Tuesday, March 31, 2015

MILITARISM



A massive military exercise in the U.S. Southwest has gone largely unreported in the media. Think about it. This exercise takes place in a drought zone, which reportedly has a short life span predicted by most scientists who have studied the issue. Many millions live in this zone. Could this be a preparation for crowd control? Mass evacuations? Or is it preparation for a massive war in the Middle East? Whatever it is illustrates American militarism, not American peacekeeping.

Monday, March 30, 2015

ARISTOCRATS


 
Today in my neighborhood, Senator Ted Kennedy's memorial in the form of a U.S. Senate institute will be dedicated in the presence of both the President and Vice-President of the United States. Big deal, I guess, for some. Yet I am left with the question, "If the leaders of my government can attend a private memorial's dedication, why didn't they take the trouble to be present at the march against terrorism in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo massacre?" I speculate that dedicating mausoleums for political allies who are from aristocratic families outweighs advocating for freedom from religious terrorism against the masses.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

SUNDAY

sunday morning peace
only frantic birdsong stirs
inner harmony
 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

WHY NOT?



Inhibition is a brake on liberation. Most human beings are not extroverts. The need to survive emotionally, economically or simply physically forms layers of restraint and conformity from an early age. Those who are lucky enough to be born to financial security or privilege are more likely to become intellectuals, artists, writers or actors.
 
As someone whose natural ability to draw and be open to people was squelched in my early childhood by a depressed mother, I have had to learn to swim back to the surface with my talents. The deep foundations of fear that were laid by physical and psychological abuse are not shaken easily.
 
I learned one technique soon after leaving the clutches of my childhood home. When I was out with friends in college, one of my regular pals offered to take me with him and another friend to Manhattan to see a theater production. He described a weekend in a luxury hotel on Central Park. Dining in posh restaurants and touring around. His father was an executive with an international corporation, based in Manhattan.
 
My head spun with reasons why I could not accept. I had no clothes suitable for New York. I might bungle table etiquette at a fancy restaurant. As a closeted gay boy of 17, I worried I might display some arousal while sharing a hotel suite with my friends. "I'm not sure," I mumbled, most likely looking like I had been slapped rather than offered a dream weekend.
 
"Why not?" My friend was very assertive and confident, since he was the oldest son of a wealthy family who had told him from an early age that he could be whatever he wished to be.
 
"Well, I don't really think I have the clothes for New York..." I started to share my prison walls.
 
"Why not?" He persisted. From then on, he repeated the question at every obstacle I threw up. It eventually dawned on my addled brain that he was going to do this as long as it would take. I broke out laughing when I got the lesson. "Why not, indeed?" I finally replied with resignation.
 
And what a trip it was. And, thanks to his lesson and others like it, what a trip is has been in the nearly half-century since.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

BIMBOSITY (bim-BOH-sit-tee)




The homosexual male culture is rapidly evolving in the wake of legally validated relationships. Unfortunately, evolution is always a messy business. The common garden slug is a good example.

The dark closet's door has opened into the bright light of new media. We are far from the small, gray-suited demonstrations of the Mattachine Society on Manhattan and D.C. streets. We now have Pride, the evolved version of human rights protests, transformed into block parties and parades with corporate sponsors. Gay men do like to party.

The development of widely popular bimbosity, the quality of the common or uncommon bimbo, in social media and other internet media heralds a new age of gayness, an age comparable to 1950s and 1960s heterosexuality, during which the blinding stardom of the bimbo blondes reigned. Jane Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe were the outstanding bimbo-portrayers of their time.

There is a subtle difference. Today's gay bimbos on Youtube and elsewhere are not portraying bimbos; they appear to be sincere and proud bimbos. I cite two examples:

Davey Wavey is a bimbosity trailblazer. He is getting long in the tooth for a media bimbo, but he has staying power. His monologue videos are done shirtless, displaying his magnificent pectorals, just as alluring to a gay man as the massive breasts of Mansfield and Monroe. Davey Wavey imparts observations and wisdom on being a young(ish) gay man, an occupation and state of being to which he was born with natural attributes and talents. The real process of the videos, however, is his ability to flirt and entice through a lens. This is a core value of bimbosity. I will add that Davey Wavey often has some good advice for the young gay man who is just coming into his stride. Like Mansfield and Monroe, he is intelligently bimbosious.

Bryan Hawn is a rising bimbosity superstar on Youtube and elsewhere. His posted resume includes being a body model (underwear), a lip-sync artist who does parodies of gay pop icons while flexing, bending and primping, a fitness expert who specializes in big butts and a zoologist(?). Despite growing up in a wealthy Atlanta home, Bryan has no real credentials (or post-secondary education) that qualify him as a zoologist, but I do see he illegally purchased a zoo animal (hyena), so perhaps he means he is a zoo-ologist.  It's an easy mistake to make, if you are a bimbo.

This advance in gay culture may strike some as encouraging. I will admit it leaves me scratching my head. Was it really worth all the trouble to swap a genuine sexual revolution for soft-porn icons and their videos? Are Davey's pecs and Bryan's ass the sum total of our liberation? To the uninitiated, I am afraid it may seem so. I dislike the thought that a blossoming gay teen in Oklahoma, or perhaps Afghanistan, will find these bimbos on line as their first exposure to what it means to be a gay man. It gives a whole new meaning to "It gets better."  I hope it does.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

CLUTTER

 
I hate clutter. That does not mean that I avoid having some around. Life seems to conspire to gather clutter in the corners of my days. I do my best to clear it away and sweep up the dust which inevitably accumulates around the clutter.
 
My mind similarly resists clutter, but I am obsessive compulsive and find that certain problems, tasks or people get trapped in my head. Eventually, when this happens, it reaches a critical mass. That's when I come out of my daily meditation with a resolve to purge my mind as much while awake as when meditating. I 'white light' my mind whenever I feel the creeping clutter of thoughts encroaching. I focus on a concrete task, usually something distasteful, which I have been putting off.
 
After rearranging the contents of my bathroom vanity or caulking a leaky window frame or sweeping the patio, I can usually take a deep breath and feel free of my mental clutter. The nagging problem has been deflated into a simple task with evident solutions. The anxiety-provoking task seems less daunting. The aggravating person is better understood or forgotten. Clutter has transformed to manageable list of stuff...just life's stuff...waiting for resolution, step by step.
 
Clutter can obscure the simple way. Clutter can obscure those things in shadowy corners which need to be addressed in the light. Accumulating clutter is a symptom of avoiding correct action and correct thought.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

ALCOHOL


Photo Source: The Coffee House Wall


The amount of U.S. residents who drink alcohol in different varieties (mostly beer) has been on the increase. The amount they drink has also been on the increase. There is a new moderation movement to ease the stigma of the "alcoholic" label. The simple fact is that more people are drinking too much alcohol.

Alongside this trend is the legalization of marijuana across the U.S.. Pot dispensaries are big business waiting to bud and ignite. Our civic association has been presented with information by one California corporation already. They are eager to get through the Massachusetts bureaucratic quagmire (bribes gauntlet?) in order to cash in on the new cash crop. Their representatives were clean-cut young people. Articulate models of youthful health and exuberance. Not remotely like the scores of scruffy addicts who wander our streets and hang out down at city hospital near the methadone taproom.

What does all this inebriation say about the U.S., a most religious nation which waves moralistic fingers in every direction and sells huge amounts of weaponry for profits?

Well, for one thing, it says there is a lot of need for emotional dulling in our society. It also says that young people need to get smashed in many cases to socialize and/or have sex. It also says that advertising of alcohol absolutely everywhere works. TV, movies and billboards are awash in booze print.

The nurse in me is concerned when I hear statistics pointing to more alcohol use and abuse. The decades of my nursing practice were infused with heavy concentrations of drug and alcohol abusers. Drinkers who burn out their bodies get very sick. This can happen at 30 or 60, depending on the amount of pickling. When it does happen, the damage to kidneys, liver, pancreas and/or brain is often irreversible. More permanent than the effects of smoking in many cases.

As a person who likes to see people grow to their full potential as human beings, I consider alcohol an impediment to growing up and growing wise. The fog of alcohol use, which I have experienced, is only evident well after leaving drinking behind. I drank from my late teens to my late thirties. While I was not a daily drinker or a heavy drinker for most of that period, I can say drinking alcohol interfered with my ability to grow into and excel at those things I wished to pursue. The clarity of mind and sharpness of physical reflex which I experienced in my 40s after leaving alcohol behind were stunning to me. Rather than feeling that middle age was a downer, I felt more energetic and creatively motivated than ever.

I speculate the rise in intoxicant use reflects more than the materialistic hollowness of Western culture. I think it is an expression of the animal stress experienced by a species which has overpopulated and almost ruined its ecology completely. I believe our animal instincts are aware of the tenuous nature of our current existence, despite all the hyping rationalization in media about the pending salvation by technology.

Some people react to this stress consciously. They become environmental activists in a big or small way. They turn to healthier foods. They are aware of the increasing shortage of pure water. They look to alternate energy sources, recycling and conservation. These are time-consuming practices which require focus and energy above and beyond simply making a living in an increasingly competitive world. Heavy drinking and drugging are inconsistent with these choices.

The vast majority of human beings do nothing in the face of the harsh realities of our species in the 21st century. At least half of human pregnancies are still 'accidents'. Urban settings are increasingly crowded with large polluting vehicles. Construction and architecture have not veered much from traditional methods, considering the environmental realities. Water infrastructure and sewage infrastructure are obsolete in developed countries and absent in the rest.

Drinking and drugging not only mask the animal brain's acknowledgment of impending doom. These behaviors almost certainly hasten that doom by draining the human energy, natural resources and sharp consciousness needed to find and implement solutions on a massive scale. This is no rant on some moralistic soapbox. This is a clear observation of the state of human reality and its relation to alcohol.

Monday, March 23, 2015

WELCOME TO MARTYLAND.



Photo Credit: The Boston Herald. Mart Walsh and Mayoral Opponent John Connolly in 2013.



There is a long history of favorite sons in politics and government. JFK is still revered as a saint by many in Massachusetts. Lincoln is revered in Illinois. Reagan is revered by many in California. Boston's current favorite son is Marty Walsh, elected mayor in 2013. Marty has the neighborhood roots and the accent, which won the hearts of predecessor Menino's diehard fans.

Marty Walsh won his race on the backs of labor unions. Steelworkers, pipefitters and the like. My own Dorchester street was canvassed several times by jovially aggressive union members. One election day, a pair of ironworkers banged loudly on my front door with meaty fists, and one asked me, "Did you vote for Marty Walsh?" The question was phrased with that familiar undertone of a schoolyard bully. I told him that I live in a country that esteems the secret ballot. In other words, "None of your damn business." He retreated off my porch quickly with an apology.

Marty has been traveling abroad to make trade overtures in foreign lands. Marty has courted the Olympics Committee for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Marty has been tough with the casino crowd who were voted out of Boston into the welcoming arms of abutting suburbs. Despite all the progressive press, nothing much has changed in Marty's native Dorchester since he took office. And, as I get better acquainted with Marty's supporters, I see that Marty and the people who like him here in Dorchester prefer it that way.

I belong to the local civic association in my Dorchester neighborhood. I go to the monthly meetings. I listen thoughtfully. I pay my dues. I vote on issues of real estate development and street signs. These votes frankly don't mean much, but you wouldn't know it from all the arguing and constant assertion of Dorchester provenance by those who feel that living in a rundown neighborhood for decades is a badge of honor and bestows veto power on inevitable social change.

The most amusingly strident voices are those of the few elderly residents who regularly assert their self-bestowed privilege as landlords. When the topic of posted street cleaning comes up, for instance, they vociferously protest on the grounds that they would be burdened by having to park on a different side of the street four hours a week to make way for the street sweeper. This protest rings hollow in a neighborhood where many three-deckers have underutilized and unrepaired driveways. This is never raised by the association's board, who tend to become stoically silent while these rants erupt.

The same crowd, living off high Boston rents, cry that they will be financially victimized if street cleaning or permit parking were to be adopted in the neighborhood. They would get tickets for stubbornly not moving their cars for street cleaning. They might lose a tenant who illegally keeps a car in the neighborhood without properly registering it from his home address. Really terrible burdens.

But these are the prevailing attitudes of the Old Guard here in Martyland. When a developer comes before our association with a nifty condominium plan for a currently derelict warehouse all hell predictably breaks loose. This isn't all NIMBY, mind you. No, in fact it is anti-NIMBY. In a recent case, the Old Guard expressed outraged concern that an auto body shop might be harassed by new condo owners down the street. Mercy! Imagine: Condo buyers who would be paying for a $450K unit in a building which has improved the neighborhood and widened the tax base might dare to be offended by lead paint fumes. The Old Guard are not Greenpeace-oriented, to say the least.

Then there are the local lawyers. It is hard to tell where they are coming from at any particular moment. This is perhaps a professional handicap. Are they representing themselves as concerned neighbors? Are they representing themselves as voting members of an association where everyone has one vote? Or are they representing the businesses or individuals they are representing? Always hard to tell. But, man, can they blow hot air and dominate the floor until the final gavel.

The reps from the city council and city agencies are another group here in Martyland. I'm not sure if any of them actually live in Martyland, also known as Dorchester. Some seem downright frightened to be attending the civic association meeting. One city council aide stands for the whole meeting, which is sometimes two hours. She wears the same frozen expression throughout every meeting. Her answers to questions are short and not always on point. Noncommittal is her standard. Occasionally, we get the "I'll get back to you on that." brush-off from someone from the city. In bureaucrat speak, that means, "Don't hold your breath."

My top favorites here in Martyland are the police officers who attend our civic association. And I'm not being facetious. They are veterans and wear the faces of people who've seen it all...more than once. Their determination to come to a group of civilians with the harsh realities and statistics of urban crime is admirable. One officer couches the dreadful news in stand-up-comedy blandness. Another shows his utter frustration with the state of humanity. And another actually attempts to convey the tragedy of what he encounters. When confronted by citizens with complaints about slow 911 response, they can do little else but shrug. After all, the politicians have made it impossible for experienced police personnel to man phone lines or squad cars in sufficient numbers. They are busy using all that Homeland Security money for military surplus hardware.

I must admit that Martyland is more like a state of mind than a real place. After all, Dorchester has 160,000 Bostonians living in its many and varied neighborhoods. There are some universal aspects of the vast Dorchester acreage: Bad roads, traffic jams, junkies begging at stop lights, gang violence, bad public schools, etc.. But mostly, Martyland is a mental state of not wanting anything to change while espousing endless aspirations for social and economic development. It isn't much different from Meninoland or KevinWhiteland or JamesMichaelCurleyland. Boston politics simply are what they are, and, in a construction boom, they are governed by labor unions, developers and sports teams...not by earnest citizens who attend rather pointless civic association meetings. Politicians are wise enough to leave those folks to squabble among themselves while the big-money deals are made behind closed doors.