Marching on…

As ever, I’ve been doing this for way too fucking long.

March 2010: Pittsburgh, eerie foreshadowing, and duct tape. And why is the SNCA conference always at some really inconvenient time for me?

March 2005: New computer, ska librarian rendezvous, and assorted quips. Not my best work, I must say.

March 2000: Apparently the most important thing in my life was the new Krispy Kreme. Or Fred Phelps. Or something else. Otherstream in it prime, maybe. Maybe not.

NYC pictures

Gym without class

Interesting article from the Toronto Star about bullying coaches.

I never played team sports as a kid. In fact, I did everything I could to avoid sports. I pretty much still do. A big part of that is that I just wasn’t interested. It wasn’t my “thing.” But I suspect a lot of it also had to do with the fact that, since I showed no natural ability or inclination, I was never treated in a way that encouraged me to want to stretch myself and learn about options other than football, basketball, etc.

Face it. Gym class is traumatizing for pretty much everyone in junior high. But for a queer kid who wasn’t very good at sports and who was already socially challenged and mercilessly teased on a regular basis, it was a fucking nightmare. And a bunch of redneck, meathead coaches who just didn’t “get it” made things much worse. While physical education classes are supposed to help you develop healthy lifelong habits, they had the exact opposite effect on me, teaching me that sports and physical fitness were something to be feared.

There were actually some things I was relatively good at–gymnastics and track come to mind–but as a boy, I was pushed into competitive team sports I had no talent for and no interest in. Not surprisingly, I faced a lot of ridicule. The asshole coaches and the forced curriculum were no help whatsoever.

My point here, however, is not to show what jerks my junior high PE coaches were (OK, maybe it is part of my point) but to show what a missed opportunity junior high gym classes can be for some students. I could’ve been inspired to do healthy things that I enjoyed, but instead, I developed a fear of all things athletic. The minute I was no longer required to take physical education classes, I stopped. I’ve never set foot in a gym since, and there’s a pretty good chance I never will.

The whole process didn’t do my general social development a lot of good either, but that’s a story for another day.

Home

Exhausted, with much unpacking, sorting, and catching up to do, all just in time for company Sunday night.

Coming later, if I have time:

  • New York pictures (maybe two trips’ worth).
  • Random thoughts on long-distance rail travel in the USA.
  • Pondering this summer’s West Coast adventure.
  • Another few paragraphs on the wonder that is Pittsburgh.
  • The inevitable rant about how batshit crazy my state has become.

For now, though, it’s bed…

It was nice…

…being home for a few hours. Now that I’ve washed my underwear and rearranged my luggage a bit, it’s off on the next voyage. This time I’m off to Greenville NC (maybe the most boring college town in the world) for a conference presentation.

Dagnabbit, I just wanna watch TV for a little while. Is that so much to ask?

Randomly Monday night (NYC edition)

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Thoughts for a final night on the Lower East Side:

  • This post may take a while because the hotel wifi is especially useless tonight.
  • Leaving New York is difficult. Leaving New York so I can get home and drive to Greenville, North Carolina (perhaps the most boring college town there ever was) for a two-day conference is heartbreaking.
  • Mid-afternoon pie and coffee at a bonafide diner is quite a soothing and civilized thing.
  • Shawarma with fiery hot sauce for lunch followed by chicken vindaloo for dinner can have repercussions. Enough said.
  • Why are band-aids in particular so freaking expensive here?
  • Thing that makes me happy: My friends (even the ones who are married and have kids) are generally not boring old middle-aged fucks like so many of my contemporaries seem to be. Nor are we trying to be twentysomethings. Yay, us!

Everybody says it so they had to name it twice

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If you’re keeping up with such things, I’m having a great time in New York. Got to spend most of yesterday with my friend Dan, who — despite our only having been in the same physical space four times in the past 18 or 19 years — manages to be one of my closest friends and Who also bears some significant responsibility for my midlife career change. Ah, those interwebs the kids keep talking about…

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I have eaten enough red meat to render my colon virtually useless and have taken many pictures, some of which you’ll get to see later. And so far, I’ve been really good about the books. I’ve only bought three. That may change.

Tomorrow night, it’s dinner with my friends Lori (who holds the unusual distinction of being the only person who has lived simultaneously in every city I have, if only for a few months) and Margo (who was the partial inspiration for one of my first major road trips way back in 1988). We will be frolicking in the Lower East Side, if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

I’ve spent a lot of time the past few years getting back in touch with old friends I missed and some I’d neglected. I can hardly express what a very good thing this has been.

I also have to admit that, while I’m not really a travel snob and don’t really need four-star (or even three-star) accommodations, it’s still a lot more fun being grown up and middle-class enough that I don’t have to stay in toilets and eat at McDonald’s. Just sayin’.

But damn, I take exhausting vacations…

Better?

(Adapted from a recent Facebook rant about this essay.)

San Francisco in 1992, when I moved there, was a deeply dysfunctional city. San Francisco in 2015, ten years after I departed, is still a deeply dysfunctional city, albeit in a very different way. I personally found the (early) 1990s dysfunction much more entertaining and inclusive than the current very expensive and corporate version. That’s probably because “pot truffles and hashish ginger snaps”, $4000/month studios, and hand-forged artisanal turnips from Bernal Heights are not really my thing.

While the author of seems only to remember the “sadness” that enveloped the Castro in the 1990s, the gay San Francisco I moved to in 1992 was actually a pretty happy place, one that was finally emerging from the darkness and paranoia of the 1980s and beginning to enjoy itself again.

I get that the author is trying to put a positive spin on change and question people’s assumptions about “the good old days” and how they were always “better” but the problem with this essay is that it mostly cites examples that say more about how much more sanitized and pretentious and wealthy the city has become in the past twenty years than about how much “better” it is. It may be a better place for many people, but not for me…not based on this essay, anyway.

I lived in San Francisco long enough that I’m allowed to have an opinion, but I’ve been gone long enough that no one has to pay any attention to it.