Monday, January 26, 2015

Good Dogs and Card Carrying Commies

Pinko may very well be a card-carrying communist soon since he's begun the process to officially join Workers World Party (history on Wiki).  I don't know if they actually have a card.  I hope they do, though, because if you're going to be a communist, you might as well be a card-carrying-communist.  It's the best kind.

I'm excited for him because of all the organizations he's investigated, the folks we've heard and talked with at Workers World have been consistently knowledgable and insightful, whether they belong the the party itself or to one of the organizations that the WWP supports, such as International Action Committee and  United National Antiwar Coalition.  Those organizations aren't exactly socialist or communist, but they all point at imperialism, capitalism and militarism as the root causes of all the trouble we're experiencing today.  A number of people sit on the boards of two or three organizations, so there's a lot of overlap.

The other day, someone I particularly admire, Sara Flounders, asked Pinko to join her for coffee yesterday to discuss WWP in general and the process of officially joining the party.  Sara knows all about military stuff in the middle east, and NGOs that may do some good things but ultimately are promoting and protecting the corporate agenda.  Bill Dores knows a lot about that stuff too, only I think he's more focused on Russia.  If there were a fan club for Red Writers and Activists - I'd be in it since we can definitely say that I'm a fan of Sara and Bill.

I suspect it's time to recognize that I'm a communist sympathizer, but I'm not joining the party if for no other reason than I don't feel like doing the reading.  Officially joining the party takes about six months of reading and conversation with a mentor.   I'll be interested to hear what Pinko has to say about the readings, and I like to attend meetings where people are reporting back on conditions in places like Honduras, for example, where real estate developers have been pushing people from their homes for some years.  It's kind of like in Houston years ago when one of the developers rented a house to notorious drug dealers to clear out the neighborhood.  Once the hard working, blue collar folks had moved out, the developer leveled the land and built a 70s version of McMansions.  The good ol' boys celebrated his business acumen.  In Honduras we're seeing the same strategy on a national scale: US business interests install the bad guys, the poor people are driven from their homes and bingo - an all inclusive resort retreat appears on the pristine coastline. The main difference is that the workers in Houston could afford to move somewhere else, and the economic refugees from Honduras have so few options that they piled onto buses for a dangerous trip through Mexico, where more bad guys often murder them for kicks, only to be greeted by racists who'd cheerfully watch them starve.


I learned about Honduras from a woman named Lucy Pagoda who works with New York May 1 Coalition.  She was at the Solidarity Center one night telling us about the Garifuna.  I learned about real estate developers in Houston from my mother, who is practically as much of an expert about corruption in Houston real estate as Sara Flouders is about the US military in the middle east.

The point, here, though is that I would much prefer to learn about stuff by talking with interesting people than by reading philosophical texts, and there are always a bunch of interesting people at the Solidarity Center.  Pinko and I went to the New Year's Eve fundraiser and Lynne Stewart was there for a little while.  She's the lawyer who represented the Blind Sheikh and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for passing messages between him and some supporters.  Now that I've been in the same room with her and have contributed a few bucks to WWP's publishing efforts, we can safely assume that I've landed on any lists I wasn't already on for stuff I said here on the blog back in the day when Sarah Palin's underlings and various military intelligence offices were stalking bloggers.  It was all over the day I mentioned Bill Ayers visited the school where I was teaching and I got his seal of approval.   Bill Ayers is interesting too, but I still haven't read anything he ever wrote.

For the record, I would like to say that I don't think killing a bunch of dissenters, or purges as the actions of Mao and Stalin might be called, is a good idea.  For one, I barely know anything about the history of the Chinese revolution and Mao.  And two, what I do know about communism/socialism/anarchism and revolutionary theory (again it's minimal, but still) the problem with those guys is that they were statists who thought they should be in charge of the state as opposed to simply representing the collective.  It's also my understanding that any time any communists make some headway in a revolutionary sort of way - like with the Paris Communes - the surrounding capitalists undermine the process as much as humanly possible so the capitalists stay in charge.  If you need an example of the lengths The Owners will go to stay in charge, just look at the Koch Brothers.  There is a pile of data on those douchebags - but I like Koch Brothers Exposed, a project from Brave New Films.

Pinko will have ample opportunity to work on his revolutionary reading list now that he's got an hour commute to work and back, and a good portion of his day at work is spent at one of the airports waiting to pick up someone at the luggage claim.  So far, he's enjoying his work as a livery driver - also known as For Hire driver.  He looks real cute in his new black suit, and he's such a personable fellow, not to mention a good driver, that a former super model has listed him as one of her preferred drivers.  The car service for which he drives handles a bunch of entertainment and media accounts.  I'm pretty sure that we used this service for all our driving needs back when I worked in public relations.  He's driven sports casters, comedy writers and HBO producers this week, plus some guy who was handling a family event for the Rangers hockey team.

When he comes home from work, Pinko is cheerful and chatty.  I imagine that if a big dog had gone riding in a car, and came home to tell his people everything he saw while he was hanging his head out the window all day - that dog would sound a lot like Pinko when he gets home from work.  Gigi says that the way I talk about Pinko sometimes reminds her of a classic children's book, Good Dog Carl.  I got it for him for Christmas.


He has often mentioned that he feels like a dog that has been rescued from the pound by a very nice lady which I suppose makes him a little like Maxi the Taxi Dog - in a book I have read several times, as a matter of fact.


At first, it seemed a little odd that we feel the same way about each other as we've felt about our dogs, but having someone who loves you as unconditionally as a dog loves you is about as good as it gets.
It's so good, I'm going to declare it a thing of beauty (#079-101 in Explore Beauty, a challenge from realia).








Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Pinko and the Giant Boob

Before Christmas, Pinko was fretful, agitated and generally unhappy because some people in the world had declared him to be a gold digger, a freeloader and, worse, a grifter like Gayle the Hillbilly Hustler.  He was particularly distressed one night at bedtime, so I scratched his back until he was relaxed enough to get to sleep, which is what good partners do (at least in this house.  For the record, he rubs my creaky shoulder all the time).  That night, he had a dream:
He was holding tightly onto a giant boob, while a small crowd of shouting strangers were trying to pull it loose.  He was distressed. Then my mother was leading the pack pulling it away, and he was even more distressed. Then the police showed up and pulled the boob so hard that it started to break.  He cried, "You're tearing it! You're tearing it!"
Then he woke up.


When Pinko related his dream to me, I was touched because - clearly - the boob is me.  Back when I was analyzing my own dreams regularly in psychotherapy, my shrink said that the police played the role of the superego in dreams.  We can conclude my mother plays a similar, more casual role in Pinko's dream, rather like conventional morality or a generic authority figure.  The cops would be Pinko's own self, from a Freudian perspective anyway.  In my own vaguely Jungian point of view, we learn to tell right and wrong from our parents, but judges and cops are the enforcers.  Woody often says that an individual should ever call the cops on anyone unless said individual wants to see that person dead.

I'm sure there are plenty of cops and family members of cops who would take issue with that statement, but the fact is that cops kills people in this country with astonishing regularity - and not just unarmed, black men either.  But we're not talking about Racism, institutional and otherwise, Mass Incarceration, and murders committed by the para-military police force in service of The Owners, or the murders they commit for kicks like those cops in New Mexico. We're not even talking about the fascist police in New York City who are working with Rudy Guiliani to fuck with DeBlasio and have been showing the world that the racist NYPD will kill anyone they want to simply for not following instructions.
Right now, we're talking about Pinko.  Fuck them.

Vintage illustration brilliantly recaptioned by Steve Denton of Monkey Muck


There was a time when, like most suburban whites, I willingly gave cops the benefit of the doubt.  Honestly, though, until there's a solid blue wall between killer cops and unarmed citizens instead of protecting killer cops from prosecution - it's hard to believe good cops are nothing but television mythology.  We can thank the NYPD patrolmen's benevolent association for my change of heart.

But back to Pinko:
It's taken some time for my parents to understand that there's a difference between being duped by a grifter and deciding that you're going to support someone.  Mother explained that part of the process  involved accepting that Pinko and I have an Alternative Lifestyle.  At first, I was perplexed because I thought Polyamory, BDSM and joining communes were examples of alternative lifestyles.  As it happened, Mother meant that Pinko's and my lifestyle is alternative because he's a man and is taking care of the domestic chores while I go out to work.  I hadn't realized that was still out of the ordinary - but then I remembered that my parents are getting pretty old.
So am I, for that matter.

While having a man as a housewife may seem odd to my parents, my insurance company has clearly defined the concept.  In preparation for a visit to the dentist the other day, I went online to make sure Pinko was listed on my policy since the Aetna didn't send new cards when I enrolled him.  He was there, all right, defined as a Sponsored Male.

I'm still liking the idea that I have a Sponsored Male at home.  Pretty soon, he won't really be sponsored anymore because he got his license to drive For Hire Vehicles from the Taxi and Limousine Commission.  The license itself arrived in the mail today, and now he is cleared to work at a fancy car service carting around people with expense accounts.  The car service wants everyone to know they have a Cadillac Escalade SUV fleet as well as a Mercedes E350 Sedan fleet - but they have a "no idle" policy that makes them Green.  Whatever.  The money will be green and that's what matters now.

When there's a paycheck from Pinko hitting my bank account regularly via direct deposit, dreams of hanging onto a giant boob will be a thing of the past.  He'll be off the tit, as it were.  As far as the insurance company is concerned, however, Pinko will remain a sponsored male.  Although it tickles my feminist funny bone to think I have a Sponsored Male like a stud around the house, there's something very rewarding in creating a personalized domestic partnership.  I really love my work and am happy in a job that has decent benefits and all that stuff.  Pinko will drive full time for a couple of months until we're back in my financial comfort zone, then he'll cut back to a couple of days a week to focus primarily on agitating, educating and organizing for social and economic justice.  By the time there are leaves on the trees again, we'll be able to call Pinko a Professional Revolutionist.  Even Chris Hedges says we need more people like Pinko (Why We Need Professional Revolutionists, Truthdig, 11.24.2014).

Somehow, I think he'll still find time for boobies.





Thursday, November 13, 2014

In Which I Address the Notion that I am an Enabler

It has come to my attention that some readers might look at the previous dispatch from Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters and conclude that my man ABear, aka Pinko the Bear, is a freeloading boozer.  I can see how that would happen especially since pretty much everyone I know, besides Pinko, has remarked that it's unusual for a grown person to go for several weeks or months (depending on how you're counting) without thinking s/he needs a steady source of income.

Velvet mentioned it once back in April.  I asked him if he thought I was dumb enough to be some man's retirement plan, and he's never mentioned it again.  Some might speculate that Velvet's silence on this topic (and Gigi's too, for that matter) indicates that all my children DO think I'm dumb and/or gullible enough to bankrupt myself just to get laid, but let's remember that Velvet has stated unequivocally that my troubles with men were the natural consequence of me being a Klingon (Aspects of Mother, Stonerdate 11.29.10).  Velvet also remembers that I did fall for the grifting tactics of Gayle the Hillbilly Hustler, so I didn't get shitty with him.  He was right about Gayle all along, and I was pretty dumb in that instance (Gayle's Panties, Stonerdate 02.16.2008).

Velvet is perfectly content to go for months without a steady source of income.  Between me and Buzz Kill, Velvet has a very comfortable living situation, and he makes enough spending money to pay his own bar bills by working hard over the summer up at Hippy Dippy Quaker Camp.  Pinko works hard when he drives a taxi in Reno too - not in terms of physical labor, but he's up all night waiting in taxi lines at casinos and titty bars waiting to cart some drunk home.  We pretty much spent all the money he made over the summer on Burning Man, but we do have a hundred bucks in the Burning Man jar for next year.

I fully recognize that there are a number of similarities between Pinko and Velvet.  I'm willing to wager dollars to donuts that, like Velvet, Pinko is ADD as fuck.  Nobody has ever evaluated or diagnosed Pinko, but it looks to me like he's ADHD but not dyslexic like Velvet.  When Pinko was in school, kids like him were considered lazy behavior problems who didn't work up to their potential.  Behaviors were dismissed with, "Boys will be boys,"instead of seen as symptomatic.  If Buzz Kill and I had been hard-nosed authoritarians, we may have never had Velvet evaluated, educated ourselves about his neurological condition and punished organic behaviors which inevitably results in behavior disorders.  It all worked out for Velvet, however.  He's on the dean's list now that he's a history major and living at home with Cupcake by his side to manage and/or perform all of his administrative duties - and that includes laundry.  Cupcake lives with Buzz Kill too, and although they tend to do chores together, it's clear that from some perspectives, Velvet has a cakewalk.

From most perspectives, Pinko has cakewalked through his life too.  He loved being the first string DJ and entertainment director at that giant nightclub in Chicago.  He was so good at it that the owners trotted him out every time they were trying to sell another franchise in the flyovers.  He made piles of money, and although he did blow a lot of it up his nose, he also supported his brother for over 10 years.    Years ago, Pinko was working at a club in Dallas - back when MDMA was legal and they sold it over the bar for five bucks a hit.  He was doing well and bought a big house in Plano which he couldn't sell when he moved to Chicago on account of the market tanked. As it happened, the whole Bear family was living in Dallas back then, and Pinko's brother the ice skater had already been on disability for a long time and was living with their parents. There was an incident, and the ice skater found himself without a home, and since Pinko's house was standing empty, he naturally said his brother could live there.  He lived there about 10 years while Pinko paid the mortgage.  He could buy groceries with his disability and food stamps, so he was marginally fine without having to work.  He's back with his parents now in Reno, making a little money by teaching skating lessons when the seasonal rink is up.  But the point here is that Pinko took care of him because that's what families do.

Pinko could afford it because he was such a good DJ in Chicago that he was recruited by a competitor to open a club in Waikiki.  He was making almost a hundred thousand dollars a year to work four nights a week, so he could carry the house in Dallas, meet his own expenses and accumulate enough savings to support his own self in Hawaii for a long time after he finally quit the nightclub business.

It's easiest to explain that phase of his life by saying that he aged out of DJing, which is absolutely true.  It's more accurate, however, to say that he'd stretched adolescence as far as humanly possible and finally hit the wall, crashed and burned.  Cocaine might have been involved.  When he went back to work as a sober adult, playing popular music so that Twenty-Somethings could drink, dance and quite possibly hook up at the end of the night seemed meaningless and generally pathetic.  Hawaii still looked pretty good, though, and he lived in a garage apartment until his savings ran out.  The apartment looked out into the rainforest kind of like a treehouse.


Nearly fifteen years have passed, and now he's landed in my house - our house now - in historic Harlem.  It's not a bit like a treehouse, but we're happy in our little home.  Here's what it looks like out the front window on a snowy day:


Before I ever invited Pinko to visit me for that two month date last fall, I knew Pinko would be a lot like my apartment - a little fixer upper that needed a lot of TLC.  It's not like I didn't have concerns. Pinko had concerns too. There was a time when a lot of people had concerns about Velvet - like when he posted this photo of himself on Facebook when he was a second semester freshman up at Tree Hugger U and still acted like he thought college was something like an MTV movie:


By the time he was asked to leave Tree Hugger due to his perpetually dismal grades, some people believed he was fully on the road to becoming a major fuck up. That he spent his sixth semester as a freshman laying on the couch in his boxer shorts with a remote control in one hand and a PBR in the other was further proof to those with little faith. With a little time and plenty of support, Velvet found his way.  These days, he's been a great comfort to Buzz Kill who relies on Velvet to help with his mother, Vagina Dentata, now that she's on her last legs in the nursing home.  He's had a healthy relationship with Cupcake for six years and counting - which is more than many people twice his age can say.  Plus, he's an excellent head of Outdoor Living and Wilderness skills up at the camp where he has a small staff of counselors and teachers about 100 boys aged 9 - 14 how to live in the woods, build fires and shit.


Velvet may never set the world on fire in terms of having a lucrative, pretigeous career - which is what the rich side of his family thinks is required to be a "success" - but he's a kind and generous person who knows how to contribute to his family and his community even if he doesn't have a paying job most of the year.

Plenty of parents tell their children that going to school IS a job, but people rarely give activists credit for the energy and resources that they put into agitating, educating and organizing. Artists are in the same boat - expected to work full time at a boring, meaningless day job to finance their passion.  Unless they have a trust fund, that is, and then people call them dilettantes and posers.  When you're not conforming to social standards, you're subjected to contempt from many quarters - even the ones where you hope to find support.  I suppose misery loves company since people are always happy to tell stories about how they worked at soul killing jobs to pay the rent.

The thing is that neither Pinko nor Velvet (nor Cupcake) have to pay the rent.  And if the only hardship I'm facing as a result of Pinko's extended job search is less discretionary income for entertainment and shoes - I don't consider that a hardship.  In my view, I'm providing him with the time and space to settle into this next phase of his life - which is our life together - in a brand new, sometimes overwhelming place where he didn't know anyone except me.

Although well intentioned friends have suggested that I'm an enabler - of sluggery not of alcoholism since everyone knows that Pinko quit drinking regularly as part of his personal program to prevent diabetes - even my mother understands that moving to New York is a shock to the system.  It would have been great if Pinko found a job back in the spring, but there were too many moving pieces to our personal puzzle back then.  We have always been committed to this relationship; I wouldn't have put him on my health insurance if we weren't.  But we were both still cautious in the spring, each watching the other carefully for red flags other signs of potential trouble.  The fact is that when Pinko went back to Reno in July to drive a taxi until the Burn, it provided an organic pause in the relationship. If either of us had any doubts about being together, I could have easily shipped all his shit back to Reno.

The day we made up after that big fight on the Playa, we both let go of ancient fears about relationships that had prevented us from being 100% committed to each other 100% of the time.  He had lingering worries that I was crazy because of his experience with his certifiable first wife.  I had concerns about the substance abuse in his history and how that might undermine our life together.  With those fears behind us, it's like we successfully completed a trial period and were released from Relationship Probation. So when he came back to New York on September 15, we were both ready to begin our life together in earnest.

If I had insisted, Pinko would have gone out and begged some teenage shift manager to hire him as a barista, or signed on as a seasonal worker at Macy's, Old Navy or some other awful retail chain for minimum wage.  I vetoed that idea because I want him home with me until he finds a part-time job with regular hours in a pleasant environment.  He's in the process of finishing up the institutional requirements to get his chauffeur's license from the New York Taxi and Limo Commission, so if nothing turns up before Christmas, he'll drive when we get back from visiting my folks in Texas.

After Pinko moved to Reno from Hawaii, he worked in a major casino as a high limit slot manager, and when the bosses wanted him to spy on long-term employees in order to find reasons to fire them and replace them with low-wage workers, he quit that job.  Then he sold time shares until the company laid off 28,000 people in one day.  It's not like he is unwilling to have his soul sucked out of him like the rest of the middle managers and corporate cogs in America - or like he doesn't know how.  There's just no reason for him to do that.  Maybe that makes me an enabler, but from where I sit, Pinko is already a caring, empathetic, playful, compassionate, generous, attentive, observant, nurturing, altruistic, thoughtful, reasonable, sensuous, sensual, considerate, charitable, intelligent individual with a good sense of humor and the ability to make both cognitive and emotional connections.  Working fucked up hours at a shitty job isn't going to make him a better person.

While I don't see myself as an enabler, I am willing to accept that I'm indulgent where both Pinko and Velvet are concerned.  I want them both to be as content in this economic system as any of us can be - as content as I am in my own working life.  But I understand that friends and family worry about me sometimes.  I would like to assure my friends that my mother worries about me enough for everyone, and she has never been one to hold her tongue.  Anyone who has anything to say to me can relax in the knowledge that my mother has already said it.

Going over all this stuff in my head again, I've developed a theory that anyone who thinks Pinko needs to work at some random shitty job just so we can afford a few upgrades has bought into the predominant capitalist narrative that idea that we all must be wage slaves in order to have value.  As long as it is within my power, I'll be damned before I permit anyone I love - my son or my partner - to be another miserable wage slave exploited by corporate robber barons.  One day Velvet will have to go out into the world to seek his fortune, and for sure, Pinko needs to make some money because Burning Man doesn't pay for itself, and I want a new refrigerator.  But we'll do it our way, thank you very much, and we're going to resist the plutocracy that profits from endless war, ecocide and mass incarceration.

This weekend, Pinko (aka ABear) is going to the WWP National Conference.  Tomorrow, I'm going to an early childhood conference focusing on play.  If it's one thing The Owners (as George Carlin always called them) can't stand - it's the idea of creative, happy people solving problems together in a supportive, collaborative environment.





Saturday, November 8, 2014

Red Wine, Rose Trees and Bank Balances

Periods of frustration and worry in the financial arena have occasionally disturbed our happy little world at Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters.  I'm pretty sure that almost everyone in these united states experiences occasional bouts of financial worry and frustration here at the end of empire - many of us experience it every single day.  That I experience it only occasionally is  a result of my highly developed ability to focus my attention in other directions.  However, on days when the bank balance is alarmingly low and the horizon looks equally as alarming, my attention can only focus on one inescapable fact:  Pinko needs to get a job.

Some days he thinks a lot about jobs, as a concept.  He's even sent out some resumes - or more accurately, I've emailed resumes and completed online applications for him a couple of times - and he's followed up with phone calls.  To be fair, getting a part-time job is not as easy as it sounds these days with nearly 400 applicants for a single job at Columbia University, for example, and even though he regularly cruises Craig's List, pickings are slim to dismal out there.

Well intentioned friends, and I count my mother among the well intentioned, generally point out that Pinko could easily take a shitty job until he finds something better.  That is a reasonable concept, particularly since my mother is simply concerned about (1) unnecessary pressure on me and (2) someone taking advantage of me.  She, and the other friends who have brought up the shitty job solution, have been very nice about the whole Pinko Needs a  Job thing, and it's not like the idea never crossed my mind especially when the bank account is approaching overdrawn.  I would just rather have a clean house, including freshly folded laundry, and a warm, cozy bear waiting for me when I come home at 3:30 from a long, tiring day at my cushy job.  I also like it when he meets me at work and we take long walks through the park, often going to the grocery store on the way home.  He carries the bags.  I love it.  And at the risk of shocking my mother, I love falling into bed with him when I get home even more.  Now that I think about it, Mother has already said that Pinko is a little old to be a boy toy.

In some ways, we've been having a honeymoon stay-cation here at HQ.  The only time I get thoroughly annoyed is when he drinks all the wine without me, particular the few nice bottles I was saving for a lovely dinner.  He'll guzzle red wine like there's no tomorrow, given the opportunity.  He's one of those people who can go without drinking for days and days - but once he starts, he's not stopping until the alcohol is all gone or he decides it's bedtime, which ever comes first.  He's typically very pleasant, if a little silly and sloppy, when he's been drinking wine or beer.  My main issue with this behavior is the impact it has on the bank account - and more philosophically, Marx himself never said Communism means PENolan buys the wine and Pinko the Bear drinks it all.  Noam Chomsky never said any such thing about Anarcho-syndacalism either, so from my perspective, Pinko the Bear needed to cut that shit out.


To his credit, Pinko the Bear did cut that shit out.  I also quit buying wine by the case, which has been my habit for the last several years any time the local wine store had a sale and mixed cases were 30% off with free delivery.  A case of wine could last me a couple of months even when I had people over for dinner.  With a bear in the house, those days are behind me.  I stopped buying Bulleit and Jameson's for him too because (1) it's expensive and (2) any time we've had some emotionally charged, crazy conversation that circles around for a couple of hours before it finally spirals into total despair - he's been drinking hard liquor.  I figured that shit needed to stop too, and it did stop until we got to Burning Man.

We arrived a few days early, when the playa was sparsely populated with work crews.  There was much work to be done, but there was plenty of time for relaxing too.  That night after dinner,  a campmate passed him a bottle a Jack Daniels. After he'd had three or four belts, had kicked over his drink and was starting to slur, I tried to hide the bottle from him.  He found it, and the situation deteriorated.  I removed myself and went back to the Big Foot* because I didn't want to interfere with his good time.  If other people found him annoying, it was their responsibility to tell him to STFU and go to bed.  Radical Self-Reliance and all that.

*Us in the Big Foot on the way to the burn.  Killbuck enhanced RV with photoshop artistry

The trouble started when Pinko threw open the door of the Big Foot and proceeded to Mansplain his intention to immediately unload the gear, presumably using a work light since it was well after mid-night although he left that part out.  He said, "I'm not going to put it here (pointing), and I'm not going to put it there (pointing)," and after a pause he continued, "I'm not going to put it here either (pointing somewhere else all together)."  I may have had an attitude when I asked the simple question, "So where are you going to put it?"  In any case, he reprimanded me for interrupting, and shit hit the fan.

I have heard repeatedly that engaging in an argument with someone who has been drinking never helps anything, and I tried my best to leave it all alone.  I really did.  But all that loud, pompous lecturing got to me. I finally took direct aim and fired, "You've already ruined your life once because of substances.  Are you ready to do that again?"  The situation deteriorated further, and anyone on the playa who had been wondering who was doing all the yelling got their answer when I hollered, "Oh Yeah?  Well FUCK YOU, ABear."

Shortly thereafter, he slammed the door and went off on his electric bike.  I was fully done for the night, so I locked him out.  I just needed a moment of peace to get myself together.  Sadly, as it happened, Pinko's certifiable first wife had locked him out for a couple of days once.  She's the same certifiable first wife who pulled a knife on him back when they were married years ago in Dallas.  Pinko called her brother and had her taken away that day and never saw her again.  He must have been so traumatized by the experience of being married to her that it triggered PTSD or something similar when I locked him out of the Big Foot on the playa.

He slept on the couch that night.  By the morning we had both simmered down, but my bags were packed.  When I first went to Burning Man to meet Pinko, I figured that the worst thing that could happen was that he'd be a first class ass and I'd have to fly off in a huff from the little airport. This year, I couldn't afford the airfare - so I figured I'd hitch a ride back to Reno with the guy who was scheduled to deliver the port-potty that afternoon.  I planned to take a hundred bucks from Pinko's wallet while I was at it.


The porta potty truck was supposed to be there around 4:00, and I was all ready to go by noon.  It seemed sensible to at least have a calm conversation with Pinko before I took his money and left his life forever, though, so I asked him if we could talk.  He listens well when he is sober and said very sincerely that he loved me more than he loves whiskey.  When I told the tale of this denouement to our campmates, who had obviously and most embarrassingly heard every single word ringing across the playa while we were fighting - the general consensus was that he must love me very much indeed because everybody knows how much he loves whiskey.

After that fateful night, Pinko has barely had a drop of hard liquor.  He still has red wine every now and then, but he's pretty much been off the sauce since last month when the doctor told him he was technically diabetic and needed to lose weight instantaneously.  He's really very determined and is can be fully committed to a course of action once he's put his mind to it.

These days, Pinko is committed to establishing himself as a dog walker.   After much deliberation, we've decided it's the perfect career for him.  He's great with dogs and still misses China, who had to be put down two summers ago.  I had been noticing him on Facebook for about a year when I saw something he'd written after coming home from the vet that day.  I've told this story before, and it's kind of corny, but even still, when I was listening to the song he posted when he was so sad and open about his vulnerability, Pinko the Bear became a real human to me instead of another opinionated lefty on Facebook.

In "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters," Elton John sings about how rose trees never grow in New York City.  At the time, I reached out because I wanted to show him that I was a rose tree growing very nicely in New York City.  Now, it's his turn.

My man ABear with his best buddy China,
at the Bark Park near Diamond Head in Hawaii a little over 10 years ago

He'll be a great dog walker.  The best part is that while he's making the money for Burning Man and other upgrades, he'll still have time for communist stuff, afternoon snuggles and laundry.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Travel Plans and Resistance at the End of Empire, Thing of Beauty #078-101


I've been trying to get a grip on our travel plans for the Christmas holidays in order to lock in decent air fares. This process has been troublesome because Velvet can't seem to find the note he thinks he made regarding the final project in one of his classes.  And then there is the issue of traveling around the holidays in the first place because the airlines jack up the prices. The good news is that Southwest has been known to shake loose of the cheap(er) seats once the actual date is in sight and the flight isn't packed.  So I'm making these arrangements with the hope that I can switch it up at the last minute and get a refund.

I am aware that we are lucky to be traveling at all given that some people don't even have water - either through drought, like in California, or privatization for profit, like in Detroit.  I'm also aware that Pinko could get a job and fuck up the plans.  However, since we've finally got a clear picture of the kind of job Pinko needs, I'm not so worried about that.  If I'm in charge of manifesting a job for Pinko, then it's going to be a job that matches my own work schedule.

It would be nice if activist stuff brought in some cash, but nobody gets paid for going to demonstrations unless they're working for the Tea Party, the cops or some other agent provocateur. This week, the action is at the World Business Forum on Wednesday.  Apparently CEOs from major corporations around the world are all heading to a pep rally at Radio City Music Hall.  Yesterday, Pinko went to a planning meeting where they made this banner.  He painted the red, naturally.


He also went to the monthly Wobbly meeting out in Long Island City.  Of all the organizations he's been investigating since he got here last fall, it seems like he feels most comfortable with the Wobs, or the Industrial Workers of the World.  It's a Rank and File union that focuses on organizing the work place.  There's a lot of overlap in the work done by the Wobs, the RCP and the WWP.  I haven't met any of the Wobs, except at an anarchist book fair back in the fall and I really can't remember anything since I was more interested in Pinko back then than anything we might run across in our travels.

Between the WWP (Workers World Party) and the RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party), I prefer the WWP.  In the first place, all the guys at WWP events, or the events sponsored by organizations who share the offices down at the Solidarity Center on W. 24th Street, are much cuter than the guys I've seen handing out flyers for Revolution Books, which is the place where the RCP does their thing here in New York.  Pinko says there are some good, solid folks involved in the RCP, and maybe there are.  I just haven't met them.

The issue I have with the RCP is that no matter what anyone has to say about them - about how sensible and organized and dedicated and knowledgable or any of that stuff - the whole thing seems to come down to the Cult of Bob, or Bob Avakian, the chairman of the party.


Pinko went down to Revolution Books not long after we ran into some of Bob's supporters outside the New School when we went to hear Arundati Roy.  Since Pinko has been much more involved in lefty politics than I have on account of his show, he was already aware of the RCP and Bob Avakian.  I think that some of Bob's followers had called in to talk about Bob, or they showed up in the chat room talking about Bob, or something like that.  I don't know the particulars, but I do know that among Avakian's faithful, there is a lot of outreach and follow-up.  Rumor has it that they keep notes on everyone who comes into the book store, which would be kind of creepy except pretty much every organization that wants your money keeps records on once and future donors.  Universities and politicians spring immediately to mind.

When Pinko went to the book store back in the spring, he was interested in finding out for himself if the RCP is legit or if it's the Cult of Bob.  He was there for over an hour talking to a pleasant volunteer, a retired fellow who seemed to be a kindred spirit.  Pinko was flattered that the fellow asked if he was a professor somewhere since he knew so much about labor history, communist revolutions, anarchist stuff, Noam Chomsky and stuff like that.  I was suspicious, personally, especially since some lawyer with a struggling lefty non-profit had asked him the same thing at a May Day rally, but she was straight up about looking for volunteers.  It sounded to me like the guys at the book store were looking for new recruits.

In any case, Pinko bought Bob's book, BAsics, and proceeded to see what Bob had to say.  Although, in Pinko's view, everything Bob said in that book sounded accurate and reasonable, albeit a recycling of the same shit everybody else says about communist stuff when they're concerned about being accurate and reasonable.  Nevertheless, he was bothered by the way the text was numbered as if it were a bible, with chapter and verse.  As he's gone to more events at the book store, Pinko asked folks what they thought about marking up the text like that and has been told the whole thing is one of Bob's little jokes.  One night we were talking about the book, and I had to tell Pinko that I felt like the whole thing was fishy because it would have been very easy to write the word, "Basics," without capitalizing the BA in order to emphasize and highlight his own damn initials.


Bob Avakian himself is scheduled to appear with Cornel West at a big event at Riverside Church in November.  Pinko is helping the RCP promote the event by handing out leaflets and post cards. 

Some people think that Bob will fail to appear because he and his followers seem to encourage the idea that he's at risk of assasination, like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X.  At the last minute, they expect an excuse.  Others are making a big deal since Bob hasn't made a public appearance in years and years, although he was interviewed by Cornel West in 2012 (listen at TCPN).  So I suppose if he'll show up for anyone, he'll show up for Cornel West in a building where Martin Luther King safely preached a sermon back in 1967.

I don't know what to think, but I like Cornel West and have been known to catch up to him to say, "hello," any time I see him in the neighborhood.  He teaches across the street from my work, so I run into him every now and then. I'm happy to spend an afternoon in November with Pinko while he continues sorting through impressions trying to figure out what's up with the RCP.  I'm not hanging out at the book store, however.  Notably, I am happy to help paint posters for folks to carry around the World Business Forum on Wednesday with cheerful lefty comrades at the Solidarity Center.

I'm not going to the march because we have a staff meeting here at school that afternoon.  Until one of us hits Lotto, somebody's got to go to work.

I remain very proud of Pinko and our relationship really does get better every day. I'm remarkably content, except for when I get a case of the Day Before Pay Day Blues. Compared to Hippies' Despair, The Day Before Pay Day Blues is a piece of cake.  I always get over those blues on Pay Day.  Hippies' Despair is harder to shake off, although Pinko does provide an antidote.

The way he gets excited when people are talking about educating, aggitating and organizing always lifts my spirits.  I still think the world is going to hell in a handbasket here at the end of empire, but until that day comes, we should all be resisting any way we can with all our might. That Pinko and I can do it together is an official Thing of Beauty (#078-101, Explore Beauty from realia).

Blessed Be.

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