B is for blowing up beautiful balloons

Balloons make people happy

For the last decade or so, for the Pride parade in June, the pastors’ van has strewn with helium balloons and other garlands. The junior and senior high kids, along with some adults, arrange the decorations before getting into parade position with some other local Presbyterians.

Someone who watched the festivities noted that the faith community was particularly very well represented this year. I marched, and the Daughter was one of the folks holding the denominational banner.

The route goes from Washington Park; down State Street, past a massive contingent from our church waving us on; across Lark Street, where you can really see the panorama of participants and supporters; bypassing the one guy with a sign and bullhorn telling us we’re all going to hell; up Madison Avenue; then back into Washington Park.

Oddly, the pastors do not drive around regularly with balloons on their vehicle. So once we’ve parked, it becomes incumbent on us to undecorate.

I see one of our number popping the balloons, as she was instructed. I do get why:
All released balloons, including those falsely marketed as “biodegradable latex,” return to Earth as ugly litter. Moreover, once they get loose, they can pose a threat to many animals.

Still, do you know what else balloons facilitate? Making people happy. Two competing schools of thought. I took groups of two or three balloons and offered them to passersby, most of whose faces lit up when I handed them the small bouquets.

I was operating on the slightly irrational theory that people who are savvy about LGBTQ+ rights would be likewise “woke” about environmental issues.

The Daughter took a dozen or so home herself, on a CDTA bus, no less, and the balloons died on the living room floor of natural causes, not stuck inside some bird or tangled in a power line.

For ABC Wednesday

July rambling #1: Joe Sinnott, and Marigolds

Where are the boxed prunes?

I’m told kitten pictures are allowed if they’re yours. One of these is now ours, this from 3 years ago.


My wife had foot surgery on the morning of July 5. It was not required, but it was suggested if she wanted to maintain her mobility as she gets older. She’s recovering well.

NRA Issues Call for White Supremacy and Armed Insurrection

Fundamentalism, racism, fear and propaganda: An insider explains why rural, Christian white America will never change – I don’t believe people can NEVER change

My Aunt Had a Dinner Party, and Then She Took Her Guests to Kill 180 Jews

John Oliver exposes The Right-Wing Media Empire Taking Over Your Local News

I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People

My Life With a Pre-Existing Condition

Three Misunderstood Things, including The Masterpiece Cakeshop case

NOT ME: Bello, dressed in a white medical coat to conceal an AM-15 rifle, spotted Dr. Roger Green on the 16th floor. “Why didn’t you help me out when I was in trouble?” Bello demanded of Green as he pulled his AM-15 assault rifle from its hiding spot and took aim. [Green as not hit, but one was killed and several wounded before the gunman at the Bronx hospital killed himself.]

The Hijacked American Presidency

Internet Wading: Pride in June

Unspoken Funeral Etiquette Rules Every Guest Should Follow

Jaquandor on choosing happiness

A Name for the Micro Generation Born Between 1977-1983

Understand The Difference Between Second Cousins And Cousins Once Removed

Inker Joe Sinnott, inking the Spider-Man strip at 90. He is one of the sweetest men I’ve ever met.

I want to see the production of “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” at the Bridge Street Theatre in Catskill

Every TED talk ever

Coca-Cola taste test

C’EST MOI: On Bing …Roger’s got the top search result for Spaulding Krullers; also true on Google

Is Cookie Monster part of the resistance?

In case you need to know, the boxed prunes are next to the raisin in the produce section of the Madison Avenue Market 32, fka Price Chopper.

Now I Know: The Sleep-away Camp That Starts At Night and The Color of Feeling Better and Why (Some) Coins Have Ridges and How Long Would It Take to Count to a Million?

Family Feud: Gilligan’s Island Vs. Batman and Gilligan’s Island Vs. Lost in Space

MUSIC

Moby & The Void Pacific Choir’s “In This Cold Place”

Higher Love – Lilly Winwood and Steve Winwood

K-Chuck Radio: Rock Hits in Early Stereo and Making it on Promo CDs

Someday Baby Blues – SLEEPY JOHN ESTES & HAMMIE NIXON (1935)

Too Darn Hot – Charlie Rosen’s Broadway Big Band with vocalist Alan H. Green

Okie From Muskogee – Phil Ochs (1970/Live At Carnegie Hall)

Lists, to music

Paul McCartney Finally Regains Beatles Rights After Near 50-Year-Long Battle

Annie Lennox Has ‘Potential,’ Purported Radio Station Scout Says

Polly ticks, again

“Domestic terrorism” means activities with three characteristics.

mamas-768x385It’s been a very newsworthy period, and I haven’t been able to write about any of the polly ticks of it. I was mourning my friend. I’ve been ill.

So here is a potpourri of stories, some of which I think are interrelated.

I have been told to my face, “Racism will go away if we would only stop talking about race!” Exhibit #666 to the contrary is Rick Tyler For Congress, a third-party candidate from Tennessee, who has an unapologetic racist campaign. He has borrowed Donald Trump’s slogan and “improved” on it. There’s been outrage over the candidate’s “Make America White Again” billboard, which he has, reluctantly, taken down.

But it DOES point out the obvious: Not everyone enjoyed the past ‘greatness’ in America.

SCOTUS got one correct

Abigail Fisher’s Supreme Court loss: A massive blow to mediocre white people coasting on their racial privilege. Here’s the relevant piece of information:

“In 2008, 47 such students were admitted who had lower grades or test scores than Fisher. Forty-two of them were white. Only five were people of color.

“Fisher and her lawyer Blum were not challenging the admission of the 42 white students.

“Instead, Fisher’s argument was narrowly that she should have been admitted instead of one of those students of color. It was the case that collapsed any distinction between opposing affirmative action and demanding that white people be given preference.”

BREXIT

Now that UK has left the UN EU, we discover that people are surprised that the position they voted for – as a protest – actually is coming to pass.

There were huge Google spikes in search inquiries for “What is the EU?” in the UK, after the polling closed but before the results were announced. Of course, this doesn’t mean it was just the folks who voted for the annoying portmanteau Brexit who were looking it up; it may also been the 28% who didn’t bother voting at all. The fervent nationalism, anti-immigrant and anti-elite drove the anti-EU agenda.

The vote means a second Scottish independence vote ‘highly likely’. I was opposed to the first vote when Scotland stayed (barely); not so sure about the next one. And will Ireland unite?

The lesson of the Brexit: Take Donald Trump very seriously.

The House of Representatives sit-in

After the massacre in Orlando, there was a boring conversation about whether the events constituted terrorism. Naturallymit does. From the FBI:

“Domestic terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:
Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and
Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.

SO the church shootings in Charleston, SC: terrorism. But one should balk at limiting the term to those actions perpetrated by a Muslim.

Speaking of which: the National Rifle Association called civil rights icon John Lewis a terrorist “for giving a speech on gun control and staging a sit-in at the House of Representatives.” As the quote goes, “They know not of what they speak.”

This is clear when you hear the primary complaint about the sit-in, which is that it was just a publicity stunt. Obviously, they are not versed in non-violent direct action, for OF COURSE it was a publicity stunt. Most protests are.

Another complains that the Democrats didn’t have a sit-in for other issues. True enough. But sometimes things just reach a tipping point. As Lewis said, “The time to act is now. We will be silent no more. The time for silence is over.”

Forty-nine people were murdered at the Pulse nightclub primarily from a Sig Sauer (modeled in the AK-47, for the pedantic who try to negate the gun control debate with semantics.) Then a Senator from Connecticut, who filibustered for four bills to be voted on; there was a vote, and they were all defeated. The sit-in created a tipping point.

The flaws in the various bills can be discussed. But I think there’s some reasonable bill that would ban assault weapons, get background checks for those buying weapons at gun shows, have a seven-day background check for those who are on the no-fly list to ascertain if they really represent a risk – the aforementioned John Lewis was once on the roster. The NRA has essentially blocked the Centers for Disease Control from getting funding to study the issue of gun violence on communities. A bill would require what has become a dirty word; compromise.

That the Democrats used the opportunity to raise money is definitely true, as I got my fair share of solicitations. But I’m used to both parties using any opportunity to pass the hat; I wish I could be more outraged. I think is true: House Democrats Didn’t Win The Battle, But They Are Preparing To Win The War.

damien flag

This is a picture of the remains of a banner set on fire on the front lawn of the Albany (NY) Damien Center’s temporary home at the city’s First Lutheran Church this past week. As the Facebook comment read: “In the wake of the Orlando tragedy, it is very disheartening to have this happen in our local community. We appreciate all of our community’s support and love extended and stand in unity with our LGBT community during this time.”

This Broadway sings for Orlando video always makes me verklempt.

News Cliche

My current pet peeve in news articles is the use of the phrase “that no one talks about” or the variation, “that no one is talking about.” For instance, ‘Richard Burr’s the most vulnerable Republican Senator that no one’s talking about’. It seems arrogant. The words suggest that Everyone Else has missed this important angle of a larger narrative, but that writer, singularly, is sage enough to have unearthed it.

Cemetery angel

RuthCokerBurksThe First Presbyterian Church in Albany, NY is celebrating 20 years of being a More Light community, which means “seeking the full participation of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people of faith in the life, ministry, and witness of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)”

For the service on June 5, our guest preacher, and leader in the adult education class, was Tony De La Rosa, the interim executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency for the denomination.

Tony admitted that he struggled with the recommended readings, or liturgy, for the date. Both 1 Kings 17:17-24 and Luke 7:11-17 involved women seeming to lose their children, only to have Elijah and Jesus, respectively, bring their sons back to life. How would this fit in with a More Light message?

Then he came across this article about a woman named Ruth Coker Burks, “the cemetery angel.”

For about a decade, between 1984 and the mid-1990s and before better HIV drugs and more enlightened medical care for AIDS patients effectively rendered her obsolete, Burks cared for hundreds of dying people, many of them gay men who had been abandoned by their families. She had no medical training, but she took them to their appointments, picked up their medications, helped them fill out forms for assistance, and talked them through their despair.

Sometimes she paid for their cremations. She buried over three dozen of them with her own two hands, after their families refused to claim their bodies. For many of those people, she is now the only person who knows the location of their graves.

In both of the Biblical tales, the mothers were overjoyed to get their sons back. Yet these young men in Arkansas with AIDS were abandoned by their families.

Tony read much of this next part:

Burks.. was 25 and a young mother when she went to University Hospital in Little Rock to help care for a friend who had cancer. Her friend eventually went through five surgeries, Burks said, so she spent a lot of time that year parked in hospitals. That’s where she was the day she noticed the door, one with “a big, red bag” over it. It was a patient’s room. “I would watch the nurses draw straws to see who would go in and check on him…

Whether because of curiosity or — as she believes today — some higher power moving her, Burks eventually disregarded the warnings on the red door and snuck into the room. In the bed was a skeletal young man, wasted to less than 100 pounds. He told her he wanted to see his mother before he died.

“I walked out and [the nurses] said, ‘You didn’t go in that room, did you?'” Burks recalled. “I said, ‘Well, yeah. He wants his mother.’ They laughed. They said, ‘Honey, his mother’s not coming. He’s been here six weeks. Nobody’s coming. Nobody’s been here, and nobody’s coming.'”

Unwilling to take no for an answer, Burks wrangled a number for the young man’s mother out of one of the nurses, then called. She was only able to speak for a moment before the woman on the line hung up on her.

“I called her back,” Burks said. “I said, ‘If you hang up on me again, I will put your son’s obituary in your hometown newspaper and I will list his cause of death.’ Then I had her attention.”

Her son was a sinner, the woman told Burks. She didn’t know what was wrong with him and didn’t care. She wouldn’t come, as he was already dead to her as far as she was concerned. She said she wouldn’t even claim his body when he died. It was a hymn Burks would hear again and again over the next decade: sure judgment and yawning hellfire, abandonment on a platter of scripture. Burks estimates she worked with more than a thousand people dying of AIDS over the course of the years. Of those, she said, only a handful of families didn’t turn their backs on their loved ones. Whether that was because of religious conviction or fear of the virus, Burks still doesn’t know.

Burks hung up the phone, trying to decide what she should tell the dying man. “I didn’t know what to tell him other than, ‘Your mom’s not coming. She won’t even answer the phone,’ ” she said. There was nothing to tell him but the truth.

“I went back in his room,” she said, “and when I walked in, he said, ‘Oh, momma. I knew you’d come,’ and then he lifted his hand. And what was I going to do? What was I going to do? So I took his hand. I said, ‘I’m here, honey. I’m here.'”

Burks said it was probably the first time he’d been touched by a person not wearing two pairs of gloves since he arrived at the hospital. She pulled a chair to his bedside, and talked to him, and held his hand. She bathed his face with a cloth, and told him she was there. “I stayed with him for 13 hours while he took his last breath on earth,” she said.

I’m not sure there was a dry eye in the sanctuary.

And though we have a way to go, I’m so thankful that our understanding of AIDS is such that these scenarios play out far less often than they did in first decade or more of the AIDS epidemic.

As President Obama offers his final LGBT Pride Month proclamation, let us hope for increasing understanding amongst us all.

 

August Rambling II: Smart is sexy and stupid is not

A reference to my piece about David Cassidy made it into the print version of the paper because “it was a good post, and filled with what we like: short, timely and to the point :)”


The New York Times’ prophetic 1983 warning about the NSA, which naturally leads to Glenn Greenwald killed the internet.

My Feelings About the Harriet Tubman Sex Tape in 10 GIFs.

Invisible Disabilities Day is October 24. I have this friend with rather a constant neck pain, but she doesn’t LOOK sick, and therefore feels diminished by those who actually don’t believe her. Conversely, The Complexities of Giving: People with Disabilities as Help Objects.

Photos of the worldly goods of inmates at the Willard Asylum. I backed the Kickstarter for this and wrote about it a couple years ago.

“Each week, TIME Magazine designs covers for four markets: the U.S., Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific.” Often, America’s cover is quite, well – different. I had noticed this before. I don’t know that it’s “stunning,” but it IS telling.

The Peanuts gang meets The Smiths, in which This Charming Charlie masterfully blends Charles Schulz’s comics with lyrics by The Smiths.

Mark Evanier’s Tales of My Father, featuring Tony Orlando. Also, Tales of My Cat.

A friend’s letter from his brother. (Can one read this sans Facebook?)

Yes, smart is sexy and stupidity is not.

Eddie, the Renaissance Geek is cancer-free!

So I have survived my first grown-up move. Moving as an adult, it turns out, is radically different from moving as a student.

John Scalzi: To The Dudebro Who Thinks He’s Insulting Me by Calling Me a Feminist.

Air New Zealand celebrates marriage equality.

Lake Edge United Church of Christ in Madison, WI: “Worship at the Edge” PRIDE Sunday.

My old buddy Matt Haller has a new blog and writes about lies my shampoo bottle tells me about dating.

Arthur challenges his own snap assumptions.

SamuraiFrog writes about the list of best movies that EW had on the list in 1999, but which had fallen off the list by 2013 and also other great films. Re: a comment he made: that will require a blog post from me. He’s been musing on the early Marvel comics, which have all been interesting, and I was glad to play a small part in his understanding of Thor.

21 Jokes Only History Nerds Will Understand​.

German, not Swiss, Orson Welles.

Marian McPartland, ‘Piano Jazz’ Host, Has Died. I loved how she way she not only performed but, probably, more importantly, INFORMED about music.

The late Elmore Leonard’ TEN RULES FOR WRITING. His New York Times obit.

David Janower has passed away. He was the choral director of the fine Albany Pro Musica, and I knew and liked him personally, so I am sad. He had surgery a few months back and suffered a stroke from which he never really recovered.

A worthy neologism found by Dustbury.

The God of SNL will see you now.

Dolly Parton’s original recording of “Jolene” slowed down by 25% is surprisingly awesome.

Paul McCartney “In Spite Of All The Danger” & “20 Flight Rock” (Live), the former a cover of first Beatles record. Also, the Beatles’ final photo session, August 22, 1969.

Chuck Miller has posted every day for four years, over 2,000 blog posts on the Times Union site.

Dueling banjos: Steve Martin, Kermit the Frog. Sesame Street does Old Spice parody with Grover.

No ukuleles were harmed in the making of this video.

What did I write about in my Times Union blog this month? That annoying JEOPARDY! Kids Week story and Should ‘citizen initiative and referendum’ come to New York? and The prescient David Cassidy song. Cassidy got arrested locally for felony DWI, and a reference to my piece made it into the print version of the paper because “it was a good post, and filled with what we like: short, timely and to the point :),” FWIW.

If you are an NYS homeowner, read Tax Department Launches Statewide STAR Registration. The Data Detective blog has some other interesting stuff – if I do say so myself – such as On being ‘right’ in science.

Jaquandor answers my questions about the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team and unfriending.

Spontaneous​s goat manure fire.