This Is What Democracy Looks Like, Apparently
Today was the third day of the new U.S.H.O.R. session, but I don't want to waste energy thinking about it . . . proceeds to anyway. According to the speaker-choosing rules, they still haven't chosen a speaker. Also according to the rules, they can't do anything else until one is chosen. I hope they do what the Wisconsin state legislature did in 2011 to force through their union-busting bill and just change the rules then move on. I heard an interview with one representative who said, "If you ask Americans whether they're happy with the way things are done in Congress, they'll say 'no.'" So apparently they're trying to drain the swamp that is our lives and maybe the American people just prefer no Congress. It's not about anything deeper than splitting the nation. All those mundane governmental aspects flowed so smoothly for so long that most don't pay any attention to them. Except now, there's enough deciding that our national government isn't worth having anymore so these mundane things are getting picked apart. Extremists are trying to set Congress up for government shutdowns and payment defaulting later this year. Yet I don't hear much discussion about that. Instead, the general public prefers pretending like it's something personal about the candidate who stepped forward. Greta Thunberg's social media post last week that provoked a fugitive into getting arrested was a fluke. Building public pressure via humiliation is not a real political strategy, especially for Republican members of the U.S.H.O.R. who are notoriously shameless.
Don't Get Used To This War
I'd like to do a year-in-review, but I don't think 2022 will be highly remembered in the grand scheme. Who cares that the price of gasoline rose to $5.00 per gallon for a while or that my commuter train discontinued paper ticketing? So some people tried to demonstrate for freedom but got mowed down by their governments' oppressive regimes. Even the Russia / Ukraine war, will it even be more than some incidental footnote? The S.C.O.T.U.S. overturning Roe Vs. Wade will probably have impact for at least a generation. Even when I agree with people discussing how horrible all the injustices are in the world, I still don't really want to hear about it. My new year resolution is to focus more on things which I enjoy and are immediately under my control. Except sometimes I'm just like, "Bring on the fascism . . . w00t!" Hey, maybe that could be my slogan for the year 2022. I texted my b.f.f. "2023 will be the year all our dreams come true." But lately a lot of my actual sleeping dreams have been apocalyptic nuclear bomb scenarios. I was recently listening to a podcast answering listener questions, one of which was if you could go back and experience a year in your life timequake-style - not being able to change anything but just experience it all again - which year would you choose? For me, 2003 and 2013 would both be on my top five list. So maybe that's a good sign for 2023.
My Own Private Illinois
This week I worked 4 days and now have 4 days off. Then I go into work 3 days, then off 4 more days before going back to work 4 days, thereafter returning to normal. It's a concerning setup for my mental health, but I'm fortunate that my first extended days off coincided with an arctic blast. It seems people are throwing themselves in front of trains at a pointedly increased rate. Monday was the third time in a week I experienced a > 60-minute delay on the commuter train. On Tuesday, I was in the office with someone whom I knew likes a local franchise of a major league sports team. So I asked him if they won their most recent game, but they didn't. So another co-worker jumped in and said, "Way to make people feel bad!" Then I responded, "Hey I was being relatable by mentioning a sport." Why do I bother? There are reports about that particular local team trying to play sports outdoors right now in subzero weather. Ugh. I enjoyed our office holiday party which included my rendition of the Hanukkah song by Six13 performed to the karaoke track of "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift. I love karaoke and if I would've known it was happening, I would've prepared a number with costume changes and choreography. Music makes life good, so I thought there'd be long lines to sing but I'm obviously living in some far-removed reality because my co-workers were highly opposed.
The Bullshit Human Predicament
I try to express anger at specific things in life. Otherwise I go around depressed and filled with generalized hatred toward the world at large. It's difficult because sometimes it seems like the whole world is rotten and everything about the human condition is bullshit. Also, I ask myself what right do I have to my own feelings of anger? Like the government of Iran, I've never been there and don't even know a single name of anyone in it. I do know the names of people in the U.S. government who are similarly controlling bad-faith actors. It seems quixotic, but this week people have been attempting to make trend the names of Iranian citizens sentenced to death for protesting. The idea being that if Iran knows the world is watching them, they'll ease off. But alas, the world really isn't focused on them. The loss of freedom that's happened in Iran over the past 50 years could happen anywhere. It absolutely could happen here in the U.S. This morning I read a post on the social media site Nextdoor in which someone complained that their gas bill for the month was > $330 and said, "How do they expect senior citizens on a fixed income to be able to afford that?" I definitely sympathize because winter is the main hazard of living where we live, but how does someone get to the age of senior citizen still believing there's some "they" out there giving any thought to our survival?
Living And Surviving
I began redecorating my home office. I got really productive one day and haven't been back in almost two weeks. Instead of finishing that up this weekend, I decided to go out and party. If I get sick and die because I stayed up all night dancing at Nocturna, it'd totally be worth it. Right now I'm reading My Love Is A Beast by Alexander Cheves and one sentence that I keep thinking about is, "The point of life is to live, not to survive." I love the book, but that's easy to say for someone getting double-fisted in their 20s. In connection with that sentiment, I've also been thinking about a recent culture shock of a news story from China. Unlike the U.S., the nation of China has strict no-coronavirus policies and are still doing lockdowns, etc. A couple weeks ago, a fire in a tall apartment building killed 10 people because the fire department wouldn't put it out due to coronavirus remediation measures. The event has since set off mass protests which is rare in China. Wow, that whole thing demonstrates some radically different philosophy than I'm accustomed to. It's the nation with the planet's biggest population so their focus on group over individual has always fascinated and scared me. What does individuality even mean in world that densely populated? Meanwhile back in the U.S.A., I'm still wearing face-coverings on public transit and in elevators which isn't very much but I'm one of the few even doing that.
Twitter Still Exists, Technically
Twitter is still a thing - now with more hate speech - and my favorite political science professor from college followed me on it this week. He's my favorite non-porn Twitter and I wish we were close personal friends, but I'm also mortified by the idea he might actually remember me. Wtf did 20 year-old me know about politics? I'm now the age he was when I took his course, and at this age I'm much more interested by the stuff we discussed in class. Maybe it's the times though, because back then we just had the Bill Clinton impeachment. Now the U.S. is convicting people of felony sedition for the first time since 1954. Btw, I want to go on record supporting harsh sentencing for participants in the 1/6/21 capitol riot. This political science professor has a son who also happens to be a political science professor. The son was a guest on The Dr. Phil Show this past Tuesday because he'd written a piece about immigration policy and its impact on expectant mothers. The episode had some fascists spouting outlandish vitriol far worse than the artist formerly known as Kanye saying Adolf Hitler wasn't all bad. Ugh. One of the first "Dr. Phil" search engine hits is still "bumfights." Just like the authors of the second amendment didn't fathom machine guns and nuclear bombs, those authors wrote the first amendment not fathoming the internet's continuous barrage of messaging in everyone's daily lives and bullshit-spouting robots claiming free speech.
The 2022 Soccer World Championship
The world championship of soccer is happening in the nation of Qatar, which is not difficult to pronounce. It's been > 10 years since Qatar was contracted to be the host site by the organization that does world sports championshits . . . typo and it stays. In that time, there's been > 10,000 migrant worker deaths in Qatar. Not all those are related to building these seven new stadiums for this event, but national officials did make a statement that "between 400 and 500" workers died while constructing them specifically. That's crazy by itself, but the true number is obviously much higher than any government is willing to admit. I hate to be a downer on things people enjoy, but how can everyone just put all those human lives lost out of their minds and watch soccer? Personally, I don't love soccer so to me it feels very "other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?" I follow RyuTricks on Instagram and I'm happy for him. Imagining anything comparable involving my own interests: drag shows, horror movies, dance pop, pornography. Okay, if 400+ people had to die so that I could masturbate then so be it. Saying that makes me sound like a psychotic serial killer, but that's how all these care-free people watching soccer seem like to me. There've been reports for years about the awful slavery conditions workers have dealt with so there could be a soccer tournament. What even is this current real life dystopia we're living in?
Busy Week For Gay News & Gun Deaths
Grindr is now a publicly-traded corporation on the New York Stock Exchange. I've rarely used it, but Grindr is a pretty important part of the gay community. Last year I was standing behind a seated man who seemed typical heterosexual husband / father surrounded by a woman and children but then I noticed Grindr on the smartphone he was using. Incidentally, I'm still conflicted about that Kim Petras / Sam Smith song "Unholy." Also, Shangela placed fourth on Dancing With The Stars 31! Xoxo. However it seems like the more some people accept gays, the more other people hate us. Because the most high-profile gay news this week was that five people were murdered at a lgbtq+ nightclub in Colorado by a gunman who hates queer people. Overall, I think humanity's arc is moving towards acceptance even though sometimes it doesn't seem that way. A couple days after the Q Nightclub shooting, five people were murdered at a Walmart in Virginia by a gunman who hated his co-workers. That guy also killed himself, so he apparently hated himself too. Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. are still averaging 300 everyday but the nation's general public decided months ago that's an acceptable number weighed against the burden of remediation measures. Likewise, gun owners believe remediation measures for gun deaths such as 1.) passing proficiency exams before obtaining a license and 2.) carrying gun liability insurance are too much of a burden for them. I'm still fighting gun nuts over that one, though.
8 Billion Humans Can't Be Wrong
The human population on the planet reached 8,000,000,000 this week. There were predictions it'd reach that number back in June, so I wonder what impact pandemic deaths had on slowing it down. Regardless of any specific benchmark, everything about being a human today means something different than it did before the industrial revolution. Right now is the end times. The end is the beginning is the end. The annual U.N. climate summit is currently being held in Egypt and most of the news about it concerns a "people's fund" of climate reparations to the global south. If the way the world worked were justice, it seems obvious that'd be an absolute requirement of the U.S. and other rich nations. But the way the world actually works is so different than that, the concept of it makes me laugh a little. Sigh. A human population of this size wouldn't exist without things like burning fossil fuels and industrialized farming. I don't advocate for eugenics. What I do advocate for is all women being in full control of choosing whether, when, where, and how they bear children. In the past couple months, Iran has murdered hundreds of its citizens who were protesting for the empowerment of women. Complete bodily autonomy is an important part of the solution to our unsustainable current situation so that maybe the human population can return to a number that's not cataclysmic without any further apocalyptic events other than those already underway. Hope does exist, but it's frail.
The 2022 U.S. General Election
This week was an important election in the U.S. The past couple days I've enjoyed searching "election results" and insert name of state. Like the old person that I am, I prefer to go vote i.r.l. on the actual day. On my ballot were 14 contested races, 2 judicial retentions, and 1 state-wide question. There were also 2 uncontested races but I made sure to fill in those circles anyway. I usually can't be bothered to fill in uncontested races but then the scanner always says my ballot is incomplete because of it. Another annoying thing is that every time I've voted outside the city of Chicago, the election judges always question my signature so I have to show i.d. I worked as an election judge in Chicago and during our training they told us that we are not handwriting experts, but apparently everyone in the suburbs thinks they are. Something else a little different about voting in the suburbs is that they give out "I voted" stickers, whereas in the city they give a paper ballot receipt which is cheaper for the board of elections to print en masse than stickers. Anywhoozle, most everyone I voted for ended up winning their races which was kind of surprising. There's been some re-districting and I really thought the Republican U.S.H.O.R. candidate would win, but no. My current U.S. Congressional Representative is Lauren Underwood and now my U.S. Representative-elect is Bill Foster. The red wave turned out to be a small ripple.
Gay nightlife in the city of Chicago is an ever-changing landscape. One gay bar where I spent a lot of time closed last weekend which was especially sad because of the unexpectedness, posters for future events still decorating the walls. But Sunday night there was lit. For me, the highlight was when the d.j. played "About Damn Time" and the dancefloor was so crowded and joyous. Then Tuesday I was driving around the city considering another gay bar's special event, but decided against it since I'd gone out so much over the weekend. I'm glad I made that choice because it turned out some scandalous infamy went down and I'm not sure what I would've done if I'd been in attendance. This nightclub - which refers to itself as "Chicago's only leather bar" - was celebrating its 45th anniversary, advertising "Las Vegas performers" and a free buffet. However, one puppeteer / comedian did a set of material so racist cringe that I don't know where he'd ever perform other than KKK conventions. It's a lot to process, and since then there's been non-stop discussion about it both on the internet and in-person. The gay bar where this happened is the main gay bar I go to, so I don't know what I'll do in the future when I want to go into the city and patronize a gay bar. I might quit going there, but I won't get pressured into some de facto boycott. Further information and reflection is required.
Bad Bitches Have Bad Days Too
I've become heavily into Megan Thee Stallion and her new album Traumazine this week. Her recent SNL appearance was iconic, and in the opening monologue she mentioned her website badbitcheshavebaddaystoo.com which is a well-organized archive of mental health resources with an emphasis on people of color and the lgbtq community. There's a lyric from her song "Anxiety" on the page: "Some days I just hate everybody." I feel that a lot. I hate everybody but simultaneously hate feeling that way. There's a developing news story that in the middle of the night, someone broke into Nancy Pelosi's California home and violently assaulted her 82 year-old husband Paul in what might've been an assassination attempt bringing our country one step closer to civil war. Our former P.O.T.U.S. has been continually touring around the nation holding sparsely-attended propaganda rallies spouting fascist rhetoric for media attention. It's such a small culty minority of people, but their influence is big enough to stir up some crazy bullshit problems. The Pelosi attacker and whoever vandalized the cafe hosting a drag show a couple months ago are just two prominent examples. Also, today I saw a commercial on social media advertising the Jeopardy! tournament of champions and 75% of those internet comments was flagrant transphobia directed at Amy Schneider. Humanity is in this weird precarious position and I'm not feeling hopeful. And Leslie Jordan died suddenly this week too! Sigh. It's Halloween weekend so I plan on going out and partying hard. I really need it.
A few days ago, my dad and I were in his shop and he got out some kind of board which I helped cut up on his table saw. Then he used his electric sander on it and there was so much dust flying around from all the power tools. I knew I was inhaling this sawdust but wasn't too concerned because it felt like we were making a happy memory. Until the dust had barely settled and he told me it was asbestos. Holy fuck. The only time asbestos is actually dangerous is when it's dust in the air being inhaled. I told him, "I know you're planning on dying within the next couple years but I'd maybe sort of thought I'd live a little while longer than that." I came here with the idea that it might be the last time I ever see my parents alive and therefore wanting it to be spiritual and profound, but instead this visit is literally giving me cancer. Well, I guess you can't just force something to be meaningful. Visiting my parents seems like visiting another planet. I don't specifically want them to die or anything, but I'll feel so relieved not to have any mental pressure to call or visit them. And I will be so happy when years pass by without me ever setting foot inside the state of Oklahoma. I'm not thrilled about this place being part of my narrative, but hey, everybody has to come from somewhere.
There's an organization in the U.K. called Just Stop Oil that's done several high-profile actions this week in resistance to climate change. Every article about them mentions how they're "Gen Z" meaning born between the years 2000 and 2020. Apparently, journalists feel compelled to mention it's mostly that age bracket thinking in terms of climate crisis, catastrophe, emergency. And the name of the group -- only people that young would even believe it were possible to just stop oil. These actions have marked a shift by being more confrontational than Greenpeace. Masses of people willing to give up their lives for a cause is the only thing that'll result in real change. I mean, yay for young people believing in things. If the world built by all our preceding generations isn't working for them, good luck tearing it down and building something that does. Incidentally I heard about these actions immediately after driving my car for 16 hours. Every time I make the drive to visit my family I think about how much fossil fuel I'm consuming. 989 miles one-way is 1978 miles round-trip, divided by 36.18 miles per gallon = 54.67 total gallons of unleaded gasoline burned and released into the planet's atmosphere with each visit. It seems kind of staggering to me but lots of people do a lot more traveling than I do. Everyone needs to add up their fossil fuel usage like that so we can have the information to ask ourselves what we're really doing here.
Embracing The Non-Binary Robot Part Of Myself
I'm doing better this year spreading around my days off work. If it were up to me, I'd never have > 1 day off at a time and I'd never work > 2 days consecutively. There are so many things in the universe I could be giving time and energy, but I prefer wasting my life on the most ridiculous parts of the internet like Madonna's Tiktok. Although, bravo to anyone capable of harnessing the ridiculousness of modern life for their own benefit. I did indulge in random comment section arguments when Madonna's newest music video came out. Everyone in the modern world is internet-addicted to some degree. Another internet thing I've been engaging with today instead of doing anything that actually edifies me personally is a 21 year-old woman on Twitter who took hormone replacement therapy for five years, identifying as f.t.m. before de-transitioning. She believes her teenage gender dysphoria diagnosis was incorrect because transitioning had no impact on her depression. But everyone in the modern world is also depressed to some degree, because people are still mainly hunter-gatherers living in a world with little use for hunting-gathering. The world we're building is designed for computers and robots with humans as an afterthought. Basically everyone is gender non-binary now too just by spending our whole lives in a world with no gender roles. Our depression sucks, but we're going to enjoy whatever we can of the modern world for as long as possible because what other option is there?
Worst Of Times, Best Of Times
Coming home from work on Friday, I met my bf at the train station and we went directly to our local exurban movie theater where we saw Bros opening day. I enjoyed it, and laughed much louder than anyone else there. Today there's been discussion that people are disappointed how the movie Bros has made < $5,000,000 so far. As with our two other trips to movie theaters in the past year, there were < 10 people in the audience. It was $26 for two tickets, but every seat was an adjustable electric recliner. Also, I hadn't eaten all day so I ordered nachos which was a 1-oz. bag of chips with a tablespoon of liquid "cheese" product for $7.99. That same day a Taliban suicide bomber attacked a school in Kabul killing > 50 people, mostly young girls. I've been thinking about the uprising in Iran every single day for two weeks, and now a similar uprising might be coming in Afghanistan which is even scarier. Going out to see this movie I'd been excited about for so long while simultaneously authoritarian regimes are murdering their citizens is like the whole "it's the best of times, it's the worst of times" scenario. Worst of times: this year's hurricane season re-shaping human habitation in the state of Florida. Best of times: so many iconic moments at Paris Fashion Week. As a white person, I'd like to say thank you Kanye for the support . . . but we already knew white lives matter.
The Ziggy Leroy Calendar
Today is the birthday of an ex-bf. I was romantically involved at various points with two gentlemen born sixth months apart in the same year. One of their birthdays was 3/27 and the other's 9/27. Since 3 x 9 = 27 these guys will forever be linked in my mind. I don't remember who belonged with which but at least I remember something about them. Sort of. Nerdy doesn't begin to describe my relationship with numbers and numerology. When I was very young, pre-computer, I composed my own calendar system and named the days of the week after sitcom characters whose shows aired on those days. But I decided there'd only be 6 days in a week, already complicating the television programming schedules. Now that I've used spreadsheets basically everyday for decades, my own Ziggy Leroy calendar is much more sophisticated. Seriously though, why are we all still using the calendar dictated by Julius Caesar 2068 years ago pretty much exclusively? Happy Jewish New Year, btw! On my Z.L. calendar, the year is currently 0077 and today is 10/7. I don't actually use the Z.L. calendar for anything, but I'm highly tempted. Sometimes there are people who completely do their own thing that's so outside anyone else's expectations and, consequently, look completely ridiculous. Specifically, Madonna's last live stage show. I don't want to be as garbage as the Madame X tour, so for now I'll continue using the same calendar generally accepted as standard by the rest of the world.
Chromatica Is About Healing. Chromatica Will Never Be Over.
Due to a computer glitch, it's been a while since I've listened to the news. Twitter has basically been my only news source this past week. I've heard a lot about things like the end of the Chromatica Ball - sigh - but another news story I've been informed of exclusively via viral videos is a popular uprising in Iran. I'm not very knowledgeable about "the middle east" but what's going on right now seems really important. It was sparked by the police killing of a 22 year-old woman named Mahsa Amini on Friday in Tehran. In the nation of Iran, women and not men are legally required to wear head scarves in public which is enforced by the officially state-sanctioned morality police. In the year 2022. I'd like to say that all police anywhere are morality police, but last week they murdered a woman who was actually wearing a head scarf but someone still didn't like it so . . . murder. And there are reports that 6 to 8 more women have been murdered by police since then. It seems like something that'd get me so enraged as to go flip over some police cars which is what crowds of Iranians have actually been doing according to video clips I've watched on the internet. The courage it must take to stand up and assert yourself against such a tyrannical dictatorship is awe-inspiring. Might makes right, but is it power to the people or power to the greedy old pigs running everything?
We Have Control Over 3% Of Our Life
During the last week of 2021, the website Goodreads pointed out that I'd only read one book the entire year. I felt very attacked so I hurriedly completed a second book. Then I set a goal to read at least 5 books in the year 2022. I accomplished that benchmark today during my morning commute when I finished reading The Invisible Storm, a new memoir by Jason Kander. I checked it out from my local library on Saturday and the librarian had to retrieve it from the back because it'd just been checked in the day before, apparently very in-demand. I started following Jason Kander in 2016 when I briefly considered moving to Saint Louis. He's a political figure in Missouri who also served the U.S. military in Afghanistan. I was kind of familiar with his story from Twitter, but this book gives an insightful portrait into the current U.S. mindset. It could be seen as an indictment of the way things are, but then again we just are who we are. One prevalent theme on my mind recently in regards to life in general but especially politics is "why bother?" It seems like nobody can actually do anything about anything. Well there's voting, obviously, but it seems like the only thing anyone can do is speak up and say what we believe even if barely anyone ever hears what we're saying. I agree with the Kanders' whole "3%" concept because things individuals do have control over seem so miniscule.
A Total Experience! Why Settle For Anything Less?
I started following Owen Keehnen on Instagram a while ago. He's someone who's been involved in Chicago's gay community for decades, and on his social media he shares vintage old stuff related to its history. I love seeing his collections and writings because I've been involved in Chicago's gay community since 1999. This week I had a phone conversation with him and he interviewed me for a project he's working on about Manscountry which was an establishment that I frequented over a span of nearly 15 years. Sometimes I feel nostalgic for those old places and the experiences that do not exist anymore in any form. It's good that I got the opportunities to have those great experiences even though I miss them, better than never having those experiences in the first place. Owen said something during our call about how all this history is disappearing, and I downplayed that idea. I didn't say this to him, but I was thinking who even cares about the history of Manscountry. And then I realized, oh yeah, I do. Incidentally, the queen of England died today from old age and all the media outlets are trying really hard to convince me to give a shit about some family who's only famous thanks to centuries of brutal enslavement. The U.K. is such a relatively small nation using up such a large portion of the planet's resources. I'm not interested in them. I'd rather hear about the history of Manscountry and stuff like that.
This Is A Story About Control, My Control
There's a lot going on. This week the governor of Texas started sending buses full of undocumented migrants to Chicago amongst other cities which is a welcome policy improvement over the usual concentration camps. Also, there's a lack of running water in the city of Jackson, Mississippi due to flooding. The mayor is highly diplomatic in every interview. That's a story deserving of attention, however I'm tempted to just put it out of my mind since there's nothing I can really do about it. Brittney Griner is an American professional athlete who's been imprisoned in Russia > 6 months which is a terrible injustice but I conscientiously decided to stop thinking about her for the same reason. I spent nearly half my life in the state of Oklahoma, yet it seems like there's nothing I can do about the Richard Glossip case. So if I can't do anything about that, what good is it to ruminate over injustices happening all the way on the other side of the planet from me? Personally, my relationship with my bf took a turn this week. I don't know what happens next in our storyline so I'm not sure whether it'll be a pivotal plot point or just some weird anecdote. In May I said there was another coronavirus surge but looking back at the chart it was just a blip in retrospect. Our relationship is something I do have some degree of control over, but sometimes it seems like barely even at that.
Forgive Us Our Debts As We Forgive Our Debtors
On Wednesday it was announced that federally-guaranteed student loans would be erased in the amount of $10,000 or in some cases up to $20,000, and that repayments which had been on pause for > two years now will begin again January 1. Some restrictions apply. It's so nice having a level-headed, clearly laid-out presentation like the fact sheet on the White House website. The first mention I ever heard about student loan forgiveness was Elizabeth Warren during the 2020 primary elections and, as with many new ideas, it was kind of mind-blowing. The plan announced this week is an easy introduction, the best few hundred billion dollars the U.S. has spent all year. Back when I did people's taxes I saw some crazy student loan balances that were so eye-popping I got anxiety even sitting next to a person who was that indebted. I always wanted to maintain a professional demeanor, but sometimes my jaw dropped uncontrollably open in horror at seeing some of those numbers. Likewise, after this plan was announced a couple people I know spoke up about how it impacts them and I was all like, "You graduated in 2004 and still have > $10,000 in student loan debt?!" I was one of millions of American teenagers forced into making some tough decisions, but I was fortunate. In the decades since, the decisions facing 18 year-olds have only gotten tougher. The whole system is flawed, and this is a much-needed wakeup call in starting to address it.
Rudely Accosted By Reality
Today I was walking around downtown Chicago and saw several military jets screaming across the sky overhead. It's this annual event when, just for fun, Chicago likes to pretend we're getting bombed. Then I caught the 6 bus to the Museum Of Science And Industry where I spent barely 3 hours and paid $30.95 to get in and see the Nathan Sawaya art exhibit which was after I got a $5 discount by telling the front desk I'm still a Chicago resident. I was planning on going to the renaissance faire tomorrow with some friends, but I'm now being rudely accosted with the reality that it'll be another $30 admission plus $10 parking. Between now and Friday, my only cash flow is basically just the cash that's already in my wallet. I didn't go see Lady Gaga this week because of money concerns and probably won't see Lil Nas X in a couple weeks for the same reason. Sigh. Anywhoozle, I love museums but it's a mystery how I was there for such a short time yet felt so drained and my feet hurt so badly. They have lots of cool stuff at M.S.I. but the biggest scientific thing I learned about is exactly how rapidly the planet's ice-caps are melting, which is really alarming. I read a report about how this summer, 50 U.S. counties reached 125 degrees fahrenheit and the projection is that in 30 years 1000 counties - one-third of the U.S. - will get that hot.
K, E, Y . . . Why? Because I Like You
I'm in a complex emotional state right now. Although, I'm pretty much always moody so what's new? It's not exactly end-of-vacation depression. There was a year when my experience with end-of-vacation depression was so icky that I ended up visiting the national suicide prevention website and chatting with a counselor. I'm happy to be home and excited to go into the office tomorrow, but the past week was a lot. People will inevitably ask how my vacation was because they think it's polite or something and I'll say it was "fine." There were good parts and there was disappointment. Just like life! Maybe it's the curse of Instagram catching up with me because I probably wouldn't feel so disappointed if I weren't comparing my vacation to the ones I see on social media. Sigh. Deep down, I know that stuff on social media isn't reality. Plus, what the algorithms show me from what people post on the internet is also through my own filters, interpretations, projections, insecurities, etc. of an already-skewed version of reality. When I feel bad about myself, I look for reasons to support feeling bad about myself and comparing my life to perceptions of others fulfills the task. Now that I'm back, I've begun making my own social media posts about this vacation and it's my sincere wish that none of the stuff I share will be that for anyone else. Incidentally, we haven't seen any mice in the house since we've been back. So there's that.
Vacation Week 2022
My bf and I are traveling this week on vacation. He and I and another friend left Massachusetts today, drove through Rhode Island and Connecticut - three states I just set foot in for the first time ever in my life, and are now in The Hamptons. There's a lot going on, but I particularly loved the ferry ride across Long Island Sound. There's something very alluring about the ocean. I'm such a middle of the continent type of person, so the ocean and I could never be true b.f.f.s but maybe we could be part-time lovers. This morning right after we got on the road we happened to listen to "Xanadu." Then this afternoon my bf handed his smartphone to me in the back seat showing a headline announcing the death of Olivia Newton-John. That elicited an audible gasp from me, but we'd just driven by a literal car fire on the side of L.I.E. so I was already kind of shook. Like I said, a lot's been going on. Also, I just heard a breaking news story that the F.B.I. spent hours today searching the Florida home of our former P.O.T.U.S. I won't jump to conclusions so we'll see what that's about, but every August I take one week off work to go out into the world and experience something different than my everyday life and I don't want to see any fucking H&M! Um, I mean, I don't want to see any news stories during my vacation!
M, I, C . . . See You Real Soon
This morning I saw a mouse in my kitchen. My bf spotted it weeks ago but until today, part of me could pretend it wasn't real. I was standing at the stove stirring my oatmeal, and this mouse peeked its head around the corner of the cabinet a couple times. We'll clean the cabinets tonight, but other than that I'm not sure what to do about it. I don't necessarily want to go about killing or maiming mice, but I don't want them living in my house either. We're going on vacation next week so they might take over the whole place while we're gone. Also, I need to mow my lawn sometime before leaving because it's grown very high right now. However, mowing the lawn is so traumatic to all the ecosystems making their homes there. So I like to only mow small sections at a time. Lush biodiverse areas are so much more beautiful than mowed-down monocultures. People are so quick to kill mice, kill bugs, kill weeds, kill kill kill, then wonder why the planet is dying. Anywhoozle, this bland domesticity is my life. Over the weekend I watched some of the live Lollapalooza broadcast and happened to catch most of Maneskin's set. They're the band that won Eurovision last year, and I recognized several of their songs from the radio. I guess it's kind of nice how the trope of young virile rock and roll stars is still not completely dead even in the year 2022.
The Tragedy Of Exurban Drag
Friday evening I attended the premiere of Kramer Project at Center On Halsted in which Jeff award-winning local legend David Zak adapted Larry Kramer's November 2004 speech / essay / screed "The Tragedy Of Today's Gays" into a 70-minute 7-actor theatrical experience. I was excited about it because I've always had a complex relationship with "The Tragedy Of Today's Gays." But when leaving C.O.H. that night, I felt super inspired to be politically active. For at least an hour. The following morning there was a high-profile anti-gay hate crime in my own exurban community. A cafe planned to host a Saturday evening drag dinner but it got canceled after someone shot out its windows and spray-painted "fags rape kids" amongst other nonsense. A 24 year-old white man was arrested and charged with two felonies in connection with the vandalism. Looking at his mugshot though, if dude were actually so bothered about drag performers subverting gender norms then he really needs to get a haircut. Before the attack actually happened, there'd been threats made so this is something ongoing the community has been discussing for a while now. And according to internet comments, lots of local residents have some strange fringe perspectives about drag. If people truly believe the stuff written on the restaurant's brick walls, then of course some windows will inevitably get busted. Because believing in absurdities leads to committing atrocities. The notion that queer people molest children at a higher rate than straight people is one absurd example.
Happy 84th Birthday, Mom!
My mom's birthday was a couple days ago, so we had an hour-long phone conversation. She pretty much did all the talking though, telling me lots of bonkers stories. Over the weekend, she was admitted to her local hospital for a couple days. She said it was the second time in her life she feared she might actually die. I was like, "Since you believe in God so much, what's there to be afraid of?" I'm basically the Church Of Euthanasia: "Save the planet! Kill yourself." But seriously, good luck to all the suicidal Americans out there calling the new 988 national suicide prevention hotline. Xoxo. When we're talking, my mom loves blurting out statements she knows I disagree with, stuff about "killing babies" etc. That sucks, but I laugh because I profoundly relate to the compulsion of making social situations uncomfortable by saying things we aren't supposed to say. The other day someone shared a chart showing how life expectancies in the U.S. are declining compared to other countries and captioned it, "What would you do with an extra 2-5 years in this world?" The answer, obviously, is not a goddamn thing. Both my parents have now outlived both their parents, due to extreme medical industry interventions. Meanwhile, lots of places where white people live are literally on fire right now. It's the hottest summer on record and the coolest summer we'll ever get for the rest of our lives. But hey, the weather in Chicago today is beautiful.
Rainbows And Sunbeams From Heaven
A lot of people have been talking about photos from N.A.S.A.'s deep-space telescope. I don't remember the name of the telescope, but I do remember it's named after some anti-gay mccarthyist-era head of N.A.S.A. The headline in U.S.A. Today said "Dazzling." Well, I don't feel dazzled about it. I understand that it's a breakthrough in space exploration but I don't understand why that's a topic people find so interesting. Everyone I've seen talk about it is just projecting their own bullshit onto it. Like, theistic people say it's showing the grandeur and awe of their creator and atheistic people say it's evidence that the universe is chaotic and hostile to life. I mean, both of those are obviously perspectives of someone who's never witnessed the big bang while on psychedelics. Lots of people's reactions are "My head is spinning," which just means they haven't thought about it for very long. Over the past couple weeks, I've been feeling depressed. It came on right after my birthday. Then Sunday there was a huge rainbow fully visible in my backyard, complete from one end to the other. It was a double-rainbow, even. I was like, "Wow! This neighborhood must be having so much gay sex!" But standing barefoot in my grass basking in that huge rainbow, I wanted to take it as a sign of hope. And ever since then I haven't felt quite as depressed. I think that's really what all these other people are doing when they talk about space.
Our Uniquely American Plague
On Monday 7 people were killed at a parade < 30 miles from me, allegedly by a 21 year-old white man named Awake The Rapper. My first thought when I heard there was a mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois was, "At least it wasn't in a poor community this time." My second thought was wishing I would've been there. Most people in this country probably have fantasies about 1.) winning the lottery and 2.) being in an active shooter situation. In my imaginary scenario, I stand facing the shooter and assume a Jesus Christ pose. There were videos of crowds running away from the gunman, but I'd be more likely to run toward the bullets with my arms outstretched yelling, "Here I am! I'm ready!" There were so many July 4th celebrations and whatnot but I didn't go to any of them. I could hear marching bands from my bedroom but couldn't pull myself off the couch to walk to the corner and see them. Maybe it's all the idiocracy going on recently or maybe my depression is unrelated, but I was in no mood to celebrate the U.S. Though regardless of national pride, I really don't understand this holiday. So many loud explosions on residential streets, and we somehow just accept it as normal. There's a story today saying > a ton of litter got left behind at Lake Tahoe after the weekend partying there. Well I hope everyone enjoyed themselves and felt fabulous, gunshot victims notwithstanding. Xoxo.
Release Your Wiggle
This week was primary elections in the state of Illinois. No system is perfect but for primaries, Illinoisans go into the polling place and tell the election judge which ballot we want to vote on. This week I chose to vote the Republican ballot, a decision I made for several reasons. Although, researching the Republicans in these 8 contested races was so goddamn depressing. The night before the election, one of the candidates for county chairperson held an open forum on the internet. I was like, "Yes I have a question. Why are there so many absolute clowns on this Republican ballot? Also, why does every Republican with any functioning brain cells get labeled a 'r.i.n.o.'?" Commentators say this is the time when candidates "appeal to their base" which in the case of 2022 Republicans apparently means spouting the craziest nonsense that can still be formed into words. G.O.P. stands for "grift, obstruct, plunder" and "gaslight, obfuscate, project" because they know that sowing chaos is the only way they can win. Last week I discussed S.C.O.T.U.S. rulings and the 1/6/21 Capitol riot congressional hearings, and there were disgraceful new developments with both of those this week. But then, like a ray of light from heaven, Beyonce and Big Freedia released a new song entitled "Break My Soul" which is an instant classic and the perfect anthem for this moment we're living in. It helped me realize how all this bullshit idiocracy happening everywhere around me will not break my soul!
Freedom Isn't Free Or Even Real
I've been in a bad mood for the past couple days since getting a parking ticket. I hate to squander the happiest time of the year with angstyness. I planned to complain about the ridiculous parking ordinance on Nextdoor, but then the S.C.O.T.U.S. opinion overturning Roe Vs. Wade became official so everyone's indignancies need to be focused on that for a couple news cycles. Today is the first day I've ever woken up in a nation where terminating a pregnancy isn't technically a guaranteed right everywhere. Though, one of the points I make in my screed against my municipality's ordinances also applies to the abortion ruling: "I thought the whole point of the U.S. is that we're trying to pretend as if the concept of freedom isn't all an illusion." However, I'm not really too mad at the S.C.O.T.U.S. I am mad at the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, et al. Some people have to actually live in those places and I used to be one of them. Also, last time I visited New Orleans it's possible I might've gotten a woman pregnant. It really is a magical city. Anywhoozle, before my mood swing I was feeling particularly inspired by patriot hero mother-daughter duo Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman who were catapulted into the national spotlight Tuesday during the congressional hearings about the 1/6/21 riot at the U.S. Capitol building. They embody the type of encouragement we need to continue standing up and fighting for our rights.
You Want To Hear About My Deal With Kate
Currently sitting at the number 4 ranking on this week's Billboard Hot 100 singles chart is "Running Up That Hill" by Kate Bush, the opening track of her seminal 1985 album Hounds Of Love. She's a beloved icon and legend, but this is the first time Kate Bush has ever had a top ten hit in the U.S. and it's not a remake, remix, or remaster. I love this bizarre / magical occurrence. It got played multiple times at the gay pride event I went to last week, and again at the huge gay pride yesterday in Chicago. There were some very young people, definitely born decades after 1985, singing along with every word. Kate Bush was always my oldest brother's number one favorite, so I'm incredibly fortunate to have been the only 7 year-old in the entire Great Plains region who even knew who Kate Bush was. I do actually remember listening to this song in the 1980s. I was afraid of everything as a young child which was largely due to the satanic panic of the period, so "R.U.T.H." seemed scary to me and somehow anti-religious with its flippant references to God. Then in the 1990s, I started to appreciate the song when I stopped being so afraid of everything. Nostalgia can be tricky - I threw major shade at people who were talking about a New Kids On The Block arena show they went to Friday - but I fully approve of the popular Kate Bush resurgence.
Conspiracy To Riot
A lot has been happening in my life this week. One of those things was when I marched in a lgbtia+ pride parade this morning in the relatively small town of Woodstock, Illinois. The parade started at 11:00a and then various fun activities were going on throughout the day in the historic town square. An estimated 4,000 people were in attendance. I had such a great time doing so much stuff that it feels strange right now hearing a breaking news story in which 31 young white men from all over the U.S. have been arrested in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho for misdemeanor "conspiracy to riot" at a gay pride event. The population of Coeur D'Alene is basically double the population of Woodstock, and their "Pride In The Park" sounds basically identical to the event I participated in today. This story is fascinating to me for lots of reasons. What were they going to do with riot gear and one smoke grenade? So they were planning to disrupt the event somehow, but not with any gun violence just regular old-fashioned hand-to-hand physical combative violence? That almost seems quaint. This wasn't just one lone gunman. How did it come to be organized that 31 people from all over would converge in a rental truck in Idaho? There's video of them being arrested, hand-cuffed, masks covering their whole heads, getting grass stains all over the knees of their khakis. One has on a shirt that says "Reclaim America." Yeah, good luck with that.
It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
For as long as I can remember, my favorite month of the year has always been June. The weather is great and I feel happy just being alive. But something about it has changed. June is now called "Pride Month" which is becoming some type of statement in the U.S. culture war, and I'm not completely onboard with that. Yesterday a neighbor across from my back yard had an American flag out, but today they're flying the 6-color rainbow flag in its place. It's possible they're somewhere on the lgbtqia+ spectrum, but I doubt it. Gay Pride used to be one day celebrated by actual gay people, but now it's a month-long celebration that more and more str8 ppl are joining in on. Being a real-life queer individual myself, the first half of my life was spent maintaining low visibility as a vital survival mechanism. So that younger part of me will probably always be living deep inside. Also, I'm not one for parroting religious tenets but pride is literally one of the seven deadly sins. That wasn't such a big deal when gay pride was a smaller event, but context gets abandoned when things go mass mainstream. This weekend I told my bf about a restaurant in our neighborhood putting guacamole on a b.l.t. and calling it "the lgbt sandwich," to which he replied, "That's low-effort." It was maybe sort of cute a few years ago when I first heard it, but all the rainbow capitalism is getting obnoxious.
A Random Incident Threatens To Up-End My Life
Friday evening before 5:00, a big black pickup truck drove through my bf's sister's house into the back yard. At first we heard the driver suffered a stroke behind the wheel but now they don't want to say "stroke," just that it's a "medical condition" and under investigation. At the time, she and her bf were both in the downstairs area of the split-level house. If either of them had been in the living room or kitchen when it happened, they probably would've been killed. It's difficult for me not to imagine those alternate scenarios. My bf and his sister are very close so if she would've been killed this way days before his 40th birthday, that scar would be deep. Also if her bf were suddenly killed, what would happen to her? She lost her job literally the day before. There were snippets about this on all the local news channels. The two of them were traumatized and didn't want to do television interviews, but I was like, "Dude get out there and give them a viral moment that you can monetize on the inevitable Gofundme." My bf did start a Gofundme for them despite none of us knowing anything about how to do any of it. I can't get over the aerial footage of this house I visited several times busted open, wreckage strewn all over the spot where I sat enjoying delicious pad thai and wine. The table I sat at forlornly knocked over in the grass.
Pro-Gun, Pro-Life, Pro-Meh
Ten days after an 18 year-old man went on a spree-killing with a machine gun in Buffalo, New York, another 18 year-old man went on a spree-killing with a machine gun in some rural Texas town. I feel very meh about it, but some people are speaking out so passionately that I ask myself why am I meh? The death of one is a tragedy but the deaths of millions is just a statistic. The U.S. is having another coronavirus surge but this time no one is really even pretending to do anything about it. I'm hoping to go to an in person Tori Amos concert tonight and the venue says it's requiring both proof of vaccine and face-coverings. We'll see if that's the actual practice though. In April 2020, there was a photo going around of someone protesting shutdowns holding a sign that read, "Sacrifice the old and weak," and people were so galvanized against that, but didn't we understand eventually that's what always inevitably happens anyway? Interpersonal human relationships are not uncomplicated. I see lots of parallels between A.I.D.S. in the 1980s and coronavirus in the 2020s, and I do get stirred up about the A.I.D.S. epidemic. By the time my brother contracted H.I.V. in the mid-1980s in the state of Oklahoma, there could've been widespread information freely available. But there wasn't and the reason was bigotry. In 40 years when we look back, what widespread beliefs are we holding now that'll be seen as hateful in retrospect?
Mass Media, Mass Shootings, Mass Extinction
On Saturday, an 18 year-old New Yorker who was of course a white man traveled to the city of Buffalo and murdered ten people at a supermarket. He intentionally set out to murder black people, and even wrote a manifesto about it. Some people are commenting how the manifesto relies heavily on rhetoric espoused by certain mass media outlets, but I'm not one who's quick to blame the media for an individual's actions like this. He's a stupid person who did a stupid thing for stupid reasons. Obviously the mass media he consumed was stupid too. Sometimes people say we can never act like mass shootings are normal, but how could we not? The machine gun used by this spree-killer was purchased legally and the fact that he watched Youtube tutorials to make modifications to it that are technically illegal in his state is irrelevant. This is the U.S.A. where there's no such thing as a restrictive gun law. "No way to prevent this," says only nation where this regularly happens. I, like the majority of Americans, believe that gun owners need to 1.) pass proficiency exams before obtaining a license and 2.) carry gun liability insurance. One generally-accepted definition of "mass shooting" is any incident in which a minimum of four people are injured by gun-fire. But some people don't like that definition because it includes too many gang-related shootings. People attempting to up the body count in the redefinition of "mass shooting" is so dystopian it's almost hilarious.
Laborers Built Our World
There's a mining tragedy happening right now in Burkina Faso. Every story about it is quick to point out how the mine in this African nation is owned by a Canadian company. Maybe that's to highlight the reality of world economics, but it's more likely a signifier that it's okay for people outside Africa to care about this story because it's tangentially Canadian. It might be different in other places, but it's shocking how little press coverage gets devoted to the planet's biggest continents. These eight men have been trapped 3 weeks and some stories say they're losing hope of rescue but other stories say families are still hopeful. The whole mining industry makes the modern world possible while simultaneously being so thoroughly horrific that I can't help but feel fascination everytime a story like this comes out, which is semi-regularly. I don't personally work in a literal mine so I have psychological distance. The claustrophobia! There's cognitive dissonance between people going about their daily lives relying on manufactured products and the industries bringing those products to marketplace, and corporations want to keep it that way. People died for our smartphones and we're fine with that. All lives don't matter. Corporations rule the world and the humans who work for them are expendable. I'm watching a docu-series about Andy Warhol so I've been thinking about an exhibition I saw years ago at the M.C.A. titled "Stars! Deaths! Disasters!" Those pieces capture something about how I feel: both bystander and accomplice.
Lots of things happened this past week. There was the White House Correspondents Dinner and the departure of superstar press secretary Jen Psaki for the arrival of hopefully-future-superstar Karine Jean-Pierre. Naomi Judd died, May Day, the Met Gala, the suspiciously low-key announcement of the U.S. death-toll from Coronavirus officially surpassing the 1,000,000 mark. However, the biggest story is the publication of a leaked first draft S.C.O.T.U.S. opinion overturning Roe Vs. Wade which the chief justice confirmed to be authentic. It's the first time a draft has ever been leaked from the S.C.O.T.U.S. but this is really big. Whoever leaked it is a whistle-blower and did the right thing. The official opinion will come out sometime in the next two months. Currently, twelve states - including Missouri - have laws to immediately ban abortion once it's released while seventeen states - including Illinois - have laws explicitly protecting the right to abortion. Soon it'll be illegal to get an abortion in Saint Louis, but across the river in East Saint Louis it's a protected right. Most places aren't that dichotomous, though. Geographically, Texas is huge. Millions of people there will have to travel 1,000+ miles to obtain safe legal comprehensive healthcare which isn't feasible for a large percentage. In September I discussed how the precedent of the Roe Vs. Wade case was basically already overturned because of Texas aspiring to be the Taliban, but now we're weeks away from it being offically offical. So what's anyone going to do about it?
Defame The Famous
In October 2020, I did jury duty. I went into it so excited about fulfilling my civic obligation to help the community. A woman who lives near me took prescription painkillers with some cans of beer, then drove to a store where I frequent, and crashed her car into a tree. She was charged with driving under the influence but she claimed enough time had passed so her tree accident was just normal reckless driving instead of impaired reckless driving. We the jury were all like, "Lol no." I totally liked her though and wanted to be friends with both her and her attorney. We live close enough that we could walk to each other's houses without involving automobiles at all. I took two days off work for that and every single thing about the entire experience was shitty and a huge bummer. Incidentally, one of my fellow jurors was the sister of talk-show host Steve Wilkos. Anywhoozle, there are two high-profile celebrity defamation jury trials happening right now and every time I hear about one of them, I fly into a rage. How fucking dare famous people utilize the court system and commandeer the lives of all those private citizens to litigate defamation!? These cases have gone on for weeks! Before these jury trials, I used to be a fan of both Blac Chyna and Johnny Depp. Fuck them both! The jury members are showing amazing restraint by not burning their courthouses to the ground and disemboweling those plaintiffs.
Ruview Of RPDRUS14
The finale of RPDRUS14 was yesterday and I really enjoyed it. Willow Pill was crowned the winner and I think her performances in the finale episode were pretty iconic. First was "I Hate People" of course, but also the final Abba / Cher lipsync. Willow came out wearing a comically oversized "men's" suit which, I just found out, was constructed by my Chicago friend Jforpay. She stripped off the full body-sized jacket then the full body-sized pant. Everything she did is very fun and stupid, with subtle barbed commentary about shedding ill-fitting gender norms. That's exactly what drag is supposed to be, so well done. This season, 14 new rugirls gave > 300 drag looks in 36 categories over 16 weekly episodes which is a lot. For me, the highlights were the Daytona Winds episode with Camden's tribute to Freddie Mercury and the lipsync smackdown episode. Oh and the rusical episode, Moulin Ru, was really great too. Also, just the sound of Kerri yelling "A dragonfly!?" still makes me break out with laughter every time. Rupauls Drag Race continues to be an important cultural touchstone. I've been watching RPDR since the beginning and I'm still watching even though I don't enjoy it as much as I did years ago. But things always change and go through peaks and valleys. It's a big investment sitting through 16 mostly 2-hour episodes. The 16,000th day of my life was this week and at my age I'm wanting to invest in more tangible things.
Good Vibes Only Easter!
Friday morning there was a meme I enjoyed of the crucifixes from the familiar Calvary scene spelling out the letter Ts in the word "titties." So I shared that meme and wished everyone a happy Good Friday but someone got mad about it and said, "it feels purposefully cruel and I choose to surround myself with love whenever possible." First of all, I'm pretty sure the crucifixion scene is from a movie. If it were a photo of people actually getting crucified, then I'd agree it's intentionally cruel. The whole image of a crucifix is meaningful to me as a symbol of two things intersecting - heaven and earth, body and soul, etc. - which is especially profound when someone dies at that intersection. More importantly, there's just something that rubs me the wrong way about "good vibes only" people. Lots of things about the world today seem hugely fucked up so when people say "good vibes only" it's like they're intentionally not taking a hard look at it. Life is about an intersection of things as symbolized by the cross, not just one thing only. That's one of the crosses I bear along with most of my fellow humans: a struggle between the part of me who stays blissed-out in light and love and the part of me who sees the importance in facing darkness. Then again, maybe this didactic point of view is too binary and unhelpful. Practically speaking, what is anyone actually going to do about anything?
Nashville's A Party
Right now I'm in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A. The C.M.T. Awards are on my hotel room television which is < a mile from where it's actually happening. Additionally, there are performances broadcast from several locations around the downtown area that I became well-acquainted with yesterday. There's a place in Nashville called "the strip" and Broadway Street between 4th & 5th Avenues was closed but now I'm seeing it on television. Naomi Judd is wearing a serious hairpiece that'd make most drag queens jealous. Also, Monica - Miss Thang from the 1990s - performed at this country music awards show. Good for her reaching new audiences. I take work conferences very seriously, like, my organization sent me here to promote our brand and build our team, not to booze and carouse. Before coming here I literally had the thought, "I don't care about any of Nashville's cultural offerings." The thing I was most excited about was having my own hotel room. It's a nice room, however I never predicted the tens of thousands of people out in the streets partying. Holy shit! It was pretty much the world's biggest bachelorette party with no strippers. After my bf dropped me off at the Chicago airport yesterday morning and before I'd even gotten to security, I realized I'd left my cellphone in his car. So, much like the revolution, all the overwhelming elegance of this trip will not be Instagrammed. I'm now one of those people who gets motion sickness on airplanes too, apparently.
Reality Is A Construct
What is time? And, really, what are the other 9 dimensions of reality? What is reality? Being in my 40s and listing the U.S.A. as my permanent address for that entire time, my whole life has been spent observing something called "Daylight Savings Time" but it's actually a pretty recent invention, historically speaking. It's a quirky thing about the U.S. that I'm ready to let fade into the quirky things history books. All my life I've been opposed to D.S.T. and in support of same time all year, s.t.a.y. There are lots of things about the way humans have decided to measure and enumerate reality that don't make sense to me: the international date line, the prime meridian and longitude in general, etc. Recently, the U.S. Senator from Florida Marco Rubio introduced a bill to eradicate our nation's nasty little habit of changing the clocks back and forth an hour every year. It passed the U.S. Senate! But I read it's likely to have a tougher time passing the U.S.H.O.R. I'd like to go on record as fully supporting this bill. I mean, we're basically at the point of our human existence when computers on spaceships determine our location in time and space for us. Like how you can't just say the name of a color anymore without providing exact xy coordinates on the chromacity scale. Well, Marco Rubio's bill is a good first step in undermining our current reality so we can make room for the new cosmic unfolding.
Sometimes Men Hit Each Other And It's N.B.D.
Yesterday I woke up, probably like most Americans, to news that Will Smith assaulted Chris Rock on the Oscar Awards live broadcast. If most Americans are like me, our first thought was, "The Oscar Awards are still a thing that happens? Good for them." Why can't this year's Oscar Awards just be forgotten by history like all the others? I'm so annoyed but still want to discuss this because it's juicy and even my parents are talking about it. These two celebrities are both people I've seen in person, so once again, I'm sure this is somehow my fault and everything is about me. Chris Rock made a comment about Jada Pinkett-Smith starring in G.I. Jane 2 because she has alopecia and wasn't wearing a wig, so Will Smith walked up to him, slapped him, and said "Keep my wife's name out of your fucking mouth." As if. Chris Rock will be talking about this in his stand-up act until the day he dies. This is gold for him. I've already seen articles about ticket prices sky-rocketing for his comedy tour. Lots of people are assigning meaning to this otherwise random anecdote: chivalry, toxic masculinity, the normalization of violence in our culture, black-on-black crime, etc. I've also seen comparisons to Sacheen Littlefeather and John Wayne at the 1973 Oscar Awards. Please stop. Some say the joke wasn't funny, but it's not even a joke. Jada Pinkett-Smith starring in a remake of G.I. Jane 25 years later is a billion-dollar idea.
Disingenuous Conservatives Get Away Dictating Public Discourse
Nextdoor is a social media platform which is supposedly for people who physically live near each other. It's Twitter for old people and the thing I love most about Nextdoor is how it birthed one of the funniest Twitters, BestOfNextdoor. A month ago, someone who allegedly lives < 10 miles from me made a Nextdoor post stating their concerns about the world which were: crime out of control, gasoline priced at $5.00 per gallon, and transgender women in women's sports. I responded, "Hmm, well that's a collection of words that exist on the internet." It seemed weird that out of everything going on, these things were what someone would be getting upset about. But maybe they were just ahead of the trends. Because at first I was like "What crime out of control?" Then in the past month I've heard several stories about catalytic converter theft, which is obviously what they meant. Also in the past month, gasoline prices have risen to almost $5.00 per gallon and lots of disingenuous billionaires are trying really hard to get the American public to blame the U.S. government for that instead of oil companies. Also, Lia Thomas is a competitive swimmer who recently won some apparently important college swimming tournament in the women's division. Well that stirred up some shit from people saying only women who are a.f.a.b. should be allowed to participate in women's competitive sports. Ugh, fuck sports. The world is so competitive that it takes the joy out of everything.
My Love Is Like A River
Last weekend the city of Chicago released boatloads of chemicals into the Chicago River to make it a disgusting bright green color while crowds stood around cheering. Ever since I came to Chicago, this has always been a huge event so I'm sure the streets were packed even though it was cold as fuck on Saturday. There are places in the suburbs where they do the same thing with their own local bodies of water. And if something is so popular then it must be inherently virtuous, right? I can see several spots of the river when I'm sitting at my desk in the office, so all week I've been watching as it gradually fades back to its regular shade of drab green. I'm so fucking moody today. But if the city can decide to engineer the Chicago River to flow in the opposite direction then turn it bright neon one week out of the year, then I can pull myself up from whatever emotional hole I'm stuck in. It was six years ago today when my bf and I saw each other for the first time. Immediately when I woke up this morning, he said "happy anniversary" to me and I've been mad about it ever since. Because generally when people say "happy anniversary" they're talking about the anniversary of a wedding which is something we have not had nor even discussed in a while. So it feels like some loser consolation prize that I'd prefer not to acknowledge.
I'd Like To Keep It On
The first time I heard "social-distancing" was 3/10/20 from a group email originated by someone who'd recently been fired from his job. He just started a new job which might be a sign for optimism. As of this month, the city of Chicago and state of Illinois discontinued all coronavirus mitigation measures. There's still a face-covering requirement on the train, but even my office has dropped it. Obviously, another surge is scheduled by the end of next month. Dua Lipa performed in Chicago last night at the Bulls-Blackhawks arena, but I'm not ready for that big of a crowd in an enclosed space. I'm out of step with everyone though, because two years ago I wasn't in favor of any coronavirus mitigation measures and if I died oh well. There was a certain chic to people who died from coronavirus in 2020 but there's none of that with the people dying from it in 2022. I missed going with the cool people, so I'll be upset if I go from it now. And I'm never upset about the idea of dying in general - I seriously thought I heard a gunshot last night and didn't flinch - but not like that. Before 2020, it was unimaginable to go over a year with no fevers, no sore throats, no congestion, etc. Now I've stayed healthy for so long. I didn't want the coronavirus mitigation measures when they started, but now that they're stopping I'm not so eager to give them up.
The 2022 Russia / Ukraine War, Week One
Russia has been invading Ukraine for > a week now. I remember 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait and the U.S. immediately sprang into action, but I guess we can't handle Russia like Iraq. It does seem kind of weird though how the U.S. military isn't getting directly involved in it at all. I thought getting in the middle of other nations' wars was like my country's favorite thing. I broke out laughing this week when I heard the Russian leader say he put their nuclear arms on high alert because it's so blatant how he's trying to scare everyone. Many things can be said about the Russian leader: that he has a long history of acting ridiculous and being over-the-top, how he's such a karen and makes me ashamed of being white, etc. Meanwhile, the Ukranian leader is super hot and basically everyone in the world right now wants to have sex with him. I've been listening to the news more frequently lately because of this whole situation and sometimes there are reports about Russia saying that they'll participate in cease-fire talks or allow peaceful pathways for civilians to evacuate but no one actually believes they're serious about any of it. The big news this morning was that Russia has overtaken control of Zaporizhzhia, Europe's largest nuclear power plant. As a casual media observer, it seems like a foregone conclusion: Russia has won, the occupation is complete, and Ukraine is no longer an independent nation. But what do I know?
Good Luck With Confirmation, Ketanji Brown-Jackson!
One of my best friends turned 51 this past week and this morning was her third annual internet birthday party. She had an in-person birthday party last weekend, but I appreciate the continuation of this internet gathering tradition which had people calling in from Singapore, Holland, N.Y.C., Chicago, Massachusetts, Virginia, the Pacific Northwest, etc. Yesterday our current P.O.T.U.S. nominated Ketanji Brown-Jackson for the Supreme Court and I learned that as a college freshman, Ketanji lived with my friend and two of her friends who were on the internet birthday meeting. They discussed how passionate and driven she was with her schoolwork, and if they would've had her work ethic maybe they'd be doing something S.C.O.T.U.S. level big by now. Also, there was one quirky thing about the new Supreme Court nominee they mentioned which was that sometimes when she was stressed about something, she'd sit on the floor and throw pennies against the opposite wall as hard as she could. Her actual roommate said she'd forgotten about the pennies. I kind of like that. There are much worse ways of dealing with stress. Something that's sort of stressful which I don't know how to deal with is Russia's invasion of Ukraine, so maybe I'll try sitting on the floor and throwing pennies at the wall whenever I think about it because I don't know what else there is to be done. I haven't mentioned anything political lately because what do any of my opinions related to world politics even matter?
Ten Years Ago Nostalgia: Sharon Needles
I've been feeling lots of things while looking at photos I took 2/19/12 which was the first time Sharon Needles ever performed in Chicago. One is panic attacks due to hundreds of people in a small room all pressed up against each other sharing unfiltered breathing air. Today I went to Joong Boo and felt claustrophobic because of how crowded it was in all those narrow aisles. They had a deep tub of barely-alive crabs piled on top of each other which was what the whole place seemed like to me. My mother had late-in-life onset claustrophobia and I'm afraid it's happening to me. Another thing I felt looking at these photos is nostalgia for being younger. Spin Nightclub is long gone, along with their midnight drag shows and me living in the city. I went to a somewhat upscale restaurant tonight at Fullerton & Kimball and at our neighboring table was a large group of young fabulous queers of various genders and ethnicities dressed to impress and I felt happy seeing them out because that was me once upon a time. Although in my early 20s, that area around Fullerton & Kimball was to be avoided at all costs. I still love Sharon Needles regardless of how she's been labeled "problematic" at various times for various reasons over the past decade. That night, she spent 20 minutes onstage in a coffin before emerging to start the show doing "I Will Always Love You" the week after Whitney Houston died.
All You Need Is, Um . . . Love?
A couple weeks ago, this year's Gay V.N. award show was broadcast live on Chaturbate. I watched some of it, but it started at 10:00p on a week-day. Joel Someone, whom I totally idolize, won an award for best bi sex scene. Also, Rhea Litre who's one of my top-tier favorite drag queens was a presenter. Basically all the people I consider to be huge celebrities were at this award show instead of the Grammys or Oscars or whatever. So I've been thinking about what that means and grappling with my relationship to pornography just like everyone else in modern society. I don't believe the fact that I watch as much pornography as I do means that I don't love my bf. It's just easier to have a sexual relationship with myself and videos-on-demand than it is to have a sexual relationship with another person which requires aligning whole planetary orbits. I've managed to stay monogamous with my bf for, wow, like so long that I don't even want to think about how long it's been. I thought the whole point of being in a relationship is to satisfy certain basic needs so that people can accomplish other things in life instead of constantly wasting so much time going out and looking for sex. I mean, among other things of course. Tomorrow is Valentines and I'm really excited about it, but mostly just because there's a new person starting at work and we really need another worker in the office.
Keep On Rocking In The Free World Or Whatever
Spotify is a thing on the internet that I use sometimes to listen to music and occasionally other audio-only content, i.e. drag podcasts, even though it's always had controversy about its business arrangements with artists. There's a different Spotify controversy now because it produces a talk-show which some people claim is dangerous, but to me that bar for "dangerous" seems way low considering just last year a P.O.T.U.S. literally attempted a coup. One source claimed this talk-show has 190,000,000 listeners which is obviously inflated. Good for them if it's 0.01% of that. Critics say the show spreads coronavirus misinformation, but if that were true there'd be clips readily available and I've yet to hear receipts. The only thing I've heard is the host saying young and healthy people probably don't need to get vaccines which isn't a great perspective but not worthy of such hullabaloo. I read a report today that appeared to be from a credible source saying 60,000 people in the U.S.A. died from coronavirus during January 2022 bringing the total number of U.S. Americans who've died from coronavirus to 900,000. This pandemic is basically 23 months old and 60,000 > 900,000 divided by 23 but I guess that makes sense because lots of people were taking bigger coronavirus risks during Christmas & New Years. Not me. I fantasized about dying in my sleep at midnight on new years and then having my beneficiaries sue each other over whether my 2021 or 2022 open enrollment selections were valid.
Machines Have Taken Over
It's February 1, so as of today another bill goes up which is my expense of commuting on public transit. The commuter train is a glorious wonder that's far nicer than entitled suburban people deserve. I've built my whole lifestyle of the past several years around it. Sure there are frequent delays, but that's to be expected considering the low fares we pay. I've anticipated fares going up, but not like this bullshit. On Thursday, I was informed they're raising fares for people who pay cash to a human. If you use a credit card to pay a machine, the price of the fare remains the same. That's fucked. Now you can't even ride the commuter train without 1.) a smartphone, 2.) a subscription to a data plan, 3.) a special computer program installed on the smartphone, and 4.) a credit card. I got rid of my smartphone > 2 years ago but for the past year I've been using a $42.59 smartphone that my bf bought for me from Target. I still don't subscribe to a data plan, but now that they're increasing my commuting expense by 71% I guess I'll be giving extra dollars to the telecoms instead of to public transit. There are often times when I don't even carry my cellphone with me for days and days, so I don't like the way it's becoming a governmental mandate not to leave it at home. You aren't part of human society anymore unless you have a smartphone.
Get Onboard With Faux-Meat, Fast Food Chains!
There have been various years of my life when I was strictly vegetarian. I don't currently call myself vegetarian even though I am most days. I eat dead animal flesh like twice or at most 3 times per week and don't feel too bothered about it. Social media loves showing me items related to vegetarianism and I'm usually really into it, but there's a certain discussion recently that I get angry about. Most vegetarians are cool people, but there's always some indignant outrage kill-joys who confirm stereotypes. Kentucky Fried Chicken is now serving a faux-meat option. I definitely want some, and I'd think vegetarians would be happy about it since this could be considered a sign of overall social progress in our direction. Some vegetarians are not happy about it though because the faux-meat option is fried in the same oil as all the other meat options. Kudos to K.F.C. for being so transparent about that fact. There was an infamous law-suit 20 years ago of vegetarians versus McDonalds over this exact issue. I'm still mad about that one because the McVegetarian was the most delicious McDonalds item ever. Dunkin Donuts also had faux-meat options which I enjoyed but then got discontinued. Burger King's faux-meat and Subway's veggie-max patties have been a long-term staple in my fast food repertoire. I've seen some people who enjoyed K.F.C.'s faux-meat and some who didn't, so it's just like every other menu item. Either way, I don't believe the all-or-nothing mindset is particularly helpful.
Everything Revolves Around Me
One of the first apartment buildings where I lived in the city of Chicago had a historical marker in front saying that some famous, um, scientist or architect or something had lived there at some point. I was so into that. His name was Buckminster Fuller and the U.S.P.S. came out with a commemorative stamp honoring him while I was living there so I felt real special living in a building where he'd lived while using postage stamps with his face on them to send letters to people who didn't live someplace special like I did. That's how I get, being in close proximity to any particular point of interest. Two examples of recent national news stories that I've been in close proximity with: 1.) In my neighborhood, a woman beat her 5 year-old son to death a couple years ago; 2.) The third-place finisher on last year's season of American Idol also lived a mile from me. Last week I heard of a news story from the next town over by where I live and I'm really into it because I'm familiar with all the buildings where everyone worked. A local optometrist killed his wife, then eight years later killed his girlfriend before dying from coronavirus last month. Both women were also medical professionals which makes it all the more interesting. I have some grotesque fascination with the whole true-crime sub-genre of husbands who murder their wives even though they seemed like the perfect couple to the outside world.
The Violence Of Winter
I'm well into week 2 of wearing long underwear everyday. Overall, I do believe that my decision to live in northern Illinois is a good one in spite of the month of January. I have the good sense to acknowledge that my experience is different than people who live in other parts of the world and also people in different economic situations. However, some people don't have that good sense so sometimes I somehow find myself yelling at the woman behind me in the supermarket line. Last week someone else said to me that he loves snow and wished it would've snowed more, even if that meant colder temperatures. Oooo bitch, lightning bolts shot through my body hearing him say that and before I even knew what was happening I was suddenly yelling at him too. Then he told me I was "yucking his yum" which is a very Chicagoan expression. And I was like, "So you love death, how goth of you." I'm aware that neither of those people control the weather, but it's reminiscent of the movie Parasite when the rich people say how much they love the rain and it's so refreshing, meanwhile the apartment where their staff lives is getting completely flooded. No one who has to go out and walk a mile in it everyday just to survive says that they love snow. Anyone who says they love winter in Chicago is saying that because they don't actually have to be outdoors for too long.
2021: More Contagious, Less Lethal
I don't know much about coronavirus, pandemics, epidemics, or science in general. That's okay because I'm many things, but I've never claimed to be a virologist. Over the summer there was a variant of coronavirus going around and this past month there's been a different variant. I know people who got sick after pretending like coronavirus wasn't real because they didn't comprehend variants. I don't understand the concept of variants either, but so far I've decided it's not anything I need to look into. What I do know is that everyday Monday through Friday, I leave my home and travel on public transit to an office in the center of a major metropolitan area and there's a certain level of risk that inherently goes along with that. I'm aware of the risk and choose to accept it and handle it with the appropriate level of seriousness. The year is 2022 and I've somehow managed to stay very healthy for a very long time now. Lately, there are only two people whom I've been within 10 feet of without some barrier or wearing a face-covering. Life is just different now, and I'm accepting it and thriving in this new environment more and more all the time. I had a conversation with someone who said it's just the overall natural course of viruses to become more contagious and less lethal. He wasn't a scientist but that seems logical. It also seems like a perfect tag-line for the calendar year that just ended.
Betty White Died Today, OMG
It's new year eve - or as I like to call it, my half-birthday - and holy fuckballs, Betty White died today! Betty! Motherfucking! White! I'm crying real tears. Apparently she died around noon. On new year eve! Her 100th birthday is two weeks from now and People magazine already put out their cover story about it. So that's kind of awkward. But she was born before Martin Luther King or Malcolm X. Before Anne Frank. Before any of the other Golden Girls, and the only one of them who was child-free. I have so many feelings about this. The only other person I can think of who's so universally beloved is Dolly Parton. Just recently, I watched a documentary that was streaming on Netflix titled Betty White, The First Lady Of Television so I'm aware that she did other things, but The Golden Girls is such a ground-breaking classic and inspiration for so many reasons. When I was a child, I watched the entire NBC line-up of Saturday evening sitcoms. It's solid in my memory: The Facts Of Life or 227 at 7:00, 227 or Amen at 7:30, Golden Girls at 8:00, and Amen or Empty Nest at 8:30 which was just how broadcast television worked back then. I own several seasons of Golden Girls on DVD and have seen every episode multiple times. I've even made plans to attend a convention for fans of the show that's happening in a few months. I'd hoped she'd make an appearance.
I just noticed how that last post was the second in < a month that I ended with "Sigh" as a 1-word sentence. I'm so wistful! I've been thinking a lot lately about idealizing the past and realizing that right now is as good as life will ever get so we all have to enjoy the present moment as much as possible. Years from now I'll probably say to my bf, "Hey remember that first year after you graduated school and moved in with me and were looking for a job? Those were the good old days." I have a colonoscopy scheduled for the day after tomorrow, so no Christmas chestnuts this year for me. I dread tomorrow's preparation, but I'll just keep telling myself, "Hey, today is the good old days!" Coincidentally, I just talked to someone this week whose daughter has late-stage colon cancer so they were putting her in a wheelchair and going to a big-box store that had a large Christmas display because it was joyful and festive. I started crying when she told me the details about how her daughter can't eat or walk because I witnessed those things when my brother died from colon cancer. He was 16 years older than me when he died 12 years ago, so if I live four more years I will have out-lived him. Precisely, Christmas day 2025 will be when the number of days I've lived will have surpassed the number of days he was alive. Sigh.
Yesterday I went to Dim Sum & Drag and met Hoso Terra Toma. When I say "met Hoso," of course what I mean is we talked for maybe 30 seconds and got two photos together. Hoso said she likes my eyeglasses and also told me, "You're really serving it today." Gag, that's one of the biggest compliments I will ever receive in my entire life. Dim Sum & Drag is a drag brunch with an all-Asian cast which is great for me because I love nightlife but hate actually being awake at night. I paid $44.06 for the meal & show plus tips then another $12.24 for the meet & greet with Hoso, and it was worth it. The dumplings were delicious. The performers slayed. I'll refrain from any searing commentary on the current state of Chicago's drag scene, but I had a great time. Anywhoozle, I'm pretty sure Hoso will be on my television screen tomorrow night crowned the winner of Dragula 4. Is there really any other option? I mean, come on: other mother, the cactus, the moth, the demon, the multi-faced swordsman, even her red-faced ghostship glamour was iconic. Give her that skull-crown already! My personal rankings are 1.) Hoso, 2.) Saint, 3.) Sigourney, 4.) Dahli. There's been so much discussion about Sigourney as an a.f.a.b. drag queen but not a lot about Dahli being an a.m.a.b. drag king. Dragula has been a wild fucking ride these past two months and soon it'll all be over. Sigh.
Struggling With Life?
It's December which is the time when people look back at the year and do recaps of it. Right now I'm not feeling it though. Some years, I'm really good at planning all my p.t.o. and spreading out my days off evenly. This was not one of those years. I took several days off work this week which was sub-optimal and occasionally ridiculous. Originally, I'd considered visiting family but didn't because I have concerns about my automobile and my house and other material possessions. It seems like all of a sudden all the bills have drastically gone up and we're all stretched thinner than we'd like. So I'm holding steady and remaining calm just like everyone else who's trying not to panic yet. I spent my days off not eating any solid food for six days and just trying to relax and have fun without going anywhere or spending any money of course. There was a lot of pondering life while washing laundry. For example, do I want to embrace a non-binary gender identity? Using pluralistic "they/them/theirs" pronouns wouldn't be an inaccurate representation of the multitudinous entity that is myself. I went into the central office Friday, and there's an advertisement on a bus shelter outside the building for coffee-flavored Coca-Cola. Lol. Before that advertisement, there was one that said "Struggling with life? Text 21221 for solutions." It seems like one of those things where you text that number then suddenly wake up without a kidney. Or playing Squid Game.
Playing The Game Like Sigourney
A couple weeks ago I said that when people discuss world events, it becomes its own secondary marketplace for theatre dramatica. That's true for the American legal system, and even truer for my own personal niche interest: drag reality competition serieses. This week, Queen Of The Universe 1 premiered and the Rupauls Drag Race U.S. 14 cast was announced. Those two events gave "the fandom" lots to discuss, and obviously we're all working through some stuff. However, I'd like to get back to the Dragula 4 discussions that died down a little once other issues arose to replace them. This season of Dragula has seen epithets and death threats directed at the cast like never before. First of all, it's repetitive to send death threats when everyone already gets murdered as part of the show's plot. Also nazis are now a contingency of the fandom, so congrats to them on crossing over I guess. It's a sign of gaining popularity, but none of these drag shows were ever intended for such mass audiences. A lot of the discussion has been about Sigourney Beaver versus everyone else, which has similar themes to the discussion about RPDRUS14 casting its first het-cis man. I've noticed Sigourney responding to backlash differently than I'd expect a drag queen to respond, but then I take into account that she's a.f.a.b. and how Sarah Silverman talks about performers who are men not worrying about walking to their cars after a gig like performers who are women do.
Two Great Men Died This Past Week
I felt sad when I heard that Stephen Sondheim died on the day after Thanksgiving. Then a couple days later Virgil Abloh died, a shocking announcement which came out of nowhere. I'm sad about them both, but the death of a 91 year-old is as surprising as a cumshot from a man yelling "I'm cumming!" Otoh, Virgil was 41 which is two years and three months younger than I am. It's a big loss for Chicago. Apparently he'd been privately fighting a rare, aggressive cancer called cardiac angiosarcoma for the past two years. So last year when people were getting upset with him over his comments about looting, he basically already knew he'd die soon. We all just saw him a couple months ago at the Met Gala looking fabulous. Then again, he was pretty covered up wearing a furry hat and oversized sunglasses. I even watched a behind-the-scenes video of him in the white suit while it got air-brushed with "Modernism" and he still seemed healthy. Personally, if I were diagnosed with cancer I probably wouldn't tell anyone either. I'd go to California and take up heroin. That's just me and largely due to the fact that I've never been invited to the Met Gala. In Virgil's position, I would've gone wearing dramatic tatters, spitting blood, with gaunt, oozing makeup and a neon "I'M DYING" sign then been like "Sorry not sorry for taking all the attention off Lil Nas X, but I'll be dead 76 days from now."
Society's Horrific Quirks
People sometimes say, "Human beings are fallible." I think it's more accurate that humans are all "quirky." Though, some of those quirks are horrific. For example, jury verdicts came out this week in two separate high-profile murder cases. Friday, I was working from home when there was a breaking news story about one from an incident that happened last year near where I live. They'd been deliberating for several days so I thought it'd probably be a mistrial, but no. Then another layer is that all world events become spectator sports on their own level with everyone expressing their own opinions which is all just more humans being quirky. I was on a jury last year in the county next to the one where this person on trial lived with his mom, so I absolutely can not with anyone talking shit about jury members. They have their own p.t.s.d. from this experience. And of course the P.O.T.U.S. is defending the system because what other option is there? Anywhoozle, I was surprised that this one incident is so divisive. I don't understand why my country has decided that some 17 year-old boy's right to carry a machine gun wherever he wants supersedes everyone else's rights to do anything. Then again, I wasn't there. Just like the majority of the world expressing their opinions. Actually when that happened last year, I was on summer vacation with my bf, running around naked in a state park, blissfully not looking at any internet. Sigh.
Another Mother's Breaking Heart Taking Over
A couple weeks ago I wrote about oldies acts coming out with new music then that same day 10 people were killed plus > 100 others injured at a concert festival in Houston. It's weird how the performer whom all these people died to see is someone I'd never heard of. I wouldn't go so far as to say listening to oldies instead of current music saves lives, but no one got trampled to death when Foo Fighters played Lollapalooza. Drake was there too and I only know about him via proximity to Rihanna. One day a co-worker asked me, "You're younger than I am, can you explain what happened at that festival in Texas? When I heard about it, I thought there must've been a shooting, but how'd all those people die if there weren't guns or bombs or nothing?" But I just broke out singing, "And their bombs and their guns and their guns and their bombs, in your head they're still fighting. IN YOUR HEEEEEEEAD . . ." Because oldies are always the answer. The most recent episode of Dlisted podcast starts with a good recap of events, and the whole situation seems so icky to me. People were saying, "Don't blame the artist." But who else was in charge? Also, a Kardashian was involved. The whole incident seems intentional and makes me want to retreat from popular celebrity culture. Fuck the fetishizing of wealth and fame. I might not even go see the new Gaga movie.
The Annual U.N. Climate Change Conference Is Happening
The United Nations has been holding a conference about climate change for > a week now. It's in Glasgow but apparently Lawrence Chaney is in L.A. filming so it isn't affecting her. First of all, I love Greta Thunberg. Lots of people felt the way she's feeling when we were her age. Here we are born on this planet as innocents, and when we come of age it's hard to accept that things are the way they are. So we try to change what we can to align with our values of how we think the world ought to be. Then eventually we realize that things are the way they are for a reason and our options for change are limited. The world is what it is because certain values have been prioritized over others which is difficult for young people to accept. Some don't like the phrase "it is what it is" because of the connotation that things can't be changed. But people can debate the shoulds and shouldn'ts of any situation endlessly without ever changing any facts of the matter. What would a human population of this size living in sustainable harmony with the Earth even look like? If it weren't for Thunberg, I wouldn't have even heard about this year's U.N. Climate Change Conference because more and more people are coming to accept the inevitable. Humanity has made our choice: modern civilization for however long it lasts over the long-term viability of organic life on this planet.
Voyage Ocean To Ocean
When I was growing up, it was standard that new music would be released on Tuesdays. Then for a while, it was no particular day of the week. Now it seems like everyone is back to a standard which is Fridays. Today, the legendary 1970s band Abba releases a new album for the first time in 40 years titled Voyage. It could be an epic triumph or probably a forgotten anomaly as coda to their career. Either way, it's an inspiration to just do whatever you want. Tori Amos is another oldies act that released a new album last week. I haven't listened to it yet because it didn't download when I tried to purchase it from Amazon. Of course they still charged me for it even though the download didn't work. I decided to give it some time so maybe it'd work later - because that's happened before - but it's still a no, so I'll dispute the charge today and hopefully that works. Ugh, this is the state of things today. I could just stream it like a normal person who listens to it with ads, but this is Tori Amos. There are some songs that I want to buy and own and listen to without connecting to the internet. Her new album is titled Ocean To Ocean and it's possible that it could be completely trite but Tori Amos has earned the sacred honor of my all-time favorite rock star which will never be stripped from her.
Suicide Is Meh
I just found out that a friend of a friend killed herself last week. Suicide is something that's constantly looming somewhere on the periphery of my life. Maybe it isn't such a prevalent issue for some people, but for me it shows up in lots of ways. I've known people who've actually killed themselves and people who've contemplated and/or attempted it. Not just philosophically though, but for me personally it's a consideration I think about on a regular basis. I reached out to my friend who's grieving to make myself available for conversations or whatever, but so far it's pretty much just been Facebook-reacting to posts so she knows I care. Honestly, I'm afraid of having an actual conversation with a person grieving the loss of someone via suicide because it makes sense to me so I don't really consider it a bad thing. Usually when someone succeeds doing something they want to do, I congratulate them. But suicide is different according to the theory that if someone wants to die, then by definition that person is mentally unwell. According to that standard, life naturally wants to continue and grow and there's no such thing as a thanatos. There's no creation without destruction and, imho, suicide is just one more natural normal manifestation of death drive which is inseparable from life force. Sometimes I try expressing that to people and they respond that suicide is selfish, but framing matters of life and death in those terms is way too small.
Predator & Prey
This week, Youtube recommended a channel to me: Mrluckyfrogs. It's kind of horrific. Mrluckyfrogs was posting intricate arts & crafts tutorials which got like 300-400 views per video. Then they acquired a pet, so they said goodbye origami and are now getting 8,000,000 views per video of their bullfrog eating. In a forest or swamp, these snakes, scorpions, tarantulas, etc. would at least stand some chance against this big fat fucking frog. But in this tiny enclosed glass room, it's a horror show. The titles are like, "Wow!! Asian Bullfrog Eating By Big Snake! Warning Live Feeding." And the footage is accompanied with wacky background music and sound effects. They even do slow-motion instant-replays of the action shots. Completely amped up for maximum grotesqueness. I was most touched by the tarantula who acted so brave, facing the frog and standing up on its back legs, stretching its whole body out to look as big as it possibly could. And then it got eaten. Because valor only goes so far in life. Sometimes we're all predators and sometimes we're all prey. Maybe I'm just going through a period of feeling victim-y, but lately I've been relating more to prey. I had an appointment this week with a doctor who'd been randomly assigned to me by my insurance company. I liked her and the nurse, but the whole red-tape experience was a bitch and answering questions about my mental health and family history got me questioning what am I even doing here?
Life Without Context
Yesterday I went to the Artitute's exhibition of Barbara Kruger, whom I've been a big fan of for decades. I really enjoyed it. Barbara Kruger the artist could not have existed before now. That's maybe more or less true about everything, but it's very true for her work which, to me, is about the bombardment of messaging which defines our sense of self and living in society when interacting with mass media is mandatory. Before I left for the museum yesterday morning, I had an experience related to those themes. There's an Instagram account I follow that posts found items as comedy. This account is continually getting reprimanded by Instagram constantly threatening them with deletion. Well, it posted a video of what - at face value - would be a dangerous prank. The actual clip might've been created by highly-trained professionals performing a well-controlled stunt, or it could've been 100% manufactured by visual effects. I don't know and neither does whoever posted it. Because so much of everything in the world today exists void of context. People make snap reactions to things based solely on surface presentation. I commented, "Maybe this account deserves to get deleted after all." Someone replied, "Okay boomer." To that I responded, "No problem, anonymous burner account." Then there was another reply, "Oh look someone with no sense of humor." Well the joke's on them because I think it's hilarious humanity is killing ourselves. Lol. It's as if Barbara Kruger personally sent bots to troll me.
Today Is Like A Holiday Or Something
The first time I heard about Coming Out Day was in college which was so long ago that I just round up and say that for as long as I can remember, October 11 has always been Coming Out Day. Recently, there were some free stickers and I wanted to put a rainbow heart on my car but didn't because what if I break down then can't get anyone to help a faggot? Yeah, I obviously don't deserve Coming Out Day. This year, today is also an official federal holiday called Columbus Day - as in Christopher Columbus, the sailor from 15th-century Italy. Christopher Columbus is famous because he's a het-cis white man and apparently nothing you do matters if you're not. When I think of Christopher Columbus, I think of "This Land Is Your Land" the song by my fellow 20th-century Oklahoma-born artist Woody Guthrie. Sometimes I sing that song but with my own version of the lyrics: "This land was made for het-cis whites." Similar to rounding up about Coming Out Day, people have been referring to today's federal holiday as Indigenous People Day for so long that it's just how I think of it now. However, our current P.O.T.U.S. is the first to actually make a Presidential proclamation honoring Indigenous People Day. When Juneteenth became an official federal holiday a few months ago was the first time I ever realized what all goes into it. Either way, today is Monday and I'm not working so that's something.
Review Of Squid Game 1
I got home tonight and watched the last episode of Squid Game. Then I watched fan videos. That final plot twist, I did not see it coming. I'd noticed something sketchy about clues that were pointed out by the fan videos, but was still shocked about it even with foreshadowing. Last night I made the mistake of watching an episode right before going to sleep and had horrible dreams. I watched all nine episodes - basically 9 hours - in seven days which is as close to "binge-viewing" as I get. And obviously there's going to be a season 2 coming soon. Because if Tiger King is getting a season 2, Squid Game definitely will. It's been number 1 on U.S. Netflix for almost two weeks now. Even though I've been really into it - maybe too into it - and it's the huge world-wide popular thing right now, it isn't without flaws. So it's not like I think it'll go down in history as some classic piece of art. It seems like my reactions aren't necessarily the same as the general public, or at least what they're willing to admit. I don't sympathize with the main character, Number 456. But I love feeling superior to him! The cliff-hanger ending is stupid because he's stupid. However, what kind of stories would we have in the world without human stupidity? Otoh, my favorite characters are the fourteen who don't return for game two. I want to know more about those geniuses.
We Envision Glittery Stardust
The Tony awards finally happened nearly a year and a half after nominations came out. Jeremy O. Harris changed his display name on Twitter from "most Tony-nominated playwright" to "most Tony-snubbed playwright." Also, Rupaul won his 11th Emmy award which broke the record of most Emmy wins by a person of color. Incidentally, my Instagram account is now award-winning too. Last week, my workplace had a team-building workshop. I definitely wasn't enjoying it as much as everyone else seemed to be. And judging from all the smiles in the group photo, they weren't lying. Why do I not like things that other people like? I was constantly repeating to myself, both silently and out loud, "I'm having fun; I'm feeling happy," etc. But self-talk can only go so far. I got particularly annoyed by a group activity in which we brain-stormed keywords to create value, mission, and vision statements. My colleagues were imagining what it'd be like if there were no cap on effort and funds, then "limitless" came up. Maybe I'm too philosophical, but it's like no one understood that having limits is the whole point of existing. For our team's vision statement I wrote, "We envision unicorns and rainbows and stardust glitter sprinkles." Eventually "limitless" was amended to "limitless innovation" because despite whatever physical limitations may be, our ideas have no bounds. My "best Instagram of anyone in the office" award was bestowed during a "say nice things to co-workers" activity, beating at least five other Instagram accounts.
It Feels So Right
This year, there's a full moon on the autumn equinox so you'd think I'd be out dancing naked in the woods all night. Instead, I fell asleep at 7:30p while listening to Teddy Margas on Instagram live. Then this morning I saw how my local municipality wasted no time dragging out dead plants as seasonal decoration for the downtown neighborhood where I live. They just wrap dead plants around lamp-posts and call it art. Creepy yet fierce. This past weekend was officially the last one of summer 2021 and a lot happened. As soon as I woke up Friday morning, I bought the new album by Lil Nas X and watched the first episode of Chicago Party Aunt. Friday night I went to the first-ever live performance of the band Man On Man. It started after midnight and < 12 hours later they performed the noon slot at Riotfest. I'm happy they played an extra show so I didn't have to go through the hassle of Riotfest to see them. I got the chance to talk to Joey Holman after the set, and I talked with Roddy Bottum while he manned the merchandise booth. I told him how 13 year-old me was scandalized by an MTV News report about him. I wanted to hear graphic details about having sex with Courtney Love, but wasn't sloppy enough to ask. Since then I've been going around telling people that I'm now close personal friends with the guy who played piano on "Epic."
Week In Review: September 11-15, 2021
It's been a big week. Saturday was the 20th anniversary of the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks in the U.S. It's the first ever anniversary of the event when the U.S. has not been occupying Afghanistan. Sunday was the MTV V.M.A.s. My favorite music video of the year - "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)" by Lil Nas X - won the top award. Monday was the Met Gala, with the theme of "American Independence." My top toot from it is Kim Kardashian in next-level Balenciaga which was inspired by Deven Green & Ridge Gallagher at Drag Con L.A. 2019. Tuesday was the California gubernatorial election. The more corporate interests try and attack Gavin Newsom, the stronger of a political force he becomes. And then came Nicki Minaj's cousin's friend's testicles. Girl. Nicki said she hasn't gotten a coronavirus vaccine yet because she's still busy researching it, but it does not take that long to read the page they give you outlining the risks. If Nicki has one of the conditions identified as putting her in high risk, I wish she would just say she's at risk. Because some people seem to think Google searches somehow equate to doing research. I've been a fan of Nicki Minaj for years, but this looks like a full-scale breakdown. None of those things really matter though, because my own personal highlight of the week was when I possibly sort of saved the life of a baby squirrel which was a very fatherly experience for me.
Respect For Our Current P.O.T.U.S.
I was writing about the Dragula 4 cast reveal tonight, but then saw on Twitter - which is pretty much my only news source - that our current P.O.T.U.S. announced a vaccine mandate today via executive order. I was a little sick of discussing politics, but this is juicy. And the whole cast of Dragula 4 look amazing so I'll leave it at that. Wow, it seems like our current P.O.T.U.S. is really out there doing the stuff that needs to get done regardless of how unpopular it might be: the Afghanistan withdrawal, some banking regulations that've come up recently, and now this. He's similar to our 40th P.O.T.U.S. Ronald Reagan as far as they both began their presidential administrations around the exact same age. But after Reagan who literally had dementia in office did so much damage to our nation, I'm skeptical. Like, why are people in charge who'll hardly live long enough to see any repercussions from their actions? Otoh, maybe our current P.O.T.U.S. is demonstrating how being elderly can be a good thing since it sure doesn't seem like he's too concerned about re-election and his own personal life after office. If he has to be daddy the disciplinarian making spoiled bratty children take their medicine, he can step into that role. A year ago, he demonstrated what a warrior is when he walked into debates opposite the unhinged shit-show that was our previous P.O.T.U.S. I respect him for that because it's how a public servant acts.
Texas Wishes It Were Part Of The Middle-East
In 1973, the S.C.O.T.U.S. issued a decision that the U.S. Constitution protects the right of its citizens to terminate their pregnancies without excessive government restriction. It was called "Roe v. Wade" but almost 49 years later, that ruling was effectively reversed when the S.C.O.T.U.S. refused to hear a case challenging a state that passed a law defying it. The state trying to overturn Roe v. Wade is, of course, Texas. I was born & raised near the Texas border and there's always been a weird vibe about it. #Texastaliban was trending on Twitter which brought backlash from people saying that hashtag promotes the idea of fundamentalist violence being inherently attributed to the Middle-East. I got annoyed when I saw that because right now people are talking about the state of Texas perpetrating a macroagression and in the middle of that someone is speaking up talking about a possible microagression. The downfall of nationally-protected abortion rights is the inevitable result of the U.S. Congress stealing the 2016 S.C.O.T.U.S. appointment and a reminder of how unethical the U.S. Congress has been in recent history. Previous sessions of Congress were brazenly ruthless in their power-grabs so now that the balance of power has shifted, the current Congress needs to push through bigger, stronger, more sweeping changes. It seems like that isn't getting done because Democrats are either no different than anyone else beholden to corporate interests or maybe Republicans just don't waste so much time distracted by every random thought that anyone has.
Thursday Was Pretty Major
I divide non-fiction I write into 3 categories: personal, political, cultural. Three major things happened Thursday which fit neatly into those categories. Cultural: Kanye West's event at Chicago Bears stadium is the most important art happening of our time. Also this week, Kanye filed to shorten his legal name by 3 letters. Ye's basically Michaelangelo with 4 fewer syllables in his name. Political: I got really sad about the suicide bombings in Afghanistan. There were > 160 Afghani people murdered and 13 members of U.S. military. The 160 victims could've been a much higher number and it'd still be inconsequential to U.S. politics since they weren't U.S. citizens, but the number of U.S. citizens killed could've been < half of 13 and it'd still be a major shitstorm. Huge crowds are attempting to flee the country and it's an awful situation how those huge crowds couldn't have built a nation worth not fleeing from in 20 years. Personal: My aunt got so sick that she went to the hospital and was diagnosed with coronavirus. Sometimes it seems like people love it when some loud-mouth who's anti-vaccination dies from coronavirus. Yes my aunt is one of those loud-mouth anti-vaccination people who's inevitably sick with coronavirus, but to me she's so much more than that. To anyone who casually glances over the story there might be a certain delight in it, but to the ones who are actually involved in those people's lives there's more to their stories than a single factoid.
One Golden Age Of Internet Porn Coming To An End
The website Onlyfans has announced that it will no longer host porn. Apparently this is due to pressure from credit card companies. Perhaps coincidentally related, X-Tube is another big internet porn site that's recently announced it's shutting down. I have lots of feelings about this even though I'm not personally an Onlyfans subscriber. Because it's sort of been revolutionary. Sex drive is part of most humans' experience. Then along came pornography which changed the perception of sex. Then along came internet pornography which changed the perception of pornography. Then along came Onlyfans which changed the perception of internet pornography. Ten years ago, people could pay to watch me masturbate live on webcam so if I were ten years younger I'm sure I'd probably be producing porno films on Onlyfans right now. I'm a human being who loves looking at the naked bodies of other humans. To me, it seems like there's pretty much nothing more beautiful in the universe than watching naked adult people having sex with each other. Consensually of course! So even though I don't subscribe to Onlyfans, the stars of Onlyfans have penetrated other aspects of media. For example, in my little world Joel Someone & The House Of Someone are bigger stars than just about anyone on primetime network television. "Brazilian Horny Couple" Rafael & Mateus are right up there with the Bidens in my own personal pantheon of role models and influencers. The scene that Haskell Holland and Valeria Atreides did is basically holy scripture.
Long Strange Journey This Week
Yesterday I attended my nephew's wedding - which was awesome - then spent most of today driving home. I stopped in Uranus, Missouri where I met Kat, a goddess of a woman who performs sword-swallowing at their sideshow attraction. The day before when I left my parents was Friday the 13th. My dad said that for the first time ever, he thought it might be the last time we see each other. However, my mom said the same thing three visits ago and she's still alive. My response to him was that we both know we love each other and that's all anyone can do so it's enough. My brother who died 12 years ago is buried in Tulsa and this was my third visit which averages out to once every four years. So I sat on the grass and told him what important things happened since 2017 - including my conversation with our dad that morning and about our nephew's wedding as well as my own possible wedding plans next year. The U.S. armed forces are in the process of withdrawing from Afghanistan after almost 20 years there and it looks like that country's previous regime is swiftly returning to power, so when I was leaving my parents it felt very similar to that. Like, I'm aware of how awful the situation I'm leaving behind is but there's just no other option. Leaving is something that has to be done, both personally and in the realm of world politics.
My Parents Are Still Old & Decrepit
This week, I'm visiting my parents and staying at the house where I grew up. The situation here right now is unspeakably horrific, and it's all been made possible by the extraordinary measures of modern science and technology. My mom has not been able to walk in nearly two years and the philosophical question that I've been asking which no one else seems to be pondering is why. Is the experience of living that my parents are having preferable over death? No one wants to be in their position, but here they are in this really tough situation doing the best they can with it. It's their right to do what they want to do and continue on in their existence of technically being alive. Lots of people, including me, say that we'd never let it get to this point. But it hasn't been us. Me and all the other people who say that, we haven't actually had to make the choices they've made. Less than six months after my mom stopped being able to walk, the coronavirus pandemic started happening so my experience with my parents' health has informed how I think about pandemic-related issues. I personally got the vaccine and do wear face-coverings at public indoor places, but I'm not usually mad at people who choose not to do those things. There are considerations to be made about how we want to live, not just one single statistical focus on whether a person is technically dead or not.
If Everything Could Ever Be This Real Forever
Lollapalooza happened in Chicago on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with > 100,000 people in attendance each day. It might've been the largest festival on the planet in the year 2021. It took weeks to set up for it, so I expect most of Grant Park to remain closed at least until the end of this week while they disassemble it. Miley Cyrus performed the first night and Foo Fighters was the grand finale with "Everlong." Swoon. We watched the Foo Fighters's whole performance on television as it was broadcast live-ish with an approximately 10-minute delay. I never realized what a trove of knowledge about that band lives in my brain rent-free until I sat on my couch with my bf enlightening him with it all. Miley and Foo Fighters are both acts I enjoy, but they aren't buzz-worthy enough to go through the whole rigmarole of attending Lollapalooza in 2021. I am hoping to see Man On Man at Riotfest next month though. There's a lot of discussion about the possibility that this year's Lollapalooza might've been a coronavirus super-spreader event. Like many of the things related to how people handle coronavirus, it's mystifying to me. Market Days is still happening next weekend. Big-league baseball is packing stadiums every single day. Being amongst large crowds of people is just part of regular life, and at some point in the last few months it seems like people somehow decided it's okay to return to regular pre-2020 life, large crowds included.
Another Dead Body Found In My Neighborhood
Shortly after midnight on Saturday night / Sunday morning police were at my neighborhood train station, presumably because parking isn't allowed between midnight and 4:00 in most of the lot, and they found a 25 year-old woman in a car dead from a gunshot wound. I live < a mile away and walk to the station nearly everyday. At noon on Saturday, my bf and I went to the farmers market and I commented how surprised I was about so many cars parked there. More than an actual weekday. We might've walked past a dead person in one of those cars without even noticing. The police press release says, "While we're still gathering evidence, we are sure there is no danger to the public as a result of this incident." It really ought to say "reasonably certain" instead. I'd like to know who the car and gun belonged to. It was probably self-inflicted in her own car, but lots of internet commenters like the idea of a deranged killer on the loose. Also, something eerie happened there yesterday morning. I wanted to take photos of Queen Anne Lace growing on a patch of land they don't mow. When I got out my smartphone and opened the camera, it was self-facing so obviously I snapped a quick selfie before pointing it the other direction. That selfie came out really weird and I immediately had the feeling like there was some unusual aura around the place that it was picking up on.
There Are 11 Seasons Of Drag Competition Television Shows Coming Out
There's been a lot of discussion recently about the billionaire space race in which private corporations are now doing what the public agency did 60 years ago. Idgaf about billionaires, but this does make me feel inspired to be selfish and focus on whatever petty shit I want to instead of caring about anyone else's needs. If no one is stopping these assholes from doing what they want, why would anyone stop me from going after what I like? And namely, the petty shit I care about is watching drag competition television shows. I might not watch every single episode anymore, but following along with them is still my guilty pleasure. There are 11 series of drag competition shows currently airing or in post-production: 1.) Drag Race Espana 1, 2.) Camp Wannakiki 3, 3.) Rupauls Drag Race All-Stars 6, 4.) Drag Race Holland 2, 5.) Rupauls Drag Race U.K. 3, 6.) Dragula 4, 7.) Drag Race Canada 2, 8.) Drag Race Italia 1, 9.) Rupauls Drag Race International All-Stars which I prefer to call RPDRAS7, 10.) Rupauls Drag Race U.S. 14, and 11.) Rupauls Drag Race All-Winners which I prefer to call RPDRAS8. The first three - DREs1, Wannakiki 3, and RPDRAS6 - are currently airing. People are loving this season of RPDRAS and it's getting lots of buzz/hype. Every Thursday morning as soon as I wake up, I sit on the toilet and check whether the most recent episode of RPDRAS6 matches internet predictions. And it nearly always does.
My 43rd birthday was a couple weeks ago. It was fun for a Wednesday, the least sexiest day of the week for any celebration. As I get older, I'm learning to accept the unsexy parts of life: insurance, mortgage, parking tickets, skin tags, climate change, etc. And 43 is the least sexiest number in the 40s. My bf deleted his Facebook account as a birthday gift to himself. For several years I've de-activated my Facebook accounts around my birthday specifically so I won't have to deal with Facebook birthday messages. This year, I had the super-extra idea of de-activating my Facebook for 43 days, 6/9-7/21. It's shameful, but I have four Facebook profiles: one in my birthname, one in my current legal name, one for work, and one that I'll convert to a fan-page in case I ever become famous. I saw a photo on Instagram paying tribute to Christina Death who died a few months ago. She was a Chicago goth nightlife personality who also loved drag. I'm Facebook friends with her on my birthname account, so I re-activated that one and posted a photo of us from > 10 years ago. But when I re-activated, I saw that 43 - how fortuitous! - people wrote happy birthday on my Facebook wall. Several people even sent me Facebook messages. So basically, de-activating a Facebook profile means nothing. But over the past month of never looking at Facebook, I've noticed some changes in myself and I kind of like it.
Our Current P.O.T.U.S. Visited My Neighborhood
On Sunday I saw a local news story that our current P.O.T.U.S. was planning on visiting my small-town neighborhood which seemed random. Then I did a little research and learned it's part of a thing he's doing to promote community colleges. The Biden administration has been proposing that community colleges along with expanded pre-kindergarten schooling be made tuition-free. I've already spent more time in school than I ever wanted, so I feel meh about that idea. The presidential visit happened Wednesday as planned and there was no noticeable impact on my life, but now I wish I would've taken the day off work and walked over there. I probably couldn't have gotten very close to any actual dignitaries, but this whole event was a super-rare occurrence. Another reason I wish I would've gone over there is that the local newspaper did a totally shit job of covering it. I was on the fence about subscribing but this coverage was rotted. It devoted less space to the actual event than it did to people who showed up to protest. Like, wtf are they "protesting"? Nothing important obviously, because they were holding signs with the name of our current P.O.T.U.S.'s immediate predecessor. Okay, so they feel like their freedoms are being infringed upon. And the way they're choosing to assert their power - the best use of the limited time we have on Earth in this one incarnation - is holding up signs of the former P.O.T.U.S.'s name? What an interesting choice.
Let Shacarri Run!
I don't care about sports, but I do know about some famous athletes who are actual stars instead of just sports stars. One of whom I've been recently paying attention to is Shacarri Richardson. My bf was the one who showed me videos of her sprinting - as in running - and she's so fabulous. Yes girl, werk! I don't usually feel that way while watching runners, but Shacarri is beautiful on so many levels. I learned two things today: 1.) the Olympics starts in four weeks, and 2.) Shacarri is banned from it because she used marijuana. MARIJUANA! For fuck's sake. I'm super angry about this right now because I didn't even know the Olympics were starting this month and yet I did know who Shacarri Richardson is. In my mind there's a wall built up that the people who perform in the Olympics are not my type of people, but here's someone whom I'd be proud to be represented by and they're keeping my type of people out. That's how I feel, and it looks like I'm not the only one because for hours I've been watching how many signatures the moveon.org petition is getting. The petition states that marijuana is not a performance-enhancing drug and continues: "The imposition of a penalty against a world-class black, queer, woman athlete is powerfully and infuriatingly reminiscent of the way drug laws are regularly applied in the United States. Recreational marijuana has been de-facto legal for upper-middle-class white people for years."
Free Britney! Or Imprison Everyone.
Britney Spears spoke in court this week, making a highly-anticipated 23-minute statement about the conservatorship she's been under for 13 years. The New York Times printed the transcript, except they wrote "[expletive]" whenever Britney said "fuck" which is disappointing. As if it weren't news fit to print. Britney said she wants her father imprisoned and she wants to sue her family and therapists. I'd say her dad must've served some amazing cheese grits to everyone in court, but this isn't so surprising considering the way the whole system is set up. First of all, the entire human race continually makes terrible decisions so I'm sure sentient robots are going to rise up any day now and put us all under conservatorship. But until that happens, it doesn't make sense to single out Britney Spears. Like it or not, she's had a special place in the cultural landscape for > two decades. And she's in the same category as Michael Jackson, a.k.a. people who do have talent but aren't smart enough to handle the power that comes with their celebrity status. Her statement this week was not the most coherent thing I've read, but I do hope she's freed from the conservatorship knowing full well that once it happens she's going to make decisions most of the world will consider to be bad and wrong. I begrudgingly care about this story because several things about the situation are uniquely terrifying, considering the fraught relationship I personally have with my own family.
Juneteenth Is Now An Officially-Recognized Federal Holiday
On Thursday, our current P.O.T.U.S. signed a bill declaring Juneteenth to be the 12th officially-recognized federal holiday. But this year it's on a Saturday, so it would've been observed on Friday and that gave everyone < 24 hours to get ready. The 12 officially-recognized federal holidays are now: New Years, M.L.K. Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, July Fourth, Labor Day, Indigenous Peoples Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Inauguration Day is also an officially-recognized federal holiday but it only happens once every four years so that barely even counts. I'm not a fan of holidays. I hate how they all bunch up in certain areas of the calendar and leave a dearth of p.t.o. between Presidents and Memorial. If it were up to me, holidays would all be pragmatically spread evenly throughout the year. So if there are 11, then it'd be approximately one every 34.2 days. So the June holiday would celebrate the end of slavery, gay pride, Puerto Rico, the summer solstice, fathers, flags, World War 2, bicycles, black music, and nudist gardening amongst lots of other stuff I'm sure. It seems like the majority of people are happy to have another holiday, even people who deep down really wish they owned slaves. Some people said this is just performative and other people said it only serves to divide us more, which is why my idea is the best. In June we'd celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation and then 34.2 days later we'd celebrate the Declaration Of Independence.
We Are Who We Are, The U.S. Is What It Is
Joe Biden has been serving in the office of P.O.T.U.S. for 144 days which is nearly 5 months. In all that time, it's been so nice not hearing from his immediate P.O.T.U.S. predecessor. It's such a blessing and pleasure not to see that guy's face nor hear his voice nor read headlines about whatever he's doing. I hope he's just chilling and not out there trying to do more dictator stuff. But you know he probably is out there trying to do more dictator stuff. It'd be nice to raise that bar, but in a lot of ways our nation just is what it is and which figurehead represents us is immaterial. I think most people realize it's not as if one of them is evil and the other is moral. We might not act like we know that sometimes, but we all get it deep down. That's me being optimistic, btw. This week our current V.P.O.T.U.S. was in Guatemala City, which I visited once and loved, telling potential refugees not to come to the U.S. For progressive people it's disappointing, but I don't think there's really anything else she could've possibly said. Because, as I mentioned, our nation just is what it is. Still, it was > a year ago when I spent $36.56 on a "JOE 2020" t-shirt and I'd gladly do it again because the differences between him and his predecessor - as small as they might be in the grand scheme - still matter to me.
I Guess There's Technically Still A Pandemic, But No One Cares Anymore
Yesterday my bf and I went to Ikea. I love looking at displays of interior decorating like how I love looking at photos of food. Every single time I'm there, I fantasize about alternate versions of reality in which I'm much more fancy and upscale. In reality I'm pretty practical and a lot poorer. I was so into it that I signed up for the "family" club. Anywhoozle, when we first went in everyone was 100% wearing face-coverings even though the sign at the door said they weren't required. But as we got deeper into the store, there came times when the usage of face-coverings by the people around us - both shoppers and employees - dropped to as low as like 33%. For Chicagolandia, that's something different from this past year. And there were a lot of fucking people shopping at Ikea yesterday. It was so retro to walk around in a crowd with our faces uncovered. My bf kept his face-covering on the entire time, but I eventually took mine off. Before last year no one hardly ever thought anything about sharing unfiltered breathing air with random strangers, but then it became so highly fraught and controversial. A friend of mine talks about how vaccinated people can still spread coronavirus to others and how there's a highly-contagious variant in India and there's been two coronavirus outbreaks amongst vaccinated people in Singapore, one at a hospital where the staff was presumably wearing face-coverings. Yeah, I can't even with that.
The 1921 Tulsa Massacre Was 100 Years Ago
The 1921 Tulsa Massacre was happening one hundred years ago today. It's an inscrutable historic event because public awareness is so low - especially in Oklahoma! - and actual statistics are so murky. Thirty-nine deaths were officially confirmed, but twenty years ago a state government commission put the fatalities anywhere between 75 to 300. Why the wide range of gray area? The first time I learned of it was from Democracy Now! commemorating the 90th anniversary. Then in the past ten years, more and more people have heard about it for the very first time, particularly people like me who grew up in Oklahoma and took the required public school state history class that discussed pioneers, settlers, the trail of tears, etc. I visited the Greenwood District Cultural Center in March 2015 and was like, um wow. I'm sure they're doing the best they can with whatever resources they have but for such a major event, I expected something more. It was maybe like 3% of the 1995 OKC Bombing Memorial. The Greenwood Center had exhibits in restrooms, so I went into the women's restroom to view them which was fine since I was the only visitor on the premises, and saw a 6/14/1921 quote from Tulsa's mayor: "It was the judgment of many wise heads in Tulsa that this was inevitable. All regret the wrongs that fell upon good negroes. However, it is true of any warfare that the fortunes of war fall upon the innocent with the guilty."
Abolition In The Bones Is Now Live
A friend of mine launched a website this week aimed at confronting white-supremacy. Its title is Abolition In The Bones: abolitioninthebones.com. There was a launch party event where she got together a bunch of friends and we all googled it to boost the search engine rating. I really do love the website. I'd like to say how objectively great it is, but I can't be objective. She's one of my best friends in the whole world and I'm very happy about her living out her mission in life. Even though it seems like we've been drifting apart recently. I really want this endeavor to be successful by capitalist standards, but other standards of success would be great as well. There are several core concepts of Abolition In The Bones, one of which is that it's not good enough to just talk about issues. In order to actually make changes in someone, there has to be something personally experiential inside the body besides just brain-only stimuli. Another core concept is that it isn't the responsibility of targeted groups to explain systemic oppression. For example, it isn't a woman's job to explain sexism to men; it's men's jobs to learn about sexism for themselves. It isn't a black person's job to explain racism to white people; it's white people's jobs to learn about racism for themselves. That'd be ideal, but it's not how things actually work. So yay for people who are out there envisioning some kinder gentler version of the world.
I'm Gonna Be On American Idol, Probably
I was off work yesterday because I got the coronavirus vaccine, which I don't even want to mention because I don't generally blab about my personal medical decisions. But that's what I was doing. And since I had the day off, I packed the most into it: haircut, oil-change, zoo, lunch with friends, etc. It just so happened that American Idol was filming in DTCL. American Idol is a television show I've never watched but my mom does. A 20 year-old woman named Grace Kinstler who lives a mile from me was chosen to be in the top 3 finale of season 19 to be broadcast on Sunday. My bf & I got there at 4:30 and walked around for an hour before deciding to leave at 5:30, but while we were there we were part of filming. They had the crowd chant "We love Grace!" and flew a camera overhead and told us to wave. So I might be on national network television! We were two of the very few people in the crowd wearing face-coverings. There were loudspeakers playing fun party music and it was a large crowd of people dancing in the street and drinking fancy cocktails from the gay-owned lounge across the street. The actual event started at 5:47, and I felt so happy hearing the crowd cheering as we drove away. For a second, I even thought Grace might become more famous than that 5 year-old who was murdered in our neighborhood two years ago.
Some World Events Interest Me, Some Don't
Major world events are happening in South America and the Middle East. The Israel / Palestine conflict is particularly fiery and bloody right now. I'm just over the entire Israel / Palestine conflict. I hope the U.S. doesn't get involved more than we already are. In this instance, I'm in favor of letting it play out however it goes which includes cutting off U.S. aid to Israel. Remaining neutral may only serve the oppressor, but why is it our job to judge every conflict? Especially something like this which is the whole reason accountants invented write-offs. Obviously that's a horrible opinion which I'll be apologizing for soon. A world event that I do have time and bandwidth for is the popular uprisings in Colombia. Seeing as how I myself am a member of the lower class, I'm on the side of other poor people. Whichever side has drag performers doing fierce choreographed voguing routines in the faces of militarized riot police, that's the side I'm on. I think of Bogota as a cool city with lots of artists, and this popular uprising looked like the fun place to be in the world based on the videos I saw of it on Twitter. For the past several years now, there have been people in the U.S. trying to make some point about Venezuela which neighbors Colombia. But the bottom line of any political world event is that everyone is going to go out and assert whatever power they're capable of asserting.
Goodbye One Dynamic Duo, Hello Another
Last night I was lying in bed around 10:00p looking at social media when I saw a news story with an unfathomable headline: "The Cock-Destroyers Have Parted Ways." My reaction was exactly the same as all those gifs of Sarah Paulson from American Horror Story that people were sharing. How could this be possible? The Cock-Destroyers were the one good thing that ever happened in the U.K. What even is the point of anything? I feel numb. However, I'm attempting to break through my numbness because first thing this morning I got the new self-titled debut album from Man On Man that just came out today. Band members are boyfriends and tighty-whitey enthusiasts Joey Holman and Roddy Bottum. Normalize tighty-whiteys! I first heard about this new project a couple months ago, but when I saw the May 7 release date I knew there was a high likelihood I'd probably forget about them by now. I did, but I'd followed Joey on Instagram so it reminded me. Today is also Bandcamp day which is allegedly when the site gives all proceeds to artists without taking their percentage. Bandcamp used to be my favorite source for purchasing music because they used to have customer service. But now that they don't do that anymore, what's a customer's incentive for using Bandcamp over Amazon? Luckily, this morning's Man On Man purchase went smoothly which was not my experience recently with Tuneyards's new release. Customer service from a website selling stuff? What a strange concept.
Camp Wannakiki Season 3 Is Happening, Probably
On April 1, Camp Wannakiki announced a new season which I obviously thought was a great April Fools joke. But alas, my favorite holiday is basically non-ergo these days. Wannakiki did a season 3 cast reveal on April 18. I know a couple of the performers, but I'm most well-acquainted with America Powers. I was actually live and in person at Berlin nightclub 10/24/16 when America won Crash Landing cycle 9. And yes, I was in the majority of audience members who voted for her over Tenderoni which sparked the hashtag #justiceforTenderoni. I remember both their performances very well and America's was better. Tenderoni just won Alaska Thunderfuck's Drag Queen Of The Year Pageant Competition Award Contest Competition on March 7 so he's fine. Anywhoozle, one of the Wannakiki 3 cast members is Lucy Cotoure from Saint Louis and the show's been inundated with angry social media comments because that performer had been accused of sexual assault. Wannakiki issued a statement about it then renounced their statement < 24 hours later. I'm actually surprised by all these comments, and the fact that there's > 100 of them. I didn't realize that many people watched Wannakiki. All publicity is good publicity though. Imho, it'd be best for them to just go along with their little show as planned without reacting too much to the comments. Wannakiki never had any right to make it to season 3 in the first place. But seriously, I was raped by a Hamburger Mary employee once.