Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Carolina in the Pines

Carolina is stunning this time of year! It always makes me think of this song. First recorded in 1975.

Shout out to David Hoffner, the magical piano player.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Citizen Kane wins five primaries

Donald Trump swept the Republican primaries last night... and all I could think of was Hedley Lamarr, and the evillll for which he stands.

Yes, the Trump campaign makes me think of BLAZING SADDLES. Lots and lots of similarities.


Donald Trump Declares Himself 'Presumptive Nominee' After Tuesday Wins (NBC)

Trump sweeps GOP races (CNN)

Donald Trump completes sweep of five northeast states (USA Today)


I didn't post on this blog for quite a long time, and in the meantime, stored up a few stray links to discuss later.

And you probably know what happened, right?

About half of these are gone already, especially the tweets. Must have been some hard-hitting, gotcha tweets, for me to make a quick footnote of them. And now they are gone.

Dear Radicals, as I said two days ago, GET A GRIP! Citizen Kane and the Twilight Days of Empire await us. Stop feverishly erasing whatever it was that desperately needed to be said. STOP BEING AFRAID! Charles Foster Kane is who you need to be afraid of right now, not some damnable tweet that might have been heavy-handed, might have hurt some liberal's feelings. (Or worse, brought out the attack dogs.)

To sum up: Whoever deleted that tweet is not someone I want in my radical cell. If you are afraid of the consequences of a tweet, you are not going to be there when they start rounding people up, you will be out hiding in your shed or under your SUV. Count on it.

This is serious, people. THIS IS SERIOUS.

[Aside: See how it is? I eventually devolve into a hysterical splay of capital letters and explanation points because... what else can you say? How do we get the suburban white kids to panic? Take away all the phones?]


Other links of note:

[] Written during the 2012 election campaign, this post is now more pertinent than ever: Rethinking how we think about voting. THIS MEANS YOU!

[] Suzanne Vega found her old letter from Prince. (sigh)

[] Ted Cruz, John Kasich join forces to stop Trump. A day late and a dollar short, guys.

Speaking of old letters, I wish I had saved the nasty note I once received from Kasich, back when he was in congress and I was a born-and-bred citizen of the great state of which he is now governor. I wrote to him first and I was nasty, he replied and he was nasty right back, and we understood each other just fine.

I never dreamed he would be governor, let alone run for president.

My advice: Save those nasty letters from even the low-level politicians, kids! They could be worth something someday!

[] The diversity rally I tried to avoid, but in this town, I am spotted everywhere I go. Really.

Sometimes I wonder what life might be like in a really BIG town.

[] What you need to say to the smug atheist liberals who assure us religion is on the skids and down for the count: Not so fast.

Please understand, when they dwindle to "the remnant" -- that is exactly when they will fight like hell. And perhaps that is exactly what is happening right now.

Who among you, like me, grew up on the Christian term REMNANT? It was considered a compliment; the diehards who stay loyal until the Second Coming... and do you get it? They WANT to be The Remnant!! Looking around and deciding they are the legendary REMNANT will crank them up like nothing else you can imagine. They will REMNANTIZE the entire discourse, with Armageddon, the Rapture and the Tribulation right around the corner.

And see, here's the thing: they will MAKE Armageddon if they have to.

They will PUT US ALL through the Tribulation, my friends. (Does the term SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY mean anything to you?)

Fight them from within (as I once tried to do) or fight from without, but fight. Armageddon is an evil concept, and we must fight it that way. Accuse them of wanting to start it themselves, which I've learned, DOES make them blink and hesitate for a second.

Because I am sorry to tell you, its true. They can't wait for the endtimes war. Its behind everything they do.



I lost a treasured friend right before Thanksgiving... in fact, right as I was getting ready to pick up this blog again, she passed away. Her death hit me hard and I once again dealt with acute writer's block.

I wrote a few words on tumblr, with photos. I always tell everyone that one of the worst aspects of aging is losing your friends, your teenage idols, your neighborhood, etc. Even though inevitable, it deeply hurts; what Buddha called "the suffering of change" (vipariṇāma-dukkha).

Tricia Earle always encouraged me and thought I was creative; she gave a generous speech/introduction for me once, and presented me with my 10-year AA chip. I realized, in reading the Facebook pages about her: not everyone knew she was in AA. After all, its supposed to be anonymous, and everybody isn't like ME, broadcasting all their innermost secrets to the world. I therefore didn't know if I should mention our friendship or not. Finally I decided, yes, I would. "Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions," but it does not extend beyond death.

And what I needed to say about Tricia was also about Alcoholics Anonymous itself.

Tricia, whose last name I didn't know for years, came from an elite old-South family. And I didn't know it. ME, the ultra-class-conscious socialist who can ferret out Harvard posts online... I did NOT KNOW she came from THE EARLES (there is a street here named after her family). She did not in ANY WAY act like she was elite, and this was the power of AA. We were "all in it together"-- and just as the homeless and poor are part of that deep, blood-brotherhood fellowship, so are the rich, so are the famous. When AA works correctly, when people are working the program correctly, you shouldn't be able to tell who the rich people are.... and I couldn't tell.

This means she did it right.

This is the greatest thing I can say about her, the highest compliment I could give her.

And you know what? She would hands-down agree with me. :)

Rest in peace, dearest one.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Music and age: you've always wondered

I could once veer effortlessly from reggae to country to punk to old Rogers & Hammerstein to RED DETACHMENT OF WOMEN (which was especially fun to listen to, if you consider the fact that Richard Nixon was forced to sit through it and even applaud afterwards) and then start all over again. Last year, I finally sold the ancient vinyl record collection (which you may remember I threatened to do HERE), and was embarrassed to find GUY LOMBARDO AND HIS ROYAL CANADIANS, good Lord, where did THAT come from?

For every White Light, White Heat (which made local collector/entrepreneur Gene Berger's heart go pitty-pat when he saw it), there was something goofy like HEAVY METAL TOP HITS, which featured B-sides nobody ever heard of, they weren't top hits at all. Scanning the cover, I realized I bought it dirt cheap just to listen to Golden Earring's RADAR LOVE.

At left: poster advertising the famous communist opera/ballet, RED DETACHMENT OF WOMEN. It sounds pretty much like you think it does.

I find it difficult to listen to new music now, in the proper open-eared fashion. At first, didn't think much of this, but later, I worried. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME? I think we know the name for it: its called getting old.

I have lost so many of my favorite musicians recently, age and death are unavoidably on my mind. David Bowie lived on the edge for years, so it was not as surprising that he didn't hit age 70, although still heartbreaking. But Prince? He was a vegan, didn't even drink. And (take note) he is YOUNGER THAN ME. I repeat, YOUNGER THAN ME. People younger than me ain't supposed to die. Alarming and saddening.

Also alarming and saddening, regarding the musical tastes of aging people, here is a fascinating account of some research by Stanford University neuroscience professor (and great author) Robert Sapolsky:

[Sapolsky], irritated by his young administrative assistant’s eclectic taste in music, tested whether there are maturational time windows during which we form cultural tastes. He and his research assistants called oldies radio stations, sushi restaurants in the Midwest, and body-piercing parlors and asked the managers when their service was introduced, and how old their average customer was. They found that if you’re more than thirty-five years old when a style of popular music is introduced there’s a greater than ninety-five per cent chance that you will never choose to listen to it. For sushi restaurants, the window of receptivity closed by age thirty-nine; for body-piercing, by twenty-three. The findings were reminiscent of studies that show that creativity declines with age. These studies also indicate that great creative minds not only are less likely to generate something new but are less open to someone else’s novelty. Einstein, in his later years, fought a rear-guard action against quantum mechanics.

Psychologist Dean Keith Simonton has shown that the decline in creativity and openness among great minds isn’t predicted by age so much as by how long people have worked in one discipline. Scholars who switch disciplines seem to have their openness rejuvenated. That may be because a new discipline seems fresh and original, or because a high achiever in one discipline is unusually open to novelty in the first place. Or maybe changing disciplines really does stimulate the mind’s youthful openness to novelty. Or it may just be that established generations resist new discoveries because they have the most to lose by them. The explanation is not neurological: in most brain regions there isn’t any dramatic neuron loss as we get older, and there is no such thing as a novelty center in the brain. Given that aging contracts neural networks and makes cognition more repetitive, it would be a humane quirk of evolution if we were reassured by that repetition. There may even be some advantage for social groups if their aging members become protective archivists of their cultural inheritance.

But the writer remains dispirited by the impoverishment that comes with this closing of the mind to novelty. If there’s a rich, vibrant world out there, he figures it’s worth putting up a bit of a fight, even it means forgoing Bob Marley’s greatest hits every now and then.
It also seems important to listen to as much different music as you can before this cultural "window" closes.

The problem isn't just that the window seems to close, but that we haven't seen everything out that wide window first... therefore, expand those boundaries as far as you can. Best advice would appear to be: Listen to it all when you are young and have open-ears.

RED DETACHMENT OF WOMEN still doesn't annoy me the way it does most people... and its undoubtedly because I heard it so many times as a young pup, even if I WAS forced by the Progressive Labor Party.

And what would the eager young comrades in this 70s, old-school Maoist opera-ballet company say if they saw modern, hyper-capitalist China? Relieved, upset, suicidal, happy? The opera is the sound of a whole nother China, which sounds more familiar to me than today's China... just as I feel oddly warm and cozy when I see now-extinct cold-war thrillers on TV: Its all over now kids, at least the worst! Whew, was that some shit or what?

Entertainment like The Hunt for Red October used to stop my heart, and now I am thinking: I never noticed how Sean Connery's Russian accent needs some work.

Monday, April 25, 2016

TL; DR -- update from the Front

I used to love the internet.

I used to spend hours and hours... it was the most magical place to me.

Around about 2007, I joined some email lists that started as political but ended up (in the space of a couple of years) as entirely too personal. My experience ended badly, with all manner of bloodletting. Even after I left these lists, the bloodletting continued with the remaining participants. So, it wasn't me. It was the lists themselves; it seemed inevitable. Since 1998, I have participated in message/bulletin boards, email lists, google groups, all of that... and most have ended badly. I have witnessed this again and again and again.

Why? Real-life connections don't always end badly.

In fact, most just 'fade away'--in stark contrast to the vicious break-ups of the online groups.

On tumblr, this constant bloodletting and public evidence of following/unfollowing (constant measures of 'popularity') is standard operational procedure. I have been eviscerated publicly numerous times for (example) wanting to discuss whether "trigger warnings" are a good or bad thing (PS: they're bad) or why so many tumblrites seem to believe John Lennon is the worst white man to have ever lived. They trash Lennon far more than they do Ted Cruz, for instance.

My abject terror at what tumblr and Reddit says about the youth of today, has been a major aspect of my disillusionment with the net, since they are its primary users.

Baby-boomers' parents worried that we were insane radicals, but *I* worry that the kids of today are too afraid to leave the basement. They say they are "radicals" and actually believe they are more radical than we ever were, since they watch some wild-ass porn and purport to believe some wild-ass stuff, and perhaps on one level, that is true. But as we know, faith without works is dead, and most of these kids are dead. They have been brainwashed to think they are radical because they purchase 'alternative' brands, eat 'progressive' foods, wear 'edgy' clothing (often displaying provocative slogans), watch 'radical' TV shows or listen to 'radical' music, and in particular, think certain wayward thoughts. Since they believe they are radical by fiat (or something), they don't actually have to do anything, like vote. (And some even authoritatively counsel the other kids not to vote too!)

They have not even met each other; they don't even know the actual activists in their own communities.

Their radicalism is a role-playing game. That's all.

The simple curiosity that used to rate rolled eyes and whispers in a high school classroom, now warrants hundreds of young women calling me nasty names and instructing me to go away: old people "don't belong" on tumblr. The idea that the internet "belongs" to everybody is also a thing of the past. Now, "everybody" is supposed to go their own corners. The quaint 90s idea that the net would break down barriers and allow us all to talk to each other, regardless of differences? So dated, so 90s. One tumblrite snidely asked me, did I really believe that shit? I answered, not only did I believe it, I briefly experienced it... and if she had too, she might be bored and disappointed with the internet discourse she is currently stuck with, wherein everyone she talks to appears to be of her same suburban economic class (they don't dare even venture into the cities!) and obediently repeats the same dogma. Its like walking into a middle-school classroom, but: the kids are geniuses, the vocabularies are astounding, the knowledge is amazing. Imagine how effective they might be if they organized others, if they left their suburban basements and the echo chambers they now inhabit. Think of how smart they could be! Think of the progress we might make!

[Amusing aside: Interestingly, they often tell me to go away in the same post in which they proudly extol diversity and difference. Not kidding you one bit. The irony escapes them totally.]


OH COME ON Daisy! Somebody is yelling at me: what about the Bernie Bros? What about the Sanders campaign, Ferguson demonstrations, Black Lives Matter? There are lots of young people in all of these movements.

Yes... well, those are interesting, and I have decided, after much close analysis, they are not the same people.

The tumblr kids and the the Reddit kids are not the Ferguson kids and the Bernie Bros, although they echo the rhetoric (dogma). The kids out doing real activism are using Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and get reblogged/linked on the other platforms like Tumblr, Reddit, Google Plus. Actual activists simply don't have time for all the theoretical, nitpicky back-and-forth that the tumblrites specialize in.

Which brings me to the next problem.

The fakes.

The early internet, like now, was full of fakes, but the difference was that it was a basic one-line fake vs a full-grown, fully-imagined fake. Somebody might say they were married, then later completely forget who they had claimed to be and say they were dating some new person. Or somebody would claim to be male or female, and later mess up and complain about their period, their pregnancy, their old football injury or their prostate test. Busted.

Pretty simple though. People rarely shared their geographic location, and many refused to say what race they were. (If you guessed they were white, they might ask why you came to that conclusion, when they had never said what race they were. That was actually fairly common.) Asking too many questions about identity could get you banned on bulletin boards; it was considered rude and intrusive. ANSWER THE ARGUMENTS ON THE MERITS, moderators would instruct us repeatedly, YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW *identity* TO MAKE THE ARGUMENTS. And I discovered that no, you don't. We started to think: Maybe it's better to get appeals to IDENTITY out of they way and get to the heart of the matter: civil rights for all people, fairness and justice for all people.

But... but... here's the thing: identity politics (what Will Shetterly has correctly and incisively named Identitarianism) tells us exactly the opposite.

In fact, identity politics is the flip side of the elitism it was born to counter: identity politics posits that some identities are sacrosanct. In short, some identities are simply "better" than others. It is basically the same as saying: if you went to THIS school or THAT school, you are smarter than regular people; if you are rich and well-traveled, you are a better class of person and more worthy of being taken seriously and listened to. ("when you're rich, they think you really know!") A staggeringly-rich idiot who has never held political office might well be our next president, while a poor idiot would be laughed at... in fact, a poor idiot would have more humility and never even attempt such a thing.

The online youth culture tells us that identity is the thing, they demand IDENTITY lists before they will interact with each other, or with you. They list their identity markers the way girls used to proudly point to their charm bracelets and tell us what all the charms meant.

I chart the beginning of the deification of identity politics as coinciding with the Advent of our first Identity Politics president, the one who duly mentioned the laundry list of identities in his presidential acceptance speech. This is the New Order, people, are you listening? I thought it was cool at the time, but that was before I realized identity would (once again) be used to shame people, only a different group this time; in fact, like shape-shifting, the shamed-group constantly changes.

And what has happened, in this toxic atmosphere that worships "identity"?

Well, what happens when one identity is considered superior?

I refer you to SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION, THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY and similar stories. Ambitious poor folks have often claimed to be independently-rich white people, well traveled, good schools, all the stuff I just mentioned. Why? To be well-regarded, to have status and to be taken seriously. Your words take on GRAVITAS when your impressive identity backs your shit up. And when it doesn't, you might be told that everybody has opinions (just like assholes) and yours don't matter. But just re-invent yourself tomorrow as **worshiped IDENTITY** and write the same opinion, then watch everyone tell you how great and important it is.

This whole phenomenon used to make me mad. Then it made me laugh. Then it made me tired, weary. And finally: embarrassed. I am wholly embarrassed and disgusted with the Left. As I said once before (and I was right, so pay attention): if we can't change this sorry-assed state of affairs, we will LOSE, and LOSE BIG... and furthermore, if we are this catastrophically clumsy and pedestrian in our analysis: we DESERVE TO LOSE.

So, get ready for President Trump or REPENT KIDDIES. REPENT NOW or get used to it being far far far worse than you ever remember in your lifetime. The American Raj is over, but Trump is preparing us for the Last Gasp of the American Century. (As for me, all I have been able to think of, over and over, is the end of WHEN THE MUSIC'S OVER by the Doors, when Morrison screams JESUS SAVE US!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Yes, please save us.


My advice, which may well be too little, too late... a day late and a dollar short:

Leave the basement and get out there with the Black Lives Matter people. Stop nitpicking with people on your same ideological side, and start fighting with the REAL ENEMY. How about you bring self-doubt, tears and weakness to the OPPOSITION rather than your own comrades?

And if you don't want to do this, as I asked once before, who are you really working for?

Tumblrites: for every argumentative post with someone on your own side, do one angry post addressed to the opposition. HOW?--they ask (they have never MET the opposition)... well, take a hashtag like MRA or BLACK LIVES MATTER or TRUMP and go find them. Then, pick a fight (i.e. criticize their posts, stay focused, no cussing) and preoccupy them for long periods and drain their energy. (Since that is exactly what they do to you, and you don't seem to realize it.) For every nasty insult you level at a fellow Leftist or sister feminist, make sure you deliver twice, three times that to the enemy, the Right wing. If you cannot argue with the Right wing, you are not a Leftist, you are engaging in Role-playing games and FASHION (identity politics) only.

[Amusing aside: A favorite reply when I argue with the identitarians is "I CAN'T EVEN" ... which obviously means that despite the fancy-ass schools they constantly brag about, they are too stupid to complete their own sentences. What is I CAN'T EVEN.... you can't even WHAT??? GO AWAY then and leave politics to the grown-ups who CAN EVEN.]


I recently ran somebody off tumblr when I found evidence of her fakery. I promised to print her name and elite college employer (hint: most elite college in the country and how did I instinctively KNOW that?) if she continued the lying bullshit about how oppressed and radical, etc, she is. I didn't hesitate for a second.

Later, I felt guilty, but then I realized that of course she will be back in still another (oppressed, ultra-PC) incarnation, and I probably won't even recognize her. Granted, she won't have the thousands of adoring-groupie followers that she once had; that will undoubtedly take some time to accumulate again, but I have no doubt she can do this. They loooove her. They dedicated posts to her and lovingly called her their "blog crush".

They love a fake.

Repeat: they love a fake.

And I would jeer if it not already happened to me too. Lisaquestions/Lisa Harney (one of the people who ran me off one of the aforementioned email lists) has also turned out to be a fake. They appear to be a tag-teaming, white, highly-educated hetero cis couple living in an amazing Seattle-area house priced at over a half-million... not the poor wittle disabled trans woman on a fixed income that they have always claimed to be. (And this is why nobody has ever met them in person!) In fact, this busybody couple proudly lists their brag-worthy running times on Facebook, so apparently, disability is another PC identity in lefty circles, even as real-life disabled people are systematically excluded and shit on. Adding descriptors such as "genderqueer" (nobody can agree what that means, but it means you are oppressed) and "disabled" (means you are on anti-depressants, good thing nobody can tell by looking!) to an already-privileged suburban background, guarantees that you will not be attacked as harshly.

[Amusing aside: Many of these same fake-disabled identitarians also refused to vote for politicians who accepted the Medicaid expansion in their states, thus guaranteeing that many disabled people will die, of course. In my local political work, I learned that people with actual disabilities, activists or not, were acutely aware of this issue and how it impacted them; South Carolina pointedly did NOT take the Medicaid expansion. Therefore, this issue and the discussion around it became one foolproof way I ferreted out the disability-fakes.]


What does it mean, that fakes are all over the discourse? How do they impact it?

What is their agenda? To look good to others, to feed their ego, or ... do they actually intend to engineer leftist concepts/theories in ways that will benefit them? How would they do this and how WOULD it benefit them?

It has been pointed out to me by interested parties (meaning: I didn't figure it out all by myself) that some of the most contentious crap on tumblr and Reddit, the source of so much ideological in-fighting, has started with the fakes. (This takes me back to my earlier proposition that provocateurs are the problem, or at least that they are successful in "pointing" the arguments in certain directions.) One activist pointed out to me that Lisaquestions' first (and very influential) blog, Questioning Transphobia, was the first place the "my penis is a woman's penis" argument was made. Before Lisa's QT dogma was formulated, trans women did not usually discuss their penises. After Lisa's proclamations, their penises seemed to be a major subject with them, just like when your obnoxious little brother discovered his and couldn't stop waving it around. Bloggers like Toni Dorsay took up the banner, decreeing that anyone who says trans women were socialized as male is a transphobe, anyone who says a trans woman has a male organ is a transphobe, any lesbian who won't sleep with trans women due to a dislike of (or no discernible reaction to) penises, was a transphobe. In fact, everyone is a transphobe; even trans people like my real-life friend SCBoy are screamed at for not getting with the dogma.

And now real life and the internet meet in strange ways. SC state senator Lee Bright, dangerous right-wing creationist crackpot and official Tea Party looney tune, has proposed a transgender bathroom bill here in SC, just like the one in NC. This has brought about the witty hashtag #peewithLee.

I do not want to pee with Lee, and in fact, I want nothing to do with Lee. Lee needs to disappear. (note: he once had libertarian tendencies and supported Ron Paul, but that didn't get him enough votes and he is now on the BIG GOVERNMENT, MORE LAWS AND MORE WAR side of the fence, with Ted Cruz and the whole Hee Haw gang.) Although I dislike the online trans discourse (much of which I believe is dominated by fakes--being a supposedly 'stealth trans person' is a perfect, airtight excuse to avoid meeting people in real life, isn't it?) -- I will NOT be agreeing with Lee Bright about shit. I once agreed with him about war and weed and Ron Paul, but this was way back in that exciting, hothouse year of Occupy, when anything seemed possible. We have gone our separate ways. Lee Bright sees trans people as an easy way to get votes in hyper-conservative South Carolina. The online-fakes see trans people as a way to needle feminists and leftists and handily bring us down.

Very similar isn't it? Using groups of unpopular people for political gain is the way Southern politics has always been played, but I never thought it would CATCH ON everywhere else.

Then again, I am reminded that this is how that famous German Chancellor was elected ... and don't ever forget that, yall. ELECTED. He was ELECTED.

I know, I have just ruined my endless tl;dr post with the Godwin rule, but sometimes, you just have to.


And what does all of this mean for me, my blog, my politics, yada yada?

It means I do not blog the way I once did.

It means I now keep my private life very private, when I used to broadcast my business all over creation.

It means I am suspicious of everyone online (including even Facebook friends), that I have not personally verified.

It means when I change my mind about something, I will often not be sharing that here.

I am hoping to get this blog started up again as an outlet for reviews, links, local news, etc... but I always wrote in a very personal, chatty, Good Housekeeping/hey-yall style, as if we were all just girls trying to get by. I honestly don't know if I can pull that off anymore; I am no longer sure that is who we are at all.

At least, I no longer am.


After 4 years of doing the radio show, I changed. My methods, my outlook, changed dramatically. For instance, I learned firsthand that there are rabble-rousers and other loud types who will categorically refuse to go on the air, refuse to publicly give their point of view, and even refuse to provide me with someone who CAN. And I would think, annoyed, WHAT THE HELL GOOD ARE YOU THEN? I became angry at inaction, angrier than I ever was before. I constantly heard complaining and pleas for help, and then... observed the learned helplessness as that individual would refuse any help I offered, such as... GO ON THE RADIO AND TELL US ABOUT IT, GODDAMMIT. This is what you do: tell the world. And you start with us.

Some would. Many did. Others? Ha.

And what was the difference between the people who would and the people who would not?

I finally figured it out: they did not take themselves seriously! And they seemed surprised when anyone else did.

Is this why we have the fakes? Because they feel like they can only take themselves seriously when they are someone else?

If only identitarians are sacrosanct, important, worthy of being taken seriously... it stands to reason that those who want to be taken seriously will invent identities for themselves, to join this rarefied, special club. Just like the talented Mr Ripley. They may even believe these fake identities are real, like the kids on anti-depressants who claim to be disabled, although no one IRL has any clue they are on anti-depressants.

Or they may just make up these identities wholesale, and pretend to be someone else entirely.

In any event, the internet and the political discourse have been irreparably damaged. I am looking forward to the day when we can track them all down, every single one, not just the ones who get sloppy and/or simply can't hide which elite college they work for.

I used to be afraid of that, but no more. As some famous, miracle-producing rabbi once said, the truth shall set you free.

Back in the day, at the Christopher Street Gay Pride March in NYC, we chanted, OUT OF THE CLOSETS AND INTO THE STREETS!


Time to update the slogan, add your own, play along at home.


In the meantime, what will happen to us? Can we turn this around? Is Citizen Kane going to be president?

When the music's over, turn out the lights.

Monday, September 7, 2015

What is to be done: Reflections on the Mother Emanuel shooting

At left: the victims of white supremacist Dylann Roof, all members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (known as "Mother Emanuel") in Charleston, South Carolina.

Left to right, from top: Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Ethel Lance, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Reverend Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Myra Thompson.

When the shooting in Charleston happened (June 17), I nearly had a nervous breakdown.

All the work we have done towards racial reconciliation here in the South, all the dialogue, all the reaching-out, making alliances, supporting one another and going the final yard... POOF--I felt it all go right up in smoke, the smoke of gunpowder, the permanence of death. Holy God... REVEREND PINCKNEY???? I thought I would faint right there on the spot. No, I thought, panicked, please, NO, not Reverend Pinckney. I had to go on the radio and report this horror, and what possible words could there be? On the air, my voice quavered, and I said as simply as I could, this was exactly like a hard, sharp blow. On the head.

My co-hosts, looking stricken, just nodded silently along with me, encouraging me to go on. I was speaking for them too.

And I asked, how can white activists talk about this and not make it "about us"? Because its not about us.

One of my co-hosts, the amazing Double-A, disagreed. Of course this is about us. A self-identified white supremacist shot these people and we are white. We must always make it clear that this person does not speak for us, that this person is a dangerous renegade. He is the proverbial LONE GUNMAN.

Yes, okay. That is true... but of course, we do not want to claim him as one of us. And we don't have to, that is one of the main privileges of whiteness, isn't it? White sociopaths are... sociopaths first. Black sociopaths are... black first. Black criminals represent their race, while white criminals are just anomalies, outliers, sicko-crackpots safely apart from the rest of us... surely they do not represent the entire white race.

Do they?

Some black children will be afraid of us now. They are already afraid; they do not stop to ask, are all whites dangerous? They already know the answer to that by what they have seen. They act accordingly. They will avoid us, cross to the other side of the street when a group of us approach. They are looking at the record, they see what is right in front of them.

I wept passing the local historic black church close to my home, Reedy River Baptist, when I saw the marquee out front advertising Wednesday night Bible Study. YOU HAVE RUINED THIS FOR US, YOU MISERABLE FUCK DYLANN ROOF... At this point, I would no sooner walk in there for Bible study than I would go to Mars. A white person was welcomed for Bible study, and he drew his gun. On the air, I recalled the warmth and kindness of folks when I first moved South over 28 years ago, didn't know the neighborhoods and ended up at an all-black AA meeting. I was welcomed as one of their own, although they did wryly ask where I was from. Their kindness hit me hard, because I knew in the reverse situation, the black person in an all-white AA meeting would not be welcomed warmly, but probably just ignored or possibly chatted with on a superficial level (and *I* would be the one to do that). I was ashamed of what I knew then, and now.

The next time one of us strays in, or deliberately goes in, what will be the response? If it is suspicious and/or hostile, can we blame them? Maybe the response SHOULD be suspicious and/or hostile.

Even as I wept after the news of the shootings, the arraignment of Dylann Roof nearly drove me under. All that incredible, unbounded forgiveness reminded me of why I flunked out of Christianity so spectacularly. I have a hard time with forgiveness. (Irish Alzheimer's: you forget everything but the grudges.) Their incredible examples of humanity and decency made me sob with recognition, this is what we were taught: SHOW MERCY. I would have had none, and that made me cry even harder. Perhaps my own privilege is the reason I am unable to show mercy? My white arrogance somehow tells me the wrongs committed against me are of paramount importance... I can't let them go.

I decided the next time I needed to forgive, I would remember the words of these family members, forgiving Dylann Roof. I will remember and I will take them as my model, the spiritual heights that mere humans are capable of reaching when they dedicate themselves to the very highest principles, these truths we hold to be self-evident.

They felt sorry for him. He wasn't right, he was tormented and lonely... and they saw this. So did I, but... no sympathy.

I decided I wanted to be like them.

And so, the event changed me. This is why it has been so difficult to write about. As a white resident and political activist of South Carolina, the actions of Dylann Roof pierced my soul, and the forgiveness of the people he wronged set that same soul on fire. DO YOU SEE WHAT YOU MUST DO?--my inner self asked me, the voice I have always attributed to the Blessed Mother, whom I love. DO YOU SEE NOW?



How to write about these things and be respectful? Specifically: How not to excoriate the opportunistic Southern politicians who suddenly came out of the woodwork to claim... I dunno, something. They came fast and furious, babbling and talking about prayer. Finally, Governor Haley decides the confederate flag must be taken down from the South Carolina State House, after defending it nonstop for two terms. Liberals threw spitballs, but she emerged looking good; she was all ready for her close-up, Mr DeMille! It was hard not to get mad all over again, as our very conservative, nonwhite governor decided to be nonwhite for the networks, and make a name for herself at long last. CABINET POSITION, she was whispering to herself... along with THIS IS MY SECOND TERM, THE RACIST LOONIES CAN'T VOTE ME OUT.

And so, Governor Haley signed the order and I waited around for hell to freeze over solid. She also attended every funeral, wearing her pricey, trademark designer duds. She even hugged Al Sharpton forgodsake. Luckily, cameras were around constantly to catch her dabbing at her eyes.

Believe me, this was hard to take.

Senator Lindsey Graham distinguished himself during the proceedings, talking not to the Masses but straight to South Carolina conservatives (his base) when given two minutes on any network: Please you guys, this is not the time to protect the flag... I understand how you feel, BUT THIS IS NOT THE TIME. Etc. He sounded like a kindergarten teacher trying to soothe an ill-behaved child who had locked himself in the utility closet with a rifle. Maybe that IS who he was talking to. The whites who feel wronged, left behind, their folkways and customs made fun of in international media, the southern whites who have felt the mass contempt of the world, sitting in their trailer parks, daily shit on by the rich. Angry, because its one more thing "they" are telling the poor whites they must leave behind, one more thing the liberals on the coasts have decided they can't have. Their resentment percolates, and in some times and in some places it is so pronounced, you can feel it.

And I watched confederate flags unfurl in the week the flag was removed. Many in the rural areas are still waving. One guy in a pickup was driving all over Woodruff Road with a stars-and-bars the size of Saskatchewan. But I looked around, and I saw other drivers pointing at him. Some shaking their heads in open disapproval. Its one thing to wave your flag before the NASCAR race, but another to wave it after someone has shot nine people to death, waving it in selfie after selfie. That wasn't cool, and even conservative SC citizens could clearly see that.

Progress of a sort. I wondered, does blood have to be shed before there is PROGRESS? Must we have martyrs before there is any damn PROGRESS???

More tears, more inability to write.

As you can see, it has taken me months.


Our Confederate Memorial Day state holiday remains untouched, as I reminded the kids on tumblr. In addition to South Carolina, there are official "Confederate Memorial Days" in Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia and Louisiana. (Virginia and Arkansas appear to have escaped this fate somehow, and good for them.) What are we going to do about that, anything?

Certainly, eradicating Confederate Memorial Day just doesn't have the ready-made media optics of taking down a flag, so maybe nobody cares? Except of course for the state workers insulted by the holiday. Do they count?

I say, lets get rid of it. And all those statues of John C. Calhoun? Calhoun Street, where Mother Emanuel is? Wade Hampton Boulevard, within spitting distance of me, also the name of a local high school? The entire South is named after slave-owners and confederate heroes. We have our work cut out for us.

As an American, I always believed the Germans went way too far, outlawing nazis, naziism and nazi paraphernalia for good. You know, free speech and alla that blahdeblah First Amendment bullshit I was raised with. But see, NOW they don't have to deal with this--they don't have towns, streets, boulevards and schools named after dead nazis, and that is the reason why. I stand humbled, and I officially apologize to the German people. You saw what needed to be done, and in your shame, you did it. Good for you.

Our turn now.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Summer update

I don't know what has made me finally update this thing. Well, okay... yes I do. Full disclosure.

I looked up some critic I used to read in the 80s/90s. A common hack, but a very puffed-up, self-righteous hack; one of those you remember for their never-ending indignation and bluster (which should not be confused with genuine insight). Whatever happened to that person?--I wondered.

Answer: They are teaching at an Ivy League university.

This warmed-over, self-congratulatory HACK is now teaching AT AN IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL ... and apparently, is regarded as pretty damn important. Say what?

And when did THAT happen? HOW did it happen? Who did they blow to get that job? Surely, this Ivy League school read the same warmed-over bluster that I did? Didn't they?!?

See, this is why writers give up. This is why. The hacks who repeat dopey conventional wisdom are rewarded with the best jobs in the land, while us poor local radio-hosts/bloggers/burnt-out columnists trudge ever-onward, totally ignored. They steal our ideas, our memes, our catchy phrases, our radio-show topics, et. al... and then they get the gigs the rest of us will never get because we are too poor, don't live in the right part of the country and don't wear the right shoes.

Further, we don't even know WHERE TO BUY the right shoes.

Anyway, I just thought I would mention that. Ivy League. Somebody who can't put together two decent similes in a row, now teaches the privileged children of American how to write badly. Jesus wept.


And now, the summer update. Yes, the summer is almost over, so I figured it was safe to update now.

Aside from posting some pretty photos and similar inconsequential ephemera, I have basically taken leave of evil tumblr, Heart of Darkness. My account was hacked and I thought, okay. This is it. They really really do not want me here, it certainly isn't just my imagination. I considered deleting my entire account/tumblr blog, but I have linked it here (and other places) a few times, and therefore have no desire to do that. If people dislike what I have written or what I have reblogged, I really don't care. (Reblogging does not equal agreement, but that concept is FAR TOO COMPLEX for the nasty suburban brats at tumblr to comprehend.) The vicious kids on tumblr remind me of those carnivorous dolls in Barbarella, except their actions are safely baptized with the words SOCIAL JUSTICE so its all perfectly okay. In fact, they routinely assure each other how wonderful they are with "appreciation posts" and "appreciation threads"--the more vicious and nasty you are, the more likely you will be greatly appreciated.

I have made a few friends on tumblr, for which I am grateful, but these people are notable for being NOTHING like the majority of participants, and proof of this is that all privately reached out to me. All seemed eager to talk to someone (anyone?) with a different point of view, but they are also afraid to cop to this desire out loud. And yes, I do understand.

The ideological lockstep governing the Left right now, is stifling and horrible. The only words for this paranoid climate are Stalinism and McCarthyism. For example, I am the only person I know hacked on tumblr for "transphobia"--as well as banned from (what many consider) the most "transphobic" blog on the net, Gendertrender (there is your warning). So go figure.
EDIT: I attempted to link to Gendertrender, to no avail... blocked already. (Am I important or what?) If you are sufficiently curious, you can copy and paste gendertrender.wordpress.com. As I said, Stalinism... which of course includes lots of textbook KGB cloak-and-dagger paranoia. (Why have a blog if you don't want anyone to read it? Ahhh, never mind. The paranoid mindset is a puzzle best left to the Freudians.)

As the Firesign Theater famously said, in a "marching cadence":
You ain't got no friends on the Right! (you're Left!)
You ain't got no friends on the Left! (you're right!)
Sound off, 1-2, sound off, 3-4...
I am very fortunate in that the work I have done in the real world (over decades) speaks for itself. If they want to hack, screech, holler, ban, call names, block my links, threaten, etc... have at it. I know what Stalinism is and this ain't my first trip to the Cultural Revolution.

I was getting purged way back in the day, long before it was hip.


At left: The best thing to happen this summer! I nominated our local activist dynamo, Traci Fant, as "Hero of the Month" on the Investigation Discovery network... and she won! Her organization, Think2XTwice, was awarded $1000 and she was also highlighted on the ID network site and on TV. I WAS SO PROUD!!!!!

See, watching true crime shows can have unexpected benefits!


On a postmodern note: I also co-organized our local demonstration against the misnamed SC Freedom Summit in May. This turned out to be a terribly depressing event, if there ever was one. Here in Greenville, it was Artisphere weekend (which I have mentioned here before many times) and the "summit" (a bunch of Republicans giving speeches, paid for by Fox News and the Koch brothers) was at the Peace Center, the same place we protested their last "debate" during last election season.

The weird thing was, nobody seemed to know it was happening. Nobody even knew it was going on. People looked at us quizzically and asked what we were protesting. There was NO big sign outside the Peace Center announcing the SC Freedom Summit and there were few campaigners outside, compared to other election events we have protested. (We believe this was deliberate, a way of speaking over the heads of the majority, to the "tuned-in" minority who vote in the primary.) This little soiree was practically invitation-only and private, like some parallel universe: Artisphere was the bread-and-circuses diversion for the Masses, as "serious business" was conducted inside the auditorium by Those Who Matter. Inside the Peace Center, important policy was being decided, whilst the folks outside eating hot dogs and listening to bands, were totally oblivious to the fact that the rich were planning their future. Our signs and chanting, all reminding them of these facts, were not particularly welcome. It was like, they didn't even believe us. The empty suits that showed up outside for photo ops, seemed to make this point; nobody recognized Ted Cruz or Ben Carson or Marco Rubio... the only excitement occurred when (guess who!) Donald Trump showed up. My co-demonstrator Elaine Cooper has been making the best of things: here is her photobomb campaign, which started with Trump at the Freedom Summit.

Elaine and I went inside at one point (she taped a good deal of it on her phone), but since we had "hostile" signs, we were deemed to be "acting inappropriately" and unceremoniously asked to leave. A FREE EVENT about FREEDOM (ha!) and we were bounced out. That's the Republican idea of freedom, baby! And don't forget it.

Elaine's first-person account is here in the Greenville Bray (pdf) and includes a good photo of us demonstrating too. I wrote a few words on Tumblr about it, but not much.

Elaine concurs with me; nobody outside at the festival seemed to know what was happening inside at the Summit... a very good metaphor for our entire political system.


And here is the star of our show, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders.

I regret that my photos are not as good as they used to be. I have developed a pesky ESSENTIAL TREMOR due to thyroid disease, which makes taking good photos difficult. (another reason I no longer update as much as I used to) The tremor isn't too noticeable right now, but like most things, that will likely change. (*I* notice it, though, during fine motor coordination-type activities... such as writing, typing, sewing, braiding hair or photography.)

Anyway, we saw Sanders speak a couple of weeks ago and it was like Old Home Week ... as I saw nearly every southern progressive activist I know from here to the coast, as well as from here to Atlanta and Charlotte. He is inspiring a lot of hope right now... but I am cynical. I am always cynical. I have been cynical since they got rid of a nice peaceful peanut farmer and foisted a has-been right-wing actor on us. I doubt the cynicism will subside.

Photos below: August 21st, TD Convention Center in Greenville, SC.


Speaking of cynicism: Mr Robot was terrific. Can't wait for season 2.

Hope your summer has been eventful. I promise to drop in regularly from now on. I hope you will join me!

And yeah, we are on the radio for, I think, another month? We are winding down there, too, the end of an era. Check us out live on WOLI AM/FM at 8pm EST on Monday at least for a few more weeks. I don't know what comes after, but something always does. (More about that to come, I promise.)

I once hyperventilated at the mere thought of doing the show (and lost entire nights of sleep worrying over it!), but NOW after four years on the air, somebody can have an actual seizure in the studio while I am talking (I have witnesses) and I don't miss a beat.


Finally, some heartbreak ... after 15 years of true companionship and love, we lost the Official Cat of Dead Air. Our bodhisattva-kitty has gone on, to teach enlightenment to other humans. Truly, the most affectionate animal I have ever known, and his earthly death was crushing to both of us. But we know he has many others to teach besides us, so he was called home. We know his next owners will be forever changed when he appears at their door, as he appeared at ours.

Welcome the beloved and noble bodhisattva-kitty, who will teach you the meaning of unconditional love.

And when you meet him, please give him our best wishes, warm regards, love and kisses ... we miss him so much.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Odds and Sods - APRIL 2015 EDITION

APRIL is here already! I haven't done an Odds and Sods post in almost a year, so here we go.

My last Odds and Sods post featured giant plastic ducks and Miss South Carolina... and so, not to be outdone, I am opening this post with some razzle-dazzle photos of SC COMIC CON, which was March 21st here in Greenville, at the TD Convention center.

I do apologize for being asleep at the switch when it came time to post these. (MORE HERE!) My camera battery died, and I just kept forgetting to replace it. (Also, there were several that didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped and I was somewhat disappointed.) As always, you can click to enlarge.

PS: I also posted a few photos of our local St Patricks Day block party on Tumblr. (green cake!)


I have recently been watching 19 Kids and Counting, featuring the pseudo-Quiverfull Duggars (who remind me so much of some Bob Jones University-affiliated families) and the weddings of their daughters Jill and Jessa. In case you didn't know, all of the 19 kids have names starting with J, which is either after dad Jim-Bob (they are part of the Christian Patriarchy movement, so this seems likely) or after Jesus, or both. Some seasons ago, they had a funeral for a miscarried "baby", after taking a famous photo first... they named that one Jubilee Shalom.

I figure if the TLC network is having whole-day marathons, I can't be the only one watching these people who seem to be the living embodiment of old-timey Little House on the Prairie values, sewing their own clothes, playing (appropriately Christian music) together in a family band, making jars and jars of their own pickles, expecting the kids to bunk 5 to a room or something, etc. Even though the kids are ON TV, they do not WATCH TV. Really. That's the claim. There are 19 of them, some in their 20s (people in this subculture only "leave home" when it is time to marry, one reason I figure they are SO ecstatic over marriage)... and we actually believe they can't organize their own movie/TV-watching sessions away from mom and dad? In this day of iphones? Pardon me, but I hardly think so.

But that is the show-biz aspect: we suspend disbelief and adhere to this fantasy of an innocent Andy Griffith-ish, old-school, southern family--who are nonetheless savvy enough to deal with Hollywood executives for 10 seasons and become millionaires. Their large house was built for them by the TV network; they reportedly pay no taxes on their land because they declare their home a "church" (a good illustration of how the religious tax exemption is habitually bent/abused). Eldest son Josh works for the right-wing (and very anti-gay) Family Research Council, although Michelle Duggar's sister is a lesbian in a long-term relationship with a woman. Jim-Bob Duggar (R) was in the Arkansas House of Representatives, which would suggest he knows a few things, like how to milk rich people for contributions, make various right-wing promises and get himself elected. Seen in this light, the 200 volunteers who instantaneously showed up to help out during the weddings, suddenly look like political volunteers, don't they? In a sense, they are. These Duggar wedding shows were one long commercial for the pseudo-Quiverfull lifestyle. (NOTE: the Duggars steadfastly refuse to use the term Quiverfull when put directly on the spot, so I have chosen "pseudo-Quiverfull" for this post... but its rather strange that they are easily the most famous of "Quiverfull" families and now they back away from the term? Why?) They even posted a bunch of viewer-tweets on one of the shows, wherein (mostly women) tweeted about how they wish they were Duggars, could have lots of close sisters as they do, as well as a "traditional" courtship. Etc. I saw a lot of this as naked propaganda for a lifestyle.

Both bridegrooms had to ask Jim-Bob for permission to court their legal-aged daughters, and still require chaperons and chaste, safe "sidehugs" (#sidehug became a popular hashtag during the TV marathons). The teary sister-bridesmaids (Jana, Joy Anna, Jinger, Johannah, Jennifer, etc) all kept saying they would "miss" Jessa, as if she was going to Antarctica, not just down the road to a house her father already owns.

Circumstances suggest the Duggars could not possibly be as sweet, naive and innocent as they appear, and yet, people resoundingly choose to think so. They are "cute" ... people don't like to be reminded of their politics. When I confronted tumblr trans women about sleeping through Michelle Duggar's work on an anti-trans campaign, nobody really answered me about that. The Duggars can be as political as they wanna be, since they position themselves as the Arkansas equivalent of the Von Trapps.

Would all those tweeting young women really prefer that their father screen all of their boyfriends, immediately eliminating anyone who did not regard courtship as inevitably leading to marriage? (First there is formal courtship, then engagement, then marriage. Each phase must be officially "announced" and slightly-more touching is allowed at each level; no kissing until the wedding day.) I don't believe that. What are women nostalgic for? That old "Cinderella Complex" syndrome, the feminine desire to be taken care of?

In the above link about Jessa Duggar, we learn that she actually budgeted her own wedding. As we learned during the show about her, she is very efficient and even organized homeschooling lessons for her whole family. But see: that is not old-school Christian patriarchy, allowing women to manage money. The Duggars get the mystique of "tradition" while availing themselves of Skype, iphones, microwaves and smart daughters who can manage money. It is impossible to truly GO BACK, so they get the best of both worlds. (Back in the day, these highly-managed marriages could not be arranged by looking at a guy's photo on Instagram, or checking out your future Christian spouse on her family's television show.)

I don't think women truly, in real life, want this lifestyle, but they do want to indulge the fantasy. Because I don't think it exists. Not even for the people practicing it. People want "reality TV" about it, but not reality.


Quick notes:

* SOME GOOD NEWS: There is a little orca baby boom, reported by the Guardian.

* We are still plugging away on the radio. Check us out live tonight at 8pm on WOLI!

* We are planning a demonstration against the Republican presidential "debate" (Fox News doesn't allow genuine debate, of course, but you know what I mean) next month here in Greenville, Saturday May 9th, in front of the Peace Center. I will make an official announcement here later, but we are already regularly announcing this on the radio show. YALL COME ON OUT AND RAISE HELL WITH US! (My account of our demonstration at the last Fox News debate is HERE.)

So far, they've got Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz... the usual suspects. But NOT the erstwhile star of the show, Jeb Bush. Uh oh. Is he dissing SC?

Hm. They won't like that.
The event will bring at least six potential Republican White House hopefuls to downtown Greenville for a day of stump speeches.

Confirmed to attend, according to Citizens United, are Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

Citizens United said it would announce additional speakers later, but Duncan said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush won't be among them.

"Jeb Bush and I have communicated," [SC Republican congressman Jeff] Duncan said. "He has a commencement address in Florida that day that is precluding his having the ability to come."

Duncan said at least three other South Carolina congressmen – Trey Gowdy of Spartanburg, Mick Mulvaney of Indian Land and Mark Sanford of Charleston – are expected to attend.
Trey Gowdy and Lindsey Graham, all by themselves, are reason enough to show up and howl.

Yall come! If you are coming from a long distance, please contact me and we can probably find a place for you to sleep, too. Remember, it is likely one of these (awful) deluded individuals will be the Republican nominee, or will serve as Veep or in the cabinet, if they should win the presidency.

Show up and make your voice heard!

* Medicines from the Earth will be May 29th - June 1st at the Blue Ridge Assembly in beautiful Black Mountain, NC. (my previous account of the herbal conference is HERE) Its pricey, but you will come out smart as the dickens.

* Waving to all the folks who have dropped by in the past couple of months, starting with Black History Month, which brought copious hits on the lynching of Willie Earle in 1947, as well as the release of Edward Lee Elmore from South Carolina's Death Row (after 30 years). We also had a bunch of hits on George Stinney, the 14-year-old child executed by the state of South Carolina in 1944. I was probably the first person to cover Stinney nationally (on the radio), although of course many African-Americans locally have written about George Stinney for decades. At long last, Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen found that "fundamental, Constitutional violations of due process exist in the 1944 prosecution of George Stinney, Jr." and vacated the judgment.

It's about time.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Margaret White award for zealous Christian witness goes to...

Yes, you know who it is.


Specifically: Stephen Pettit, head flunkie in charge.

Back when Pettit "took over" BJU (and as we see, he didn't really), I wondered aloud if this was going to be a Soviet-style puppet regime with the Jones faction still running things behind the scenes, or if Pettit might really be an improvement.

Alas, now we have our answer. (I wonder where they put the gulags? Wait, getting ahead of myself.)

First, let's have the AWARD CEREMONY.

Stephen, you have hereby been SELECTED for Dead Air's very first and highly coveted MARGARET WHITE AWARD FOR ZEALOUS CHRISTIAN WITNESS. As one not permitted to peruse popular culture (although I know you secretly do), you will undoubtedly feign ignorance and pretend you never heard of the infamous Mrs Margaret White. Well, I have a quick tutorial below. Let's just say, the Mrs Whites of the world do not waste time with politeness and southern pleasantries, they just get it done, people.

Mrs White, the famous Mrs White. The one who uttered those immortal lines, I CAN SEE YOUR DIRTY PILLOWS!

I refer to legendary actress Piper Laurie, Carrie White's mother, one of Stephen King's most amazing, enduring and (as we have learned from the Jones boys) REALISTIC inventions.

Eve was weak! Eve was weak! SAY IT!


I don't have the time or patience to delve into the theological question of whether Christianity is misogynist at base. That particular case was already made a long time ago, by Mary Daly. Is there even the possibility of respect for women in a religion that constantly reminds us EVE WAS WEAK? The Biblical literalists are among the most deeply-sexist of Christians, because after all, it IS right there in the text. They didn't make it up. Mrs White is offering the interpretation that I basically grew up with, only she's doing it with ZEAL. And hey, aren't all Christians supposed to witness with ZEAL??? Because (I wish I had a dollar for every time one of them SPAT this one out at me): IF YOU ARE LUKEWARM, HE WILL VOMIT YOU OUT OF HIS MOUTH (and ohhh how they love that verse.)

The G.R.A.C.E. report, about the treatment of sexual abuse survivors at BJU, came out late last year and laid out BJU's sins in detail. The Greenville News (finally!) excoriated them on their editorial page (its only taken 67 years!) and the internet was abuzz with accusations and counter-accusations. I deliberately took a hands-off approach, because I have tried hard not to join the nasty internet habit (that I once had) of kicking people when they are down. That ain't nice, I decided. Give peace a chance! And so I did.

About a week later, I drove past a BJU-affiliated church here in town (they got dozens of em), amusingly positioned right across the street from some "liberal" (compared to BJU) Baptist church... and the marquee on the "liberal" church just read, simply: GRACE.

I instantly recognized this as an in-your-face gesture. Obviously, these liberal Baptists didn't expect SHIT from BJU. Hm, I thought... these Baptists know the BJU-people far better than I do. And I decided this was NOT a good sign.

The liberal Baptists called it. Credit where it is due.

Stephen Pettit has finally spoken. Its mostly in the Christian vernacular, so some of you may have trouble understanding it. I will therefore translate into standard American English that you will easily understand:


Yes, that is the gist of Pettit's speech, one long, gooey preacher-boy, grinning FUCK YOU.

I have not actually decided if this is one loooooong fuck you, which would be FUUUUUUUUCK YOOOOOU!!!!! -- or is it a series of small, nasty little fuck yous?

Make no mistake though. It is a big, giant, brazen, nasty, vicious FUCK YOU.



G.R.A.C.E. stands for Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment.

I like the acronym and the name, because it reminds me of one of Christianity's greatest moral strengths: in humbling ourselves to admit our faults and face our mistakes, we are granted grace. Everything changes, everything is made new. It takes GRACE to admit you are wrong, GRACE to admit you need help. And in doing so, the light dawns, the clouds clear.

The old hymn AMAZING GRACE sums it up: I was blind but now I see.

In other words, preacher Pettit, you had an incredible opportunity given to you, an opportunity for what you claim to want: GOD's GRACE. This was your chance. You could have stood up, taken a deep breath and apologized. You could have. I was hopeful that this crisis might make a lasting impact. Like we used to say in Alcoholics Anonymous, you were provided with a priceless, clear MOMENT OF CLARITY. These moments, these realizations are usually regarded as GIFTS from God, in most religious traditions. This is the meaning of the acronym G.R.A.C.E., which I thought meant you might actually PAY ATTENTION this time, and do the right thing.

Ha. Dream on.

In the weeks that followed the release of the report, The Greenville News talked with one of the survivors, blogger Cathy Harris. I was so profoundly disgusted by this article, I went on the radio and announced the Margaret White award was imminent, and I would be taking nominees. "But so far," I said, "there isn't any contest."

WHAT made me decide on Margaret White?

[BJU counselor Jim] Berg also asked whether [Cathy Harris] felt any pleasure during any of the [childhood sexual] abuse and, if she did, she needed to repent, she said.

During one session, she said Berg told her he wanted to do a trust exercise. He pulled a rat trap from his desk, set the hammer and put a pencil on it. The trap broke the pencil into pieces.

She said he then told her to put her finger on the trap. When she refused, he got angry and put another pencil in. The trap did not snap shut.

If she couldn't trust the people God put over her, how could she trust God? she recalls him asking.

"I kept being told how unspiritual I was," she said.

The counseling ended when he told her he couldn't help her and God couldn't help her either.

"His counseling was more harmful than the abuse," she told The News.

In his interview with GRACE, Berg acknowledged that his counseling was often hurried due to his heavy workload and that he did not have extensive training in counseling sexual abuse victims. He said he did not know until 1992 that South Carolina had a law that required certain professionals, including educators, to report abuse, despite the law having been passed in the 1970s.
Really? Because *I* knew, and I think most people know, due to LAW AND ORDER SVU reruns... which I forgot, they are not allowed to watch over there.

That finger-in-the-rat-trap game is something worthy of Carrie's mom, doncha think? (ASIDE: Cathy, if this scene ends up in a horror movie, as it surely will, you could probably sue for copyright violation and make some bucks.)

This passage, Cathy Harris' harrowing horror-movie counseling session, is like Bette Davis serving Joan Crawford a rat for dinner in WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE; it is definitely in the same neighborhood as Margaret White yelling that Eve was weak! Eve was weak!


Stephen, if you ever want this done up properly, let me know. We might be able to take some donations and rustle something up, like a plaque, certificate or whatever, you know, for your wall. I am sure you are proud of this award and will want to show everyone, so I will do my best to make it pretty. I mean, you do want to impress your new right-wing politician friends, doncha?

Just remember something.

The end of the film instructs us: "Carrie White burns in hell."

And whose fault was that? Will Margaret White burn there too, for driving her daughter crazy? I think that's an easy call, even for you.

Take heed and repent, Pettit.


Warnings for graphic violence, probable heresy and so on.

You knew I couldn't resist posting that... dirty pillows at 20 seconds!



1) Please see Camille Lewis' refutation of Pettit's lies/fuck yous. As usual, Camille is the go-to on this subject, as one who knows where all the bodies are buried.

2) All photos in this post are from THE ORIGINAL Brian DePalma version of Carrie--except no substitutes, especially inferior remakes of perfect horror movies.

Unbelievably, I started writing this just as AMC decided to show CARRIE, which I take as a sign of divine intervention, just so I could get some good shots.