Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Heap O' Imogen

I'm going on a cruise to Mexico today. If I die of a mysterious cruise ship illness, I leave you with this...

"Hide and Seek" by Imogen Heap

Miami Urban Photo Safari

A lot of people consider San Francisco as the epicenter of different in America. It's stuffed full of established anti-establishment types, still tripping hippies and the Burning Man set. It seems like everyone in San Francisco is "alternative" in some way or another. I lived in San Francisco back in the early '90s and I can assure you that it is a weird place, full of weird people.

In 1994, I left the Left Coast and moved to Miami- South Beach to be exact. At first, I often felt sad that I wasn't a part of the progressive city any more, and it took me a while to feel at home here. And now, after 12 years, I've come to realize that San Francisco is weird - surfacely weird. Miami's weirdness is so much deeper. San Francisco is very, very conscious of its freak factor and loves to celebrate it, and display it, at every possible opportunity. Everyone in San Francisco wants to be weird. Miami thinks it's normal, and just goes about its daily business as if it were Colombus Ohio.

Back in the day - 2005 - me and my homey went on an urban photo safari in a couple of the more overlooked hoods in Miami, basically as an excuse to get out and explore the deep, hidden oddities of our city. Every couple of months, we pick a different neighborhood and try to capture it in 10 pictures, or less - and then research community history and publish it all at Okapi Visuals. The lastest expedition was in Little Haiti.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Reason For The Season

The malls here in Miami began decking the halls 2 months ago, and had Santa's train installed just as the last back to school sales were ending. I know it's cliche at this point to feel nostalgic for the days when the holy season of giving gently revealed itself shortly after Thanksgiving. Today, a 5am scuffle in the line outside of Best Buy on Black Friday merely marks the halfway point in the season of stress and artifice.

This year, I'm committing to honoring the reason for the season - the winter solstice - and celebrating this beautiful time of year by spending quality time with the people that I love, and sharing meaningful gifts instead of spending time fighting the crowds so I can check people off my list with Ipod accessories.

For the like minded:

World Wildlife Fund

Now go for a walk with someone you love.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Here's To Tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

New Rules For All Hallow's Eve!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

¡Pura Vida!

In a few hours I'll be on my way to the cloud forests in Costa Rica for some much needed adventure time with my hombre numero uno. This will be my fourth trip, but no other place I've ever been nourishes my soul like Costa Rica. Until I get back with some new are a few that I've taken in past excursions....

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Where Was The Outrage?

Thankfully, it looks like the Republicans may finally pushed it too far. The American masses are shocked and angry at, now former, Congressman Foley's stunningly inappropriate online conversations now known as the Foley Scandal. Even die-hard Repubs are looking squeamishly towards the mid-term elections, because they know that Dennis Hastert, among many other Republican leaders, has been covering up Mr. Foley's history of chicken hawk behavior.

Americans are outraged. Soccer moms are outraged. The Christians are outraged. Political independents are outraged.
Bush is disgusted. Upper middle managers are outraged. CNN anchors are outraged. Country music fans are outraged. Democrats are outraged (and more than a little giddy). Senior citizens are outraged. Thanks to, what White House press secretary Tony Snow, referred to a just some naughty e-mails, it looks like the Republican reich is about to be hit hard in November.

I certainly agree that Mr. Foley's behavior was inappropriate, unacceptable and creepy at best. I am so happy to finally see something sticking to these Republican hypocrites. But I have to wonder where the fuck has America's outrage been for the last 5 years?

Where the fuck was the outrage when Bush adminstration squandered our opportunity to find Osama bin Laden by focusing attention on Sadaam's weapons of mass destruction?

Where the fuck was the outrage when Bush arrogantly defied nearly every nation in the world, and invaded Iraq on the premise that the Iraqi people would welcome us with open arms, the Iraqi oil supplies would fund rebuilding and weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaeda would be found and eliminated?

Seriously, where the fuck was the outrage when all of the above turned out to be a calculated lie?

Where the fuck was the outrage when it became clear that tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed since we began our occupation of their country?

Where the fuck was the outrage when he stood on the battleship well over 3 years ago and announced "mission accomplished?"

Where the fuck was the outrage when it became clear that we squandered our opportunity to work with allies to rebuild a Taliban-free Afghanistan and show the world the greatness of America?

Where the fuck was the outrage when it became clear that we have lost the respect of the entire world, because of the conservatives' need to beat others into submission, as opposed to leading by example?

Where the fuck was the outrage when the vice-president's former company, Halliburton, got handed billions of taxpayers dollars in no-bid contracts to "rebuild" Iraq?

Where the fuck was the outrage when our leaders used fear to pass the Patriot Act, twice, effectively taking whole pieces of the Constitution - ripping them up and throwing them away?

Where the fuck was the outrage when images of condoned sadistic abuses of prisoners in Abu Ghraib flashed across nightly news reports all over the world?

Where the fuck was the outrage when our entire government abandoned an entire class of people in a major American city - leaving them for dead?

Where the fuck was the outrage when 2 weeks ago, our leaders approved the Military Commissions Act, which allows the goverment to secretly detain and torture anyone that might be a subversive or a terrorist, and effectively took what was left of the Constitution after the Patriot Acts and held it up to the American public and set it on fire?

Where the fuck was the outrage when Karl Rove and Dick Cheney violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and "leaked" the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame to the press to get even with her and her husband for criticism of the administation?

Where the fuck was the outrage when "voting irregularities" surfaced AGAIN in 2004?

Where the fuck was the outrage when Republicans used American's fears of gay marriage to divert attention away from their war of terror?

Where the fuck was the outrage when the cost of the War on Iraq to taxpayers topped $332 BILLION?

Where the fuck was the outrage when we were told that we can't afford social security, universal health care or decent schools for the next generation, but we can afford $332,000,000,000 (and counting) on a pointless war?

Where the fuck was the outrage when the news media were banned from showing the coffins of dead men and women, draped with American flags, returning from the Middle East?

Where the fuck was the outrage when the number of Americans killed in Iraq topped the number of people killed in the September 11th attacks?

Where the fuck was the outrage when Bush and Congress approved yet more tax cuts - for the wealthy?

Where the fuck was the outrage when it was shown that the administration had ignored the Constitution again, and illegally wiretapped Americans phones and computers?

Where the fuck was the outrage over the past 6 years as Republicans so deliberately and so publicly, with the help of the media, destroyed so much of what made America great?

But, now, once again, America is outraged, and more than a little titillated by a sex scandal. Where the fuck are the priorities of the American people? Sometimes, I just feel like we've gotten what we deserve.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Truth And Enlightenment

Performed by 21 young deaf members of China's Disabled Peoples Performing Art Troupe.

Pure. Wise. Perfect.

Friday, September 22, 2006

A Day In The Life Of Joe Republican

This has been circling the internet for a while...and it's just so true...

Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.

All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer’s medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe’s bacon is safe to eat because some girly- man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

He walks on the government-provided sidewalk to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation costs because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe’s employer pays these standards because Joe’s employer doesn’t want his employees to call the union.

If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he’ll get a worker compensation or an unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn’t think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

It is noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe’s deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe’s money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the country would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe also forgets that his in addition to his federally subsidized student loans, he attended a state-funded university.

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards to go along with the tax- payer funded roads.

He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers’ Home Administration because bankers didn’t want to make rural loans.

The house didn’t have electricity until some big- government liberal stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and demanded rural electrification.

He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberals made sure Dad could take care of himself so Joe wouldn’t have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn’t mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: “We don’t need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I’m a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of himself, just like I have.”

Hat Tip: Bring It On!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Roadtrip To The Heartland

This past weekend, we packed up the car and hit the road for a much needed weekend getaway. Tony, Jody and I headed 5½ hours north to St. Augustine, in Northeast Florida. Having been founded by the Spanish in 1565, St. Augustine is the oldest European settlement in, what is now, the United States. It's a small town with cobblestone streets, Spanish Colonial and Southern Victorian architecture and a million antique shoppes. It has, what are some of the cheesiest "attractions" I've ever seen, including Ponce De Leon's Fountain of Youth. And just outside the downtown area, you can find beautiful beaches and kitschy mid-century motels. St. Augustine just drips with charm, ghost stories and Spanish moss. I love everything about it.

Except for one thing - the people. St. Augustine looks like it should be home to artists and poets and eccentric ladies with frizzy hair who live to feed homeless cats. You'd expect folk singers and hippies and older gay couples. It's easy to imagine literary geniuses sequestered in Victorian turrets, writing the world's next important work.

But, because north Florida is geographically and culturally very much a part of the Deep South, St. Augustine is awash in hateful rednecks and Bush-loving bible-thumpers. I haven't had to "not be gay" for a long time, and I forgot how unsafe it can feel to be surrounded by conservative straight, white Americans with monster trucks.

These are the folks who think it's a good idea to drop the bomb on the Middle East and exterminate all them A-rabs. They're the same people who won't allow the Coloreds into their church and pray to Jesus that them Mexicans will die in the desert before they can git here to steal our jobs. I actually saw a nice American family proudly wearing this nice t-shirt... takes a minute...Malcolm X. I can't even imagine the extent of hatred in someone's heart to go so far out of their way to hurt other peoples' feelings. And these bumper stickers - produced by the 700 Club - are apparently the very latest in vehicle accessories...

Despite all the homeland hatred, we had a great time. We took in the sights, watched wild dolphins, toured the Castillo de San Marcos (built in 1695)and drank from the Fountain of Youth.

Our Accomodations. Yes. The Bunnies Jump!

The Castillo De San Marcos

Downtown St. Augustine

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The World Famous *BOB*

Many years ago, early on a foggy San Francisco Sunday morning at the End Up, I met a vision named *BOB*. She was like a candy-flipping Mae West meets Las Vegas showgirl from an outer galaxy. She was twirling around the outdoor dancefloor in a glittery space frock with a huge blonde wig and platformed go-go boots. Erik, *BOB* and I quickly became friends, and I was amazed when I discovered that underneath all the plastic bustiers and 6-inch sparkly eyelashes was a true heart of gold.

In the early '90s, when the San Francisco club scene imploded, I lost track of nearly all of my friends, including *BOB*. Over the years, I have been saddened too, too many times by news of what happened to all of my old aquaintances from that era of my journey. About 5 years ago, I found out that *BOB* had not only made it through all the chaos, but she followed her dreams to New York and was busy entertaining and helping to create a new burlesque scene in the Village. I have seen her a couple of times since, and I was lucky enough to catch one of her shows at the Slipper Lounge in New York, but unfortunately, it is hard to keep in touch.

I've really been too fortunate to have known so many outrageously creative and unique characters in my life, and well, if you're in New York any Friday this month....get your ass over to Avenue A.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Double Feature Night

Last night was Tivo double feature night at Jody’s.

Feature #1…..Python vs. Alligator. Complete with forensic scientists armed with digital x-rays and seriously gruesome pictures, National Geographic succeeded in bringing out my inner 8 year old barbarian who screams neat-o at the sight of a 15 foot Burmese python that “mysteriously” exploded after eating a 6 foot alligator. Like an episode of CSI Everglades, a group of biologists pieced together the mystery of exactly what went down when an introduced python was introduced to a native alligator. The conclusion seemed to be that while the python was digesting the alligator, a second alligator attacked and ripped open the snake. The local ecosystem has been taking a beating for years from aggressive introduced species. Australian pines, Brazilian pepper and meleleucas have overtaken thousands of square miles that used to be dominated by a diversity of native trees. Tilapias, cichlids and oscars ate most of the native freshwater fish. Huge poisonous cane toads from South America are killing native animals as well as backyard dogs and cats. And now, thanks to the irresponsible exotic pet trade, we have to contend with wild Burmese pythons and water monitors – which are slightly smaller cousins of the Komodo dragon and are apparently reproducing like crazy in the suburbs of Miami. When the piranhas and spitting cobras set up shop, I’m done.

Feature #2…..30 Days. What a cool show. Created by the “Supersize Me” guy, Morgan Spurlock, 30 days delves into contemporary social issues by arranging and documenting the experience of someone from one side of an issue living with a family on the other side of said issue. Kind of like a political foreign exchange program. A nice follow up to Python vs. Alligator, the episode we watched examined religion and tolerance by having a born-again Christian family from Texas host a suburban Atheist mom from Lawrence Kansas for 30 days. Non-believing mom attended church services and bible study, and calmly defended her ability to live morally and ethically without fear of retribution from the supernatural world. The faithful family reached out of their comfort zone to have dinner with a group of Atheists and hear a perspective that they had never encountered before. This show was thoughtfully done – not at all based on shock-value and with neither side being a caricature. Next week’s episode looks at the abortion issue

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Miami Heat

Here's a surprising bit of trivia: Miami is the only major city in the contiguous portion of the United States to have never reached 100 degrees. Sure, it's 96 for months on end...but, nope, never 100.

Betcha didn't know that!

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Boob Squad

How nice. The god-fearers are saving America from women's breasts, again. The Janet Jackson Squad is up in arms over this month's cover of Baby Talk Magazine, that features a baby nursing au natural, and actually shows less breast than any TRL music video.

One mother who didn't like the cover explains she was concerned about her 13-year-old son seeing it. "I shredded it," said Gayle Ash, of Belton, Texas, in a telephone interview. "A breast is a breast — it's a sexual thing. He didn't need to see that."

It's a sexual thing. Now can we give Texas back to Mexico? Please?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

An Icelandic Fable Of Love And Art

With the state of the world today, it's comforting just to know that Bjork exists...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Left To My Own Devices - Part Two

In 1988, a small group of disenfranchised, but glamourously resourceful teenagers, myself included, formed a Gay youth group – Pittsburgh’s Growing Alternative Youth. Our mission was to welcome, educate and empower the next generation of Steel City queers, as well as to greatly expand our social circle and dating possibilities. We took up a campaign of guerilla marketing – infiltrating high school libraries and stuffing any medical or psychology book with an index reference to “homosexuality” with flyers for the group. We networked at Gay cruising spots and outside Gay bars. We posted flyers in the womyn’s bookstore and the universities’ student unions. We grew from meetings of 4 or 5 to a weekly attendance of over 60 in just a few months.

A local Gay minister and activist, Lou, helped us get organized and encouraged us to take on the world. We had weekly speakers, presenting a range of topics. Herman, a charming, elderly African-American gentleman came to tell us what Gay life was like for him in the 1940s. Kathy, a licensed counselor, came to speak to us about ways to improve self-esteem, and Don, in a 2-part workshop, “Eroticizing Safer Sex,” taught us how to protect ourselves in a newly dangerous world. We watched “Torch Song Trilogy” and “Desert Hearts” and planned monthly under 21 parties at local Gay bars.

In 1990, Chris, my roommate, and a member of the youth group with a long history of depression and self-esteem issues, ended his own life. I think many of us felt that we had failed him – failed to be a good enough family when his family wanted nothing to do with him. We failed to take him seriously when he joked about suicide and when he made theatrical attempts that we thought were “just for attention.” Jason and I were the leaders of the group, and after Chris’ death we lost interest, and the group fell apart (some time after it was reincarnated into a less educational, more social entity).

But, I look back now, and I don’t see failure anymore. I often meet Gay people in their 30s and 40s who are struggling with issues that we were able to address in our teens. Through Growing Alternative Youth and with Lou’s help, we learned more about Gay history and culture before we could legally enter a Gay bar, than many middle-aged Queers know. We had opportunities to grow at a time when, unfortunately, many Gay people are stifled by internalized homophobia.

I realize now that we didn’t fail Chris. We more likely succeeded in keeping a lot of other Gay kids from following in his footsteps.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Countdown Is On

Three Questions Come To Mind...

1. Are there really people living on this planet who didn't know that Al-Qaeda's finances were being monitored? If so, why aren't they embarrassed by their stupidity instead of standing on the floor of Congress proudly displaying their dimwittedness?

2. Had this actually been a "leak," shouldn't the administration official who "leaked" it to the NEW YORK FUCKING TIMES be the target of the administration's fury as opposed to Joe Reporter putting Freedom of the Press into practice? Like if I tell A* a secret, and she tells Hof and he blogs about it, I'd be pissed at A*, not Hof, and totally talk shit about her on my blog for like years.

3. Is Keith Olbermann rocking lately, or what?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

What If?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Left To My Own Devices - Part One

I am a lucky guy. I have heard far too many gruesome “coming out” stories where good people lost family, friends, jobs and homes because they told someone about their capacity to fall in love with someone with similar anatomy. Stories of people who suffered through years of self-denial, self-hatred, fear, violence and loneliness – unbearable loneliness. I’ve also heard tales of immense courage, determination and strength with a healthy dose of humor.

Gay folks don’t just share coming out stories, we share the experience of the process of coming out – a process of accepting, constructing and articulating a Gay identity in a heterosexual world. Most coming out stories start with “I always knew I was different” and then proceed into a personal and revealing life history. We use our coming out stories as catalysts for developing a relationship of acquaintance into a friendship or more. Coming out stories provide us with a way of nearly instantly relating to each other through shared experience.

I always knew I was different. I always knew that I would grow up to like boys in a different way than I liked girls – though at the time I thought boys were dumb and I wanted nothing to do with their mob sports and general rowdiness. I preferred solitary magical expeditions in the woods spying on deer and foxes, or sitting on the basement steps traveling to foreign lands and meeting historical people through an old set of encyclopedias. It wasn’t that I preferred the solitary part. It was more that I preferred not feeling like an awkward outsider.

In second grade, Dennis Giel called me a faggot. I wasn’t totally sure what that meant, but I knew I felt ashamed deep inside. I knew by the way the other kids laughed, that faggot wasn’t a good thing, and that it applied to me. In third grade, I stumbled upon a 60 Minutes-style televising the burgeoning Gay Power movement in San Francisco. I remember a particularly indignant blonde, woolly-haired fellow in a ringer tee and striped tube socks telling the reporter that he was “proud to be a faggot.” I still remember the sense of relief that I felt, knowing that one day when I was grown up, I could move far, far away to San Francisco and be with the other faggots.

I spent my entire childhood hiding, and alone. That all changed in a single September evening, with a chance decision to attend a Junior Achievement meeting that had been promoted by my 10th grade English teacher. Erik, who sat in front of me, signed up too, and we decided to go together. Erik’s dad dropped us off outside, but we never made it in to the meeting, opting instead to walk around aimlessly for hours, and launch a lifelong friendship. He taught me how to smoke a cigarette, and we made plans for the weekend. Together, over the next few months, we learned how to smoke pot and shoplift, watched the Breakfast Club roughly 43 times, discovered the Smiths and New Order and stayed out really, really late on school nights. And, we came out to each other. Honestly, I don’t remember exactly how, but I know it was a quick evolution from, “hey, look, that guy’s clothes are cool” to “um, yeah, that guy’s hot.”

Erik had a bit of a head start on me, in the process. He, and a mutual friend of ours, Jody, had already come out to each other. The three of us devised a coded language and alphabet, for clandestine phone communications and the all important note-writing in class. At the beginning of 11th grade, we met Marla. She had a new wave haircut and a penchant for Joy Division and Sylvia Plath, which of course, was a big green light in our book. And she too was Gay.

The four of us waited it out together. We waited for the opportunity to escape the isolation of Gay teenagehood in exurbia. Unlike most Gay kids, we were lucky enough to have each other. Those years weren’t easy. But, without the hope that we were able to give each other, we very well might not have made it. I certainly am a lucky guy.

Erik and Cyrus - Class of 1988

Pick up a brochure about the sun
Learn to ignore what the photographer saw
I was always told that you should join a club
Stick with the gang, if you want to belong

I was a lonely boy, no strength, no joy
In a world of my own at the back of the garden
I didn't want to compete, or play out on the street
For in a secret life I was a round head general

I could leave you, say goodbye
Or I could love you, if I try
And I could
And left to my own devices, I probably would
Left to my own devices, I probably would
Oh, I would

I was faced with a choice at a difficult age
Would I write a book? Or should I take to the stage?
But in the back of my head I heard distant feet
Che Guevara and Debussy to a disco beat

"Left To My Own Devices" - Pet Shop Boys

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Chihuly At Fairchild

Last night, Tony and I went to Fairchild Tropical Gardens for the “Chihuly at Fairchild” nighttime walking tour. So cool.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Getting Away From It All

One day, some time ago, during our days of 11am alarms and leisurely, outdoor crossword puzzle breakfasts, Jason and I hiked in our Havaianas the four blocks from our Art Deco apartments to the beach, looking forward to a few sublime hours of warm sand, puffy clouds and electric blue water. It was one of those perfect South Beach days, where the thought of living anywhere else was just absurd and we shared our mocking sympathy for the poor people in New York and Boston and Chicago who were suffering through deadlines and schedules, road salt and grimy slush. Life was good.

Shortly after beginning our beach blanket nap, we were snapped back to awareness by an extended tourist family setting up shop – plastic and Styrofoam coolers, umbrellas, floaty tube things, foldable spectator chairs and bags and bags of Cool Ranch Doritos. The visiting clan was headed by a loud and large hairy man, silverback in appearance and behavior, and none of them seemed to realize that they were totally desecrating an otherwise divine day with their bickering, belching and sand –kicking.

Finally, all settled in, they pop open cans of beer and reflect on their issues of the day – loudly. Positioned just about 15 feet away, Jason and I can’t help but to hear every inane word, and spend the next few minutes listening and rolling our eyes – trying to find some amusement in an otherwise aggravating situation. Then, the afternoon took a sharp turn for even worse, when the patriarch noticed two obviously gay guys walking past, along the shore, and declares “they should take all them faggots and put ‘em on an island!” Not missing a beat, Jason yells back “we are on an island, you fucking moron, and we were here first!”

Friday, April 28, 2006

Mission Accomplished!

Monday will mark the 3 year anniversary of America's Mission Accomplished in Iraq, and I think a tempered, tasteful remembrance of Bush's big day on the big boat is in order. This year, instead of joining the raucous street celebrations, I've decided to just review the words spoken on that day in 2003 by our defender of American freedoms.

"Thank you. Thank you all very much. Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans, major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.

And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.

In this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty and for the peace of the world. Our nation and our coalition are proud of this accomplishment, yet it is you, the members of the United States military, who achieved it. Your courage, your willingness to face danger for your country and for each other made this day possible.

Because of you our nation is more secure. Because of you the tyrant has fallen and Iraq is free.
Operation Iraqi Freedom was carried out with a combination of precision and speed and boldness the enemy did not expect and the world had not seen before. …

In the images of celebrating Iraqis we have also seen the ageless appeal of human freedom. Decades of lies and intimidation could not make the Iraqi people love their oppressors or desire their own enslavement.

Men and women in every culture need liberty like they need food and water and air. Everywhere that freedom arrives, humanity rejoices and everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear.

We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We're pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime who will be held to account for their crimes. We've begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons, and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated.

We are helping to rebuild Iraq where the dictator built palaces for himself instead of hospitals and schools..."

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dear Mr. President

I really never paid any attention at all to Pink. She just seemed like another assembly line pop product putting out songs that were "catchy." Now suddenly, she's the voice of a generation with "Stupid Girls" and this...which might actually be my favorite song this year.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Eostre!

I’m totally fascinated by the way certain cultural traditions can be passed from generation to generation for hundreds, and often, thousands of years and how symbolic expressions evolve or are co-opted into a new representation. The celebration of Easter is a great example. Easter, possibly the holiest of all days for Christians, has its roots in Pagan, pre-Christian Europe. Eostre was the Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility, and she was honored through feasts and fertility festivals that coincided with the Spring equinox. Her earthly symbol of fertility was the rabbit – hence the chocolate Easter bunnies that we know and love. For the Pagan peoples of Europe, the season of Eostre was a time to recognize Nature’s ability to reproduce and rejuvenate in each day of increasing sunlight. As Christianity’s dominance spread throughout Europe, Christian missionaries and leaders co-opted the old ways and traditions and re-signified them with images of Jesus’ rebirth during the days of increasing sunlight. Now if I could just find some literature on the cultural and religious significance of peeps.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

This Land Is Your Land....

I just love a wedge issue. Especially one that threatens to rip apart the GOP, by challenging Republikans to choose between their two most fundamental character traits – greed and hatefulness. On one side you’ve got the moneyed establishment conservatives who, in order to conserve more and more wealth, see illegal immigrants as nothing more than cheap labor that allows for more profit to float to the top. For these Wall Street Republicans, this is basically about property rights, not human rights – and as we all know, this is a property rights era. Bush certainly racked up points with CEOs across the country, when he let us all know that “there are jobs that no Americans will do,” and I’d guess that Halliburton’s stock jumps a few notches every time someone mentions building a wall along the border.

On the other side of the Republican civil war are the Lou Dobbs groupies, the O’Reilly lunatics and the Minutemen-loving fundamentalists who are kept awake at night with images of brown-skinned illegals climbing over walls to apply for welfare and rape white women. These people are the real heart and soul of the Republikan Party, and most likely, these will be they will be the victors in this bloody battle. For these Calvinists, illegals’ geographic place of birth is evidence of their unworthiness, and crossing the border to work is to spit on God’s plan.

The only thing that really overshadows this theatre, is the mystery of why conservatives chose to allow this divisive issue to boil over right before elections. The Democrats don’t need to instigate anything or have a plan (thank god), because it looks like the Republikans’ internal jihad between greed and hate, being played out through the Dubai Ports Deal and illegal immigration conflicts, should sufficiently fuck them for November.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Trip Report

The family visit actually exceeded all of my already over-inflated expectations. We had a blast. Of course, three days o’ Disney was exhausting, but everything worked out exactly as planned. The weather was magnificent, our room at the Animal Kingdom Lodge overlooking the savannah habitat was ideal, and not one of us was afflicted with vacation dysentery, cholera or lyme disease. After allowing the mouse to pillage our wallets for three days, we sojourned south to the M.I.A. It was wonderful and surreal to have my two lives fuse together in front of me. You see, I’ve lived in Miami for over 12 years now, and the possibility that my family from Pittsburgh might ever know my life here, outside of e-mailed photos, never even crossed my mind. They’re great people, but not exactly world travelers. The largest city my sister has ever seen is, well, Pittsburgh. She’s not afraid of going places or meeting new people. In fact, she’s open-minded, friendly and extroverted. But, for reasons that someone like myself will never understand, she’s just never had a longing to see the world outside. But see it she did. They stayed in South Beach, dined on Lincoln Road, swam in the turquoise ocean, trekked through the Everglades and met people from all over the world. And they had a great time.

It feels good and healthy to have been able to integrate my family into my life here. I feel more whole in a way that’s hard to articulate. My sister let me know how impressed she was with the genuine warmness of my friends and that she noticed how family-like we are in our closeness. I thanked her for giving me the ability to forge real relationships. But I don’t think I thanked her enough.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

So. Stoked. Can't. Breathe.

My sister found out yesterday that one actually does not fall off the Earth when crossing a border, thereby leaving the state of Pennsylvania. She, who hasn’t left the Keystone State since her 1976 honeymoon in Virginia, is en route with my brother-in-law and my newly 10-year-old niece to Florida. I’m meeting them in Orlando in a few hours for 3 days o’ Disney. Then, they’ll be visiting the M.I.A. for a few days. I can’t breathe, I’m so excited.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Thank You TV Land

In what was supposed to be a much needed evening of mind-numbing after work couch napping and channel surfing, I found myself hurled back to my near-forgotten first celebrity crush. No, no, no, not Farrah Fawcett or Suzanne Somers or even Valerie Bertinelli. The dream date of my 10 year old heart was Matthew Laborteaux – probably known better by the masses as Albert from Little House on the Prairie. I never, ever missed an episode of LHOTP. Ever. That thick black hair and those deep, dark eyes full of adorable and charming reformed bad boy sexiness confirmed my long suspected gayness. I would have given up my K-Tel disco records in a heartbeat to live in Walnut Grove with Albert. Sure, I couldn’t proudly display posters of my crush on my bedroom wall like the other kids did – mainly because of the Little House shame factor. Well, I’m not ashamed anymore. So here it is. I love Little House on the Prairie. I’ve even thought of buying the DVD collection.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Friday, February 10, 2006

Copy and Paste

LOS ANGELES (Feb. 10) - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Thursday he was blindsided by President George W. Bush's announcement of new details about a purported 2002 plot to crash a plane into a city skyscraper, but the White House and state officials said the mayor's office was contacted.
I'm amazed that the president would make this (announcement) on national TV and not inform us of these details through the appropriate channels," the mayor said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I don't expect a call from the president - but somebody."

In Washington, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said the administration "did reach out to officials in California and Los Angeles to let them know, I think it was yesterday, that the president would be talking about this."

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks who was captured in 2003, had already begun planning the West Coast operation in October 2001, Bush said Thursday during a Washington speech. The hijackers were to use shoe bombs to blow open the cockpit door of a commercial jetliner, take control of the plane and crash it into the Library Tower in Los Angeles, since renamed the US Bank Tower, Bush said.

Apparently, Thursday morning, Bush's crack team of public relations officials realized that they hadn't yet hammered out a bone-chilling, menacing terrorist "plot" that would show the need for wiretapping and citizen surveillance, and justify to the sheep, the ripping up of the American Constitution. So, out of the pressure of time constraints, they decided to copy and paste from previous headline grabbers.

P.R. #1 : "Let's see, shoe bombs really frighten them."
P.R. #2: "I don't think we should use New York. New Yorkers made it through the transit strike. They won't care about this
P.R. #1: "Let's try L.A. this time. It'll be fun to watch all those Hollywood liberals shaking in their loafers."
P.R. #2: "Yeah," (chuckles) "Good Night and Good Luck, Hollywood."
P.R. #1 "Hey, what's the tallest building in L.A.?"
P.R. #2 "Should we use Sadaam?"
P.R. #1 "No, let's use some other guy with a funny name!"
P.R. #2 "I hope Scott doesn't fuck it up in front of the cameras again."
P.R. #1 "Yeah, what a dumbass."

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Reinvention Tour

Ok, for those interested...I am still alive. As anyone who is interested would know, my life fell apart in just about every conceivable way a few months ago. On the employment front, I'm now doing marketing for a different team in the same office and it's working out really well. I moved out of South Beach and into a cool, old apartment in downtown Miami. Just a few weeks ago, I was able to get my nearly totalled car repaired. And, though I still can't look at photo albums or listen to Lite FM, I'm crawling out of the shock and awe of "I don't want to continue from here."

So, now I'd like to return to my irregularly scheduled blogging absurdity. In the meantime, I'm concentrating on sending out some particularly positive vibes and thoughts to Marisol and Valerie. I hope they both know how strong they can be, and how many people are rooting for them.