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.

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.

Regrets, I’ve had a few (but these are not among them)

They say you only regret the things you don’t do. That may be true up to a point (who am I to argue with “they”, after all?) but there are some things I’ve never done that I don’t regret at all. It’s good to try new things, but there are some new things I can pretty much determine with no ambiguity whatsoever that I won’t ever enjoy doing (and never would have).

For example:

  • Cocaine
  • Camping out
  • Going to the prom
  • Watching reality shows
  • Hunting and/or fishing
  • Playing little league
  • Living in Florida
  • Voting for a Republican presidential candidate
  • Going to the ballet or the opera
  • Reading Atlas Shrugged
  • Karaoke

Nothing really wrong with most of these things, per se. I just know they’re not my cup of tea, and don’t feel the need to waste time on them.

So what’s on your list?

Every five years

IMG_1750

I bought my first car in 1980 and I ended up driving it for about five years. Apparently, that seemed like a good amount of time for me to hang on to a car, because it’s become my average over the past thirty-seven years. I’ve had seven cars since 1980. (Actually I’ve owned ten cars, but three don’t count: the one I totaled a week after purchasing in 1992, the one my ex signed over to me so I could dispose of it in 2011, and the one I inherited from my dad and quickly sold in 2013.) The only time I was ever completely without a car was for about six months in 1996 and 1997 in San Francisco.

Of the seven that count, two died very violent deaths, one in a collision and one in a fire. All but one of the others I pretty much dove until they either died or would no longer pass inspection. I actually bought and paid for four of them and assumed custody of three from my mom. One of those I acquired from her, a 2009 Sonata, turned out to be the best car I ever owned. I haven’t actually bought a car myself since 1997, when I bought the Toyota I owned longer than any of the others. And I only ever bought one brand new; it turned out to be one of the worst of the bunch. The rest I bought used.

So yesterday, I bought car number eight. It’s a very slightly used 2017 Sonata. it’s pretty and roomy and has Apple Car Play and all sorts of fun things. I thought it might be nice to buy one before I had to for a change. It’s also the first car I’ve ever paid cash for. I’m hoping we’ll have a lovely relationship. In much the same way I no longer stay at Motel 6, I have also decided I’m allowed to have a slightly more comfortable car now. I’m never going to be a spendthrift (I spent way too long being way too poor) and I don’t care about high-end luxury, but I can afford to part with a little money at this point in my life.

An exciting slideshow of my history with cars follows:

My Ella story

ella

One night in 1996, I picked up a very adorable boy at a bar in Sacramento (the Wreck Room, I believe) and we went back to his flat a few blocks away. All night long, we made out to the sounds of Ella Fitzgerald, which made me like that adorable boy even more.

The next morning, as I was driving back to my room at the Motel 6 or wherever, I heard on the radio that Ella had died the previous night while we were curled up in bed listening to her. It made me very sad. I never heard from the boy again either, which also made me sad.

I loved Ella even as a child, and I have very sketchy memories of seeing her on the Ed Sullivan Show when I was really young (maybe this one?). In that proverbial game of dead celebrities you’d like to have at a dinner party, she makes my list every time.

Happy 100 and rest in peace, Ella.

Benefits

Prerogative of being middle-aged and single with no dependents (human or otherwise): after discussing the idea for 30 seconds with a friend at dinner, I just decided to have a long weekend in New York in about three weeks. I will visit friends, buy books, and see this. I got a great deal on a room in a very nice hotel centrally located between two subway lines. From decision to execution took all of 30 minutes.

Another prerogative: I can change my mind just as easily as I made the decision in the first place, with no repercussions or arguments whatsoever.

La vie c’est bon!