Month: February 2021

“Fake News (2020)”

If oceans were puddles and puddles were men

We’d live to be twenty, but wish to be ten.

Our questions would end before they began

Like ships to a shore that hadn’t left land.


Splendid sun cannot well show

Before the moon is down

If son is born before dad’s voice 

Then mothers have no sound.


Silly mind, you use yourself

To nudge a slumb’ring snail

It’s wrapped itself a riddle

Your ship has long set sail.


What’s to stop a probing mind?

The limits of poor breeding?

If you can’t stand for truth and facts,

You’ll fall for anything.

Cold in Texas and Warm Hearts Elsewhere


I saw on the news the other night that northeasterners and upper midwesterners were reaching out to Texans and giving them advice on how to deal with extreme cold and giving them hacks on how to survive power outages in the winter. This was really heartwarming.

My parents live in rural Maine, where each winter, they get over 6-12 feet of snow. Their tiny town is always the first to lose power, and the last to get it back on. When I lived with them, sometimes, we’d lose power for 3-4 days. And this would happen a couple times EVERY winter. Once, we lost it for a week. During the Ice Storm of ’97, they actually had to take an axe and chop their friend and her elderly mother out of their trailer because they were frozen inside – like an ice box.

If you’ve ever been to Maine, you know that Mainers are hardy, resourceful, and resilient folk. They know that when you lose power, you transfer all your food in the refrigerator to the snowbanks. They know how to melt ice for water to flush the toilets. They know how to melt snow for drinking water. And dozens of other lifesaving hacks.

I hated growing up in the deep woods of landlocked central Maine. When I turned 18, the first thing I did was get the hell out of that damn place. But now, I think of it differently. Bangor was a great place to grow up. And later, after we moved to the country, it was lovely too. Sure, we were surrounded by Trumpers, but the people always treated me kindly and they were God-fearing lovely people to get to know personally. And they taught me a lot. Like how to survive a brutal Maine winter. That’s something they could teach the good people of Texas right about now.

As much as I hate America sometimes, I also love it dearly. In times of crisis, Americans come together and look out for one another. Remember the good will that W squandered after 9/11? Those months after that national tragedy, Americans were grieving together and tighter than ever. And Giuliani was the most popular politician in America. “America’s Mayor.”

What happened the last four years? Giuliani became a carnival barker for a narcissistic sideshow snake oil salesman, and the country became fractured, even more divisive, and American racism reared its ugly head again.

Of course, Black Lives Matter would remind us that Racism never went away, and that Black folx have been experiencing it continuously for over 400 years. Police Brutality is not a new phenomenon. It’s the natural successor to lynching, and its been around for over a century. It’s just now, we have these handy-dandy video cameras in our phones, and suddenly White America is finally seeing horrific videos of brutality as if waking up from a pleasant dream, but that’s been an ongoing nightmare for Black folx since they came over in chains.

On the day before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King said these words: “I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything.” One of my best friends and I often talk about this speech, and that we both think that sometimes people KNOW when they are about to die. MLK was not long for this world, but he knew that he had made an imprint on it. We are still continuing his work. But oh my friends, we still have a long way to go to reach that “mountaintop.”

I Have #nofilter

I have a friend who writes the hashtag, #nofilter on EVERY single picture she posts on Facebook. I don’t quite get it. For one thing, this person probably doesn’t need to write it anymore. We’ve got it. You don’t use filters. Brava!

You see, I don’t quite understand the hashtag, #nofilter. Professional photographers and filmmakers have been using filters since film was invented. And now digital. There’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with using filters. That is actually the test of a true and professional photog. The ability to choose filters is art itself. It is a creative process, like editing a film. I think that those people think we’ll all be more impressed that they took a picture that turned out so amazing without digitally manipulating it at all. And I understand that. Occasionally. There was a stunning sunrise in Boston last week. I saw a LOT of my friends post it, and they all used the #nofilter hashtag. And that’s understandable. The colors of the sunrise were so stunning, it honestly did not need a filter. But every picture? That’s excessive.

Conversely, I have another friend who CLEARLY uses extensive filters for every shot. This person de-ages themselves, making herself look significantly thinner and about 15 years younger, and it is SOOOO obviously filtered. I mean, she’s my age, but in all her photos, she looks about 22. Kind of. In reality, it takes away so many wrinkles, it actually makes her look like some Japanese anime character. Very unnatural looking.

Facebook and social media are so funny. We all meticulously curate our pages, and only show all the best parts of our lives. And we all do it, so don’t lie and tell yourself that you don’t. Bullshit. None of us have the courage to truly live out loud. Warts and all. I sure have tried though. I’ve talked VERY openly about my mental health struggles. But even I am a victim of vanity. Notice that I haven’t posted many pictures of myself in the last six months. After losing 85 pounds, I put back on about 40. But that doesn’t fit my narrative. So I just post lots of landscape shots. Haha. Honestly, though, I’m nearly 45-years-old and I just don’t care anymore. When I was younger, I was quite good looking and never had a problem getting women or charming guests at a party. I usually WAS the party. I stayed up all night, and always closed down the bar. It was fun. But these days, I’d rather read a book. Listen to a podcast. Or watch TV. I never was a tall man, but as I get older, I find myself shrinking. Ahh! No! I can’t afford to get any shorter! Of course, I’m growing wider in the other direction. Haha. And losing my hair. And growing hair where it doesn’t belong. And on and on and on. But fuck, I’m almost half a century years old. People age. Not even the most beautiful model in the world will likely still turn heads at 60…80…

People age.

So if you wanna use a filter and fool us all, so be it. You do you. Or if you don’t want to use a filter, and tell us all that you are emphatically NOT using a filter, that’s cool too. Me, I’ll just be over here aging with grace…

Yeah right! 😛

What the World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love

I watch a LOT of news on television, and read the New York Times and The Atlantic every day. You could say that I’m pretty well informed.

But I can understand the impulse to withdraw from the world and avoid news altogether. I have a friend who I just learned has never heard of the musical ‘Hamilton.’ I could not believe it. She was also unaware Trump was being impeached or that he had ever been impeached a first time. Honestly, I’m surprised she even knew that Donald Trump was ever our President. She doesn’t vote.

“What have you been living under a rock?” is an expression perfectly suited to this woman.

She’s a friend, and we actually do have a lot of other things in common. I genuinely enjoy spending time with her. So yeah, I like her a lot.

Having said that, her lack of engagement with the world and a society she inhabits actually exasperates me. She has severe ADD and an anxiety disorder. I understand her not wanting to let the troubling news of the world make her overly anxious and depressed. That’s just good self-care and a fragile person protecting themselves. I get it.

But at some point, people like her are actually just as dangerous as these QAnon nuts. An uninformed, apathetic, and disengaged citizen is almost as bad for our democracy and country as a Confederate Flag-waving white supremacist. Both can do great harm to our nation.

My friend is a sensitive and compassionate lefty artist who teaches young children art every day. Which is awesome. She is a passionate dreamer and innovative and creative thinker. We need more people like her in the world. But at some point, that child she’s teaching may make some racist remark or say some sexist thing, because they heard their last President say it, and this young woman might not even know what that kid is talking about. Of course, she would redirect the child and turn it into a teachable moment because that’s what all good teachers do. And she is a good teacher.

Personally, I strongly believe that we also have to engage with the world around us. We must be in the world, not just of it. The only way racism is going to be solved is by entering into dialogue with others – those who share our opinions, and yes, even those who don’t. How will they ever learn?

Several of my radical leftist friends refuse to ever talk to a Trump supporter again and are now saying “FUCK them! They can all die.” I’m sorry, but that’s not helpful. Are they suggesting 74 million Americans die? Because that’s nearly a third of our country and the last time I checked, they were still our neighbors, teachers, acquaintances, coworkers, family, and friends, to name a few. Good for you. You’ll never speak to another person who voted for Donald Trump. Haha. Don’t make me laugh. As if you ever did before. These people live in a liberal echo chamber on Facebook where all their progressive liberal friends “like” all of their thoughtfully indignant posts about keeping immigrant children in cages and separating families at the border.

Great. I think that’s bad too.

I’m a liberal too. Or at least, I used to think I was. These days, I get in more fights with my radical liberal friends than my Republican friends who voted for Trump. I guess I’m more of a center Democrat, because some of these radicals come off as Maoists to me. I thought I was liberal, but I’m getting “OK, Boomer” vibes from half the people I know under 35. I want all the same things that AOC, Bernie, and Warren want, but I guess I’m not angry enough about it. Or I don’t talk about identity politics like I should. It’s not enough to support gay marriage these days. Now, I have to marry a man in order to be an ally.

Kidding.

Bur seriously, I hate the hypocrisy on BOTH SIDES. Our country is so divided, and both camps are so entrenched in their own ideologies that NO ONE is talking anymore. There’s no middle left in this country. And if there’s no middle, where the hell are we all supposed to meet?

The point is, I feel like the only way we’re ever gonna make this a “more perfect Union” is for all of us to actually talk to one another. And above all, to LISTEN. There is no greater gift you can give another person than your undivided attention. To actually listen to what they have to say. That is truly what it means to LOVE.

I have friends who I love who would vote for AOC or Warren for President in a heartbeat. I also have friends who would change the Constitution so that we could elect Donald Trump President for life. Seriously. No exaggeration.
And people of all stripes and everything in between.

Because I LOVE people. Not political parties. People.

I wish my friend would engage with the world more, and maybe talk to a Trump supporter sometime. But she clearly suffers from mental illness, and needs to protect herself. As she should.

So what’s your excuse..?

Color Blind: The Virtues and Pitfalls of Cross-Racial Casting, Part I

Last night, I decided to finally succumb to the buzz, and watched the new Netflix show, Bridgerton. All that I knew about the show was that it is set during the Regency period and that it was quite steamy…i.e. lots of nudity and sex scenes. I have always somewhat reluctantly enjoyed Jane Austen, and the novels she set during that era, so I figured I might enjoy this new show as well. And it is well-crafted. And easily addictive. I found it begrudgingly satisfying in the way all guilty pleasures are. To some, that’s watching trashy reality television. For me, it’s apparently binging on Regency soft-core porn. 😉

Like Austen, writer Julia Quinn invents a protagonist who is a headstrong and stifled young woman whose sense of fierce self-determination is seemingly at odds with her predestined station in life and the established mores of the age. As you might expect, she wants to find love and true companionship, but being a young landed woman of a certain age, must also find a husband as soon as possible. In Bridgerton, the young protagonist’s name is Daphne, and her older brother (Anthony), is bound and determined to find her a suitable match. In this case, the eldest brother is overly picky and cannot bring himself to approve of any of her would-be suitors.

Enter the newly-minted Duke of Hastings. He is an old college friend of Anthony’s and dutifully mannered, classically handsome, exquisitely dressed, and obviously, London’s most eligible bachelor.

And Black.

Wait. What?

If this film were being made in the late ’60s, it would be called Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? That classic movie stars Sydney Poitier as Dr. John Prentice, the Black fiancé to a young (headstrong and free-thinking) white woman named Joanna, who brings him home to progressive San Francisco to meet her otherwise liberal parents – played by Spencer Tracey and Katherine Hepburn. In that film, the lefty white couple’s attitudes are challenged when their daughter introduces them to her African-American fiancé – a doctor, no less – and their true veneer and liberal hypocrisy and is exposed for all that it is. The movie was of its age, and at the same time, also timeless and far-sighted. You might even say, ahead of its time. How are we still having these conversations nearly 55 years later?

In 2017, visionary actor, writer, director, and producer Jordan Peele completely turned Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? on its head, and injected horror and menace into the premise, mixed genres and allusions in a lovely postmodern pastiche, and produced Get Out. In doing so, he effectively created his own genre of film – social justice horror. Or Racial Thriller. Or whatever film historians will ultimately call it. Essentially, it is a movie about relationships between white America and Black America, and the horror that can arise out of the collision of those two forces…particularly to African Americans, who have been historically abused, maligned, oppressed, and traumatized by systemic racism in this country for over 400 years. This racism is systemic because it underlies EVERY institution in America, from our criminal justice system to housing market to education system to…well…EVERYTHING. But in these films, that racism translates to real people, whose relationships are not merely transactional, but rooted in a deep-seated racism that permeates our very words, thoughts, and actions. The true horror is that we (WHITE AMERICA) are finally seeing what Black Americans have lived in this country since they were first brought over in chains. Peele’s film arrived just three years before the George Floyd murder and subsequent Black Lives Matter summer of protests, but it wasn’t necessarily prescient. Because as a Black man, Peele had already lived this reality his entire life, as every African American has for centuries. It was merely that white America was finally seeing the cell phone videos for the first time. Those images have undoubtedly been imprinted on Black peoples’ minds for generations. OUR eyes have opened, not THEIRS. And yet, if you look at the number of people who reject BLM or deny the existence of racially-motivated police brutality, it seems that only a half of white America have opened their eyes. There is still a LOT of work to do. And that is why there is nothing more urgent or timely than the work Jordan Peele is producing right now.

But what does any of this have to do with Bridgerton and my enjoyment of this light-hearted romp through Regency England?

TO BE CONTINUED…

On the Acquittal of Former President Donald J. Trump After the Second Impeachment Trial

‘Planting the Seeds of Peace’ by Tonya Engel

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

I believe this to be true. Really. I do. I truly do. Change is incremental, and we are slowly but surely moving towards being a more liberal and egalitarian nation. And world. Not fast enough for us progressives, but ultimately, we are still moving.

That’s why the GOP and old white men are flailing about wildly, as their influence and power are waning. These are the last gasps and breaths of this kind of oppressive conservatism. By 2040, they will be vastly outnumbered and have a hard time electing anyone like Donald Trump ever again.

I know that they are on the wrong side of history, and our ancestors will look at this day and shamefully admonish the sins of their forebearers and try and reconcile their present with their past – our present. Just as we view slavery today, and condemn those who defended and propped it up for hundreds of years.

WE ARE ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY. I know this to be true.

It’s just sad that I may not live to see that day. We are in the midst of a reckoning, that will last at least a generation. Or two. Or three. I am confident that as a society – and world – we will ultimately stamp our racism, sexism, homophobia, white supremacy, etc. One day. Probably not in my lifetime. But one day.

So for now…in the meantime…I can only continue to learn about the lives, needs, and wellbeing of the people I share this world with, and work as an advocate and ally for the poor, disenfranchised, marginalized, and voiceless. And fight like hell for our dying planet. That’s all we can do.

Abraham Lincoln didn’t solve racism. Neither did Martin Luther King. Nor will I. We are vessels – as they were – who pour ourselves into the next generation of vessels, who in turn, pour themselves into those who come after them. And on, and on…
And with each vessel, and with each pour, we cleanse our world, and get just a little closer towards love. Towards peace. Towards justice. FOR ALL.

Not in my lifetime. Not in yours. But we keep pouring. We keep planting seeds. We may not ever live in the shade of that tree, but without us, no one ever would.

#keepmovingforward