About nice, friendly white supremacists…

I’m of several minds about the controversial New York Times piece on the friendly neighborhood white nationalist racist prick. I recognize that the article did go a long way toward “normalizing” his behavior, though I think it stopped short of being an apologia. That said, I also believe that there is some validity in demonstrating that racist nutjobs can be your neighbors and can seem like “nice people” until you learn what they really stand for. And I think there is a significant part of the population that doesn’t realize this.

I’ve written about Oleene before. She lived right across the street from me and seemed to many people to be a very nice lady, a good Christian, and the kind of person you’d want watching your kids during the day. But as one of the kids she watched, I realized that she was not a nice lady at all. She was horrible. She said things about people of color that make my skin crawl to this day; these were awful, hateful, and — in retrospect — violent things. She was a despicable human being and, despite having known her since childhood, I couldn’t make myself attend her funeral when she died. I used to try to excuse her, but by the time she died, I didn’t feel any sense of loss at all.

But yeah, she seemed like a sweet little Christian lady until she started talking about anyone who was different from her. And ultimately, it wasn’t just people of different races or ethnicities. Not surprisingly, I never quite fit the mold of what she thought a boy should be interested in. I wanted to read and draw and use my imagination and learn things. She constantly pushed me to go outside, pick up a ball, and act like the other boys and stop being so “silly.” She minimized and ridiculed everything that mattered to me. She made me think there was something wrong with me, and I grew to hate her for it. As I’ve also said before, Oleene and the “moral” evangelical hypocrites at Vandalia Christian School are two of the main factors in my transformation from Bible-toting child to atheist adult. Suffice to say, none of these folks provided me with a model that was in any way “Christlike” no something I could imagine dedicating my life to.

The point here, though, is that she just seemed to blend in with the neighborhood, and I don’t think anyone ever really exposed her or called her on her bullshit (except maybe me, when I hit my rebellious years). She was an evil, hateful person who wrapped her nastiness in a cute wrapper of Christian belief and Southern sweetness. And she’s not alone. In fact, there are a lot of her around. And they, like Tony Hovater, need to be exposed. The Times may not have done so in the best way possible. Someone should.

When I’m 64 (or 74 or 84)…

Ten resolutions for the senior citizen version of me:

  1. I will retain some sense of urgency in my life. When in line at a restaurant or store, I will recognize that even though I may have no schedule or pressing commitments, the people behind me probably do.
  2. I will not retire without having some idea of what I will do with my time. (I don’t think this will be a problem.)
  3. I will enthusiastically purchase a hearing aid when and if I need one. Fuck vanity.
  4. I will not become a racist, right-wing nutjob (i.e. an evangelical Republican).
  5. I will try to avoid ever thinking that 4:45PM is the ideal time for dinner.
  6. I will not discuss my excretory functions with anyone but healthcare providers.
  7. I will have some fucking dignity and not chase after boys in their twenties.
  8. As long as I am able, I will continue to travel alone.
  9. I will continue to appreciate new and interesting music and media, and I will not complain that all culture came to an abrupt end when I was 25.
  10. I will not watch “Wheel of Fortune.”

Feel free to comment on my success (or lack thereof) in ten, twenty, or thirty years.

Providence…

…is that rare city that neither disappointed me nor exceeded my expectations in any way. It was pretty much exactly what i expected: very cute and a little dull. it was good to see it, but I feel no compelling desire to return soon. Interestingly, the “what it might be like to live here” curiosity I get in so many cities never quite hit with Providence.

Random thoughts:

  • I actually had trouble understanding a few people here, which is unusual for me.
  • This hotel (which I did not book nor pay for myself)  is a grand triumph of style over substance. It tries so hard to be all hipsteriffic and trendy that it ultimately just ends up being uncomfortable and dysfunctional (and overpriced). I’m sure some people would love it. I am not one of those people. And what the fuck is the appeal of rain shower heads? To their credit, though, the staff is great.
  • I could have done without the extra, unplanned night, though American Airlines did foot the bill.
  • Why would someone pay $35 for a cab from the airport to downtown when there’s a $2 express city bus?
  • Everything really is close to everything else in Rhode Island.

Exploring

Having spent four lovely days in the warm and fuzzy embrace of Toronto, I’m now exploring Kitchener-Waterloo. I spent a few hours here several years ago, and I decided I would come back for a couple of days at some point. That point has arrived.

A few initial impressions that I may or may not expand on later:

  • It seems a lot more like American cities here. It’s very sprawling, and there’s not the grid that you see in Toronto, Ottawa, or Montréal. Development patterns just look a lot more like a small- or mid-sized American city. (EDIT: Speech recognition added a “good” to that last sentence that didn’t belong there.)
  • It also seems a lot more white and Anglo (and Germanic) here. A quick glance at the areas demographics on Wikipedia confirms this suspicion.
  • I wonder how people here react to the fact that most of their broadcast media (TV at least) is based in Toronto, and that there’s nothing really local. I guess there never has been, so they probably don’t notice the difference. That said, this would be a pretty decent sized market in the US. (EDIT: There are apparently local stations here but they were not on my hotel cable.)
  • They do have their own newspaper, though, and like most Canadian papers, it seems a trifle healthier than most American papers.
  • I really love the converted shopping center on University Avenue that’s become sort of a big international food court. I ate there last time I was here and returns tonight as well.
  • I also love my room, and I’m reconsidering whether I want to leave.
  • Canadian public libraries rock the universe.

A fifth of October

Today is my alma mater’s 125th birthday.

It’s also the 25th anniversary of the day I took up residence in San Francisco. In another couple of months, I will also hit the point where I’ve been back on the East Coast as long as I was in California.

Time flies when you’re having fun.

And sometimes even when you’re not.

Fortunately there’s been much more of the former than the latter over the years.

Pigs and pumpkins

I went to the fair for the first time since 2010. We saw the giant pumpkins and the pigs and the assorted cakes that were already past their prime and starting to look a little worse for the wear. We marveled at the “most effective use of a gourd” winner. Many of the youngsters’ art projects had a very encouraging urban feel to them. I made wry comments as we walked past the Republican party booth and the “right to life” booth (which was, of course, staffed only by men) and I had Methodist hot dogs and cobbler. I somehow too no pictures. My “date” won a ribbon for a dress she made. It was nice.

Canada Saturday for the annual Thanksgiving trip. There may or may not be updates from the road here and/or on the various Twitter accounts.

That’s 16 in prime number years…

Celebrating Rosanna Arquette’s birthday in St. Catherines, Ontario.

Revelations upon hitting age 53 that I forgot to post last month on Rosanna Arquette’s birthday:

  • At some point in the aging process, your beard gets grey enough that neglecting to shave no longer makes you look sexy and scruffy–assuming it ever did to begin with. It just makes it look like you forgot to wash your face that morning.
  • How do people live without obsessions hobbies to take over their lives keep them busy.
  • Just like giving up smoking and leaving San Francisco, getting rid of cable is a decision I have never once regretted.
  • Travel is a much more enjoyable vice than bar- or bed-hopping. I know from experience that it is possible to combine all three, but I would opt for doing the former (and doing it alone) if I had to choose.
  • I enjoy many of the perks of being middle class, though I haven’t necessarily absorbed all the values.
  • Life is a lot more fun when you concentrate on things and people you like rather than on things and people you don’t.

Still a little numb

IMG_5124

I lost a very close friend this week. it was sudden, it was unexpected, and it fucking sucks.

Dan Cherubin and I officially “met” on 26 June 2000 via email, as was the custom at the time:

My old roomie has been pestering me about your page for a bit. She said she’d give up her dyke-ness for you and that you and I were oddly similar. (Which makes me wonder what she was thinking about when she & I lived together…)

So, I have been meandering about your pages and there’s definitely some coincidence, though I think my pal was hoping we’d become eternal fuck buddies and invite her along on our misadventures as we tour the country and solve crime and help the with-it kids.

You can check out my webpage. There are assorted rants on various pages.

Pretty much from the very first minute it was like we’d known each other forever.

I realized pretty quickly that we had already crossed paths before on a queer punk mailing list I’d subscribed to for several years. Over the next few years, we corresponded regularly (daily at some points) and became quite good friends. Dan had a sense of humor and snark that mirrored my own, but he somehow always seemed nicer and less misanthropic about it all than I was (although he would have denied that). It was all but impossible not to love him. we probably should have had a torrid affair at some point, but that would have ruined everything, so I’m glad we didn’t.

DSC03208

We stayed in touch over the years–sometimes more successfully than others–through failed marriages for both of us, and through graduate school for me. Oh yeah. Did I mention that Dan was a librarian? A very well-regarded librarian? And (on occasion) a queer ska librarian? Well..he was all of these things. And he was probably more responsible than anyone for the fact that I’m now a librarian as well.

He was also a musician, an amazing cook, a tireless activist, and a lifelong learner beyond compare. Just for the record.

IMG_2714

Anyway, we finally met in person in San Francisco in 2005, and then way too few times after that, though in recent years, I had visited him (and eventually his new partner) in New York on several occasions where we ate terrifically unhealthy food and visited bookstores upon bookstores, not to mention the occasional supermarket. Despite the fact that we were only ever in the same physical space maybe four or five times over seventeen years, I thought of Dan as one of my closest friends, especially in more recent years. Eve Arden and Kaye Ballard we were, in some perverse staging of The Mothers-in-Law (inside joke).

Dan had surgery to remove a malignant tumor about a month ago. He seemed to be doing pretty well at first and I was quite certain he would wind up cancer-free. I’m still pretty sure he would have. But that didn’t mean he was immune to a complicating infection that put him back in the hospital early this week and deprived me of one of my favorite people on the planet two days later. I don’t think anyone saw it coming.

I’m pissed off and sad and having a lot of trouble with this, as are all of Dan’s many, many friends. seriously, it seems like everybody in the fucking universe loved him.

This sucks.