Just some thoughts and ideas going around in my head while trying to figure out where I am and where everyone else is going.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Ice Queen Cometh

“If I say so and when I say so, you are, what I say you are, nothing more,”
Rex Harrison as Caesar to Liz Taylor in Cleopatra.

Years and years ago, I remember my psych professor telling the class that no matter whom we thought we were or how we felt about ourselves; we were actually the people that others thought us to be. In other words, no matter how much you thought you acted and behaved like Mother Theresa, if most people thought that you more like Mussolini, then that’s who you were.

Now, I have never really kept that little tidbit as something to live by, but I have remembered it from time to time and tried to be as friendly and open to everyone as much as I could. That’s what I did with Karl, who I saw last week on my way home.

Karl with a K, that’s the way he introduces himself to everyone, is someone that that just got laid-off from his job at an insurance company. Now he works part time at a bookstore on 13th St., and you know what kind of bookstore I’m talking about. Now we aren’t great friends, in fact I have never called him on the phone even though I have had his number for the last six or seen years. But, I see him and he tells me to walk him to his job and sit a while; which is what I did behind the counter after I took a tour of the place and gauged who the clientele were.

Once seated, I said to Karl that I had thought that he worked at the other bookstore across the street. He told me no because they would not allow him to have sex with the customers. It would be a job with no benefits and for someone with his sexual appetites, to work in a whorehouse and not participate in the fun and games was definitely out. At this place he could have as much dick and ass as he pleased, three or four times a night if he wanted and he had his Cialis to keep things running if needed.

Well, after I while I started to think of ways to leave without being abrupt, when I noticed a short, youngish white man had been standing by the steps. Karl also noticed. The man came closer and gave Karl the $10 to get into the back. “I’ll be back there in a minute,” Karl said to the young man. The customer nodded and slipped through the gate and went into the darkened passageways. It was time for me to go.

Karl and I hugged, although it seemed to be more in a fashion of two dogs sniffing each other rather than friends embracing. We promised we would see each other again and I left thinking that I was friends with a whore. How can anyone call me snobbish or judgmental? I open my arms and my heart to anyone. I just had to remember to wash my hands when I got home.

I think of another night years ago when leaving a restaurant with an ex and a couple of his friends when I heard him mention that someone had taken to calling him Niles. You know Niles, the skinny gangly looking brother of Frazier Crane. The one that you would imagine to have some facial or body spasms derived from his nervous inability to accept nothing less than the best, at least in his eyes. Niles was the only other person on the TV show that just as snobbish, pretentious and as arrogant as the star of the show. When I heard him say this I laughed. The name fit him so well. I bent over and laughed again, all the way home.

It’s not that I was being vindictive or unsupportive. Even though we would fight over anything, anytime any place, it’s just that my boyfriend, ooh there’s a phrase I have never written before, believed that he was such a cut above the rest, that he made everyone rise to his standards. He was the type of person that could lift his head up, jut his jaw out and smell that faint whiff of blue blood in the air at a hundred paces. He had a piquant sense of finesse that would be rivaled by no one. That’s what made it funny. I would even fight him over it, but truth be told, I loved him for it. Maybe I still do.

Then two or three months later I heard him say to someone over the phone, Marris would not be doing something or other that night. I thought to myself, “Marris?----Marris? Who’s Marris?”

Then it dawned on me. Marris was Niles’s cold bitch of a wife. She was the one that you never saw, but only heard spoken of in a derisive manner. She was supposed to be callous and unfeeling, stern and unyielding. She was the one that everyone feared and everyone stayed away from. She was even more snobbish than Niles but without the personality. She was the butt of everyone’s jokes. In short Marris was me.

I was the punch line in someone’s ribald humor. And it was funny. And I laughed. But to this day I say that I am not cold, but if that is what people say and think about me, then “fuck em,” I've got my whore friends.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

California or Bust

And the results are in. A landslide victory for Obama.

This year I have tried not to support or endorse anybody running for anything, and not just because no one would really care about what I think.

Well actually I did think about Dennis Kucinich, but only because he looked like a mouse caught with his tail in a trap staring up at Tom the cat while he spouted off the craziest things that might work in the European countries and some islands in the Pacific but not here in the good ole US of A, home of democracy, the last fronteirsman and the Chevy Malibu.

Anyway, now that South Carolina has been won by Obama, he is looking over Hillary's shoulder and I'm sure, like many people, he is actually thinking this race can be his.

And it can be, but the Democrats are heading to Super Tuesday in February where I believe New York, Illinois and California, 3 of the largest states will be among others that will have their primary elections that day.

Now Illinois I will give to Obama, but will New York go for Hillary with all the ethnic minorities there. Well maybe since many of then can't vote anyway. Have you been to Brooklyn in the last 20 years? So that leaves California.

My quick prediction, whoever wins California, wins the the Democratic Party's nomination for the presidency.

Yes I know, the medea has said time and time again that for the last 150 years or whatever it is, whoever has won South Carolina has gone on to become president, but how many of them were black I ask? How many of them were female.

No my friend, it's California that's going to answer your questions. It's California or bust.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Age and the Barber Shop

It’s funny how some things and people change with the passage of time while others don’t.

I went to the barber shop the other day. I have been going to the same shop for the last 14 or 15 years. It may not seem like a long time compared to other people who have seen the same barber since the day after they were born, but it took me a long time to find someone that I was comfortable with touching me and an environment that I could fully relax in. As a result, over the years I have met and seen many of the customers who frequent the place. I may not be close enough for movie and dinner invitations, but I know many of them by face at least.

This time, I was sitting in the shop waiting my turn, staring up at the TV looking at the news when Mario came in. I had seen him there one time before, but had not been sure that it was him. This time I was. In fact he came up to me, recognized me and offered his hand.

He stood over me and I looked at his graying hair, the scar over his left eyebrow and the twinkle in his eyes that I remembered from before. He was slightly heavier than when I last saw him about fifteen years ago, but he still held an attractiveness that was not overwhelming but appealing.

I thought about how he would be the only one to wear a thong in the whirlpool at Bally’s. He would have both the boys and the girls stare and want him as he entered or left. He had such an aura about him that his masculinity would never be questioned and that made him even sexier. He was my rival, but he was also someone that I wanted.

Now as he turned away, I noticed the bald spot in the back of his head and the lines in his face that had deepened with time. I thought to myself how old he had become and the quick youthful step that he carried himself with was just a memory replaced now by that belly that protruded. I compared myself to him and I thought about how I looked and felt good about myself.

Then I remembered the old joke where a man goes to see a dentist and while looking up at her from the chair, he realizes that she was a former high school class mate. He wonders to himself how old she looks and how she could have let herself go like that. The man decides to tell the dentist that he knows her.

“Excuse me, but I think you were in my class in high school,” he says.

“Really,” she said without blinking. “What class did you teach?”

There is a lesson there. Something about age, beauty and humility I think, but until I can figure it out, I will just go on thinking about how some people change with age while I remain as constant as the Northern Star...except for that click in my right knee whenever I walk that is.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King Day

It's Martin Luther King day. I didn't want to say anything, but I think you actually do say something even when you don't. So instead, I will just list the last speech spoken by MLK in memphis, the day before his death copied from American Rhetoric.

"Thank you very kindly, my friends. As I listened to Ralph Abernathy and his eloquent and generous introduction and then thought about myself, I wondered who he was talking about. It's always good to have your closest friend and associate to say something good about you. And Ralph Abernathy is the best friend that I have in the world. I'm delighted to see each of you here tonight in spite of a storm warning. You reveal that you are determined to go on anyhow.Something is happening in Memphis; something is happening in our world. And you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of taking a kind of general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, "Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?" I would take my mental flight by Egypt and I would watch God's children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn't stop there.
I would move on by Greece and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon. And I would watch them around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality. But I wouldn't stop there.I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire. And I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders. But I wouldn't stop there.

I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance, and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and aesthetic life of man. But I wouldn't stop there.
I would even go by the way that the man for whom I am named had his habitat. And I would watch Martin Luther as he tacked his ninety-five theses on the door at the church of Wittenberg. But I wouldn't stop there.
I would come on up even to 1863, and watch a vacillating President by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. But I wouldn't stop there.I would even come up to the early thirties, and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation. And come with an eloquent cry that we have nothing to fear but "fear itself." But I wouldn't stop there.
Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, "If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the 20th century, I will be happy."
Now that's a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around. That's a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men, in some strange way, are responding.
Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee -- the cry is always the same: "We want to be free."

And another reason that I'm happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn't force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it's nonviolence or nonexistence. That is where we are today.And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn't done, and done in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed. Now, I'm just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period to see what is unfolding. And I'm happy that He's allowed me to be in Memphis.I can remember -- I can remember when Negroes were just going around as Ralph has said, so often, scratching where they didn't itch, and laughing when they were not tickled. But that day is all over. We mean business now, and we are determined to gain our rightful place in God's world.And that's all this whole thing is about. We aren't engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. We are saying -- We are saying that we are God's children. And that we are God's children, we don't have to live like we are forced to live.Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history? It means that we've got to stay together. We've got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh's court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that's the beginning of getting out of slavery. Now let us maintain unity.Secondly, let us keep the issues where they are. The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. Now, we've got to keep attention on that. That's always the problem with a little violence. You know what happened the other day, and the press dealt only with the window-breaking. I read the articles. They very seldom got around to mentioning the fact that one thousand, three hundred sanitation workers are on strike, and that Memphis is not being fair to them, and that Mayor Loeb is in dire need of a doctor. They didn't get around to that.Now we're going to march again, and we've got to march again, in order to put the issue where it is supposed to be -- and force everybody to see that there are thirteen hundred of God's children here suffering, sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing is going to come out. That's the issue. And we've got to say to the nation: We know how it's coming out. For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.

We aren't going to let any mace stop us. We are masters in our nonviolent movement in disarming police forces; they don't know what to do. I've seen them so often. I remember in Birmingham, Alabama, when we were in that majestic struggle there, we would move out of the 16th Street Baptist Church day after day; by the hundreds we would move out. And Bull Connor would tell them to send the dogs forth, and they did come; but we just went before the dogs singing, "Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around."
Bull Connor next would say, "Turn the fire hoses on." And as I said to you the other night, Bull Connor didn't know history. He knew a kind of physics that somehow didn't relate to the transphysics that we knew about. And that was the fact that there was a certain kind of fire that no water could put out. And we went before the fire hoses; we had known water. If we were Baptist or some other denominations, we had been immersed. If we were Methodist, and some others, we had been sprinkled, but we knew water. That couldn't stop us.
And we just went on before the dogs and we would look at them; and we'd go on before the water hoses and we would look at it, and we'd just go on singing "Over my head I see freedom in the air." And then we would be thrown in the paddy wagons, and sometimes we were stacked in there like sardines in a can. And they would throw us in, and old Bull would say, "Take 'em off," and they did; and we would just go in the paddy wagon singing, "We Shall Overcome." And every now and then we'd get in jail, and we'd see the jailers looking through the windows being moved by our prayers, and being moved by our words and our songs. And there was a power there which Bull Connor couldn't adjust to; and so we ended up transforming Bull into a steer, and we won our struggle in Birmingham. Now we've got to go on in Memphis just like that. I call upon you to be with us when we go out Monday.
Now about injunctions: We have an injunction and we're going into court tomorrow morning to fight this illegal, unconstitutional injunction. All we say to America is, "Be true to what you said on paper." If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand some of these illegal injunctions. Maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn't committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And so just as I say, we aren't going to let dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren't going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on.We need all of you. And you know what's beautiful to me is to see all of these ministers of the Gospel. It's a marvelous picture. Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher? Somehow the preacher must have a kind of fire shut up in his bones. And whenever injustice is around he tell it. Somehow the preacher must be an Amos, and saith, "When God speaks who can but prophesy?" Again with Amos, "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." Somehow the preacher must say with Jesus, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me," and he's anointed me to deal with the problems of the poor."
And I want to commend the preachers, under the leadership of these noble men: James Lawson, one who has been in this struggle for many years; he's been to jail for struggling; he's been kicked out of Vanderbilt University for this struggle, but he's still going on, fighting for the rights of his people. Reverend Ralph Jackson, Billy Kiles; I could just go right on down the list, but time will not permit. But I want to thank all of them. And I want you to thank them, because so often, preachers aren't concerned about anything but themselves. And I'm always happy to see a relevant ministry.
It's all right to talk about "long white robes over yonder," in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here! It's all right to talk about "streets flowing with milk and honey," but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can't eat three square meals a day. It's all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God's preacher must talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.
Now the other thing we'll have to do is this: Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal. Now, we are poor people. Individually, we are poor when you compare us with white society in America. We are poor. Never stop and forget that collectively -- that means all of us together -- collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the exception of nine. Did you ever think about that? After you leave the United States, Soviet Russia, Great Britain, West Germany, France, and I could name the others, the American Negro collectively is richer than most nations of the world. We have an annual income of more than thirty billion dollars a year, which is more than all of the exports of the United States, and more than the national budget of Canada. Did you know that? That's power right there, if we know how to pool it.
We don't have to argue with anybody. We don't have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don't need any bricks and bottles. We don't need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, "God sent us by here, to say to you that you're not treating his children right. And we've come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God's children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you."
And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy -- what is the other bread? -- Wonder Bread. And what is the other bread company, Jesse? Tell them not to buy Hart's bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain. We are choosing these companies because they haven't been fair in their hiring policies; and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike. And then they can move on town -- downtown and tell Mayor Loeb to do what is right.

But not only that, we've got to strengthen black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank. We want a "bank-in" movement in Memphis. Go by the savings and loan association. I'm not asking you something that we don't do ourselves at SCLC. Judge Hooks and others will tell you that we have an account here in the savings and loan association from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. We are telling you to follow what we are doing. Put your money there. You have six or seven black insurance companies here in the city of Memphis. Take out your insurance there. We want to have an "insurance-in."
Now these are some practical things that we can do. We begin the process of building a greater economic base. And at the same time, we are putting pressure where it really hurts. I ask you to follow through here.
Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we've got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We've got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school -- be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus, and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew and throw him off base....
Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn't stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the "I" into the "thou," and to be concerned about his brother.
Now you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn't stop. At times we say they were busy going to a church meeting, an ecclesiastical gathering, and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn't be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that "One who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony." And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem -- or down to Jericho, rather to organize a "Jericho Road Improvement Association." That's a possibility. Maybe they felt that it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effect.

But I'm going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It's possible that those men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, "I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable." It's a winding, meandering road. It's really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 miles -- or rather 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you're about 2200 feet below sea level. That's a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the "Bloody Pass." And you know, it's possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it's possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest asked -- the first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"
That's the question before you tonight. Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job. Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?" The question is not, "If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?" The question is, "If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?" That's the question.Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you.
You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was, "Are you Martin Luther King?" And I was looking down writing, and I said, "Yes." And the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that's punctured, your drowned in your own blood -- that's the end of you.It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had merely sneezed, I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheel chair in the hospital. They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states and the world, kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one from the President and the Vice-President. I've forgotten what those telegrams said. I'd received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I've forgotten what that letter said. But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I'll never forget it. It said simply,
Dear Dr. King,
I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School."
And she said,
While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I'm a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I'm simply writing you to say that I'm so happy that you didn't sneeze.
And I want to say tonight -- I want to say tonight that I too am happy that I didn't sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream, and taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around here in 1961, when we decided to take a ride for freedom and ended segregation in inter-state travel.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around here in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can't ride your back unless it is bent.
If I had sneezed -- If I had sneezed I wouldn't have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been down in Selma, Alabama, to see the great Movement there.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been in Memphis to see a community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering.
I'm so happy that I didn't sneeze.
And they were telling me --. Now, it doesn't matter, now. It really doesn't matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us. The pilot said over the public address system, "We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we've had the plane protected and guarded all night."And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.
And I don't mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!
And so I'm happy, tonight.
I'm not worried about anything.
I'm not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!"

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Bikestop

At the Bikestop Vernon said “I haven’t seen you in a while.” The Bikestop is a leather bar on the edge of the ‘Gayborhood.’ I think that I have been going there for the last ten years maybe once or twice a year, sometimes even skipping a year or two. In other words, I am not what you would consider a regular. This was the answer that I gave Vernon as I tried to remember where I knew him from.

“Carrot Cake Man,” that was his name. At least that is his professional name. This was the name that I knew this baker by and this would also be the topic that I would talk to him about. I no longer needed to look like an idiot standing by myself waiting to see someone that I actually recognized, or was attracted to.

So we talked. He told me about how his business was getting bigger and better and that he made his sales at a farmers market centrally located near all of the major highways. He said he was pulling in so much business to the area; he no longer had to pay rent. He sold carrot cakes from the Mennonites to minorities, from Catholics to celebrities. Patti LaBelle and Robert Wagner were just two of the personalities he named.

Robert Wagner? In Philly? …Don’t ask, I didn’t.

Getting completely bored with this, I remarked that Vernon seemed to know a lot of the people in the bar. He said he knew them from various adventures and that it only seemed like a lot because the bar was extra crowded that night. He then said that the bar was usually kind of slow unless there was a special event going on and that the owners really did not know how to push their establishment. Even Butch’s Bulge Party, a party every Wednesday night for men in underwear, had turned out to be a dud. If Vernon was running things, he would have much more success at it. He would, as he looked at me, have us both come in wearing nothing but a sock and a smile, and I don’t think he was referring to our feet. We would pull in such a crowd since we were so dark and that I, being darker than him, would get most of the attention. There’s that Mandingo thing again.

Now I’ll admit the thought of me walking around with both my butt cheeks flapping in the wind attracting white folk is not something that I haven’t thought of or done before and I probably will do so in the future, but... not with Vernon. He never said that stuff when I was living with people he was friends with. Why now? Plus I am getting to an age where I no longer want to be the center of attention and if you can’t hold your own then play with someone else. With that in mind I excused myself and went to the Pitt.

The Pitt is the bar in the basement of the building. In addition to the bar, there is a leather and toy boutique cubby hole that you can buy clothing, trinkets and aids for those of us who need them. But when I got there, there was no store. Or if there was, it was not open. What was I to do? I just got another beer and stood out in the middle of the floor, trying to think of what my next move would be. That turned out to be pretty simple.

I had downed about half of the mug of beer I had, you have to drink out of a mug in a leather bar because anything else would be just pussy or as the patrons there call it, Woody’s. I might be there next week. Anyway, so I’m in the middle of the floor minding my own business, when Old Pa walks up beside me drinking his beer, rubbing his belly, scratching his nuts, I don’t know, I wasn’t paying any attention. Until that is, the ever so slight brush of his hand against mine. Was that an accident? Something not worth mentioning because we are all brothers heading on a similar journey and the damn place was crowded anyway. No, because then came the ever so slight nudge against the elbow.

“Goddamn,” I thought. Can I get a little respect around here? Can he least try to say something to me before he tries to get some for the night. Not that he had a chance in Hades. I think I would have to have a stroke and be completely incapable of defending myself before someone looking like him would ever be able to get close.

Its not that I have anything against people who look like him, but this is a leather bar. Isn’t this the place where you are supposed to find your fantasy, because leather is nothing but a fantasy, a fantasy of control or lack of? It’s true I wasn’t in leather garb that night, but still. I was looking for something like this.

But instead, he looked more like this. Like 99% of the rest of the crowd there. I don’t like to think that I am body bigoted, or so immature and shallow that I will lose out on that one opportunity that will turn my life around. But a brother can dream can’t he?

So I played my master stroke. I gave him the ever so slight turn of the head in the opposite direction.

Such brilliance! Such grandeur and aplomb! I should patent that shit. An action as smooth as a baby’s backside should be given all the recognition it deserves. And I was doing just that until I felt the tap on the left cheek. Oh, I had to go.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Oil and the President

Is it me, or does something smell fishy about President Bush going to Saudia Arabia and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia helps bail out Citibank the next day? Is somebody in somebody else's pocket?

Now what is he going to do about oil prices?

And has anyone seen the President look this happy recently? I guess there must be something about going to a country where the people hate the leaders there more than they hate him.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


“Killadelphia” is what they called it. That was the name Nightline, the show on ABC, had called Philadelphia, the 2nd largest city on the Eastern Seaboard and city of brotherly love the other night. Apparently they had gotten this moniker from an article written by the Philadelphia Daily News reporter, Dave Davies who had commented on the status the city had achieved by having the 5th highest murder rate per capita in the country.

In 2007, there were 392 people killed due to robberies, gang violence or other reasons. And this was down from the 406 killed the previous year. The show said that things had gotten so bad that lessons and skills doctors and surgeons had learned from trying to save lives in Philadelphia had been taken to Iraq so that lives could be saved there.

The city’s new mayor, Michael Nutter was inaugurated January 7th and one of the first things he did was to declare a “crime emergency” for the city. Well, I’m not sure what that is unless it means the city is going to go back to the good old days of when Frank Rizzo was mayor and Civil Rights and Human Rights were just buzz words that people tried to say as they were beaten over head by a policeman’s night stick. But with the incoming police Charles Ramsey from DC, a city with an even higher murder rate, we can only sit back and watch what measures they take to try and stem the tide.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Life without Father

I went to Tampa for two of the last three major holidays, which is a lot for me. When my parents first moved down there I didn’t go there for the two or three years. Due to our family squabbles, it was not my sort of place to go and have a good time. Actually my family fights all the time. I’m not sure if we exist in spite of, or maybe because of our fights. We have child molesters, thieves, pimps, pushers and priests. We have all kinds. You know the old joke; in our family tree I would fall into the fruit section. Just don't let me hear some family member say that cause there would be hell. There are some who work for the State, while others are serving time for the State. So we have disagreements all the time. Anyway, for a long time, it was so long God bless and maybe I’ll see you on the other side.

You see most of the men on my father’s side die young. The women on my mother’s side seem to live forever. My mother still lives. She is basically looking after her mother who is getting close to ninety. Although, it’s even money that she may or may not make that number, but who knows. That being said, “Mommie Dearest” has passed the seventy year old mark herself and even though she is strong and relatively healthy, she may come to that point where things start to get too much for her. She has said that after my grandmother passes, she may sell the house and get something smaller, but that would require some sort of financial acumen and as Kurtz said in the Heart of Darkness or Apocalypse Now, “The horror! The horror!”

It’s not that I don’t have any trust in her financial savvy. For instance, I remember when she would she would buy clothing for me when I was younger. There was no Woolworth’s bin or bargain basement store that was too good for her first and only son. Every penny spent would be prized and accounted for no matter how I felt about the situation. I would only hope afterward that no one I knew would see me, or at least question me.

Take the time when I was eleven. She bought me a burgundy colored cardigan for school. It matched the colors that we were allowed to wear in class, but the length came down to just over my knees. “This is for women,” I told her. “No,” she said, and went on to tell me that she found it in the men’s section and that it was the latest fashion and everyone one would be wearing it. If they were, then all I can say is that I never went to drag shows at that age so I never saw them. There I was, the only fool in school wearing this long nightmare of a thing, clinging to both cheeks of my backside. Making me look like Mrs. Simms the assistant Headmistress who’s biggest attributes, I am sure anyone can ever remember, were the size of her tits and behind. I wonder if that’s when I first started to change my sexual interests.

Anyhow, dearest papa keels over a few years ago and I realize this woman, my mother that is not Mrs. Simms, does not have a clue about what she has, where it is and what it’s supposed to do there for her. After all these years of me thinking that she was today’s woman, emancipated and in control of her own life; I find out, as it happens in many households, that all money matters were handled by the man of the house and she just signed papers and followed orders.

My father had left things tied up in so many knots that I think that was partly what killed him. In fact that the day after he received a letter from the IRS telling him that he owed over 37K in taxes, was the day he moved on to glory.

“Tell them you’ve been recently widowed and knew nothing about the finances. Then offer them 10%. They will settle for 35. That money is just peanuts to the IRS. They’ll be glad to get anything. It’s just a number for somebody’s quota,” I told mother before I left Florida. But she didn’t listen, I was not my father.

One week after the funeral and two days after I left, mother decided to pay off the entire tax bill leaving me with yet, another regret to add to the list of regrets in my life. I had not taken care of things for her when she was vulnerable.

Mother, like so many of the elderly today would be happy just to get the 2% interest from Wachovia and wherever else she has her retirement accounts. My fear is that she will believe that she is not entitled to more until some slick bastard comes along, smiles and tells her that he can give her the world for just a small investment with no risk involved. Will I be able to protect her?

It’s true, I do have a rather large extended family, most of them live in New York, but some of them live in Florida. However, for the most part, they are as old as she is and whatever schemes that would fool her would probably fool them. There is Andre, a cousin of mine a year older than me who lives about fifteen to twenty miles away from her but I think he must have smoked too much ganja when he was younger or suffered a head injury that I haven’t heard about. I don’t think he would be much help.

Well, maybe I’m just worrying too much. After all when my mother took me to lunch the last time I was in Tampa, she decided it would be her treat. She took me to Romano’s Macaroni, a restaurant between the mall and the local highway. As long as we got there before 3pm the value of the coupon she received from the senior center would be doubled. As I looked around and noticed the chachki that you can only find in fine highway dining establishments located in the suburbs and the other grey and blue haired ladies that surrounded us, I thought two things, “look at the ladies who lunch – Central Florida style. God save me,” was one of them, and the other one was that some things never change. And you know what, maybe they don’t need to.

My mother has been living her life her way for the longest now. Pinching pennies when she could and throwing away money needlessly because she could. Bending when she has to and stiffening up when it was necessary. She can make her own mistakes and recover from them. She can make her own choices and be happy or not happy, because that’s what people do. We learn or we don’t learn but we keep going. And I’m sure she will, maybe even long after I’m gone.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Decisions for 2008

I don’t know when I started this tradition, but it’s been going on for the longest time now. That is, I go to the movies on New Years Day. I usually find some poor sucker to come along with me. More often than not, it’s for companionship rather than sex. And now that I think of it, if I have chosen the movie, sex is that last thing that you think of doing as you leave the movie theatre. In fact yesterday’s movie was “The Savages.” It’s a film about a brother and sister who decide to put their estranged and ailing father in a nursing home and wait for him to die. The movie falls into the category of “life sucks so leave me alone,” rather than, “let’s get it on.” Needless to say, I went by myself.

But before I decided to go to the movies, I had watched a little TV. As usual, nothing was on that interested me. The cable channels were showing films that no one cared about, even when they were first released. The networks were flooded by silly parades or they were showing sports teams that I cared even less about. So I watched C-Span for about 20 minutes. How about that for holiday fare? They were showing 7 or 8 of the lesser known Republican candidates for the presidential nomination in some sort of debate. When I say these were the lesser know candidates, I don’t mean people like Thompson or Brownback or even Alan Keyes who I am sure they only bring out for some black comic relief. I mean people you have never heard of, like the guy who owned a grocery store and made over $75,000 one year and now he thinks can run the world. Or the one who tried to get on a city council but failed and now thinks that all he has to do is change politics as usual and the country will bow down to him. These people were crammed into this small semi-circular huddle when I suddenly realized, not only would no one ever know about these people now or in the future, but they were all crazy.

There was the grey haired white guy who said that the polar caps on Mars were shrinking and that Mars has no cars, so global warming on Earth due to man made influences was just a myth and a lie. There was another white guy that said that America was failing because of the millions of fetuses that were being murdered every year and that gays were breaking up the family and God has left the country because of it. There was also the young black guy espousing that to hell with the Supreme Court and who he would nominate to it. As long as God was in the political equation, the States would be able to look after their own affairs without having to turn to the federal government. I guess he must not have heard about States Rights and how they lost against Civil rights.

I suppose, you have to be crazy to run for President anyway. Because if you win, who in their right mind would want to live a gold fish bowl anyway. Surrounded by people only there to kiss your ass or take a clean shot of you for the rest of your life.

Well like I said after about 20 minutes of this and positive that the other crazy candidates that are in the first and second tiers of the Republican Party will have nothing to worry about, I said check please and turned the TV off.

I doubt that any of the people I saw yesterday will have any impact on the Iowa Caucuses tomorrow or any of the other primary elections in the future, but it might be a thought that maybe we should look carefully at who we support or elect into office this election year. Some people may say that anyone would be better than the compassionate conservative that we now have in the White House but trust me, there people just as crazy, lazy and stupid in the front tier of the nomination races trying to get in; and if we are not cautious we may look back on the last 8 years as the good old days.

Oh by the way, Happy New Year everyone.


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