by a teensy weensy, nearly-invisible margin. Admitted, I don't know very much about Texas, but one thing I do know (and only because a couple of awesome men I know, and yes, they are a "couple" too moved there) is that Austin is perhaps the only place in the Land of Texas that gay and lesbian people feel relatively comfortable. Granted, it's no Castro or P-Town, but it apparently provides a sense of accessibility to gays and lesbians.

What makes this even more absurd, is the fact that these flyers were passed out at teh Central Market, the equivalent of Andronico's in Berkeley or Bread n' Circus in Cambridge. I can't think of a better place to whine about how your "traditional" marriage is threatened by what the neighbors do than at an upscale hippie-ish grocery store. Central Market (again, I know this because of those lovely men) is where you go to buy your granola in bulk, your soap by the pound, and your organic wines with cute drawings on the front accompanied by stinky cheeses you swore not to spend money on next time. Not exactly a hotbed for the braindead Wonder Bread lovers who are actually unthinking enough to vote against the rights of their neighbors.

Although I've known the occasional organic food lover to be a wingnut, I always thought they were the oddity. Now, sadly, I'm learning that organic foods and bad politics have no necessary connection. Apparently, Whole Foods isn't owned by a liberal either.

What next? Will I find a "pro-clubbing baby harp seals" posters stuck to my windshield when I finish shopping at the cheese co-op?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Long and Winding Road . . .

Four years ago my world was tilted on its axis -- September 11, 2001 had just occurred, George W. Bush was about to steal the presidency out from under good sense and common decency and I got married.

Granted, MT Moon and I had been together for 8 years at that time but it was still nice to look forward to a ‘wedding anniversary’ to celebrate rather than that “we’ve been together how long” milestone we'd been drinking to before then. We definitely set something of a new trend getting married later as it seemed so many of our friends were married with children by then.

But I think we've gotten the best of all worlds. We’ve been together since our mid-twenties, gotten married fairly late in life by modern urban standards, and are in it for the duration, which means even more time together. We've certainly had our ups and downs: four moves in as many years, a miscarriage, an old house, two "high-powered" careers and now we've got this wonderful, beautiful child in our family, who came along at the right time, without some rush to make an addition before the two of us got to know each other (we knew each other just fine when the rush came, thank you). We’ve been together for one-third of our lives and I can't imagine doing anything other than this, and don't especially care to.

In light of MT Moon’s despondency that he couldn’t make the wedding cake (he was certainly more than capable of making it and of doing a damn fine job of it too - I simply lacked the fortitude to withstand the psychosis that would surface were he to take on such a huge task in the midst of planning our wedding) we decided that he would pick out nice wedding bands instead of those crappy ones most guys get as a throw away to the engagement ring. He chose rings made by J. Binion a metalsmith in Oregon who implements a Japanese heat fusing technique called Mokume Gane where a combination of various alloys (in our case, white, yellow and red gold) are forged, carved and finished to produce a uniquely patterned ring. They’re then split in half to create a mirror image of the other. I honestly couldn’t imagine a more perfect symbol of our life together since MT Moon is in fact a mirrored version of me (I mean in spirit, of course, since I'm not 6’2” and male).

The day after our third anniversary -- September 22, 2004, in case you're wondering -- MT Moon and I were at a wedding. Someone with a video camera asked how long we'd been together, and when we told him, he asked what our secret was. I made some stupid wisecrack, which I've regretted ever since. What I should have said is that the secret to a long, happy relationship and marriage is to marry the ideal person. Do that and everything else falls into place.

Happy anniversary, MT Moon. I'd marry you again, especially if I also got to keep the last twelve years.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I am stuck on stupid and stupid's stuck on me!

9/14 The gloriously badass Lt. General Russel Honore rolled into New Orleans to oversee military operations a couple of weeks ago, and he was asked why the response took so long. "This is a disaster," he said. "This isn't something somebody can control. We ain't stuck on stupid."

9/20 In similar badass-mode, Gen. Honore Honore told a reporter today:

Male reporter: General, a little bit more about why that's happening this time, though, and did not have that last time...Honore: You are stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that question. We are going to deal with Rita. This is public information that people are depending on the government to put out. This is the way we've got to do it. So please. I apologize to you, but let's talk about the future. Rita is happening. And right now, we need to get good, clean information out to the people that they can use. And we can have a conversation on the side about the past, in a couple of months.
Ah, I can see it now. T-shirts, bumper stickers, even a few camouflaged-colored wristbands with SOS etched into them. This is so perfectly American - find a tagline and don’t let go. You know whom I think is stuck on stupid . . . ?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Fascism Anyone?

The 14 characteristics of Fascism (tm Dr. Lawrence Britt) are:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need". The people tend to 'look the other way' or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or through sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in wartime, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses, and even forego civil liberties, in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions, and who use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against (or even the assassination of) opposition candidates, the use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and the manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Dr. Britt studied the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile). He found the regimes all had 14 things in common. Need I say anything more?

Monday, September 19, 2005


This recent story about a “Muslim Burger King employee who threatened a jihad over a design for an ice cream package that resembled the Arabic symbol for ‘Allah’” has created quite the buzz.

When I first read the story, I couldn't help but laugh. Mainly because 1) I didn’t think that Burger King's graphic design crew set out to suggest -- however imperfectly -- that Allah is a swirly cone; 2) Nothing in the Koran says that Allah is not in fact a diety filled with chocolatey goodness; and 3) Burger King (whether the British Kingdom headquarters or the U.S. affiliates) are just not smart enough to even know what the Arabic lettering for Allah would look like in order to intend such an offense. Then, however, I made an observation: what a strange world we live in, where people no longer understand when people’s sensitivities must be ignored (i.e., when considering the laws that affect freedom of speech) and when they must be considered (i.e., when something, seemingly innocent yet highly offensive, is created for capital gain). This is the latter. Sure, BK probably doesn’t have enough sense to know that it’s ice cream product might offend when lain on its side and compared to Arabic inscription. But so what? Change it. I t makes good business sense and it will help to mend the damage done by the unintended slight.

Friday, September 16, 2005


"I consider detailed emergency planning to be a national security priority,"
State of the Nation Address by President George W. Bush, September 15, 2005

Well, he does now! But not before Hurricane Katrina? What will it take for this man to put the American people ahead of whatever misguided agenda he is pushing? It’s clear that he’s not particularly engaged in the process but couldn’t he at least pretend to care?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Not paradise . . . but close

And if I laugh at any mortal thing,
'Tis that I may not weep

-- Lord Byron

This morning I went for a biopsy. Those are seven of the most fearsome and sobering words I've ever uttered. Which is good, because I guess the seven universally most sobering and fearsome words are probably "I just found out I have cancer." Those words, thankfully, I do not have to say. At least not yet. The biopsy was of two tumors (one half-dollar-sized and one dime-sized) in my right breast. It wasn't a particularly painful experience, although the mammogram was a bitch -- nothing like taking perfectly normal size 36-C cups and creating 38-LONG via a freezing metal vice. Luckily, I'm apparantly made of spandex, as it all managed to snap right back into place.

Anyway, two needles, a little blood and a ridiculously cold room later, and . . . I'm done. "Alrighty!" said my doctor, "Everything looks good and the fluid is clear. So, you're free to go and I'll see you next time." Out the door she flew. Well . . . okay then. I was unprepared for the anticlimactic feeling that washed over me. I was relieved, undoubtedly, but I was also . . . deflated (yeah, no puns needed here, thanks). If felt almost like an unsatisfactory tryst (not that I'd know what that's like or anything, [ahem] I've just heard things). There's the big buildup, the anticipated crescendo and . . . nothing. He just gets up all, "Alrighty then, that was fun. I'll check you later," slamming the door behind him and you're left lying there thinking, "Is that it? Shouldn't there have been something of a ceremony at the end there?"

But there wasn't. Just me, alone on the table, staring at photos of the French Riviera glued to the ceiling. "Why are those there," I wondered. Am I supposed to lie here thinking, I'm not half-naked in a 44°F 5x10 room having my right breast punctured and siphoned while three people look on. I'm actually on the Côte d'Azur and those hands belong to a lovely scantily-clad fellow named Jean-Tourine. Um, doc? Not so much. Just as I don't need anyone to mask my Mylanta with the jaunty taste of mint, I don't really need my biopsy to become a vacation getaway. Like Seinfeld said, "Do it like a Band-Aid. One motion! Right off!" No niceties required.

Well, it's done. A scary two weeks leading up to it and then it's over. I am thankful. I am grateful. Two weeks of worrying about my will, my "pre-need plans" my husband, my son. To find out it was all unnecessary. It wasn't a trip to the Greek isles but, in fact, a much better journey. For anyone out there who hasn't done and/or doesn't do regular self-exams, out of fear, out of ignorance or for whatever reason, I beg of you. Do them. Have your doctor do them. Have your loved one do them. For gobs sake, I'll do them. Whatever it takes. Please, just do them. You might even get a trip to California out of it. Again, it's not paradise, but that can wait, can't it?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

An Old Glory

This story from today's Washington Times emphasizes the incongruity between America as a concept and the reality. Most Americans see this country as a force for good and a beacon of hope. This callous and racist display of lack of human kindness during such a dire time of need is one of many such instances where the facade of a "good America" is once again tarnished by the stark reality of what America truly stands for.

There are moments when I want to be a patriot. I really do. On the Fourth of July I stand with all the rest, my head back and my eyes bright, the dazzling display of fireworks mirrored on my face and I listen to the songs (America the Beautiful and the Star Spangled Banner) and I think, this country has such promise. If it truly realized all that it professes to be, then I could be a patriot. I could stand and salute the flag and not just with my middle finger. I could wear red, white and blue without a trace of irony. I could actually stand with my hand over my heart and recite the pledge of allegiance instead of citing the doctrine of Separation of Chuch and State in my head.

I want to be a patriot. But American patriotism draws the wrong boundaries and ties me to people who embody evil while separating me from those who share my interests. Fools take it up to support their foolishness, murderers take it up to defend their acts of murder, caring people take it up to justify their complicity in a destructive system.

Making my point better than I ever could is this example of true American Patriotism. Someone tore down our American flag. I know that sounds like the beginning of one of those awful folksy/country/crappy songs gracing every radio station and tribute show after 9/11, but it's true. We have a flag that flies above our garage (I guess "had" is the accurate term now.) Our garage is an historic building in the town we live in and the flag came with). It's not really "our" flag. It belonged to the previous owners of our house and to the town before that. We're not "flag people" if you want to know the truth as we've seen too much of the underbelly of this country to run around spouting patriotic nonsense and waving the flag around. Nevertheless, it was, essentially, our flag and this violent act upset me more than I would have imagined it would. My husband just yesterday mentioned that he was going to lower to flag to fly half-staff in honor of the Hurricane Katrina victims as well as for 9/11. Unfortunately, he never got the chance. Some eager and I'm sure truly patriotic person took it upon himself (yes, I'm making a gender call here) to enter onto our property and not only lower the flag, but take it down completely and unceremoniously throw it in a heap on the side of the garage. Granted, this particular flag is probably 40 years old, and the years showed. My husband and I discussed taking it down, but then reconsidered. In some ways, this flag truly represented America to us. A symbol of something that never truly was. The idea was great, but in reality, it was just a dirty, faded and tattered idol.

However, I would love to talk to the upstanding citizen who did this just to get his take on the whole thing. If he was so upset that we hadn't yet lowered the flag, then he was welcomed to knock on the door and mention it. Granted, if he was so overcome by emotion that he absolutely had to act out and do it himself not being able to bear seeing the Stars and Bars so disrespected, then fine. I am not crazy about the idea, and if I had seen him doing it he probably would have gotten a kick in the pants. But okay. Yet, if he was so incensed by the idea of this battered and torn flag flying on such a tragic day that he had to tear it down completely, why throw it in a pile of trash on the ground? That is the patent hypocrisy hidden under the thin skein of American patriotism that I just cannot stomach. I mean there is a way to retire an old flag and I would imagine a true patriot would know that! I mean, c'mon, even I know that and I'm not a patriot.

I was as horrified at the events of September 11th as many others. Yet I can't muster that "flag waving" behavior that others do. Probably because I have yet to dig into any period of American history without finding real nastiness at every turn. I am upset that the massacres of Native Americans, the slave trade, the Japanese internment and other such events have been normalized to the degree that commentators can claim that the flag stands for the "good America and not the bad America" rather than the whole catastrophic package.

When I think of the good things that Americans do and have done, I feel a connection not to a national entity but to all those people around the world who exemplify the magic and mystery of being human. Until this country can stamp out the duplicity of the Catholic church elders, the emotional, intellectual apathy and violence of the educational system, and the political motives behind the Iraq War (and everything the Republicans stand for) it will never come close to its potential. Thus, for me, the flag will forever remain a tattered ruin.

Friday, September 09, 2005

And we thought he couldn't spell!

From A to Z, thanks to The Daily Show.

Y is my favorite . . . and i don't imagine it will take us long to get there either. Damn!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Sight Unseen

I don't even know where to begin with the whole New Orleans disaster. The destruction created by the storm is, of course, tragic. But the destruction created by some of the people who remain is really just mind boggling. I can't help but wonder, what kind of person, when the worst has happened and the most vulnerable of our society are weakened even further, thinks that the right, no the natural, thing to do is to rape, loot and shoot? It. Astounds. Me.

That inexorable question aside, what can you even say about a city that's never going to be the same? The closest I've come to a hurricane is the tropical storm that blew through Honolulu in 2001. Quite freaky. I have no rational basis for feeling this way, but I am thoroughly wholly and completely terrified of Tsunamis. Growing up near the ocean, I never experienced any real threat of a tidal wave, nevertheless, the fear is there. That day, standing on Waikiki Beach, listening to the old air raid sirens stationed around Diamond Head droning that weird, wheeeaa wheeeaa wheeeaa overhead, I was scared shitless. I huddled in my little crackerbox apartment and prayed. But anyway, it turned out to be just . . . a storm. Trees blew over, but we handled it. Some missed work because the buses were delayed, some of the hotels lost a few of their Palms. But the city's still there. Nothing vanished. No one rioted. No one looted. No one fled.

I will donate to the United Way Hurricane Katrina Response Fund (among others Oxfam Red Cross). I'm not sure what else to do. It feels helpful to give money. But my meager dollars in the face of everything down there just feels insignificant. Also, it's hard to absorb the magnitude of what really happened, what's still happening, down there. Mostly because it feels so far away. So isolated. Listening to the voices, the screaming and those damn weird sound effects NPR insists upon embedding in their "on the scene" spots and it sounds like a disaster movie. This morning, the story was, of course and again, about Katrina. A woman was begging for assistance. Her tear filled plea, "Please, pleeeaase, send us some help. Please, someone help us, please!" had me in tears. And yet, I'm fine. It feels really jarring and discordant to leave work like I normally do and go home like I normally do, and watch TV like I normally do, despite the fact that so many people can't do that any more because their living rooms and their TV sets and their cars are under water, or ruined, or looted.

New Orleans was one of my mother's favorite cities. I imagine how she would have grieved while watching CNN; mourning all the loss of what was, for better and worse, a spectacular city, and the fact that her grandkids will never know the city in which she fell in love. That's the strangest, hardest part -- that New Orleans will never be the same. Not for a long time, anyway. T he buildings are slowly rotting, the toxic sludge that fills the streets eating away at whatever it surrounds. A lot of the buildings will have to be torn down, if they don't collapse on their own. Life as these people know it will not return for years, and maybe not even then. When the talking heads refer to the "near term," they're still talking at least three years out. It's mind-blowing. My husband mentioned last night that his biggest regret (he admitted it was a selfish thought - but aren't most?) was, "I never went there. I never saw it." And sadly, in a way he never will.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Pithy Problem

The challenge I've recently discovered in having created this site is the increasing pressure I now feel to be witty and wise. Part of the problem is that I, like many, suffer under the conceit that what I have to say is worth hearing and thus must transcend the commonplace babble available on so many blogs. And, in truth? It isn't (necessarily worth hearing) and it won't (transcend anything). Nevertheless, here I am with this neat and rare opportunity to let my brain run off at the cortex, so here goes . . . .

Yep, just as I suspected. Completely empty.
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