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Inappropriate sharing, incomprehensible ramblings, uncalled-for hostility: yup, it's a blog.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Hedwig and the Angry Rain

Purple Rain is not a good movie. Great soundtrack, great cinematography. It is filmed so well I sometimes forgot to appreciate the music. But the movie is awful. Stripped of the music and the cinematography, you're left with a very misogynistic movie where guys throw women into dumpsters, force women to strip naked and leap into rivers, and hit women over and over until the guys have artistic epiphanies.

The women of Purple Rain have an artistic epiphany: Sex Shooter.

The men have another artistic epiphany: Purple Rain.

But let's not kid ourselves: the real artist having an epiphany in the movie is Prince and us, his audience, laboring through each of the narrative moments of the film waiting for the music.

Greg and I had never seen the movie itself--we'd known, almost carnally, the videos and the soundtrack, but neither of us had endured the film. So we smuggled in cheeseburgers and settled into our seats at one of the chain theaters showing Purple Rain two days after Prince--fucking Prince--had died. Died. Prince, the guy in lace who humped random stationary things, who hit notes so high we gave up voice lessons, who wore high heels and inspired both skits and reverence.

The cheeseburgers were, by the way, delicious.

Purple Rain opens with "Let's Go Crazy." I would link to the video, but Prince treated the internet the way he treated women: with suspicion and delayed acceptance. So there is no link. There is memory, I bet, so if you know the song, you know it begins with a funeral. Greg and I have finished our cheeseburgers and are told, by Prince, "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here..."

[Insert misogyny]

Clapping. In the dark, everyone clapped. Everyone sang. Prince dedicated a song to his insane and awful father, and we, at the AMC on 42nd Street, stood up as that dedicated song became Purple Rain. We sang. We lifted our arms and swayed together. We forgot all of the movie, and just leaned into the music.

Stop.

Before I hit my stride on Purple Rain I'd like to say this: Prince, more than any other male artist, tried to push women into the awful, male-dominated and shallow music industry. He was a man of success who tried to spread that success around. He was a terrible actor. But he was a human who, while weird, was kind. 

And goddammit babies, you have to be kind. Even if you're weird. And terrible in your line delivery.

Go.

Purple Rain is a terrible movie. Do not show it to your kids. Who cares about the nudity and the sex--the worst part of Purple Rain is how women are put in dumpsters and struck like a C-key.

Or do show it with your kids. Do a double-feature: Purple Rain and Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Superman! Where Are You Now, Man?

I

Clark scooped the potato salad onto his plastic plate. Irvy, standing on the other side of the table that seemed to stretch for miles, urged Clark, "You need more than that. G'on, have some of the green bean casserole." She paused. "You must be a growing." She paused again. "Boy."

A Yorkie was nibbling at his ankles. Clark glanced down and smiled benevolently. "This your dog?" he asked.

Irvy leaned over the potato salad. One hand slid the green bean casserole aside. "No. I have a chihuahua." Irvy stood straight. "Perhaps this dog is trying to get you to eat."

"I think the dog is trying to consume my foot," Clark said. Then he stepped away from the table to allow the line to continue, to allow the town to continue on its way. Irvy called after Clark. "Your dad would've loved being here for this! Real shame!"

The yorkie yipped a response and kept at Clark's ankle as Clark walked over to one of the only trees for miles and sat in the grass. He wasn't hungry, but he was even less rude, so forced down a few bites of food, sharing select portions with the dog.

Later, Clark drove his father's pick-up to Desolation Row, a bar in a neighboring town. The town was sometimes called Givensville and sometimes called Statler, depending on your family tree. Clark called it Statler, but kept this information to himself for reasons he didn't quite understand.

Desolation Row was on Evans Street next to a gas station, and relied on the riot of lighting from the station to light itself--it was otherwise dark and dreary, with windows covered with the grime of years of exhaust and dust. Shapes moved in the windows, and music leaked from the building's pores like sweat. Clark pulled into the gravel parking lot and slipped the truck into a parking space, noting that there were more cars he recognized than didn't crammed into the lot, all of them dingy and vaguely lit by the gas station.

The bar was brick. The sign along the eaves was wooden.

Not fair to peek, Clark thought, but did so anyway. He looked into the bar, past the brick and the dirty windows, and saw all the people he had promised to meet up with. And he saw the one person he actually wanted to see, sitting alone at the bar, huddled over a glass of water, as out of place in Desolation Row as Clark had expected.

Clark got out of the truck. He slammed the door shut--not out of anger, but because such trucks always had doors requiring a solid slam. Nothing was easy with trucks like this one.

He took a moment before entering the bar, collecting himself and making sure his tie was on straight, making sure his breath didn't smell, adjusting his glasses. Then he walked in.

Desolation had a pool table in the center, a loose assortment of tables and chairs to the left and a stainless steel bar to the right. There were bathrooms, a jukebox, and a never-used stage with sound equipment at the back. Not much else. Bare walls. Cement floor painted to look like it was made of wood. A few ceiling fans and naked light bulbs. But Desolation was warm, and got warmer when Clark entered, as everyone in the bar began to applaud.

Clark allowed himself an hour to socialize. He bought beers for everyone--one round, then a second. He thanked those who needed thanking, and accepted thanks and condolences from those who needed to give them. His eyes occasionally drifted, unnoticed by all, to the lone figure at the bar. Occasionally, the figure would stir a bit, sip from the glass of water, wave away the bartender. When the hour was up, Clark began the act of detachment, moving away as he'd learned to do. A subtle process, but even the drunkest among the people understood it was time to let Clark alone. Soon, the pool table replaced Clark as the center of attention, though it would be a lie to suggest awareness of him dried up. Even as George Givens racked up against Heather Statler, however tantalizing the match, everyone knew Clark was talking to a stranger in a bar not known for strange patronage.

"I'm sorry about your dad."

Clark settled onto a stool next to Chris. "Thanks. Everyone is. He was a good man."

"You don't have to say it."

"Say what?"

"The usual bullshit things. I know you. It's okay."

Chris pushed back from the bar. He sat up straight for the first time that evening, and a cue ball suddenly shot off the pool table behind him. "Goddammit," someone, Heather Statler probably, mumbled as she chased after it.

"I feel things," Clark said. "Just not the way I'm wanted to feel things. Or the way I want to feel things."

"Okay, kid. I told you it was okay. And I came here. You asked, I arrived."

The bartender hovered, debating with himself on the right way to approach and fulfill his duty. Clark smiled at him and said, "We'll take two glasses of whisky. Leave the bottle."

"I don't drink," Chris said.

"I don't either." Then, lower, "The poor guy doesn't know what to do with himself. Let him feel like he's doing something."

The bartender reached around for a while, returned with a bottle of caramel-colored liquid and two glasses that were so clean they made the entire bar glisten. "I'll start a tab," he said with a tight, knowing nod, then retreated to the other end of the bar, pretending to watch the Givens/Statler pool game everyone else was pretending to watch.

Chris leaned back again. "I'm here. You want to talk, I'm listening."

Clark scratched at his ankle, then brought his hands up to the bottle of whisky. He began turning it around and around on the stainless steel surface of the bar, thinking. "I want it to stop." It was a final thought in a long train of thought, and he realized he may need to help Chris understand everything that came before what he'd just said.

"So. The movie." Clark clinked a glass against the bottle.

"It's done. It already ended." Chris furrowed his brow. "Hell, the second one is mostly done."

George Givens sank the eight ball and no one noticed for a moment, not even Heather Statler.

II

Irvy Pellman rocked back and forth. The swing creaked like a leather strop, and her porch spread out before her like a stage. The horizon was distant and fading. Inside the house, she could hear Earl laughing at something on the television. "Irvy!" he yelled. "Irvy, you gotta see this."

Irvy opened her mouth to yell back, then she saw a missile drop from the sky and shatter into the ground some miles away. The creaking of the swing stopped. Her breath stopped. A few seconds later the aftershock knocked out the electricity and made the swing rock again.

Five years later, Irvy welcomed her 23rd kindergarten class as she always welcomed her classes: tissues for parents, cookies for kids, and a broad smile. The Kents were standing off to the side in the classroom jumbled by tissues and cookies and desks and toys, and Irvy smiled most broadly at them. Clark had been let loose. He was in the middle of the room, levitating. The other kids were playing with blocks and stuffed animals, unimpressed, but the parents of those kids were staring at Clark.

"It's how kids learn," Irvy said, her reassuring voice steeled by 23 years of experience. "It's not like we didn't know. The kids are all fine."

To draw an unintended point, the Warren girl from Givensville/Statler, her hand stroking a stuffed cat, looked up at her parents. "Aren't you supposed to go bye now?"

Martha Kent touched her husband's arm, and the two slowly walked to the classroom door. Once they exited, the other parents, singly or as a couple, left. Irvy was alone with a handful of kids and a levitating alien.

That evening, Earl turned on the television.

"You going to sit out on the porch to read?" he asked his wife.

Irvy moved from a recliner, where she had been doing a crossword puzzle, to the couch beside Earl. "I need a hug, Earl. I just need to be held right now."

Earl put his arm around Irvy. His arm remained around her for a long time until she felt safe enough to slip her own arm around him. They held one another for several hours.

When Clark brought the gun to class, it was six years later and it was Irvy who intervened.

"Have you called his parents?" she asked the principal.

"He has a gun." The principal, sallow-faced and shaking, stood behind his desk like a statue expecting an attack of pigeons. "I haven't called anyone yet. But Clark Kent has a goddamn gun and you're the only one he trusts."

"You might try calling his parents."

Irvy, years later, sat in a movie theater and watched Jonathan Kent die. The Kents were seated behind her. She heard Jonathan say, "Well, I hope I don't go out like that." Then she watched an angry Clark spin back the world to revive Margot Kidder.

III

"I'm very sorry what happens." Clark concentrated on the bottle and the glasses. "It is awful. I understand that."

Chris, kindly and lovingly, put out a hand. His hand touched Clark's, and steadied it. "Your dad just died."

"We all die. Or some of us do."

Clark jerked his hand away.

"I don't die."

Behind Clark, Heather Statler poked her stick at a random ball.

"My entire.... you know. Chris. You know. It's all gone, but I don't die."

Heather, again, shot the cue ball off the table into the thick air of Desolation.

Chris, the glass of water touching his knuckles, replied, "I do." Then, "I die, Clark."

"I don't. That's the thing." Clark knocked over his stool as he stood up, and regretted it. He crushed the cue ball, which had rolled off the pool table. "When I signed up for this, I didn't realize it would just continue."

IV

Irvy approached Clark, who was levitating again. His backpack was slung over one shoulder, and the gun was in one hand. He was in a classroom, but there were no kids.

Two days before, Earl had agreed to a dog.

"I hate dogs," Earl had said. "C'mon, Irvy. They smell, they shit in random places. Don't. Please."

"Then let's see who can't have the kids." Irvy touched Earl's hand. "We want kids and... nothing. So if you don't want the dog, then we'll do a fertwatzis test."

"Clark," Irvy said.

"That's my name." Clark floated.

"We've called your parents." Irvy reached an arm out, and Clark pointed the gun at her. His eyes were closed. The gun--small, grey--reminded her of In Cold Blood.

There's no reason, Irvy thought.

"There's plenty of reason. " Clark answered.

You can read my mind?

"I have shot myself. Why can't I shoot others. Why am I different?"

Irvy noticed the bullet go through her hip. Clark then turned the gun on himself.


V.

Chris knew the conversation was over. He got off the stool, tossed down a twenty, and left Desolation. Clark remained, perched on his stool. Behind him, Heather Statler feigned an attack at George Givens, raising her pool stick like a lance.

The bartender, realizing the whisky bottle had not been touched, moved in. He took the dry, clean glasses away, then the bottle then turned to Clark and asked, "Anything else?"

Clark thought.

"It's my dad's funeral."

"I know sir. Superman." The bartender did a thing with his mouth where teeth were bared but lips were kept tight. Clark knew it to be a smile, which was a human thing to indicate friendliness.

Clark took the bottle of whisky, uncorked it, and poured it into one of the two glasses. "Thanks for this."

"You paid for it."

"I did." Clark poured into the second glass. "And you paid for it as well."

The bartender glanced around. Desolation Row was silent. There were fans still at the pool table, and all of them were focused on Clark, who was still wearing a straight tie, had great breath, and even glasses.

"I made a mistake," Clark told the bartender. The bartender sipped from the glass. Clark sipped as well. "I agreed to let my life be a movie."

"Yeah," the bartender said. "Noticed."

"Death isn't what I thought it'd be." Sip.

"What did you think it would be?"

"My family died a long time ago. My father," sip "just died." Clark allowed his glass to make a noise as it hit the stainless steel bar. "The man I knew as a father just died and he saw himself die years ago in a movie about my life. And my reaction--in that movie--was not at all how I now feel."

The bartender took another sip as the fans around the pool table waited for someone--anyone--to rack the balls.

"Death is not a thing I'm allowed to understand." Clark touched the stool where Chris had been.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Anita/OJ

It was a dark and stormy night. Not your average night of darkness, and not an average storm. Inside the restaurant, an elderly man pecked at a few keys of a baby grand, his dry fingers finalizing each note with a faint scratching sound.

"I've," the man sang, hitting a key. Scratch.

"Got." Key. Scratch.

"You."

"Under my skin," Anita said under her breath. She took a sip of water.

"Under." Key. Scratch.

"My!" The old man hit a key with such intensity the scratch of his dry finger was obscured. His voice boomed over the thunder of the storm. The candles of the dark night warbled and waved. Each table in the restaurant appeared to list to the left a bit as the candles shifted the darkness, then stabilized again.

"Cole Porter as interpreted by John Cage," a patron next to Anita said, much to the forced delight of his companion--a garish woman with a glass laugh.  Anita took another sip of her water and stared deeply into the eyes of the person who was not sitting across from her. It had been two years since she had been compelled to sit across from a man--or several men--and to peer deeply into his eyes only to realize he wasn't actually present.

Her friend, a branding manager for a film studio, insisted on this blind date. "Anita. I know. I know. But he really just needs to get out a bit, you know? And you! You could use some excitement. Just meet him. He's a good guy. Going through a divorce or something. It'll be good for both of you."

So Anita sat. Alone at a table during a storm in a restaurant suddenly rendered powerless. "The gas is working," Anita had been told by her waiter. "We may not be able to see, but we can at least cook!" Anita sipped her water. Anita waited.

"Skin." Key. Scratch.

He's not coming, Anita thought to herself. Why would he? It's a terrible night. There is no electricity. Any minute she expected the waiter--a young man with more talent for Chekhov than for serving--to arrive with a phone and to hear, on the other line, a man apologize to her for not making it. "The storm," the man would say. "Some other time."

Then a bright smile sat down across from her, interrupting her idle gaze into the darkness. "Sorry I'm late," the smile said to her. "Not every day we get this sort of thing in L.A."

Anita considered her response. Decided to be polite. "It's okay. The piano player really makes one pass the time."

"I've." Key. Scratch.

"So you know Betsy."

"Betty."

"Betty. Yeah." The smile developed facial features that were still all smile. Candlelight filled in his face, melted the shadows, weaved in his structure. Anita squinted a bit to see more of him. "Betty and I go way back. She got me the Hertz commercials."

"Oh, those! Yes, I remember those."Anita smiled at the smile sitting across from her. "You really did convey how awful it is to run through an airport to get a shitty rental car."

"Got." Key. Scratch.

The smile faltered a bit, then returned. "True! True. So. How do you know Betsy?"

The waiter emerged from the darkness at that moment. "So, you should know," he said, raising his pen as if it were a conductor's baton, "the usual Wednesday specials are not tonight's specials. Honestly, the chef is having kittens right now because of the power outage."

"Perhaps you should give him more gas," Anita said.

The waiter stared at her for a moment. His eyes were steady and searching, leaning into her own eyes and flickering with the candle. She leaned her own eyes into his, she searched, she flickered back. Then the waiter rolled his eyes upward and said, "Oh, the gas is his to give to others."

The smile across from her chortled as if pretending to get a joke but unsure if one had been made. Self-defensive laughter.

Right on cue, the garish woman with the glass laugh snorted at a joke the John Cage aficionado had made, and "You." Key. Scratch.

"So to give you gas, guys, we have a nice ossobuco with broccolini and sauce--don't ask me the sauce--and we have bison burger seasoned with love and served with either fries or well intentions."

"I was given a menu at the door," the smile said. Anita noticed, indeed, that he was wielding a menu in one hand.

The waiter waved his pen baton again. "I'm afraid our hostess is much more enthusiastic on the limitations of the kitchen tonight than our chef is. You'll notice your lady did not" and the pen baton pointed at Anita "receive a menu."

Anita agreed. "I wasn't offered a menu. I was offered a seat at the table and a glass of water."

"And bread." The waiter leaned in with his eyes again. Anita gestured to the basket of untouched bread next to the candle.

"Bread. It's delicious. It's like manna with extra Na."

"You." Plink. Scratch.

"So I can't get anything off this menu?" The smile was no longer smiling.

"OJ." Anita reached across the table and put her hand on the menu, which was splayed across one side of the table like a law book. Anita chortled. "The waiter is trying to be diplomatic, now. Clearly they have two dishes going on back there. I am sure they're doing their best, but Betty picked a really bad night for us to try a blind date, and so here we are. Just... You look like a burger man. Let's get two burgers and a side of well-intentions."

"I want the buco." OJ slid the menu from beneath Anita's hand and snapped it shut. He presented it to the waiter, who took it from him with all the solemn dignity required of a folded menu.

"One oss... ah... buco and one bison burger."

The waiter disappeared into the darkness again.

The smile returned. The candlelight painting his teeth yellow, even though the teeth were clearly as white as Dixie. In fact the whites of his eyes looked jaundiced from the candlelight. "So. Anita."

"Yes. Sorry. I'm not used to these sorts of things. I thought getting the order out of the way would free us up to get acquainted." Anita lifted her water glass. "To new friends."

OJ did not have a water glass. Instead, he lifted a loose fist, miming a toast. "To new friends."

"To new somethings," Anita replied. She extended her glass across the table, and the glass caught the light of the candle. Things got brighter for a moment.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Peanut

Gloria had a morning schedule, and she stuck to it as if her life depended on it. Without an alarm to waken her, she managed to get out of bed at exactly 6:45. She slid into her slippers, shuffled into the kitchen, and made coffee. At 6:50, she sat down at her kitchen table, sipped from a chipped but favorite cup, and stared down the world, which stared back at her, through her grimy third floor window.

At 7AM, it was time to walk the dog.

Attire varied. Sometimes she wore her slippers, sometimes she wore sneakers. Depended on what kind of world stared back at her.

Today, she chose sneakers. There was a grey tinge to the sky just above the buildings, and the grime of the window seemed particularly foul. There was chill in the air, and the coffee in her cup seemed to her dense and bitter. Sneaker weather.

"Pea!" she called. "Peanut, c'mon." Peanut, as always, was a reluctant companion. Gloria knew he was burying himself beneath the piles of blankets on her recently vacated bed, burrowing and flopped, perhaps his tongue lolling as limply as his tail. Only two years had passed since Gord had been sensible enough to say, "Gloria, jesus, let the damn dog sleep."

Gord was moldering in the urn in the pantry now. The mass of him, spread beneath the covers and curling into the shape of Peanut, was now a disassembled mess shaping into a ceramic vase next to Ramen packets and Nutella jars. Now, if Gloria wanted Peanut to get up and participate in her morning schedule, there was no Gord to complain.

"Peanut!" Gloria was dropping the last of the coffee into the kitchen sink. Her sneakers were sealed onto her feet, and she was wearing a track suit days from a good washing. Pea's leash was in one hand, and she rattled it, making sure the metal tags rang out like a bell.

+++

Peanut was old. Not ancient, not as old as Mr. Kurtez's animal around the block, but the brown fur was tinged now by a grey wisp.  Gord lived long enough to tell Gloria, "He can't do these damn walks like he used to."

"If I'm able to do them," Gloria said, "then he can."

"I cant do the damn walks anymore," Gord replied. Then he died. Just like that. Strangers flocked like pigeons, and Gloria stood there as the ambulance arrived, clutching the leash as Peanut sniffed Gord's body.

"No, I'm..." she told everyone.

"He's.... There is nothing we can...." she heard.

Peanut barked. Moved to protect Gloria. Peanut was always Gord's dog, so it moved Gloria to see Peanut think he was defending her from the well-meaning pigeons. Humans.

+++

"Peanut!"

Gloria rattled the leash, the tags, once more. And Peanut came. His heft--light, solid--smacked onto the floor of the bedroom then clipped across the floor to the kitchen. He stood with one front paw turned out, waiting to be clipped by the hook of the leash.

Gloria giggled--always--at the front paw. "Grace Kelly," she said to Peanut.

To Gloria, the out-turned paw was a regal, vulnerable stance as if Peanut was in 'Rear Window', swirling in a dress and delivering food to Gord. An artifice and a vision.

"Wanna go out?" Gloria asked, bending at the knees. "Lessgo out!"

Peanut fell onto his side and exposed his belly. Gloria reached out a hand to scratch the exposure. Peanut's tail thumped against the kitchen floor like a metronome. Gord, a pianist in his spare time, would've appreciated it.

+++

"Hey, Glor!" a woman said, greeting Peanut and Gloria as they passed.

"Hi! How are you?" Gloria paused for a moment. Her sneakers squeaked on the wet sidewalk and Peanut squeaked from the sudden stop.

"Good. Good." The woman reached out for a quick touch, as if to reassure herself that Gloria was tangible. Gloria felt the woman's fingers brush across her shoulder. "It's not a bad day."

And it wasn't. From the apartment window, the day had seemed too grey, too purple and dark. Now that she and Peanut had gone out into it, the day was warm and golden and fine. "I wore shoes for nothing," Gloria said to the woman. "Poor Peanut doesn't need the sweater."

"No, he doesn't need it. I hope you enjoy the day." The woman smiled. "Peanut is...?"

Peanut, leashed and sweatered, growled. Gloria and the woman locked eyes. "I am so sorry." Gloria made a face indicating pain. But she wasn't pained.

"Why?" the woman asked

"Pea never does that. Growls. It's not--"

"He's a dog. Don't worry about it Gloria." The woman bent down and brushed her hand across Pea's head. Peanut wagged his tail, took his Grace Kelly stance. "Peanut is just helping you."

"Still. He shouldn't growl."

"True."

+++

Pea, in his morning ritual, nudged and tugged Gloria along his preferred route until they both came to a cove. Geese, ducks, joggers, rocks, and water sipping at the land, taking a small piece of it away with each wave.

Gloria didn't often speak to Pea on these walks, but today she did. "It's a thing," she said to Peanut as they stood watching the water bounce into the earth and rebound. "Just a continuous thing."

Pea huffed, sat down. Stared at the geese as if they were his mobile feast.

Gloria dropped the leash after a long time of considering her options. Some years later, as she slipped away and human pigeons flocked to her body, Gord said, "At least the damn dog got you to exercise."

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Libraries and Funerals

The literal Reagan "Look at All the Fucks I Give" blanket
"Every time a person dies, it's like a library burning down."

That's an observation made by a human being. It's a pretty old observation--I don't know who originally said it, but I first came across it when I was reading Randy Shilt's book ...And the Band Played On, where a distraught human being--one of many distraught human beings in that book--says it.

Every time a person dies, it is like a library burning down. Not an exact quote; it's been years since I read the book. But the sense of the quote remains with me.

We're nearly 30 years out from the year President Reagan finally acknowledged AIDS. Many libraries had burned and many libraries were still burning when Reagan at long last admitted AIDS existed. He stood in the ruins of Alexandria and said, simply, "I want to talk tonight about the disease that has brought us all together."

He also said, "Those of us in government can educate our citizens about the dangers. We can encourage safe behavior. We can test to determine how widespread the virus is. We can do any number of things."

If he'd said these things, of course, in the immediate and obvious beginning, perhaps libraries would have been saved. Human beings. Reagan, like many elderly human beings, quite possibly thought of funerals as a rare chance for social interaction and so encouraged as many funerals as he could.

Nancy Reagan did her part to help social interaction by denying family friend Rock Hudson access to experimental (was there any other kind then?) treatment to prolong his life. Dying of AIDS and finding no help in the US, Hudson had gone to Paris, a transfer between stacks, to seek treatment. Paris refused the transfer, Hudson's publicist wrote a desperate plea to Nancy urging her to encourage the transfer, and... nothing. Nancy Reagan refused to intervene. She was a terrible librarian. Some weeks later, the transfer was returned, unread, to the burning library of the US.

Rock Hudson did force the Reagans to see AIDS for what it was, true. When Hudson died, most of the United States realized AIDS wasn't simply a gay plague, but an actual reality. Also, the US came to the shocking--shocking!--realization that 'gay' was an actual reality. Like AIDS, it could strike anyone at any time.

Libraries are like human beings. All are byzantine, dense, full of references, and full of delights and dreads.

I do not know why Hillary Clinton praised the Reagans for encouraging a national discussion on AIDS, unless she meant that the Reagans forced a nation to face reality by being utterly silent, like a parent waiting for a child's confession. But I do know that when I see a library on fire, my first instinct is not to praise the fire, but to try to grab as many volumes as I can. To put those volumes aside and wait for a new library to be built.

Here's what gets me about Clinton's words: they were bad words. She apologized for what she said, true, by insisting she meant stem-cell research. Her original statement, on the day of Nancy's library being buried, was: "It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about H.I.V./AIDS back in the 1980s."

True.

Two things: how does one substitute HIV/AIDS with stem-cell in that sentence? "It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about stem-cell research back in the 1980s."

And:

Even if one is to take Clinton's sentence at face value, "It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about H.I.V./AIDS back in the 1980s," one must wonder why it was so difficult for people to discuss. Perhaps if the leader of the free world, the former actor and actress, the USSR-destroying President and his blood-dressed wife had said something in 1981 rather than 1987, libraries would've... whatever.

Instead, we got the AIDS quilt on the National Mall. Because once the libraries are gone, all you're left with is a history stitched together.

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