For Immediate Release

Contact:  PUEWCNOLA@gmail.com

A.F.U. says “WTF?”

Top Ten Reasons Mitt Romney is NOT a Unicorn

(New Orleans, LA)  Because we have letterhead and they do not, AFU (the American Federation of Unicorns) has asked PUEWC (People for the Inclusion of Unicorns, Elves and Whinebots in Chewbacchus) to issue the following statement regarding attempts to prove that Mitt Romney is a unicorn:

“Last night, AFU returned from its field trip to see the unicorn apocalyptic Broadway smash ‘End of the Rainbow’ to find that a hate group had formed to characterize Mitt Romney as a unicorn.  While our reality tv tastes run more to the Kardashians than the American political system, AFU cannot let this slur on unicorns stand.  Thus, we are releasing the Top Ten Reasons Mitt Romney is NOT a Unicorn:

 10.        Unicorns cannot use an Etch-a-Sketch.

9.          Unicorns do not wear magic underwear.

8.          When unicorns say that dog is our best friend, we mean it.

7.          Unicorns hang out in bars, dance with loose women, curse like sailors and smoke anything hand-rolled.  Mitt Romney?  Uh, no.

6.          Unicorns don’t need 5-car garages in La Jolla, CA.  We fly.

5.          No unicorn has ever been sighted in Michigan.  Ever. 

4.          Unicorns love all things “rainbow” and “glitter”.  Mitt Romney?  Not so much.

3.          Unicorns don’t say “golly”.  It’s too gay.  Even for unicorns.

2.          Unicorns know how to spell “America”.

1.          Unicorns have one horn.  Mitt Romney?  He has two.

Martin Luther King once said “The arc of history is long…and shaped like a really pretty rainbow…but it bends towards justice.”  May these AFU facts help bend that arc closer to justice for unicorns everywhere!”

PUEWC thanks AFU for setting the record straight (rainbow-style).  We grow loathsome of the growing number of hate-filled attacks against unicorns, elves, whinebots-not to mention wizards, gremlins, nymphs, questing beasts and wererats–that has flooded the internet since The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus launched its discriminatory practices that banned all of the above (and then some) from its Carnival celebrations.  Please contact PUEWCNOLA@gmail.com to join our efforts.

May the Farce Be With You.

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A Father’s Day gift

Today marks the second Father’s Day since my Dad died and the third since my stepfather died.  It has been a tough day

Something has seemed off.  I’ve been off.  Unsettled.  And uneasy.   I knew it didn’t have to do with any unfinished business with either man because each one’s death fully completed a distinct cycle and, as death does, birthed a new one.  I knew it didn’t have to do with missing Dad or missing Thoso.  Because, each walks quietly, gently with me every day.

No, the unsettledness, the dis-ease came more because I wasn’t seeing something clearly.  I just couldn’t figure out what.  Though I thought about it all day.  I thought about it at the gym, furiously stair mastering my self to the imaginary floor where I would see what they wanted me to see.  I thought about it as I made lunch, hoping that the answer would reveal itself in a chop here, a toss there.  I thought about it as I laid down for a nap.  Nothing.

Then I stopped thinking.  And, of course, immediately I saw.  The gift of this Father’s Day: Acceptance.

It’s a gift that came more through surrender than teaching.  Neither Dad nor Thoso lectured me.  Neither were the kind of men who relished–or even felt comfortable in–imparting life’s great lessons.   Or even its simplest ones.  I didn’t have the dad who teaches his son how to play catch or tie a tie.  I didn’t have the stepfather who teaches his adolescent stepson how to shave or drive a car.  When it came to the day-to-day elements of being a “dad”, neither man was up to the task.

And I resented that for many, many years.  I’d look at both men and wish I saw something different.  I’d wish for the dad on tv or the dads my friends had.

Gradually, at different times, I let go of that resentment and accepted the realities of the dads I had.  I quit wanting things neither could ever provide and accepted the lessons..buried deep, deep, deep below the layers of resentment, anger, sadness, and shame…that they could offer me.   Life lessons like worshipping the land on which we so briefly walk; trusting in a power far greater than any one individual human; and walking one’s own path instead of the one society so stubbornly insists on charting for you.

In other words, as my Sister so beautifully put it when she and I reflected on what our Dad offered us as a father:  accepting that what is given you is enough.  There is no need to look elsewhere.  Accept.  What you have.  For it has been given to you. At this moment. Because it is exactly what you need. In fact, it is all you need.

Certainly, acceptance is something I need now.  On every level, my life is awash in the waters of uncertainty.    My self.  My relationships.  My work.  My community.  Wave after wave keeps rolling in, lifting up and consuming the debris of illusions that are scattered on my life’s shoreline.  I know that as the tide rolls out, and it will, it will reveal a beautiful, pristine beach of truth.

But, I’m not there quite yet.  Rather I’m in that maddening betwixt and between place where it is too late to turn back but too early to see what’s next.  It is the space Rilke refers to when he gently suggests we “love the questions” because “the answers could not be given you now, because you would not be able to live them.”

Makes a helluva lot of sense on paper.  But. Damn.  Bringing those words to life in my life?  That hasn’t been easy.  Because we live in a society that blindly seeks answers, without even a moment’s pause to consider the questions themselves.  To dance with them.  To surrender to the fact that the questions often teach more, reveal more, than the answers.

Because we have forgotten how, because until an hour ago, I had forgotten how, to simply accept.  Things.  As.  They. Are.

It’s funny. As I type this, I am remembering that, like many a son, I never really knew what to get my Dad or stepfather on Father’s Day.  I’d buy them after shave, bad shirts, ties, and a host of other things that they didn’t really need.   Funny how life works that now that the days of buying them anything are forever gone, they have gifted me with exactly what I need.

That’s a father for you, huh?  Happy Father’s Day!

 

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Stick a weiner in the Congressman, he’s done.

Well, well, well.  Our long, national weiner-mare is over.  Phew!

I for one am thrilled, thrilled, THRILLED that Congress has demonstrated its rabid, oops fervent, commitment to forcing out those whose conduct is unbecoming the institution.  Of course, given the current state of Congress, this means Americans will soon be electing 435 new representatives and 100 new Senators (will the last one out of the Capital, please turn out the lights?).

I mean, for starters, just BEING a Republican today is pretty much unbecoming the institution they are destroying.

And the Democrats?  Well, call me crazy, but I think taking care of Wall Street and the tryrannosaurus rex of American politics (that would be the unions) but ignoring Main Street while you had a chance is conduct unbecoming the institution.  I think it is conduct unbecoming the institution to authorize war for political purposes (i.e. not wanting to appear weak on defense) even while seriously questioning the militaristic ones (i.e. weapons of mass destruction).  Conduct now soaked in the blood of four thousand…two hundred…and eighty-seven…dead…Americans. I think…I could go on.  But I won’t.

Now, of course, there are those who will say unbecoming sex is the most unbecoming conduct of all  (not bad sex in which case, again, I imagine most Members would have to resign, just, you know putting sex out there.  In the open.  Where we have to acknowledge it.  Ick.  Shudderingly unbecoming!!)

Again, we’ll take the Republicans out of the conversation because Republicans don’t have sex (or weiners).  But for the others, a few questions….

To my glbt (no doubt soon to be g, l, b, and t…and u,v,w,x,y,z) friends, I’d ask so you think Gerry Studds should have resigned when he had a consensual relationship with a page?  Gerry Studds, the Member who single-handedly forced the issue of gays in the military out into the open?  For years, the only Member on the Hill who service members could turn to when their country turned against them?

To my Massachusetts friends, you now believe that Ted Kennedy should have resigned?  Not when he texted Mary Jo a crotch shot.  No.  When he left a human to die.  Ted Kennedy. The man who brought not just pork, but compassion, equality, jobs and so much more to Massachusetts.  Applying the new Weiner standard, Massachusetts voters now obviously think St Ted was wrong to stay in office. Well, will one of you righteous ones please call the Widow Vicky to ask her to halt construction on the Kennedy Institute they’re building next to the JFK Library (oops, better tear that down, too!!)

And to all you Democrats,  now…NOW…you’re saying that Newt Gingrich was right.  That Democrats AGREE with Newt Gingrich that Bill Clinton should have been impeached.  Why, shucks, Leader Pelosi and her team now would take it even further:  They would have demanded President Cinton’s resignation!

Now, come on, y’all three groups, might say, that was then, this is now.

Of course, sadly, you’d be right.

THEN….winning and keeping control of Congress wasn’t all that mattered.  NOW, it is.  BTW, then…Members of Congress not only had weiners–they had balls.  And they used them to take tough votes…knowing that it could cost them their jobs.  Votes like the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Now?  Well, glbtuvwxyz’ers?  We’re not so lucky.

But, mostly, I think THEN, people knew how to forgive.  They knew that people screwed up (sometimes royally and multiple ways like Rep. Weiner).  But they knew that was part of being human.  They knew that Christ was right when he said “he without sin cast the first stone”.  They knew Kabir was right when he said “where there is foregivness, there God resides.”  They knew that forgiveness is the alchemy that transforms a shameful act into a path of redemption.

NOW?  Now, in Washington at least and across many parts of America (though interestingly NOT in Rep Weiner’s district where the people he serves said they want him to continue to serve them), the hard push to power trumps the soft vulnerability of forgiveness.

And, that, my friends is conduct unbecoming.  The human race.

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The End is Near…and THIS is how we’re spending our time??

I just had the most wonderful conversation.  I don’t know the guy’s name or anything about his story (though I do know I’ll probably never see him again).  No matter.  He was the person the Universe sent to help me make some sense out of a completely nonsensical matter:  our obsession with Arnold Schwarzenegger having an affair…and child…with a member of his staff.

We both were waiting sitting at a Marigny bar, watching the TV as we waited for our lunch.   He was enjoying a bottle of chilled Sake, me a glass of ice water (I swear, it was just water).

The “news”, of course,  was all Arnold and Maria, all the time.  One reporter was standing in front of the Bakersfield house where Arnold’s mistress and child live while saying what a tragedy it was that the boy had lost his privacy.  “He’s become collateral damage in a sea of prying eyes,” she said.  While she stood, cameras blazing, eyes prying.  In front of the boy’s house. (Irony. It’s a word she might want to look up. As should the million of Americans who no doubt were watching  and knodding their heads in unisom about that “collateral damage” who lives inside).

“The world is ending on Saturday and THIS is how we’re going to spend our remaining days,” my friend asked (revealing Sake’s ability to make one both clear and succinct).

We then went on to talk about David Self, Bradley Melton, Lamoral Tucker, and Cheziray Pressley.  They’re the four American soldiers who were killed in Zabul the day the Arnold/Maria story broke.

“Why do we care about one kind of collateral damage and not others,” I asked.

“Because we’re used to war.  People die every day,” Sake answered, pouring another chilled glass.

“True ‘dat,” I said,  “but…surely the faithful have been unfaithful, the powerful have abused their power for as long as there’s been war.  In fact, you can argue we have war precisely because the faithful are unfaithful, and the powerful abuse their power.   It’s more than that.”

“It’s because Americans love to feel morally superior,” he said, by now a hollow bone for Sake.

He was right.  There is an indignation fueling each and every snide comment and sanctimonious column written about the Schwarzenegger saga.  And fueling that indignation is an even deeper feeling of superiority.  Of knowing better than any of the poor cast of characters in this sad little tale (“What was Maria thinking?  She should have left him years ago!”).  No.  Of being better than any of these characters.

And why is that?  Sake and I agreed the reason is that it’s easier to feel superior over someone else’s mistakes than face our own.  If we huff and puff and harrumph and point fingers at the other guy, maybe no one will look at us and poke and prod and leak our own failures.  At least we won’t look at our own.  You know, the ones we actually could do something about. The ones we actually have a responsibility to do something about.

By “our own”, I mean we the people of America:  Better to talk about the 12-year old who’s collateral damage in a relationship we have no control of or responsibility to than the fact that there are 3.8 million…yes..MILLION more kids living in poverty in America today than in 2000).

And I mean we as individuals:  Better to shine a spotlight on someone else’s failed marriage or abuse of power than turn it around to illuminate our own.  Failures.  And abuses.  Because others might see.  Because we might see.  Ourselves.

And we might have to do what Arnold Schwarzenegger did:  Take responsibility.    Or what Maria Shriver did:  Take control of our own lives.  Our own destiny.

Now, doing so certainly is not as fun or easy as moral superiority. But it’s a lot better for your soul.  And that’s a lot better for our country.

Just act quick…the world ends on Saturday!!

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What if Christ DID come?

You may or may not be aware of this, but….Christ is coming back (apparently now that Cher’s done with her Farewell Tour, there’s an opening for JC!).  The date is May 11 (I believe, though I guess it’ll be kinda obvious when/if he does come).

I, for one, hope he does.

Not because I’m a Christian.  I’m not  I’m in the camp that believes there’s one true Christian:  Christ; one true Buddhist:  Buddha; one true Muslim:  Mohammed and that, rather than follow other’s footsteps we should–to quote Osho–“build our own path to our own temple”, perhaps looking outside to others’ paths for guidance, but–mainly–looking within to follow our own souls.

No.  I hope Christ comes because maybe he can knock some sense into this crazy world we in which we’re currently living.

I mean, maybe it takes Christ to know some sense into the mega-churches I passed today as I spent a glorious Easter Sunday afternoon driving across central Georgia.  Maybe Christ could ask them why they feel the need to advertise their worship services with big flashing marquees that put His house on par with the gas station…or gentleman’s club…just down the street.  Maybe Christ could ask “If you have to market my word are you, in fact, following my word?”

Maybe if Christ were able to borrow someone’s iPad and read today’s New York Times…assuming, of course, that person was both smart enough to understand the Times’s new convoluted formula for paid online viewing…and stupid enough to pay for it…but assuming he did find that person…maybe Christ could read the news.  Maybe Christ could ask our national political leaders why they put their own elections (and re-elections) ahead of the American people–of all ages–who, despite working hard (now or in the past) simply cannot…make…ends…meet.  Who begin every meal not by asking “what am I hungry for?” but “what can I afford?”.  Maybe Christ could look those politicians — from both sides of the aisle–in the eyes and, again, say:  “whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers (and sisters!) that you do unto me”.

Maybe if Christ were able to look on that same said iPad and scan Facebook and follow the activists on both sides of virtually any issue…maybe he could ask why it is that both sides are increasingly so dependent on vitriol and hate and why it is that causes are now so much more about careers than about results.   That hate is hate…whether you cloak it in the Bible or in civil rights; in an Earth’s right to breathe clean air or a patriot’s right to protect the flag.

Now, of course, if Christ did show up on May whenever, no doubt he’d scan Facebook, the Times and the grand temples filled with religious size queens…and chuckle.  And he’d no doubt borrow the words of Rumi (a fellow enlightened one) and say to all the self-appointed self-important ones:  “Come, come, whoever you are.  Come, even if you have broken your vow a thousand times.  Come, yet again, come, come.”

And he’d invite those “selfs” to join him in a church much like the one we have in my neighborhood in the Treme.  It’s a Catholic Church (though I don’t believe they have a picture of Benedict in his Prada finest).  St Augustine’s is its name.  It is filled with people who smile at strangers; who wake each day seeing commonality, not superiority; who spend their lives celebrating life’s most precious gift.  Which is, of course, simply… life.  Celebrating your life.  My life.  Our lives.

And, if he came, I believe Christ would turn to those “selfs”, point at that Church that is filled with people, not power, and say “this is why I came.”

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Why so snarky?

Since when did disagreeing become synonymous with being disagreeable?

That was the question I asked myself this morning as I read a friend’s snarky Facebook post (followed by even snarkier comments).

The issue isn’t the issue here (though, just so you know, the issue had to do with Whole Foods replacing Hi-Lo, a rode hard and put up rather wet of a grocery store that, despite the wear and tear, was a cultural anchor to my old neighborhood’s many, many Latino residents).  And, quite frankly, I’m not sure where I come down on the issue.

The issue is how folks who disagree on the issue are treated.   For my friend, she could not believe that 1000 residents had signed a petition opposing Whole Foods.  “If only these folks cared as much about (a local) school closing,” she snark-booked—making clear:

a) her belief that you can only stand for one issue at a time (just like, you know, the fact that you can either walk or chew gum!)

b) if your priorities don’t match hers, then you’re worthy of ridicule.

Her friends chimed in.  One had been at a community meeting where the “rational people” (aka the ones who support my position) had tried to talk about the school closing Alas, the “rational ones” were thwarted by the–I guess–irrational ones who felt a part of their culture slipping away.

Another person responded that Whole Foods would mean fresh, healthy food.  When I pointed out that Hi-Lo had fresh food…well…then the fun really began.  “You couldn’t pay me to set foot in that store, it was so filthy” (no doubt in that distinctly ethnic way)  Another said “Yeah, I wonder how many whining hipsters (ok, got it now…that’s what we call the un-rational ones!!) actually experienced that store’s unique smell,” chimed in another (I do pray that this man is never exposed to the “unique smell” of, say, Asian markets!)

And on and on it went.  Not one pause to wonder what had made 1000 people sign such a petition.  Not one thought that among the whining hipsters might be rational Latino residents (who make up approx. 30% of this 30,000 person community).  Not one consideration that different priorities do not mean lesser priorities.

Now, I could chalk all this up to the fact that, this time of year in particular, most everyone in Boston is disagreeable because, well, Mother Nature herself has been disagreeable.  For about six months.

I could chalk it up to the company I keep (on Facebook at least). Or, more precise, used to keep.

But I think it’s more than that.  I think it’s because somewhere along the way, we’ve forgotten how to empathize.

We’ve forgotten how to relate.  As people.  Not only when you agree, but, as important, when you don’t.

We’ve forgotten that, when you strip away all the Facebook posts, the political ideologies, the causes, the this, the that…we’re all really the same. Exactly the same.  Sure, we express that sameness in unique ways.  That’s what makes us individuals.  But, really and truly, behind that individuality is a shared humanity.

Years ago, my boss, Gerry Studds, used to tell me that, when he first ran for Congress (as an anti-Vietnam war candidate) he and his opponents would switch sides in debates to entertain themselves (and the audience) and annoy the press.

They were able to disagree in agreeable, even fun, ways–on matters such as the Vietnam war no less–because they respected each other.  Because they never doubted the other’s love for the country or belief in what was right.  Because they could see the other’s point of view, even while disagreeing strongly with it.

Hard to imagine such a thing happening today.  Not on national matters.  Not even, it seems, on local matters like what type of grocery store belongs where or what schools should open…and close.

But imagine if it did happen.  Imagine what our grocery stores and schools would be like then.  Our communities.  Our country.  And, yes, god help us, even our Facebook pages!

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Remembering Yesterday’s Valentines

Last Friday, my husband and I were having lunch at Cafe Minh a great Asian restaurant in Mid-City.  It was an experience I’ll never forget.  Not because of the food (which, this being New Orleans and all, was, of course, wonderful).  Not because of the conversation (it was a typical lunch between a typical couple).

It was because of a 60-something couple who sat across from us. He enjoying his martini; she her Cosmo.   They were completely forgettable in their appearance.  Attractive, but not distinctive.  He wore the same blue shirt and grey trousers that almost every dad/new grandfather wears. She had on the same long gold necklace and plum colored mock turtleneck that virtually every woman past menopause acquires.

I’ll never know their names.  But I’ll always know who they were: former lovers.   It was obvious in the way  they spoke in that soft, warm tone that reveals a lasting intimacy.  An intimacy that is easier to share when the day-to-day pressure of maintaining a relationship is gone.  In the way they gently touched, never held, each other’s hands. Smiling at the memory of shared times with heads bent slightly to help bring the past into clearer focus.

The reunion was easier on him than her.  “They were good times,” he said brightly.  “Yes,” she replied quietly head bowed, retreating her hands to the stem of her glass.  As he raised his glass to toast what was, she, for a moment, allowed herself to be transported back there.  To what was.

There was silence and, then, a mutual lady friend joined them.  The man brightened, the woman slumped.  The trip down memory lane was over.  They were back in the present.  Forever away from the possibility of making what was….real…again.

For the next few days, I saw former lovers everywhere.  Running into each other at the grocery store.  Embracing at a second line.  I thought of my former lovers.  Of how the two most memorable dinners I had as we were leaving Boston was with two of them, Steve and Bob, whose love I’ll always cherish.  And return.

And it got me to thinking.  About the meaning of Valentine’s Day.  Or, rather, A meaning.

While this certainly is a day for loving the one you love–and, indeed, ALL those you love!— maybe it also should include just a moment’s pause to remember those you HAVE loved.

Because, despite society’s insistence that we compartmentalize our lives into what was, what is, and what will be.  Despite the legion of self-help books and talk shows that tell you how to move on.  Despite the days, the weeks, the years that steadily push back the daily, weekly, yearly memories, the truth is that love, like life, is nothing but a continuum.  There is no break.  There may be new chapters, but it’s the same book.

And old loves will always be part of that book, not only occupying old chapters, but–in some way–informing ones you still are writing.

So, raise a glass to today’s love on this Valentine’s Day.  But, then, look up and in..to your heart…and take a sip of gratitude and memory to yesterday’s Valentines, knowing that a tiny piece of them will always be there.  In your heart.

Happy Valentines!

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