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.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Hippies' Despair

I think I've got another case of Hippies' Despair.  I first noticed this syndrome years ago while pondering how my good friend, comrade and compatriot, Woody Konopak, could possibly be so dramatically, completely and thoroughly stuck in a vortex of doom.  Woody finds a reason to say "Ba Humbug," at just about everything, while most people can look at things like a parade of liberals carrying home made signs down Central Park West and see all kinds of positive developments.

Pinko always finds something to celebrate in all sorts of endeavors most people would consider absolutely futile, but he's had a special training that emphasizes how socialists, communists, etc have a better chance of winning friends and influencing people among the liberals than among the teajadists, for example.  I suppose that makes sense, and as the world slides even further down this trajectory to hell in a hand basket, maybe more USers will start thinking they were lied to about communism just like they were lied to about the reasons the US has bombed so many innocent bystanders to kingdom come in our recent wars.  But honestly, when white people across this nation still have a hard time admitting that Whites and Blacks have a different cultural experience of the police - even after all the videos of cops shooting innocent bystanders like John Crawford, Levar Jones, Michael Brown and countless other brown men - it looks to me like we have a country filled with people desperately looking at anything other than the facts in order to maintain their comfortable, consumerist lifestyles just like Carmela Soprano pretended to believe merchandise fell off trucks and into her living room.

But back to Hippies' Despair.
I originally defined Hippies' Despair as a persistent, pervasive pessimistic outlook brought on by the overwhelming realization that there is no way the social changes your generation fought for back during the Vietnam war and the civil rights movement will come to fruition in your lifetime.  And maybe they'll never come to fruition at all given that war criminals of the past are leading the way to the future.  What gets me is that so many people can watch Hillary Clinton and Henry Kissinger admiring each other all the time without hearing echoes of The Who singing, "Meet the new boss; same as the old boss."  That's how the people keep getting fooled over and over and over again.

I will admit that the climate march was kind of like a pleasant block party where everyone had an opportunity to connect with new people which is a good thing.  When you're going to hell in a hand basket, it's always nice to know your neighbors.  Pinko even managed to coax me out of my bad attitude:

I had fun chanting with a lively group from ILPS (International League of People's Struggle), but I still ditched the march at 66th Street and went home for some peace and quiet.  I also enjoyed meeting a Fellow Worker named Bennet the next day.  He had suggested heading up to the UN to the folks who could hear him at Flood Wall Street.  Pinko, his friend Paul, a fellow worker from Reno and a young fellow from Ohio were the only ones who came up there, and since I was in the neighborhood for a dentist appointment anyway, I occupied the UN for about an hour.

Meanwhile, down on Wall Street, the cops changed shifts once the closing bell rang and the traders all went home.  All the Officer Friendlies went home for the day, and the new guys showed up in Riot Drag.  Over a 100 people were arrested that evening, and the episode was as neatly choreographed as a production number on Broadway since Occupy apparently had bail fund money for everyone who had signed consent forms indicating that they were willing to be arrested.  Unfortunately, Fellow Worker Elliot, who climbed on top of a phone booth to address the assembled crowd in a time-honored tradition among labor activists, was not among those receiving bail money.  Pinko took a photo of him with his phone:

The Huffington Post showed him getting dragged off to jail a little while later.  I see he took off the blue t shirt.

I am glad that Pinko didn't get hauled into the pokey in solidarity with his Occupy buddies.  I'm all good with him getting arrested peaceably - once he gets a job - but you never know when cops will withhold someone's asthma medicine until they die.  Cops are tricky that way, even with white people.

Tonight we are going to a forum sponsored by Pinko's friends at the Solidarity Center - which is a common office space shared by organizations like Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST), People's Power Assemblies, and International Action Center.  I think Workers World Party is in there too.  Someone will be reporting on what's happening with immigration and the National Caravan to the Texas/Mexico border.  I'm sure it will be informative and enlightening for me since I don't know much about what's been happening with those bus loads of kids coming up from Central America.

As someone with a confirmed case of Hippies' Despair, however, I will bet that somehow the United States Government put the whole thing into motion through the enduring clusterfuck we call Foreign Policy - which is essentially us trying to covertly manipulate the economies of other countries in order to enrich the plutocrats at the top of the food chain (see photo of Hillary and Henry).  
Henry Kissinger's work in Chile during the Nixon Administration is well documented (Democracy Now).

It's easy to see how those of us who actively remember the Nixon White House would have Hippies' Despair.  The same motherfuckers who fucked things up back then continue to fuck things up now - and that includes the supreme rat bastard, Dick Cheney, and his offspring.  But the trouble, for me, isn't really about how a bunch of sociopaths and dominionists are continually trying to run the world.  That's what imperialists do.  What bugs me is the way so many well-intentioned liberals honestly and sincerely believe that electing Democrats - like Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren - will make the world a better place, as if our entire national existence hasn't been one long exercise in Manifest Destiny.

People think China is the worst polluter, and depending on how you calculate statistics, that is mostly true.  However, the US Military Industrial Complex, aka The Pentagon, uses more fossil fuels and emits more C02 than any other institution on the planet (Flounders, 2009).  Sadly, when discussing environmental impacts, hardly anyone ever points to our own military.  It's much more comfortable and convenient when China is the bad guy.

If I've got to hang out with people in my free time, I much prefer to hang out with folks who already know and acknowledge this kind of shit.  In ordinary social situations, like weddings and cocktail parties, I can't manage the small talk anymore, but hanging out with activists all the time can make your head explode, or at least raise your blood pressure.

I wonder if anyone knows how many activists it takes to change a light bulb.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Climate Marching

Everybody in the world is supposed to be going to the climate change march tomorrow, and that's probably why I don't feel like going.  I feel a little guilty because I don't feel like participating in a march that some people have traveled uncomfortably for days to attend, but facts are facts.  I'm sick to death of all this talking, talking, talking.

I'm particularly sick of idealogical nitpicking, too.  At the moment, I can't think of any examples of nitpicking in the climate change community, but we find a clear example among certain groups of pinko commies who label each other as Trotskyites or Leninists. Really, what the fuck difference does it make in a country that is so completely dedicated to corporate fascism?  That's not a rhetorical question.

Tim DeChristopher, my activist hero, is part of a panel discussion that begins 45 minutes from now.  I had every intention of going to look at him because, you know, he's tall, strong, passionate - basically gorgeous and stimulating in every way.  But when it was time to get dressed, I couldn't see getting on a noisy subway to go to a crowded lecture hall at a university campus downtown just to hear more talking and talking and talking.  Clearly, I have an attitude this morning.

I don't mean to minimize climate change - but honestly, that ship sailed decades ago when Jimmy Carter delivered the malaise speech to a country that elected Ronald Fucking Reagan.  Then Ronald Fucking Reagan completed the mission outlined in the Powell Memo which Richard Nixon and his buddies Rumsfeld, Rove and Cheney implemented.
So whatever with this climate change march.

It's nice that people are coming together and all that.  Maybe more people will become convinced that we need a global systemic change that puts people and planet before profit.  But this morning, as I was pursuing some of the gatherings scheduled for tomorrow and saw Anti-War, Anti-this and Anti-that, I just can't get excited about hauling my ass down to the Museum of Natural History in the morning.

I imagine that when Pinko and his Wobbly friend from Reno get back from all the workshops today, they'll be jazzed and I'll wind up being glad to go to the march with everyone else in the world.  However, I'm not going over to the UN with a more radical group of demonstrators who will be agitating in front of the UN, as opposed to following a route that mimics the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to the authorized Free Speech Zones clear across town from UN Climate Summit.

Popular Resistance and them are right about going over to the UN - but really, if all those rich guys gave a flying fuck about what people think, they never would have promoted and facilitated endless war and ecocide in the first place.  Remember these douchebags who were watching Occupy from the balcony on Wall Street three years ago?  No doubt they'll be toasting the Climate Marchers too, secure in the knowledge that the paramilitary police force is armed to the teeth and ready to do their bidding.

In my current state of mind, I'm thinking that the Climate Change march will get about the same amount of attention as polar bears floating on ice rafts.  Liberals will send money to various mainstream environmental organizations and industrialized society will continue on this downward spiral toward global environmental and economic collapse.  And so it goes.

The truth is that I feel like I'm already doing my part for the revolution by supporting Pinko's activism and training in Revolutionary Theory.  I need some peace and quiet to tend to family and work responsibilities like completing the necessary documents for open enrollment in the bullshit festival this country euphemistically calls Health Care.  These responsibilities are getting me down. I'm trying to wrap my head around increasing deductibles and decreasing medical coverage, and the fact that so many people respond to this pervasive situation with comments on how the coverage isn't so bad instead of demanding heath CARE instead of better health INSURANCE, so the climate change march is simply reminding me that we're drowning in a sea of futility - kind of like the day that Sarah Palin sneered, "How's that Hope-y Change-y thing working for ya?"

We're stuck in a world ruled by John Birchers and other Dominionists, and the only thing that will change that, in my view, is the devastation brought on by the very climate change the 1% pays "experts" to deny. At the end of the day, when the inevitable collapse comes with mass die-offs, crumbling infrastructure and everything else that Richard Duncan brought up with the Olduvia Theory, somebody is going to have to pick up the pieces.  That's where Pinko and Revolutionary Theory becomes important.

If I'm remembering correctly, economies go from slavery to feudalism to capitalism to communism, and it looks like the world is in the final stages of capitalism where the system implodes on itself.  The survivors will finally be able to build the better world we all know is possible once the old order finally gets out of the way.  All the violence we're seeing now - whether it's on a national scale like in Gaza or locally, like in Ferguson - represents the last desperate grasp of Imperialists trying to hang on to their empire.  I'm pretty sure we're going to have to pry that empire out of their cold, dead hands - but I'm trying to be optimistic.

On Monday, Pinko is joining the flood on Wall Street to emphasize the connection between capitalism and the climate crisis.  I have to go to work, but I feel a little better after reading Naomi Klein's piece in The Guardian: Climate Change is a global emergency. Stop waiting for politicians to sound the alarm.  And I certainly feel a little better knowing that Pinko is out there representing the family.  I just hope he doesn't think it is his duty to be arrested along with his comrades.  Recent arrests don't look good on job applications, and as much as I appreciate and support his activism, I'll feel a lot better once he has a part-time job.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pinko's Problems, Naked Hippies and Yelling Fire

I've been missing my bear since he left to drive a taxi in Reno last week, and he's been missing me.  I suspect he misses me more because he started having troubles as soon as preparations for his departure began - specifically, the power in the basement of our building went off while our clothes were in the dryer, so that a simple task that usually takes about 90 minutes took all damn weekend.  Meanwhile, he spilled something onto his laptop keyboard and effectively killed his computer.  Then his phone went on the fritz and now he's had an attack of gout. He's even experienced some administrative hassles and garden variety mishaps at work, so he hasn't been able to drive which is probably just as well since he ate himself into a gout attack again and with that kind of pain in your toe, it's not safe to drive anyway.

I have every sympathy for him, I really do - but I can't help thinking that while he's laid up in a recliner in Reno, with little company accept the remote control, he might take a moment to consider that working for some boring lawyers in Brooklyn wouldn't have been so bad.

He resisted sending his resume to a small law firm in Brooklyn after somebody posted in the Burning Man Facebook group posted that the office where he worked was looking for part-time office clerks.  I'll admit it was a long commute for a part-time job, and the work itself was mind numbing and there was a chance that the lawyers were assholes.  But those lawyers might have been tolerable and, regardless, their money is as green as anyone else's.  Actually, Pinko resisted putting his resume together for months allegedly because the whole process offended his sensibilities. Personally, I think it's much more likely that the whole process reminds him that he's an old, overweight man who has been unemployed for over two years, not counting the taxi driving, and in his mind that means nobody will ever hire him.  To me, he looks like a mature, reliable, intelligent worker who anyone would be glad to have working in their office.

It's depressing to be unemployed for a couple of years, and it's also depressing to see that the industry where you've been highly successful has changed so much over the last decade that nobody in the business these days remotely understands what you do.  Where nightclubs used to do their own programming and promotion, now freelance promoters pimp freelance DJs and everyone gets a cut of the bar instead of getting a legitimate paycheck.  It's kind of like how newspapers laid off all the staff writers so they didn't have to pay salary and benefits then paid the very same writers to write by the piece.  The whole thing is depressing.

It's not as depressing as the situation in Gaza or the rush to war in Ukraine, however.  I'm pretty sure that everyone - especially those of us who grew up with Henry Kissinger in the White House - knows very well that the US funds genocide whenever it suits corporate interests, but the way Congress supported Israel this week was still nauseating.  The only thing that's made me smile in the news this week was this snippet from an article on Common Dreams:
Are we supposed to believe – and perhaps more relevant, do the Washington Post writers actually believe – that the U.S. government with the world’s premier intelligence services can’t track three lumbering trucks each carrying large mid-range missiles?
What I’ve been told by one source, who has provided accurate information on similar matters in the past, is that U.S. intelligence agencies do have detailed satellite images of the likely missile battery that launched the fateful missile, but the battery appears to have been under the control of Ukrainian government troops dressed in what look like Ukrainian uniforms.
The source said CIA analysts were still not ruling out the possibility that the troops were actually eastern Ukrainian rebels in similar uniforms but the initial assessment was that the troops were Ukrainian soldiers. There also was the suggestion that the soldiers involved were undisciplined and possibly drunk, since the imagery showed what looked like beer bottles scattered around the site, the source said (July 20).
Given that the US and NATO are funding the neo-nazis who burned these "rebels" alive in Odessa back in May (Greg Butterfield, IACenter), it's no surprise that there is a rush to blame the same rebels for shooting down the Malaysian airliner last week.  But still, it's depressing.

In the face of all the atrocities our government has been supporting - and that includes shutting off water  in Detroit in the latest attempt to commodify and privatize human needs - I'm glad that Pinko has been proactive, vigorous and determined about his own activism.  I still wish he had gotten a part-time job in New York, but one person can only focus on so many things.  Pinko focused on social justice, which led him to the International Action Center where he met a brilliant fellow he'd only known from the internet named Caleb Maupin.  Caleb alerted Pinko to the teach-in on revolutionary theory at the WWP over 4th of July weekend.

As a side note, Velvet is working at Hippy Dippy Quaker Camp again, teaching outdoor living and wilderness skills to over 100 boys aged 9 - 14 years.  The camp doesn't celebrate 4th of July. They celebrate Interdependence Day.  I always enjoyed that little twist of language to emphasize our connection to each other and the earth.

Here's a video about the camp made when Velvet was still a camper himself.  He's even in this video, with his little glasses on looking a bit like Harry Potter in an orange shirt.

Anyone can see that the camp is very white, but they can't help that being in Vermont where they practically have to import black people. They have to import Muslims, too, which is one of the reasons the camp eliminated the Fifth Freedom, which essentially was the right to skinny dip or run naked through the woods. In any case, despite the struggle to balance their old values with their need for grant money from foundations that often frown on naked hippies in the woods, the camp is still one of the bright spots in a land called America where it appears that majority of people are committed to endless war and ecocide. Maybe Americans don't support the government outright, but from a practical standpoint, Silence means Consensus. Silence doesn't really mean consensus - ask anyone who has been date raped or otherwise molested - but now that I think about it, I believe that casting the US Government in the role of a rapist is appropriate.

So even though I still wish Pinko would have gotten a job in New York - and certainly he wouldn't be hanging out in Casino parking lots, hoping someone who is too drunk to drive home has the sense to take a cab right now if he had a job in New York - it's a good thing he had the time and energy to hang out with dedicated radicals. It can get intense sometimes, like when we marched on the News Corp building (where Rupert Murdoch keeps his stable of outlets like the Wall Street Journal and Fox) calling for accurate news coverage as well as an end to US funding to Israel (Answer Coalition, July 10).  I've been in demonstrations before, but I never stood beside people whose families were being bombed or had already been killed by the US and/or our allies.

photo from Thomson Reuters Foundation
It was a good place to be.  Marching on Fox News or CNN won't change US foreign policy.  It won't get the news outlets to cover the marches even when their own office is surrounded by demonstrators.  But I feel better knowing the women I walked with could look over and see a boojie white woman standing with them instead of standing in line at Starbucks. I also was reminded to be grateful that my happy little world remains my happy little world.

I may fret over Pinko's job search skills or worry about stretching one paycheck all the way to Burning Man, but there is so much love between us that we can share it with all kinds of others, and our neighborhood is at peace.  He hasn't done The Pinko the Bear Show from Reno since his computer is in the shop, but for some reason, his theme song has been in my head when I've woken up every morning since he left.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Pondering Vocabulary on the Fourth of July

I suppose every couple must reconcile Sex and Money issues. That's three issues, really - issues around sexuality, issues around finances and the way the two influence and have an impact on each other.  How ever you choose to identify the topics, they certainly have been spinning around in the spiritual and romantic alchemy between PENolan and Pinko the Bear as we've been establishing who we are as a components in a couple while we have been concurrently learning more intimately about each other as individuals.

As we have been out and about, introducing each other and ourselves at one event or another, or when I've been talking about him to friends colleagues, - I've been noticing the labels that people use as shorthand to briefly describe ourselves and our friends, family and relationships.

It's hard to know what to call a committed, cohabitating relationship when you're not Husband or Wife.  I've just started calling ABear my bear.  It's easier than saying "the man I'm sleeping with." When I first got divorced, my friend Rhet Who Won't Speak to Me, said that the man in my life was confronted with a task rather like the Man with the Yellow Hat in Curious George.  Although it's a tacky sort of notion, it wasn't far from wrong, but I wasn't PENolan when he said that because the divorce wasn't final.  Technically, I was still Mrs. BuzzKill.

For institutional purposes, specifically getting him on my health insurance, ABear and I are domestic partners.  When I'm introducing him to my friends or acquaintances at parties, I call him ABear. At home, I call him ABear too, mostly.  It was fun to introduce him as my bear at the Gay Pride Parade last Sunday, that's for sure.

While I've been trying to figure out a vocabulary word for our relationship, I've been having fun telling people that he's a communist.  For example, when a woman at work asked me what what he did, I said, "Oh, he's a Communist.  He does Communist things."  She didn't know how to respond, and neither did a friend's co-worker whom I met at a Canada Day party the other night.

So on this day, Independence Day, which is such a clusterfuck of USery, I'm thinking about the vocabulary we use to describe things since clearly - like Noam Chomsky says - the structures of power are so embedded in our system that they determine the vocabulary we use to discuss all sorts of abstract concepts - like politics, ethics, economics and whatever.  Consumerism and Imperialism come immediately to mind on Independence Day, but I'd rather think about Revolution.  ABear is off studying Revolutionary Theory, among other things, at with these guys:
They're hosting an Educational Weekend of Marxist-Lenninst Theory and Practice.  It's all very well and good to talk about revolution, but if it comes to that, somebody better know a bit about what's worked and what hasn't during the revolutions of the past century.  Overall, Pinko holds the opinion that nobody needs to know what dead people had to say about anything to know that things are currently fucked up and there has to be a better way.  Maybe there won't be a horrific crisis due to  Climate Change, for example, that leads to systemic collapse, but even still, knowing a bit about history is useful and makes it easier to participate in the inevitable, endless deconstructions in which enthusiasts and philosophers endlessly indulge.  Anyway, it's where all the cool radicals are hanging out this Fourth of July weekend, and Pinko is nothing if not a cool radical.  When I'm thinking of him in Revolutionary terms, I always call him "Pinko" on account of The Pinko the Bear Show.  Either way, he's a bear, and it's been fun to introduce him to people as add a Communist, although strictly speaking, he's an Anarcho-communist.  I've always been a communist, even though I never self-identified as one.  It kind of goes without saying when you're radical educator as defined by writers like by bell hooks.

Pinko and I have covered a lot of ground since I met him for our first date at Burning Man last year, and now, we're getting ready to go again - this time as a couple.  He's heading out to Reno next week to drive a cab because, as he likes to say, "Burning Man doesn't pay for itself," and he never found suitable employment here in the city.  It would have been nice if he'd have found a decent job, but by the time he gave up on the DJ idea, it made more sense for him to drive out in Reno.  That way, addressing the money issues will have minimal impact on exploring the sexual ones.

I'll join him in mid-August, and we'll head out into the desert together.  I'm counting the night the man burns as our anniversary.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Thing of Beauty #077-101: Just Askin'

For the last couple of weeks, I've been playing so many silly video games from a website that my index finger hurts.  Most likely, this situation is a result of trying to avoid saying that my dad has cancer.
It's only prostate cancer - and I say "only" intentionally because I keep hearing that if you have to have cancer, then prostate cancer is a good one to get because it's typically isolated in the prostate so it doesn't spread around the body which means that the man involved should live out his natural lifespan. I guess that's because most men are old men nearing the end of their natural life span before anyone discovers prostate cancer.  Nevertheless, the word "cancer" is a big, scary word, and it's a drag to apply it to anyone you love.

There's also the fact that both my parents turned 75 recently, which means that I'll be 55 this year, and no matter how you slice it, 55 is old.  Just ask AARP.  I don't feel particularly old until I remember that I'm 55, however.  Pinko is pretty old, too, since he'll turn 52 this summer.  If everything goes according to plan, he'll be out in the desert working with the DPW (Department of Public Works) to set up Black Rock City for Burning Man.   This year, the Man will stand flat on the ground so I expect people will try to climb to the top of the Man unless somebody is planted around the base to prevent climbers.  He's supposed to look like this:

He'll be up in flames soon enough, though, emphasizing the temporary nature of all things in this world and the need to recognize Immediacy (one of the Ten Principles).  Which brings us back to my dad.

Overall, I'm not worried about my dad since prostate cancer is not supposed to be any big deal.  It's just cancer, after all, and plenty of people recover from cancer every day.  But I still say that Cancer is a big, scary word since plenty of people die painful deaths from it too.  People die from all kinds of things, though.  Frankie Knuckles, one of Pinko's major influences as a DJ, died a couple of weeks ago because of Diabetes complications.  Pinko was very sad about Frankie Knuckle's death not only because Knuckes was a role model but also because it reminded him of his own mortality.

I'm pretty sure nothing reminds me of my own mortality because I'm one of those Airy Fairy Hippy Dippy Pagan types who think we're all energetic beings in an energetic universe, so that which we call Consciousness floats away somewhere to join the rest of the energetic universe.  Who knows what happens next?  Frankly, I don't think it matters at all.  The whole discussion is irrelevant.  Much more important to focus on what we're doing here and now - which is, of course, the whole point of Immediacy and Burning Man in general.  Seize the Day, and all that.

As a way of dealing with his sadness about Frankie Knuckles, Pinko made a mix.  It's on Mix Cloud under his DJ name, ABear.  I especially like this song, "Baby Wants to Ride," because there are some lefty political sentiments buried under all the sexy lyrics.  Something about not being able to fuck around fascists.

About the time Frankie Knuckles died, Punk Patriot posted a piece by Gil Scott Heron called Whitey on the moon:

I still say that the reason all those Teabaggers got their bowels in an uproar in the first place is because they realized that with the way the economy has gone, they don't get to be Whitey anymore.  Income inequity being what it is, very few folks get to be Whitey anymore.

There's a lot of depressing stuff in the world, so I'm glad that Pinko/ABear can focus on Art and Activism while I'm at work.  Last week we went out to the Brooklyn Museum to participate in an action with the NYC Light Brigade, standing in solidarity with Chinese dissident and artist Ai Weiwei.

There's me and Pinko at the end, holding the O and the N.  He's wearing a hat.

I had never heard of Weiwei until ABear forwarded me the email from the Light Brigade with information about the demonstration.  We watched a documentary about him, Never Sorry, on Wednesday night in preparation for the event, but I'm sorry to say I kept dosing off since it was after dinner and going on 10:00.  He's cool and everything, and for sure, freedom of expression is a right worth defending especially since as we continue along this alarming, totalitarian trajectory the NSA and Homeland Security have set for this country with the blessing of our officials, elected or appointed, especially those in the White House, it's only a matter of time before America stops pretending our paramilitary police forces aren't already beating and locking up dissidents.  For now, it would just be nice if the dang cops would stop impulsively murdering people - like that poor guy in Albuquerque where the cops have a "pattern of excessive force." They have a pattern of excessive force in Oakland, too, but it doesn't get as much publicity.  

Meanwhile, I'm taking Pinko/ABear to Houston next weekend to meet my parents.  Texas has always served as an illustration that there are violent, stupid people in authority everywhere.  High Schools in Texas, like Klein for example, have their own private cops and jail cells.  Apparently, if you lock kids up on campus the statistics don't get recorded like they do when somebody calls the cops.  Klein School District's blend of stupidity and violence isn't limited to High Schoolers, however.  They handcuffed an 8 year old, for Pete's sake.  And of course, tasering is common in school districts nationwide (NYTimes).   There is nothing like a trip to Texas to make you appreciate living in New York City.

New York is not for everyone, I know.  It's noisy, crowded and often smelly - but I love my little home in Historic Harlem, and Pinko finally feels fully at home too.  Moving to New York during the worst winter any of us have seen in 25 years or more, Pinko did okay - especially when you consider that he lived in Hawaii for several years before he moved to Reno, where he's been enjoying lovely weather for the last decade.  He'll be making his New York debut as a DJ later this week at the bar where the owner flaked out about Soul Sundays.  I'm excited because it represents his first step back on the path toward making money doing something he loves.  He's made mixes the whole time I've known him, but once he started getting ready for Wednesday, he seemed to get a new fire inside. He reminded me of my Pulitzer Prize winning brother when he's jazzed about work or talking about baseball.  It may take a little time, but as long as he's following his bliss, as they say, the rest will fall into place.

I like being an artsy, activist couple - and when you look at many full-time activists, you will find someone supportive with a decent full-time job with benefits.  Fortunately, I've always loved my job (most days), so I'm happy to have that role.  Velvet and Gigi occasionally express a bit of worry that being the breadwinner is a struggle for me, but I suppose that's to be expected.  They're both New Yorkers to the core and have trouble imagining that someone might be overwhelmed by the noise, the attitude and the subways.  I hope they both can come out to the bar on Wednesday to see ABear coming back to life professionally because then maybe they will see what I see and understand that the best thing to do is let the man find his own way in the big city.

In a way, it's like Burning Man has provided a beacon for him to follow since he found the bar because of a Burner Happy Hour, and now he's arranged for Burner Happy Hour to be at that same bar next week when he's playing.  And of course, we found each other at Burning Man since I went out there specially to meet him.  A lot has happened since last May when he posted this status on Facebook:
Is this too much to ask?
Wanted : Revolutionary female.
Nice skin and height weight proportion (plus or minus 30%) ... smooth clean skin... all or most teeth... street level education or above... Half my age plus 7 is ideal but 23 - 65 is the extreme range.
Anti-Capitalist, Pinko, Commie, Syndicalist, Anarchist with a passion for Social Justice.
Social drinker and occasional drug user.
No addicts, please.
Just askin'...
So much, in fact, that I believe it qualifies as Thing of Beauty #077-101 (Explore Beauty: A Challenge). I have to pause here to thank Jennifer Morrison for initiating the Explore Beauty Challenge since looking for the beauty instead of the bullshit has been part of my own path these last couple of years.  My buddy Max, who mentored me through A Course in Miracles, has also helped me learn to distinguish between the Ways of the World and the life of the spirit.  And even though Pinko/ABear is an entrenched empiricist who resists the idea that we even have a spirit, he's got a lot of Heart, as they say.  So much he might as well be spiritual, although he uses a decidedly different vocabulary - but that's another topic.

For now, I'm just glad I didn't chicken out about Burning Man last year and that we're gearing up to go again.  The Man Burns in 139 days . . .

Friday, March 21, 2014

The New Normal

Pinko, aka ABear, and I are in the process of establishing ourselves as domestic partners.  Once we meet certain criteria, we can declare ourselves as such to my employer, Dog bless them, and he can be on my health insurance for $14 a month.  $19 with dental.

We might have gone out yesterday to perform one of the institutional tasks required to satisfy that criteria, but we decided to have a pajama day instead which meant foraging for breakfast and lunch among the last of the provisions lingering in the refrigerator, and having dinner after  Drunken! Careening! Writers!  I always love DCW, but last night was especially nice because Eddie Safarty read from a novel in progress.  His dear friend Bob Smith was in attendance.  I especially love Bob Smith because his newest book proves that there is someone on this earth who cheerfully despises Dick Cheney even more than I do - which is saying something (Remembrance of Things I forgot: A Novel)

Normally, I would have gone to the grocery store after work and brought home enough food for days, but I'm on spring break so there is no work.  More importantly, however, now that Pinko and I are institutionalizing our relationship, we're in the process of developing a New Normal.  Neither one of us will ever see the Old Normal again, which is all good.  The trick is to create a New Normal that integrates the things we each enjoyed/required in our individual Old Normals.  Life as a couple is great, but we both still need to meet our individual needs.

For example, I used to meditate or write in the mornings before work since I routinely woke up at 5:30am.  While I am blissfully content to remain in bed with Pinko until the last possible minute, that quiet time in the morning was important to maintaining my personal equilibrium.  Coming to a New Normal means finding new ways to achieve that equilibrium - like putting in some quality time on the treadmill in the gym downstairs in the basement while a couple of loads of laundry are in the wash down the hall.   I've been meaning to get in that habit for over a year, and I successfully managed to implement this plan earlier this week.

Pinko has successfully recognized that as the man of the house, he's in charge of managing the recycling and taking out the trash.  I'm pretty sure the church ladies in the building have noticed a change in the recycling since the new normal includes drinking for two, our occasional guests, as well as Velvet, Gigi and sometimes Cupcake.

Burner Happy Hour has been a big part of Pinko's transition to his own new normal.  Mostly, I also go to this weekly "meet and greet" event, but he's perfectly capable of finding his way to the Lower East Side and back on his own these days.  It's very fortunate that the Burning Man community here in New York is very strong because knowing a small group of people from out on the playa has reduced some of the stress and isolation Pinko might feel as a result of moving clear across the country to a big, strange city.  It's also yielded a perfect temporary job.  A Burner in Brooklyn owns a small perfume company which is staffed by Burners, and when they were moving the office a couple of weeks ago, they placed an ad for temporary help in the Burner Classified.  Pinko found his way to Brooklyn and back all by himself - which is more than a lot of people living in the 212 area code can say after several years in New York City.

He still wants to get a steady gig as a DJ in a bar a couple of nights a week, though, and although he's successfully avoided updating his resume until now, it looks like he's going to have to bite the bullet and conform to this cultural expectation if he wants to secure employment.   For a little while, it looked like he'd be working on Sundays at  a bar where the burners met just before Thanksgiving called NoFun.  ABear (and he's ABear here because that's his DJ name) finds NoFun comfortable and friendly, so he's wound up there a few times when I've gone home early and left him to his own devices downtown.  One of the bartenders came up with an idea to stimulate business on Sundays which have been painfully slow which translates into painfully few tips for a good bartender.  The concept was to pull in regular customers from the neighborhood with classic, old school, MoTown soul music - as opposed to the technopop stuff that attracts yuppies from the suburbs (or Bridge and Tunnel, as we here in 212 describe that crowd) who line up to get into the bar on weekends.

Any time I've been at NoFun, some random, inexperienced DJ has offered up music I've come to call Electro-Assault.  Even when I don't get an instant headache, which ABear says is a result of not mixing in enough base so that the treble enters your brain like an exploding pin cushion, I get the impression that these boy DJs think that the minute they plug in their technology, they magically transport to a warehouse filled with hundreds of attractive ravers gyrating in a giant ecstasy inspired amoeba of dance.  Unfortunately, there are really only four guys in button-downs and khakis by Polo jumping around like douchebags getting drunk for the first time at somebody's Bar Mitzvah.

photo swiped from the internet - not an actual night at said bar

Whatever.  It's just too bad that he said last Sunday could be a Soul Sunday, so ABear and I went down there instead of going to see Lee Camp's new show because ABear committed to playing.  We got there and some little guy was already set up to play.  The bartender was disappointed, and we were disappointed - even more disappointed because it turns out that when the owner authorized Soul Sundays he'd evidently forgotten that he had already told this little fellow could have Sundays for the foreseeable future.  He says the youngster is the child of one of his mother's friends.

As a result of all this disappointment, the resume is back on ABear's "to do" list, and he spent a couple of days searching for an old copy to update.  He could have created a new one, but I suppose that idea was entirely overwhelming.  I totally trust his process, so whatever ABear wants to do is fine with me.  He finally found one on a defunct website for people in the hospitality and entertainment fields, but in my view, it makes much more sense for the NSA to provide some sort of data retrieval service.

It would be very fucking simple for our internet providers - who already collect our personal data for the NSA anyway - to add data retrieval services for a few extra bucks per month.  If you bundle your services with AT&T, Verizon, Comcast or anyone else who has phone, internet and TV, you could get pertinent phone conversations too.  Imagine if Woody Allen and Mia Farrow could produce exact records from certain phone calls to clear up the whole child molester thing.  The NSA has everything on us all the way back to those permanent records principals and other authority figures used to threaten  back in elementary school - not to mention every purchase we've made ever since the first consumer used the first supermarket or drugstore club card.

With budget shortfalls so severe the US is compelled to neglect human need in order to pay for endless war and ecocide, you'd think someone would be selling NSA as the very best single solution for all your data backup needs.   The information is probably in your permanent record at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland (photo by Trevor Paglen in The//Intercept).

I'm thinking we can count the surveillance state as part of the new normal, along with our paramilitary police force, the increasing number of earthquakes as a result of fracking, and a media consolidated and controlled so throughly by corporations that propaganda and celebrity gossip is reported as news by people so stupid they don't even notice what they're saying - as illustrated in this oldie but goodie from KTVU in Oakland, California:

More on the NSA from The//Intercept:

And a bit about Big Data and citizen profiling from The Atlantic:
Welcome to Algorithmic Prison

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