Saturday, October 31, 2020

Happy Halloween 2020!

Happy Halloween!

The night is still
And the frost, it bites my face
I wear my silence like a mask
And murmur like a ghost

"Trick or treat"
"Trick or treat"
The bitter and the sweet

The carefree days are distant now
I wear my memories like a shroud
I try to speak, but words collapse
Echoing, echoing

"Trick or treat"
"Trick or treat"
The bitter and the sweet

I wander through your sadness
Gazing at you with scorpion eyes
Halloween... Halloween

A sweet reminder in the ice-blue nursery
Of a childish murder, of hidden lustre
And she cries

"Trick or treat"
"Trick or treat"
The bitter and the sweet

I wander through your sadness
Gazing at you with scorpion eyes
Halloween... Halloween


LGBT History Month: Friday of the Purple Hand, 1969

Today marks the 51st anniversary of a landmark event in the history of gay rights: Friday of the Purple Hand. I am always humbled and filled with gratitude and awe when I read stories of the bravery of my gay brothers and sisters from long ago.

Armed with Ink, 1960s Activists 'Struck Back' Against Homophobic Media
by Sarah Hotchkiss fro KQED
Jun 13, 2019

The day that came to be known as “Friday of the Purple Hand” ended in 15 arrests, a broken rib, one set of knocked-out teeth and purple handprints scattered across the San Francisco Examiner’s exterior walls.

Four months after the infamous Stonewall riots in New York City, the Bay Area’s more radical LGBTQ+ organizations of 1969 refused to passively accept negative depictions of their community in the local news. So on Oct. 25, when the Examiner published an article by reporter Robert Patterson under the headline “The Dreary Revels of S.F. ‘Gay’ Clubs,” the newspaper unknowingly issued a powerful call to arms—to the very people it had derided.

The events of that day show that the battleground for the burgeoning gay liberation movement wasn’t just on the streets or in the bars—where LGBTQ+ people demanded the right to live openly and unmolested by police—but within the pages of America’s newspapers and magazines. There, mainstream media’s dismissive adjectives, ironic scare quotes and defamatory headlines had the power to shape public opinion of an increasingly vocal and visible minority group.

And they definitely weren’t expecting a coalition of gay liberation groups to strike back.

The headline of Robert Patterson's Oct. 25, 1969 article about gay breakfast clubs
in the 'San Francisco Examiner.' (Courtesy of the SF Examiner)

A community mobilizes
By today’s standards, Patterson’s article, ostensibly about after-hours “‘gay’ breakfast clubs” (note the scare quotes around the word “gay”), reads like a hit piece.

He described the clientele of these so-called “deviate establishments” in as many grossly homophobic ways as possible, all well beyond the pale: “semi-males with flexible wrists and hips,” “the pseudo fair sex,” and “women who aren’t exactly women.” (In a testament to Patterson’s ‘credibility,’ he was fired by the Examiner in 1972 for a series of stories he wrote about visiting China; the paper concluded he had not actually visited the country.)

The community he described was outraged. “The San Francisco Examiner has surpassed its traditional standard of tastelessness and its predictable appeal for redneck hysteria,” the newly formed gay liberation group, the Committee for Homosexual Freedom (CHF) wrote in a Berkeley Barb response piece. “The entire gay community and all those actively working for true liberation must mobilize to confront the brutal suppression of freedom that the Examiner consistently exemplifies and encourages.”

A date was set after several attempts to engage with the paper’s editor and Patterson directly: a large-scale protest would take place on Oct. 31, starting at 12pm on the sidewalk outside the Examiner’s Fifth Street building.

The “melee,” as the Examiner described it the next day, started when two unknown persons (widely thought to be newspaper employees) dropped bags of purple printer’s ink from the building rooftop onto the peaceful picketers below. “Indignation turned to anger,” one of the protesters later wrote in The San Francisco Free Press. “Feet stepped in the ink. It appeared all around the sidewalks. One or two hands dipped into the ink and a new symbol was born.”

Stevens McClave raises his purple fist in protest
The police initially apprehended just one demonstrator, the first one to put his inky hand on the building walls, but as others protested his arrest, the “Tac Squad” (sardonically described as “close by and ever on the ready”) moved in, raising their batons and declaring the picket line an illegal assembly.

In the ensuing “fracas” (another great 1969 word), a dozen protesters were arrested for disorderly conduct and thrown in the paddy wagon—several on felony charges that were eventually dropped (except for one instance of allegedly biting a police officer). Other protesters took the issue to City Hall, where an additional three were arrested for trespassing, unlawful assembly and remaining at the site of a riot (essentially, staying in the building past closing time).

Unsurprisingly, the SFPD’s heavy-handed response—and the ensuing cases against the arrested protesters—galvanized not just the members of more radical LGBTQ+ groups, but the old guard they initially sought to distance themselves from, creating a network of support that would propel the Bay Area’s gay liberation movement in the years to come.

Marc Robert Stein, professor of history at San Francisco State University and editor of The Stonewall Riots: A Documentary History, thinks the timing of Patterson’s article wasn’t coincidental, and reflected the era’s homophobic attitudes to burgeoning gay organizing. “October was the month when mainstream magazines first covered Stonewall,” he says. “The movement is really growing. And it’s at that moment that there’s this incredibly hostile story.”

Join the gay revolution
Before the events of the Purple Hand and before the creation of the CHF, the largest gay organization in San Francisco was the Society for Individual Rights (S.I.R.), a homophile society (to use the language of the time) founded in 1964.

As the women’s rights, anti-war and Black power movements swept the country, some younger members of the LGBTQ+ community considered S.I.R. to be too conservative. In an April 1969 editorial, Leo Laurence, editor of Vector, S.I.R.’s monthly magazine, broke ranks with the mostly white, middle-class and nonconfrontational members of S.I.R., calling them “timid, uptight, conservative, and afraid to act for the good of the whole homosexual community.”

The time had come, Laurence argued, for everyone to come out to their friends, family and employers, and to be proud of their sexuality. They should be joining forces with other social causes, like the Black Panthers and local unions, and standing up for everyone’s rights.

To illustrate his idea of LGBTQ+ freedom in a subsequent Berkeley Barb interview, Laurence supplied the alt weekly with a picture of two men smiling: Laurence with his arms around his friend Gale Whittington. In no short order, S.I.R. asked Laurence to resign, and Whittington was fired from his job at the States Steamship Company.

The CHF, co-founded by Laurence, Whittington and a few others, was a direct reaction to this double rejection from both “straight” society and the existing gay establishment. And with this effort, they would be all about coalition-building.

The Purple Hand events were co-organized by at least three like-minded groups, including Gay Guerrilla Theater and the Gay Liberation Front. But despite the fracture between Laurence and S.I.R. that precipitated the creation of the CHF months earlier, the old-guard emerged as surprising supporters of the younger demonstrators as well.

In a Nov. 7 Berkeley Tribe piece reflecting on the demonstration and its aftermath, Laurence writes, “I was scared and felt alone in jail, until I learned of the help mobilized ‘outside.’” The Red Mountain Tribe gathered bail money, S.I.R.’s president saved Laurence’s camera film before he was thrown in the paddy wagon, Del Martin (co-founder in 1955 of the lesbian group Daughters of Bilitis) helped CHF find lawyers, writing several sympathetic articles for Vector in the months to come.

“When Gale Whittington and I founded the CHF last spring, we dreamed of a nationwide movement,” Laurence writes in the Tribe. “It’s no longer a fantasy.”

After the Purple Hand
Protests against mainstream media’s depictions of the LGBTQ+ community would continue for years to come. The Purple Hand events, Stein says, are just one example of protests across the country against newspapers and magazines in ’69 and ’70, along with a second wave of protests against television stations and individual shows in ’73.

Tommi Avicolli Mecca, who joined the Gay Liberation Front in Philadelphia when he was a 19-year-old student at Temple University, remembers those times well. “Back in the ’70s especially pretty much any time they did a feature on the community it would be very negative,” he remembers. The GLF would picket or actually enter the newspaper offices, confronting editors and writers of the specific stories.

Through a combination of direct action, face-to-face conversations and larger shifts in society, Mecca says, things gradually changed, fulfilling in many ways Laurence’s early 1969 call-to-arms.

“I think one of the greatest things we did as a community was to come out of the closet,” Mecca says. “By being visible, we broke all the stereotypes. We forced people to engage with us, we forced our families to deal with us, we forced people to see we were just like them.”

The Most Amazing Halloween Costume Ever

Friday, October 30, 2020

We Cannot Sustain This For Another Four Years


Georgetown created fact sheets on illegal militias at the polls and what to do if you spot them by Scottie Andrew

Georgetown created fact sheets on illegal militias at the polls and what to do if you spot them

By Scottie Andrew, CNN
Updated 1:50 PM ET, Tue October 6, 2020

It's illegal in all 50 states to engage in militia activity. Still, militia members will almost certainly appear at some polling places this election cycle.

To prepare voters for potential voter intimidation, Georgetown University Law Center created fact sheets for all 50 states on illegal militias and what to do if voters encounter them.

A private militia engages in law enforcement activities without authorization by state or federal officials. Their members are often armed and wearing uniforms or identifying insignias, and they often believe they have legal authority to protect property or control crowds.

But no private militia has that authority. Every state bans unauthorized militias from taking on the activities of law enforcement.

So, Georgetown Law's Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, along with several pro bono law firms, created state-specific fact sheets about militias and the state statutes that ban their activities.

Voter intimidation is more than likely this election

The threat of voter intimidation is high this election. The US has already seen private militias deploy themselves this year, most notably at protests against racism, often inciting violence and intimidating protesters.

It's also the first election since the expiration of a 1982 consent decree put in place to prevent Republicans from engaging in voter intimidation schemes. And President Donald Trump has repeatedly nudged his supporters to appear at voting locations to "watch very carefully," spouting unproven theories even as his own FBI director has denied evidence of widespread voter fraud.

For those reasons, "communities must prepare for similar unlawful private militia activity and intimidation in connection with the election," said Mary McCord, legal director of Georgetown Law's Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection and a former acting assistant attorney general for national security at the Department of Justice.

Contemporary militias are illegal

The Constitution -- a document created in the 18th century, when colonial militias were operated by states -- uses the word "militia" to refer to "all able-bodied residents between certain ages who may be called forth by the government when there is a specific need," according to Georgetown Law.

That definition of "militia" has changed. Now, an "organized militia" may refer to the National Guard or National Reserve. Some states operate state defense forces legally.

But it's illegal for private citizens to "activate themselves" for militia duty. Private militias also aren't protected by the Second Amendment, according to Georgetown Law.

What to do if voters see armed people at the polls

If voters spot armed groups near a polling place, they should first document what they see, according to the fact sheets.

Voters should take stock of what the group is doing, what type of firearm members might be carrying, if they're wearing an insignia that might identify which group they belong to and if they're speaking to people or threatening violence.

Georgetown Law advises voters to report that they see to the Election Protection helpline, a nonpartisan coalition for voting equity, at 866-OUR-VOTE.

Link to original article:

Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Humane Middle by John Pavlovitz

I’m Not The Radical Left, I’m The Humane Middle
John Pavlovitz

Apparently, I’ve been radicalized and I wasn’t aware.

Certain people call me the “radical Left” all the time.

I never considered myself radical before.
I just thought I was normal, ordinary, usual.
I thought equity was important to everyone.
I imagined America was filled with people who took that Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness stuff seriously—for all people.
I thought the Golden Rule was actually mainstream.

Recently I took an inventory of my positions, screening for the extremism:

I believe in full LGBTQ rights.
I believe we should protect the planet.
I believe everyone deserves healthcare.
I believe all religions are equally valid.
I believe the world is bigger than America.
I believe to be “pro-life,” means to treasure all of it.
I believe women should have autonomy over their own bodies.
I believe whiteness isn’t superior and it is not the baseline of humanity.
I believe we are all one interdependent community.
I believe people and places are made better by diversity.
I believe people shouldn’t be forced to abide by anyone else’s religion.
I believe non-American human beings have as much value as American ones.
I believe generosity is greater than greed, compassion better than contempt, and kindness superior to derision.
I believe there is enough in this world for everyone: enough food, enough money, enough room, enough care—if we unleash our creativity and unclench our fists.

I’m not sure how these ideas became radical, though it seems to have happened in the last few years.
I grew up being taught they were just part of being a decent human being.
I grew up believing that loving my neighbor as myself, meant that I actually worked for their welfare as much as my own.
I was taught that caring for the least in the world, was the measure of my devotion to God.
I thought that inalienable rights of other people were supposed to be a priority as a decent participant in the world.

I don’t think I’m alone.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that most people reside here in this place alongside me: the desire for compassion and diversity and equality and justice; that these things aren’t fringe ideologies or extremist positions—but simply the best way to be human.

I think most people want more humanity, not less.

I think the vast middle is exhausted by the cruelty of these days.

That these aspirations seem radical to some people, is probably an alarm that they’ve moved so far into the extremes of their fortified ideological bunkers and been so poisoned by the propaganda, that normal now seems excessive, that equality now seems oppressive, that goodness feels reckless.

Maybe the problem is, these people are so filled with fear for those who are different, so conditioned to be at war with the world, so indoctrinated into a white nationalistic religion of malice—that they’ve lost sight of what being a human being looks like anymore.

I am pretty sure that I don’t represent the “radical Left,” but the vast, disparate, compassionate, humane Middle; people who are not threatened by someone else’s presence, who do not see another person’s gain as their loss, who don’t worship a Caucasian, American god.

I suppose humanity feels radical to inhumane people.

In that case, I’ll gladly be here in my extremism.

Election: The coming decade of Democratic dominance by George F. Will

Election: The coming decade of Democratic dominance
by George F. Will

By a circuitous route to a predictable destination, the 2020 presidential selection process seems almost certain to end Tuesday with a fumigation election. A presidency that began with dark words about “American carnage” probably will receive what it has earned: repudiation.

In “Three Exhausting Weeks,” a short story in Tom Hanks’ collection “Uncommon Type,” a man has a short, stressful relationship with a hyperactive woman: “Being Anna’s boyfriend was like training to be a Navy SEAL while working fulltime in an Amazon fulfillment center in the Oklahoma Panhandle in tornado season.” After the past four years, Americans know the feeling, which is why Donald Trump’s first and final contribution to the nation’s civic health will be to have motivated a voter turnout rate not seen for more than a century – not since the 73.2% of 1900, when President William McKinley for a second time defeated the Democratic populist William Jennings Bryan. The poet Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931) had fun making fun of Bryan’s populism: “Nebraska’s cry went eastward against the dour and / old, / The mean and cold. ... / . . . Smashing Plymouth Rock, with his boulders from the / West.”

Imagine what fun Lindsay could have had with today’s preeminent populist, who has taken more than $70,000 in tax deductions for hair styling. His style has been his substance. His replacement for Obamacare remains as nonexistent as his $1 trillion infrastructure program.

He resembles the politically excitable woman in Philip Roth’s novel “American Pastoral,” whose “opinions were all stimuli: the goal was excitement.”

In defeat, Trump probably will resemble another figure from American fiction — Ring Lardner’s “Alibi Ike,” the baseball player whose talent was for making excuses. Trump will probably say that if not for the pandemic, Americans would have voted their pocketbooks, which would have been bulging because of economic growth, and reelected him. Americans, however, are more complicated and civic-minded than one-dimensional economy voters. But about those pocketbooks: The 4% growth Trump promised as a candidate and the 3% he promised as president became, pre-pandemic, 2.5% during his first three years, a negligible improvement over the 2.4% of the last three Barack Obama years. This growth was partly fueled by increased deficit spending (from 4.4% of GDP to 6.3%, by the International Monetary Fund’s calculation).

Bloomberg Businessweek reports, “In the first three and a half years of Trump’s presidency the U.S. Department of Labor approved 1,996 petitions [for Trade Adjustment Assistance] covering 184,888 jobs shifted overseas. During the equivalent period of President Barack Obama’s second term, 1,811 petitions were approved covering 172,336 workers.” And the Economist says: “Recent research suggests that Mr. Trump’s tariffs destroyed more American manufacturing jobs than they created, by making imported parts more expensive and prompting other countries to retaliate by targeting American goods. Manufacturing employment barely grew in 2019. At the same time, tariffs are pushing up consumer prices by perhaps 0.5 percent, enough to reduce average real household income by nearly $1,300.”

Demographic arithmetic is also discouraging for Trump.

There are more than 5 million fewer members of his core constituency — Whites without college degrees — than there were four years ago. And there are more than 13 million more minority and college-educated White eligible voters than in 2016.

In Ronald Reagan’s 1984 reelection, voters under 30 were a solidly Republican age cohort; 2020, for the fifth consecutive election, it will be the most Democratic. The Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein believes that this year’s “generational backlash” against Trump presages for Republicans a dismal decade during which two large and diverse cohorts — millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) and Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) — become, together, the electorate’s largest bloc in an electorate that, says Brownstein, “is beginning its most profound generational transition since the early 1980s,” when baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) became the largest bloc.

In 2016, Trump won just 36% of adults under 30; Obama averaged 63% in two elections. Furthermore, this will be the first presidential election in which the number of millennial and Generation Z eligible voters will outnumber eligible baby boomers. Generation Z is 49% people of color.

Economic and demographic statistics are not, however, the only ones pertinent to next Tuesday’s probable outcome. Novelist John Updike supplied another: “A healthy male adult bore consumes each year one and a half times his own weight in other people’s patience.” This nation and its patience are exhausted.

Link to original Washington Post article:

Decency, Honesty, and Respect


BEAUTY: Art for Halloween--Juli Steel's Miniature Haunted Houses

Talented artisan Juli Steel creates miniature abandoned, haunted houses. I am currently watching "The Haunting of Bly Manor" on Netflix and this dovetails beautifully with that and the season! Happy Halloween!

This wonderful piece is for sale at Juli's Etsy shop

And you can see more of her wonderfully creepy work here:

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

BEAUTY: Painting For Halloween--Jason Limon

For Halloween, enjoy the retro sensibility of the charming skeletons from Jason Limon's Fragments series...

Top to bottom: Endure; Life Thread; Portrait; Puncture; Repeat; Seeds; Take Cover; The View From Here; Through The Hoops; Doom Tube

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Peter Pan's Flight

This might be my favorite ride at Disneyland. While I do love Space Mountain, this classic dark ride has a sweetness that always makes me smile...and the perspective work is amazing. I love how we fly through the children's room, out the window, and then higher and higher over London! My only complaint is that the ride is just so short. This dazzling 4K video clocks in at only a little over three minutes!

Monday, October 26, 2020

BEAUTY: Painting For Halloween--Bradley Theodore

I am loving the colorful, fun skeletons and skulls of Bradley Theodore. Look for Mozart, Beethoven, Karl Lagerfeld, Frida, and Her Majesty!


Daniel Pelavin bases his VOTE art on popular logos, to catch your eye. Please vote.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Why a Democratic landslide could crush the GOP for years to come by Chris Cillizza

"As November 3 draws closer, independent political handicappers are revising upwards the likelihood of Joe Biden winning the presidency and Democrats making gains in Congress. In other words, a Democratic landslide could be coming. CNN’s Chris Cillizza explains how this potential wave will crash hardest -- and with the most impact -- at the state legislative level."



BEAUTY: Fabric Art for Halloween--Britt Hutchinson

Britt Hutchinson is dedicated to hand embroidering charming, tiny skulls and skeletons.

She takes commissions!