Is Pack Up And Run

Johnny, Poor Impulse Control’s Southwest Bureau Chief, reports from New Mexico:

You’ll enjoy this. My knees are killing me. I go to the rheumatologist. She orders xrays. She says it’s osteonecrosis, where blood flow has somehow been cut off and some sections of bone have died and are presumably rotting. She says I’m too young for knee replacement and cortisone shots won’t help. She says the only thing she can offer is – you guessed it – painkillers. I can’t win.

Dude! Did you tell her you were an addict? Wait, you’ve mentioned osteonecrosis before. Do you have other necrotic joints or did I dream this?

Oh, all my doctors know. I’ll be in trouble if I ever get in a car wreck. They’ll offer me an aspirin.

Actually, about ten years ago, my knees hurt and the MRI showed osteonecrosis. How do you remember these things? I can’t remember what movie we watched last night.

Actually, last night I was playing Embudo Station, up past Espanola, which is a lot like a movie set of a cafe’ by a river in the south of France, especially when we play the CanCan, which I spell the CannesCannes. We’re there every Friday now, except when we’re at the Lucky Bean in Rancho Viejo. I’m making about a hundred bucks a week playing music. I’ve always played just for the honor of playing. I can hardly believe I get given money and dinner now. The burst of pride I feel when I bring home my pay and give it to my wife to buy dog food and paper towels with is monumental, like the Great Wall of China, or at least a Very Good Wall of China. I’ll never be able to repay everything I’ve cost this family in medical bills, but you gotta start somewhere.

Tonight we go see some friends skate in the roller derby. I love our life here. I think we know more gay people than straight, and, like the song, where she makes love to him in his Chevy van, that’s all right with me.

Did I tell you that a month or so ago we were playing the Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning and about ten guys in full Star Wars stormtrooper costumes walked past us, like it was the most natural thing on the planet, going God knows where? We looked at each other, shrugged, and kept on playing. I think we were in the middle of Czardas, the Israeli national anthem. You think I’m kidding.

Actually, I think Ha Tikva is the Israeli national anthem and Czardas is Hungary’s. Why do I know that when I can’t remember the name of the woman who sits next to me at work? And who knew I’d feel underdressed without a roller derby?

Deal With Rockets And Dreams

The weather, I am under it today. Most of the morning, I couldn’t open my eyes. It’s not a big deal, but my patience wears thin when my body refuses to cooperate. I’d call a meeting with it but I’m sure it would hang up on me. Thus, now is the wrong time for me to notice that one of my soaps is about to step into a stinky mess. This child holding a child is the mother nearing the moment she decides to raise her baby rather than give that baby to a nearby adult. I’m neither an advocate for adoption nor a detractor. Most – not all but most – of the adults I know who were adopted are very fucked up about it. Adoption is better than foster care. Sometimes. Depends on the circumstances, the kid, the parents. But the soap saying that kids can raise kids is going too far, especially with the class issues packed – no, stuffed – into this particular scenario. It’s a bad scene, glossing over what this means in real life, like that the teenage characters are unable in any way to provide a home for themselves or the baby. So today, I shut off One Life To Live half an hour in, and I’ll come back when the show veers back to husband-stealing, underground cities and mental illness. That weirdness I can handle.

Be Loved Or Be Forgiven

Tonight as the sun sets on a rainy afternoon, neighborhood children released from the captivity of some fearsome rec room run screaming in a sopping backyard. Under the canopy of tall oaks and maples, sounds echoes, amplified, distorted. What sounds like a rampaging mob may be two enthusiastic Marco! Polo! players, but whatever it is, it’s nearly over as bedtime approaches. I’ve been having that dream again in which I’m chained to the stake and the flames are rising, so I hope they sleep well. Someone should, but I keep getting up for little glasses of water.

Yesterday’s brief issued by the Department of Justice defending the Defense of Marriage Act knocked the wind out of me. It was plain during the long campaign that Candidate Obama was a corporate centrist, which while better than the alternatives was miles to my right. I didn’t have high hopes for progress, but I hoped we wouldn’t lose a lot of ground. Unfortunately, a whole lot of President Obama’s supporters have discovered since 1.20.09 – I have the t-shirt and everything – that their groups’ love wasn’t returned. Some of these groups overlap, but if you happened to be a phone-tapped pot-smoking union anti-war mortgage-holding uninsured olive-skinned pregnant lesbian with credit card debt, man, you are shit out of luck. But who among us is not?

As light fades under the trees, the echoes yield to the sounds of rain dripping from rooftops onto pitted concrete. It’s quiet, but quiet has layers. Traffic on the highway on the other side of the river rumbles but this sound is neutral and somehow unlike noise. The Defense of Marriage Act clearly defines GLBT people as second class citizens, and I cannot make this work in my tiny brain. So many words, so much talk, so little compassion and the result is that some people diminish the lives of other people for no reason and in ways they refuse to apprehend. It is difficult to ponder the psyche that actively seeks to harm, but this we must, over and over. The thing that is most puzzling about this oppression is that in the putting down no one is raised up. No one’s life is improved when GBLT cannot comfort one another in hospitals. No one’s marriage is strengthened when GLBT people cannot marry. No children live better lives because GLBT people cannot adopt them. No one benefits. We allow all this love to slip through our hands is because it’s easier to stick our fingers in our ears when people suffer than to embrace them.

Once, I was sitting in the fenced-in cafe of a girl bar in Asbury Park on a sunny day with my lover, my live-in boyfriend, a woman I sometimes cozied up with and our friends. That was quite a weekend. I spent a lot of it sticky. As the long rays of afternoon light combined with the beer and no particular need to go anywhere or do anything, bottles sailed over the wall and crashed at our feet. It wasn’t the first time, and certainly not the last as the neighborhood, once gay-friendly and quiet, was changing. Nothing really happened, you see. No one was injured, but if someone had been, no one stood to gain.

Even now, so much is lost you have to wonder why.

Or I’m Still Alive And There’s Nothing I Want

First thing yesterday morning, the genteel older gentleman who sits next to me smiled sweetly and said something so bitchy all I could do was stare at him until my eyeballs parched. Thus, I was discombobulated by 7:35 A.M. At lunchtime, I could not find my strawberry banana yogurt in the refrigerator no matter how many times I searched, but there was a vanilla yogurt of the same brand on a different shelf. I stared at the contents of the refrigerator. Once again, until my eyeballs parched. So I ate that other yogurt, because obviously one of my co-workers must’ve innocently eaten mine.

While he made dinner last night, I mentioned this odd occurrence to Pete, who has had run-ins with guilty co-workers. Pete growled. Pete gnashed his teeth. It was like Where the Wild Things Are with julienned radishes. Dinner was pretty good, too, with cute little meatballs rolled like the heads of his enemies. So imagine my chagrin when I emptied my messenger bag and found the salad I never ate and the strawberry banana yogurt I never put in the fridge.

This morning, I put a vanilla yogurt back where I found it. I am torn between writing a note of apology and wiping clean my fingerprints. I will say this: it was a very tasty yogurt, and I truly enjoyed it, but I recall it even more fondly, knowing it was pilfered. Yes, delicious, delicious stolen yogurt. I can’t wait until someone comes to my desk and tells me a story.

Lock It Fill It Call It Find It

Christ on a water cracker, what the fuck is this?

One month after successfully tucking an amendment into the credit card reform bill that expanded gun rights, a small number of Senate Republicans are looking at the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act as another chance to score a victory for the Second Amendment. The possible plan — to add an amendment that would allow gun owners to carry their weapons from one state to another in accordance with concealed carry laws. The possible rationale — to defend gay rights.

This is such bullshit that actual bullshit would turn up its metaphorical nose.

“It makes sense for a group of people who would be protected by hate crime legislation to support something that would let them defend themselves before or after the crime,” said one Republican Senate aid familiar with the discussions. “It’s relevant, and we want to work together with gay groups to get the message out.”

While the aide described the discussions over a gun rights amendment to the hate crimes bill as “very fluid,” conservative and pro-gun rights gay groups outside of the Senate are ready to make a real push for it. GOProud, a new gay rights group that broke away from the Log Cabin Republicans in April, has talked with top staffers for Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) about how to make the civil rights case for conceal and carry reciprocity.

Yes, that’s right. Gay Republicans decided to overlook their ostracism within the party so they can ostracize each other!

Supporters of concealed carry reciprocity argue that the case for attaching it to a hate crimes bill — if that is the way that it can be passed — makes even more sense than the case for Coburn’s amendment. “Plenty of people have used guns to defend innocent people,” argued Second Amendment scholar and attorney David Kopel, “including crimes motivated by bias. This is a legitimate thing to attach to any bill that’s concerned with violent crime.”

That’s the case being made by Pink Pistols, a gay gun rights organization whose slogan is “Armed Gays Don’t Get Bashed,” and whose members can recount stories of fending off potential attackers by brandishing their weapons.

“Self-defense with a firearm is a valid and viable method of self-defense and protection,” said Gwen Patton, a spokesperson for Pink Pistols. “Imagine that individuals follow you from a place known in the neighborhood as a GLBT gathering place. They follow you to your car, and when you try to open the door, they hold out pipes and yell — ‘Hey, faggot!’ You pull out a concealed weapon that you have a license to carry. They say, ‘He’s got a gun!’ They drop their pipes and run away. No shots were fired, but a beating was just averted.”

Well, that’d be hunky-dory, wouldn’t it? But that’s a fucking fantasy because – hypotheticals get messy, here – suppose that GLBT gathering place is a bar. Now you’re tanked and carrying, nervous and trigger-happy. You have just become a real danger to yourself and others. Okay, suppose that GLBT gathering place is a community center and armed thugs approach and menace. Does anyone really – really – believe for a microsecond that the resultant shooting will not result in a scandalous trial and a lengthy sentence for your armed gay self, especially if the assailants are young, white men? Now let’s recalculate: how many beatings have been prevented?

This reminds me of a talk I had with a friend right after 9/11, when a great many people lost their minds.

Tata: …so the Assistant Principal had the six-year-old arrested for carrying safety scissors in her backpack, when he could have called her mommy and suggested other arrangements for art supplies.
Friend: At least, he did something!
Tata: That he’s sack-of-hammers-stupid, a coward and dangerous to children has left the conversation?

Yep. See, the difference between doing something and doing something constructive is pretty fucking obvious unless you’re not really trying to do something constructive, which these fuckers are not. They are not. No. They do not even have good intentions. They are attempting to exploit a situation they themselves as members of a homophobic, xenophobic, anti-woman political party help to foster, which is diabolical. It’d be funny if it weren’t for all the fear, the injury, the deaths, the terrible losses and the lengths to which GLBT people have to go just to live. Of all people, these self-loathing fuckers ought to know this campaign is in truly terrible taste.

Unfold Your Body Is Free And Behold

On Saturday afternoon at the South Cove in Battery Park City, each racer had a boat with a team and at least one kayaker. The racers stopped every fifteen minutes or so for water and a nibble. My cousin Sela was on the boat, with Regina in the water. Sela had told me Regina’s girlfriends traveled to New York and would be waiting in the park; I should look for “a bunch of crazy Guatemalan women with Guatemalan flags.” For an hour, I eavesdropped on every Spanish conversation and watched for flags. Pete was talking about something I instantly forgot when behind him I saw the blue and white Guatemalan flag unfurl and I ran around him to find four women in matching shirts with Regina’s face on them. There followed a lot of squealing and jumping up and down. Thank Kali I’d just spent months in physical therapy, specifically forbidden to jump up and down.

These women told me they’d been friends with Regina since pre-school and they’d all come to New York to celebrate their 45th birthdays. They were vivacious, loud and happy. Two Spanish-speaking EMTs joined the conversation and everyone talked at once. I was breathless with joy. We’d gotten used to the pattern by this time: in the distance, we’d see one of the big boats, then a kayaker, then flashes across the water’s surface that became a swimmer that swam right past us and finished the race. Then we saw this.

Tata: Those kayakers do not appear to have swimmers.
EMT: They’re all supposed to have swimmers. These guys may be something else.

I turned toward him slowly and with purpose.

Tata: Are you saying those are MARAUDING KAYAKERS?

He nodded slowly.

EMT: I suppose I am.

This might be a good time to mention the Guatemalan women had difficulty believing I was born in New Jersey, lived all this time in New Jersey and continued to live in New Jersey. In the distance, there, it doesn’t look like that much of an improbable suckfest.

With the Scenery Flying By

Saturday morning, Pete and I climbed the long flight of concrete stairs to the train platform and walked a long way to an empty space against the wall. I heard an accordian and took the camera out of my bookbag. “Pete,” I said, “it is totally crucial that you take a picture because nobody believes that everywhere I go there’s theme music. If we’re very lucky, you’ll also capture the back up dancers.” Of course, you may be inclined to say, “Ta darling, those are people having their own lives. Your presence is a coincidence. Stop being so Center Of the Universe about it.” Shaaaa. Have you met me?

This is the only picture Pete took all day of something that wasn’t moving so obviously that’s the one out of focus. But it is important! All hail the bowl of Veselka’s borscht, the bowl of soup so sublime it must be experienced to be believed, and no shimmering verbiage approaches its epic yumminess. The ordinary bowl cannot contain it! The challah must sop its brothy goodness. Behold the borscht – and know that when you stare into the borscht, it stares into you!

The coffee was also pretty good.

Just De-Lovely And Delicious

Holy crap!
Yesterday, my brilliant Guatemalan cousin swam the hell around Manhattan Island!

It’s been about thirty hours since Regina climbed out of the water, wrapped herself in mylar and a towel and ran to a crowd of friends she’s known since pre-school and I still don’t know what to make of what happened. What did I see? What was it? Who the hell knows? A Daily News reporter leaned over the railing with me after the first racers finished, pulled out a notebook and ran a sweaty hand through his hair. He asked if he could ask me a few questions. I said sure. Then he stuttered, “What do you make of all this?”

I gushed about the Twitter feed that started when the race did and mentioned Regina by name. The whole undertaking seemed preposterous and frightening, and the Twitter feed assured readers the race sponsors took the racers’ safety very seriously. Not a single thing I said made it into the article, but I totally didn’t care.

Strokes of genius ’round Manhattan
Sunday, June 7th 2009, 4:00 AM
It’s not the easiest way to get around Manhattan.

Dozens of swimmers braved the chilly waters of the Hudson and East Rivers yesterday to compete in the 27th annual marathon swim around the island.

The 25 solo racers and nine relay teams jumped in at Battery Park City to swim the 28.5-mile race – the best finishing in just over seven hours.

“The water was cold when we first started through the East River, and it warmed up around Harlem,” said George Pond, 43, whose relay team scooped first place.

“This is a great way to see New York, I highly recommend this to anyone.”

Large crowds cheered and applauded the swimmers from the shore, as boats honked their horns to show their support.

That’s us. We were very large but dressed in layers we shed as the temperature became less temperate.

“The Hudson was really choppy, so it was the biggest obstacle by far because you couldn’t get into a rhythm,” said John Van Wisse, 36, from Melbourne, Australia, who won first place in the solo race with a time of seven hours, 10 minutes and 35 seconds.

“I sing a lot of songs in my head during the race and try to go into a trance and focus on the stroke.

“The training is fairly intense,” he added. “The water was really clean considering the rain. It was a surprise.”
Swimmer Penny Palfrey won the female race, completing the challenge in seven hours, 17 minutes and seven seconds.

Most sports reporters use the word women’s when not referring to livestock.

The first-place six-man relay team was Vice Lords, with a time of seven hours, 12 minutes and 42 seconds. Team Mexico was the fastest four-man relay group, swimming the distance in seven hours, 40minutes and 42 seconds.
“You couldn’t pay me enough to do this,” said Cealan Clifford, 21, from Florida, who was watching the event. “It’s actually really dangerous. … There’s even huge pieces of wood that you can swim into.”

Swimmers from around the world come to New York every year to take part in the contest.

Hopefully, I will be less speechlessly stupid in days to come.

All In All, It’s All the Same

Some time ago, Grandpa took a dive and was found on the floor of his apartment. After a stint in the hospital, he moved to a swanky rehab joint where he instantly charmed the staff. That is his way. People love him up! On the other hand, Mom and Tom finally read the tea leaves and emptied Grandpa’s apartment last month. At first, this all seemed scary. Now, we’ve changed our minds. Hooray! Grandpa’s surrounded by people who dote on him madly! Hooray! It’s also frustrating, because I’m three hundred miles away and for some odd reason, he cannot hear the sound of my voice on the phone.

No, really. He hears Tom just fine. Grandpa makes jokes with Daria. He ignores Mom when she argues with him but he overhears plenty. Anyway, he can’t hear me, and when I call he becomes agitated about not understanding who’s on the phone. That is a great feeling I have to say I enjoy like dental surgery. So the other day, I mailed out a bunch of postcards someone more sonorous will read out loud. So far, they all say the same thing:

Dear Grandpa,
I love you!

Hopefully this amuses him. Another pile will go out next week, corresponding with my need to clean up my cubicle, where I possess an impressive collection of postcards from places I’ve never been, like Mr. DBK’s current locale, though I’m not very possessive. Thank you, Minneapolis. Say hi to my grandpa!