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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Notes from the Front

[General's Remarks. 0300 Hours. All Soldiers Assembled]

Troops, it's true. It's a hard battle this year.

Men, we are waging a war.... And women. Men and women, we are... Oh, and those of you in transition. People. People we are waging a war here. A war against all that is holy and sacred to our enemy.

Show me your war faces, troops. Show them to me!

[pause]

Let's pretend that never happened. Troops, don't ever show me your war faces again. That was unpleasant. I regret asking to see them.

So. The war. On Christmas. What is it?

That was a rhetorical question so put your hands down. Not your arms! Keep your arms at your side until needed, and never raise your hands when you're asked a question. What is the war on Christmas?

[pause]

What did I just say? Never raise your hands to answer my questions. Didn't you hear me say that?

[pause]

Put. Your. Arms. Down. Hands! Put your hands down.

[pause]

Now pick up your arms.

[pause]

Good.

Men. And women. And those in transition. And you, whatever you are. We are waging war, and... and I said that already. Where was I?

[pause]

Arms down! It was a rhetorical...

Where was...? So. You. Yes. Stand up. What's your name, soldier?

[pause]

Seymour? People still name their kids Seymour? HANDS DOWN.

Seymour. When you go out and mingle amongst the Jesusians, what do you say?

[pause]

A verbal response. Verbal. Oral. SAY it. What do you say?

[pause]

Right. You say, 'Happy Holidays.' Or, if you're gay or in transition, 'Happy Hols.' Or if you're Terry, 'Haps to the Hols.' Great. And that is what we are about. Right men? Women? Tranny.... Transitionals? Terry? We are about happiness. Happiness during the holidays, and who cares about religion. We're in the dead of winter right now, and we need cheer. We need cheer no matter who the hell we worship, or don't worship, or follow, or... I didn't mean to say 'tranny,' by the way. That's.... that was offensive to.... Well, I suppose, when I think about it, 'transitional' is also offensive. Do you know how difficult it is to keep up, sometimes, with the idea of 'all inclusive'?

HANDS DOWN.

The point, as we resume our great war, is that we are at war, and we hate war because we don't like to discriminate, or separate ourselves from fellow humans, or pretend we are.... You know what. Fuck it. Men. Women. Transitionals--if you are okay with being called 'transitionals.' Terry. Put down your arms. Raise your hands. Who wants tea?

[pause]

Fine. Who wants coffee?

[pause]

Beer, anyone?

[pause]

So. That's 1.2 million teas, 2.3 million coffees, and everyone else beer. Happy to serve in this war. Look forward to next year.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Other Than That, Mrs. Lincoln...

I met George Wallace once. At our county fair.

My grandmother took me--I must've been eight or nine--to the Lauderdale County fair. There was hay on the ground, rides, booths, and soda.

And bees.

In fact, a bee climbed out of the can of soda I was drinking, just after I took a sip, a fat, hairy yellow-and-black bee that shook itself off after it emerged from the can, then flew away.
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Bees in honey drown. Bees in Coke flourish.
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The thing about Alabama, back then, was that more time was spent in school on Alabama history than American history, or civics, or world history.

Might be the same now, really.

Back then, students were taught about the boll weevil but not about freedom riders. Students knew that Montgomery once served as the capital of the Confederacy, but they didn't know that Rosa Parks had ridden a bus along the same streets Jefferson Davis once walked.
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The invention of the cotton gin was, according to our teachers, more important than the invention of the printing press.
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So. George Wallace, still governor, making a grand tour of our modest county fair. He was in a wheelchair and was pushed across the muddy hay by a man in a suit.
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The bee had just fled from my soda can, from which I had just drank. I had just pulled the can from my lips, and watched this horrifying insect emerge. Stand on the edge of the can. Shake itself dry. Fly away. I was holding the can in my hand and the soda in my mouth, afraid to swallow.

My grandmother gasped. Touched me on the shoulder. 'Now I can spit this out and cry,' I thought, assuming she'd noticed this rather disgusting turn of events.

"Wallace is here," she said in a quiet voice.

I spit the Coke out, and dropped the can.
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Important thing to know about my family: They're not very political. Or hateful, for that matter. I've never asked, of course, what they were thinking when Bull Connor was hosing down African-American protestors. I've never asked if they were for or against the forced desegregation of local schools.

I did ask if boll weevils were still an issue (they weren't).
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Years after I met George Wallace, Barack Obama was elected president. I sent out a mass email to my family recounting the event--I'd gone down to Harlem to see the celebration, and wanted to share my experience. One relative wrote me back: For God's sake, Marc, I voted for him too. Shut up.
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The Civil War was our civics lesson in school. We learned that johnnycakes were important, and that slaves were treated as respectfully as could be expected. We learned that Sherman burned his way through our land, and that 'Gone with the Wind' was high literature on film.

We learned that States' rights were important, and that the federal government could intervene to make us do what the rest of the country wanted us to do.

Point is: when I met George Wallace, I didn't know much about him. When I met him, I didn't know about the history standing behind him. I didn't know a lot. I just knew a bee had crawled out of my soda can.
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Went to see 'Lincoln' tonight, and thought it was okay.  The reviews of it are stellar, but I don't think the film is worthy of the reviews. The film is like a history lesson for Alabama students still being taught more about the boll weevil and johnnycakes rather than about Rosa Parks.
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My grandmother pressed me forward. George Wallace extended his hand. Bees flitted around him but he didn't brush them aside as they landed on his hand, his face, his extended arm.

"Happy to meet you," he said.

"I like your chair," I replied, not knowing why he was in the chair.

"I like your shoes," he responded.

Check and mate.
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I think about racism a lot. I think about where I am from, and how intolerant Alabama seems to the rest of the country. And Alabama can be an intolerant place. Little has changed, socially, since the days of Lincoln.

I am certain there should be a 'but' here, but there isn't.


It's hard to explain the South, so I won't bother. In that way, I am a total Southerner, because there's no way to explain how it's acceptable for bees and George Wallace to infiltrate a county fair, and boll weevils to take precedent over  the Civil Rights movement. What I thought, though, when I met George Wallace was this: A bee! A bee was in my drink! Did no one see that? A bee!
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And what I thought while watching 'Lincoln': Dude, don't try to water this shit down. No one down south is gonna like it anyway, because you didn't mention the cotton gin.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tolerance

I never liked 'Will and Grace,' a television show on NBC that ran from some year to some other year a lifetime ago. Certainly, I recognize that it helped 'normalize' (normalize is a polite way of saying 'humanize') homosexuality, in that each week millions of Americans tuned in to watch two gay men negotiate relationships.

Of course, the gay guys' relationships were primarily with two straight women. But! America loved the show! And America loved the gay men relationshipping with the straight women!

And ratings were solid so the show lasted for several seasons. Several seasons longer than better shows lasted.

Also, Jack--the overtly gay man--was a buffoon. And, sure, the covert gay man--the eponymous Will--was passionless and dull.

Sure, the straight single woman--second-billed Grace--was dull, passionless, and plucky! And the boozy broad--Karen--was rich and dotty in a deal-with-situations-in-a-comedic-way way.

All four of the principle characters were tolerant of one another. Yay. Tolerant was, during the run of 'Will and Grace,' a good way to be.

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Alan Turing would've made a great guest star on 'Will and Grace,' I think. Imagine the fun! He's a gay guy after Will's affections. Jack has a crush on him. Grace tries to befriend him. Karen slips him some estrogen pills. Hijinx ensue.

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Of course Alan Turing was a real person, and not tolerated in his lifetime. Alan Turing invented the computer then cracked a code that helped Allies win WWII.  He was rewarded for his efforts by being sentenced by death by suicide.

In 1954, Turing killed himself. Turing saved Western Civilization from the Nazis, then grew manboobs from the pills England gave him when they found out he liked twinks. He was charged with 'gross indecency,' and, like Oscar Wilde before him, died a pitiful death.

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