Wednesday, September 18, 2013

love songs to blue skies

With art school, parish duties, and New York at my doorstep, I barely had time to be homesick for California, that first autumn in 1989. But I was. I missed Berkeley's temperate climate and dramatic landscape, the way nature entered everyday life, how people treated one another, the forward-thinking politics, and my friends. Oh, my friends. And the deep, clear blue West Coast sky that saturated Berkeley's daylight, the shadows, and my mood most of the year. 

Having in the past only visited New York during its damp springs and hazy summers, I had no idea that crystal blue skies were a trademark of New York autumns. Nor would I ever have guessed that over the years I would live here, whenever I'd glimpse a shard of azure cutting all the way down between the skyscrapers to the uptown end of an avenue, that I'd begin to associate such glorious blues with meeting Bob in September at NYU, visiting SoHo galleries on October weekends, picking apples from a Union Square farmer's cart, shuttering at the forgotten backdrop of 9/11, embracing the annual brisk relief from summer's oppressive street smells, or relaxing to the sound of a lone saxophone crooning a love song under a canopy of copper leaves in Washington Square.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

pat robertson puts the “phobia” in homophobia

Salon reported yesterday that YouTube refused to be bullied into protecting Pat Robertson and his producers from themselves on this one:
“Last month, Pat Robertson said that gay people wear “special rings” equipped with tiny razor blades as part of a “vicious” gay plot to spread HIV. While most of us would say such an ignorant statement sounds like pretty much all of the other hateful garbage Robertson says on the regular, the Christian Broadcasting Network got really, really nervous about this particular statement and edited it out of the final broadcast of the “700 Club.” They also filed a complaint with YouTube to keep Right Wing Watch from posting the video online.” Read more.
For every 10 or 50 or 100 of us who know Robertson is off his rocker, there's someone who gobbles up what he has to say, and uses it to justify his or her own prejudice, hate speech or physical violence against LGBT people. I was grateful to see that the interviewer was visibly uncomfortable with Robertson's response and that the producers of the 700 Club did not allow it to air on their show. The fact that someone leaked the footage to YouTube says that at least one person on the show's crew either agreed with Robertson or wanted the world to see what a demented monster the televangelist truly is. Either way I fear the small percentage that may see the clip and take it as divine justification.

People like Robertson sometimes seem like a waste of my breath, of the bandwidth and space in my brain or on this blog. But I think this kind of destructive thinking on the part of a religious leader and television personality with a following needs to be called out, as it appears YouTube felt as well.

Watch the video.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Some days I'm more aware of
my chin’s closeness
to the floor,
the short distance
from shoulder to heel,
the nearness of my bones
to the boards they creak upon.
Feet of Missouri clay and corn-silk stubble,
I rise barely a fence post above the earth
that holds me
like a bird
under a basket.

Monday, September 2, 2013

un-fair pigment: red hair, pale skin and mercurochrome

The first little paint stroke of Mercurochrome to my upper lip seemed like an interesting idea at the time. I, after all, had grown my first mustache and beard over the summer of 1972, between eighth grade and my freshman year of high school. To my adolescent mind, it was a badge of maturity that went with leaving behind Catholic grade school and the redneck bullies I had endured for eight years. The next day would be my first day at Rockhurst High School, Kansas City's Jesuit high school, several miles and mindsets away from the Hickman Mills area where my family lived just at the edge of where the suburbs met the cornfields and hunting woods. Grateful to be moving on, I had spent the summer gearing up for what I hoped, if not was almost certain, maybe, would be a new life, and part of the passage included not shaving for three months just to see what kind of beard I could grow.