Awful new show

I was watching TV last night and I stumbled on to this really stupid reality show.

The lead singer from A Flock of Seagulls (who has aged really badly) was onstage with the guy who played Eddie Munster and some other really creepy guy (Kirk Cameron, maybe?). He was just sort of babbling and his voice was really annoying, plus the weird guys behind him kept clapping for no apparent reason. So I changed the channel. But the same show was on EVERY FUCKING STATION.

I hope it gets cancelled soon.

Crash

I woke up in a cold sweat around 3:00 this morning.

I dreamed that the Man Who Would Be President™ did something spectacularly stupid that resulted in a stock market crash (I think the Dow plunged by about 4000 points), and that I was the last person in America to hear about it because I was taking a Twitter break.

I am not at all amused that I now have dreams of this sort.

America first (alternate interpretation)

As some of you may know, I was awarded Canadian permanent resident status several years ago. My ex and I had applied before we parted ways; he was granted status on points and I was approved as his common-law spouse (marriage not being an option in the US at that point). As Canada actually operates under a sane and rational immigration policy, my status was not affected by the fact that we subsequently ceased to be a couple.

I eventually opted against emigrating. There were several reasons. I had a very good job which I really loved (still have it and still love it) and I was unable to find anything remotely comparable in Canada. I had family commitments here. I also had a firm belief that, no matter how bad things got, America would ultimately end up on the right track. I felt it was important to stay here and be part of the process, and to lead by example–as presumptuous as that may sound. For many of the same reasons, I have stayed in North Carolina as the political climate here has grown increasingly grim in the past few years.

My faith has really been shaken since the election in November. As I’ve watched the horrors that have unfolded over the past few weeks, I’ve questioned by decision not to abandon my country many times. But I don’t regret my decision. I still believe that America will ultimately do the right thing, and I believe this will happen because reasonable people (the majority of Americans) will stay here, will speak up, will resist at what ever level they are able, and will remain visible and vigilant against a paranoid and exclusionary minority led by a very noisy sociopath

We are currently entering one of the darkest periods in American history. If any good can come from this, it will be that reasonable Americans (again, the majority of us) will recognize how important it is to participate in our governance, whether by active protest, by financial support for theguardians of freedom for all, or even just by becoming more actively involved in the electoral process

Not everyone has to march, but everyone has to do something if we’re going to get out of this with our country intact.

About 2016

A lot of people are celebrating the demise of 2016 as if an arbitrary calendar event were the root of all the world’s problems. I agree that it’s been a pretty rough year in many ways, but…

The fact that many well-known celebrities died this year is not really all that unusual. What is unusual is that a few of these deaths were perhaps more unexpected and higher profile than the norm, which resulted in very intense scrutiny not just of the “big and newsworthy” deaths but of all the celebrity deaths that took place this year. And the rock and roll generation is aging, which means that (surprise!) a lot of its members will be dying over the next few years. It’s sad, but it’s also statistically unavoidable.

All these deaths probably did not have anything to do with Brexit or the catastrophic shitshow that was the 2016 American election cycle. It’s tempting to believe this because of the current state of media in the U.S. and worldwide, where a 24-hour “news” cycle has led to a form of pseudojournalism that is more about hype and perceived outrage and “sharability” than about actual facts or (Great Pumpkin forbid) context.

All in all, was 2016 really any demonstrably “worse” than any other year?

For Americans and Brits, maybe (although it may pale in comparison with 2017), but for most of the rest of the world, probably not. Which is not to say that it was a good year (ask any Syrian you run across) but that it was maybe not all that much worse than its predecessors in most cases.

And for some of us, it was pretty good on a personal level–at least when we weren’t thinking about politics or dead people. I made tenure this year and accomplished quite a lot, both personally and professionally. I travelled a lot, read good books, and ate decent food. And 2016 marked for me the first time in many years that i really felt like I had my shit together pretty danged well. I like myself a lot better than I ever have before. And that’s what I plan to concentrate on.

A lot of things really sucked this year and will really suck next year. The task at hand is to do what you can about it. but also to find your happiness where you can. New Year’s resolutions are kind of stupid in my book, but if you have to have one, that might be a good example.

About that whole “passing” thing…

(Sorry. Another repurposed social media post.)

Even though I’ve pretty much been “out” (sometimes quite obnoxiously so) since I was about 17, there are a few people who have accused me of “not being gay enough” over the years. I assume it’s because I dress like a slob, because I like indie rock bands more than I like dance music, or because my personal obsessions often tend to be more geeky than “fabulous.” It bothers me that their definition of what a gay person can or should be is so narrow and limited.

My apparent gay culture deficiency notwithstanding, I have NEVER had much patience for closets or “passing.” I have always shuddered anytime someone said “I never would’ve guessed you were gay” as if that were some kind of compliment. (Clue: It’s not.) The fact that I don’t identify with the entire marketing campaign does not mean I am not happy with who I am.

This article addresses the issue of “passing” among Jewish people, but there are some significant lessons here for newly complacent LGBTQ people as well. Make no mistake about it. This is NOT the time for staying silent, for “passing”, or for staying in the closet. The next few years are maybe the most important time in recent history to be EXACTLY who you are, and also to assert both YOUR right to be that person and the rights of everyone ELSE in the room to do so as well. And if it makes some people uncomfortable? Tough.

Remembrance Day

(Apologies for another recycled social media post.)

I was sitting in a diner in Niagara Falls this morning having a late breakfast. The Remembrance Day ceremonies were playing on the TV, and when they came to the moment of silence, everyone in the restaurant, including the servers stopped in their tracks and silently looked up at the screen. 
It was not obnoxious or jingoistic, just a quiet and reflective display of respect. I found it quite moving. But it also made me worry that my fellow Americans might be losing the knack for such dignified displays, particularly in light of this week’s election.

But yeah, I’m still coming back…

Fixing the funk

I was in kind of of a post-election funk most of the morning (sort like everyone I know, not to mention the entire population of Canada) so I drove across the river to Gatineau, which allowed me to feel like I was in even more of a foreign country. Back to Ottawa for lunch and some exploration in Westboro and another stroll around By Ward Market. Meatloaf and pie in a diner, followed by “The Wrong Man” (the Hitchcock film, not the one we just elected) at the ByTowne Cnema, a 70-year-old theater that just happened to be right next door to my hotel. I was feeling better by the end of the day.

What the world needs now


The less said about the American election today the better. I spent the day in the warm, fuzzy embrace of the Canadian capital. Roamed around the Glebe, hit a few bookstores, took a very long stroll downtown by Parliament and by Library and Archives Canada, and had a lovely dinner at a Thai place on Bank Street. I swore I wasn’t going to watch the election returns, preferring to wake up on Wednesday with the outcome set, one way or another. That plan didn’t work, alas…

Election Day

Long Facebook post I’m repurposing here as well. Sorry if you’ve already read it…

On this U.S. Election Day, I am in Ottawa, the national capital of Canada (I voted early for the first time this year). People here are very apprehensive about what may happen today, me and so am I. If you have convinced yourself that one candidate is “no better” than the other, you clearly have not been paying attention. Perhaps more than in any recent election, there is a very clear choice here, between an America that is paranoid, racist, and governed by irrational fear, and one that is positive, inclusive, and will try to protect the basic rights of all its inhabitants. Is there a perfect candidate? No. There never is. But there is really only one candidate who is worthy of serious consideration by reasonable people.

And in North Carolina, the choice is just as clear. A vote for the current regime demonstrates that you do not care about me and other LGBT individuals in the state, about protecting the rights of other minority voters, about maintaining educational excellence, nor about attracting new businesses to the state.

The ball is in your court. Vote. Make the choice that suits your beliefs. But don’t let some stupid notion about there not being a real choice convince you that voting doesn’t matter (that’s just lazy) or that a “protest vote” helps anyone at a time like this.

Enough. I’m off to have a big Canadian breakfast and to enjoy a beautiful day in Ottawa.

The 8th of November, eh?

With my passport fail now in the process of being corrected, I have decided that I will indeed make my autumn excursion to Canada, even though it will be later in the season than I prefer, resulting in a cooler and darker journey than usual.

It will also mean I will be outside the country on Election Day, which seems like a really safe and sane option.

Of course I will vote before I leave. But I will avoid the whole American scene the day and night of the election, and that makes me really happy. I can hear about the winner on the CBC, which makes things seem much more civilized. (You can rest assured that the Canadian media will cover the U.S. election far more completely than the U.S. media have ever covered a Canadian one.) And if the fires start, I’ll sit them out at a shawarma joint on Bloor Street somewhere.

Better still, if I’m in Canada and the unthinkable occurs, I will be better positioned to decide whether or not to come home.

So look for me in a Canada near you come early November.