Summer Detour

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So, over the week of July 4th we took a drive through New Jersey in what seems to be a new tradition. — Though, putting it in writing will probably put an end to it.   We chose the hottest … Continue reading

What About Protection For LGBT Families??

*Note: this piece has been sitting in my drafts folder for almost a year. Since then the U.S. Supreme Court has deemed The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and several more states have struck down their anti-same sex marriage laws. A lot has changed since I wrote it, but the sentiment remains. I’ve witnessed the damage that happens to gay couples because they didn’t have the legal protections afforded to their heterosexual counterparts. This isn’t about hurting straight couples. This is about protecting LGBT couples. Nothing more.

lineAnyone who has lived through the height of the AIDS crisis understands why Same Sex Marriage is necessary.

I’ve witnessed countless gay men lose everything as the families of their deceased partners swooped in like vultures, devouring everything in sight. It reminded me of the peasants picking through Scrooge’s things in the Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. These family members weren’t close to the deceased. In most cases they had disowned their gay son. Some were so fearful of AIDS that they refused to come visit their son or brother in the hospital, leaving the survivor to care for his sick partner alone. — Strange. Where was their fear of HIV/AIDS when they were picking through the dead man’s belongings?

It pissed me off to no end seeing these cowards walk in after the fact and claim property simply because they were family. Where was their “Family Values” when their relative was sick??

One woman had the arrogance to tell a friend of mine that his 15 year relationship with her brother was nothing more than playing house. “My husband and I have been married for ten years,” she said. “You two may have lived together, but it was not love.” WHAT?? Was she out of her friggin mind??

One of my friends challenged his deceased partner’s family. The father, who was a lawyer, told his son’s partner, “I have infinite resources. You will go bankrupt if you try to challenge me.” My friend’s case never made it to court. He was forced to move less than a year later.

Those are just two examples of the complete disregard for and discrimination of LGBT families. Did you know it is legal to fire someone simply because he or she is Gay in 29 states? Twenty-Nine States! That’s the reason ENDA is so important. AND… Gays and Lesbians can be DENIED housing in another 29 states. What the hell!

“But what about the children?”

Yeah. Conservatives love to hold children hostage over every issue they don’t approve of. For some reason, they think legalizing Same-Sex Marriage will somehow interfere with the raising of their children. I don’t understand the resistance to educating children, in an age appropriate way, about the world around them. Besides, what of the Gay and Lesbian couples who are raising children? Where is the protection for their families?

If the foundation or your marriage so fragile that it would crumble under the weight of another couple’s happiness, I feel sorry for you.

Here’s the thing. Same Sex Marriage is a conservative idea. It’s personal liberty. It’s “Family Values”

Fifteen years ago, when the idea of Same-Sex Marriage was in it’s infancy, I may have settled for Civil Unions, but Civil Unions are NOT equal to Marriage. A Marriage grants you 1,138 federal rights, protections and responsibilities   A Civil Union does not.

Depending on which state you live, it will cost you between $50 and $100 for a Marriage license. In order to acquire some of (but not all) those rights an LGBT couple must hire a lawyer and spend hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars. Why do I need to make a lawyer rich just to enjoy the same rights as any two strangers can get just because they said, “I Do” at a Las Vegas Drive-Thru wedding chapel?

lineIt heartens me to see that we have accomplished so much since I first drafted this post. At this moment nineteen states and the District of Columbia have given the ‘go ahead’ to same sex marriage. We still have a long way to go, but I cannot overlook the accomplishments of just this last year. LGBTs and their allies have much to be proud of.

Happy Pride Month Everybody!

Thoughts on Mother’s Day

So here it is, another Mother’s Day. One day out of the year when we say, “Hey thanks mom. Sorry for the temper tantrums, the dirty laundry, the million dishes, and the years of heartache. Today, families everywhere treat their moms to breakfast in bed, brunch, or dinner reservations. Little kids present hand drawn cards that mothers with cherish forever, and fathers give kisses, flowers and boxes of chocolates — and those dainty, ill-fitting, single-use pieces of silken fabric that mom will “save for a special occasion” that she knows will never come.

This one day out of the year is spent honoring the woman who did the best she could to ensure that you would succeed.

I want everyone to hold onto the spirit of this day when they go about their daily business. I want people to remember their mothers every time they interact with women. Every single man needs to treat every single woman with the same respect that every mother deserves.

If your mother was more Joan Crawford than June Cleaver, I feel for you. I don’t mean to suggest that you treat women as you would your own Mommie Dearest. Just follow the golden rule. Treat people (women too) the way you want to be treated.

Every faith in the world has it’s own version of the golden rule. Why then do we treat each other like shit?

If you still have trouble figuring it out, pretend your mother is in the room. If you wouldn’t say it or do it in front of your mother, then you probably shouldn’t be saying or doing it.

And a very happy Mother’s Day to all the unconventional mother figures out there. Single dads and LGBT parents need love too. 🙂

 

One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show

…or, How a 2:AM distraction became an obsession.

I have been in a foul mood all winter. It hasn’t helped that Mother Nature also seems to have been in a pissed off mood. Seriously. It’s almost May and we’re still dealing with temperatures as low as 30°F a few nights this week. Will someone please make Ma Nature a cup of espresso or something?

When I’m in a foul mood, I tend to stay away from people. It’s a lot better that way. Otherwise I wind up snapping at folks for no reason. It’s not pretty. Like so many others, when I’m in a bad mood I turn to music. What usually works for me is Pink Floyd’s The Wall (1979). For some reason, the Waters, Gilmore, Mason and Wright classic has a way with working out my aggression. It’s amazingly therapeutic. But I couldn’t seem to shake it this time. The winter was brutal. I still have a cold that just-won’t-go-away. On top of everything, cancer took three close friends within a two month period. It’s essentially why I haven’t been writing very much. Three funerals in such a short amount of time sends me right back to the early 90s, when everyone I knew was dying. I sat at my keyboard on more than one occasion to try to express the feeling of loss, but it was too overwhelming. I’d start a draft but then lose focus, which is what this post is about to do if I don’t guide it back to the point. 😉

On a mindless surf though YouTube, I stumbled onto Bette Midler’s cover of ‘One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show’ (Rose Marie McCoy, Charlie Singleton) It’s an old favorite. In this video, she’s performing it at the 1998 Billboard Awards.

It’s a fun song. Bette’s Studio version is better but, as with all of Bette’s live performances, there’s something about the attitude she projects on stage that brings a song to life. I guess it’s the same for most singers.

Because Bette Midler is a vocalist, she’s introduced me to many great artists. I’m always searching for the original singer of composer of any particular song she might have made popular. So of course I wanted to know the who, what, where, and maybe even the why of One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show. The earliest version that I was aware of is the one made famous by the truly wonderful Big Maybelle.

Truly, Big Maybelle doesn’t get the attention she deserves.

My appetite whetted, I wanted to know more. Who was this Rose Marie McCoy? Did she record a version of One Monkey?  So… I checked everyone’s favorite source of misinformation, Wikipedia!

According to the Wiki page, One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show was “recorded by Stick McGhee and His Buddies in 1950, credited to McGhee, released on an Atlantic Records in 1951″

Hmmm… It’s not at all like Big Mabelle’s version. It’s good in it’s own right, but where Big Maybelle’s classic is about a woman tellin’ her man, “Buh bye! Don’t let the door hit ya on your way out!”, Stick McGhee’s version is about making your way through life without letting things get in your way. The themes are similar, but… Now I was on a mission.

According to Wiki “…another version was recorded by Joe Tex in 1965. In 1966 it was covered by The Animals.”

Here’s Joe Tex…

…and here’s The Animals.

It’s hard to choose between the two. I can see the appeal of The Animals but I like the rawness of Joe Tex. The most glaring thing so far is that now there are three completely different versions of this song.

But wait, there’s more!

“In 1972 the all-girl group Honey Cone took its altogether different version to number five on the R&B singles chart” – Wiki 

Here is Honey Cone on the Sonny Bono Show

If those funky outfits aren’t enough, there’s a coked up DISCO version by Jessie Rogers. I’ll spare you. If you really want to hear it, you’ll have to click the link. I think it’s a little too peppy, If you ask me. 😐

So, what does the phrase “One monkey don’t stop no show” really mean? To me it’s fairly obvious. It’s another way of saying “Life will go on” or “This too, shall pass”. But could there be more? One could find himself deeply entangled within the interwebs, searching for a deeper meaning, but I gave it a go.

Curiosity killed the cat. …and kept this blogger up all night.

In their wordpress post, Yeah, But do you know what that song is actually about? #1 The guys at Old School Record Review put it perfectly. They wrote in part, ““one monkey don’t stop no show” is a perfect lyric for pop music because it shares so much in common with the music itself. It is ambiguous, emotional, catchy and supports introspection and interpretation.” They’re right, of course. Music is art and art is open to interpretation.

But what’s all this have to do with my pissy mood?

Haven’t you figured it out yet? Winter is over. We’re almost halfway through spring. Love and I are shopping for new plants for the tiny patch of concrete behind our tiny South Philly home.  With spring comes a new chapter. Hopefully a little brighter than the last, but it’s new. Life goes on.

PS: You really should navigate on over over to Old School Record Reviews and see what they’re up to. They did and excellent job exploring the meaning of One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show lyric. I would have abandoned it here had it not been so essential to the point I was trying to reach.

Bonus Track! Here’s Bette’s Studio version, just for fun. 🙂

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EXTRA BONUS!

Pink Floyd The Wall (Full Album) 😀

 

Dear 16 year old self;

I realize you know everything about everything, so I’ll make this brief.

  1. Be true to yourself. You may not believe it now, but you are one hell of a kid. You’re definitely smarter than what most people give you credit for. You should be proud of that.
  2. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Most of what you’re going through right now is small stuff. Enjoy yourself. That’s what being a teenager is all about.
  3. Try not to take any undue risks. Remember how I said you’re smarter than what most people give you credit for? Well, if you pay attention to that little voice in the back of your mind, you’ll be just fine.

Oh. One last thing. When you get older, there’s gonna be this thing called the internet. It’s gonna be huge! It’ll be a great outlet for creativity. But please, please, please, please, PLEASE try to come up with a user I.D. that’s easier to understand than ADignorantium! I mean, seriously… What the hell were you thinking? 😛

This Is My Very First Time. Please excuse me if I ramble.

What a great weekend, right?

Saturday was a beautifully warm day in the midst of bitter cold snap, so I went outside. Not because I wanted to. I dislike crowds and as everyone knows, winter weary people flood to open spaces at the first hint of warmer weather. Saturday was no exception. The reason for my trek into town was to buy a couple of pairs of loose fitting, heavy weight (read ‘warm’) athletic pants that I can wear after my outpatient surgery on Monday. I’ll be having Lithotripsy, a process of breaking up kidney stones with ultra high frequency sound waves. I’m told there will might be pain, so loose fitting clothing is in order.

Stones1a

Broken 6mm kidney stone (left) compared in size to a dime (right).

This will be my fourth medical procedure to remove kidney stones. I’ve had more stents in me than I’d like to remember. But this is my first lithotripsy. I’m a little nervous, so you’ll have to excuse me if I ramble on. The procedure is fairly straight forward. I’ll lay on a platform with an opening through which a gel sub-woofer will blast death metal at my kidney. The stones will pulverize. The end. Easy peasy! The thing that makes me nervous though, is that one of the stones is 8mm in diameter, or about a third of an inch. I passed a 6mm stone last year (pictured on the left).  When you vibrate a large stone against the soft tissue of a human kidney you risk further damage to the kidney. Internal bleeding is a very small but real concern. The benefits vs. risks have all been explained to me, so I’m going into this with open eyes.

I’ve been dealing with kidney trouble for some time now. Technically, I have kidney disease. Though I prefer to think of my right kidney as a spoiled brat that is starving for attention. I don’t talk about it much because it doesn’t define me. When stacked against my friend’s end stage uterine cancer, my health is pretty damned good. I don’t like to complain about the small stuff. I can handle the small stuff. Every now and again though, my kidney makes itself known. That’s when you’ll hear me, loud and clear.

2012 kidney surgery scar kinda looks like a railroad track.

2011 kidney surgery scar kinda looks like a railroad track.

Friends and family all have their “helpful hints”. The number one I receive is to drink plenty of water and cranberry juice. (For the record, I do drink plenty of water. I’m never without a glass of bottle of water, preferably with a slice of lemon.) The other big suggestion is to lay off the salt. Everyone blames salt. Poor Salt. My kidney stones aren’t sodium based. Nope. Mine are special. My kidney stones are made of calcium. According to analysis, my stones are Calculi composed primarily of: 40% calcium oxalate monohydrate, and 60% calcium phosphate (hydroxy- and carbonate- apatite). In other words, my body doesn’t break down calcium as well as it should. The lazy bum! It has something to do with my parathyroid, a gland I had no idea existed until just a few months ago. My doctor put me on potassium citrate and suggested I drink lots of lemonade. (Apparently, lemonade helps break up the calcium). My dentist however, is horrified by the thought of what all that citric acid is doing to my tooth enamel. I find this hilarious!

My doc put me on a “low oxalate diet” which means I can’t eat as much of those leafy greens that I love so much. Seriously, I do love my greens. I told my doc, “Good luck with that.” I’m willing to reduce my intake of leafy greens, but I just can’t give them up completely. I can go without sweets, but broccoli rabe and I are deeply in love.

Today, as per doctor’s instructions, I’m eating light. Salads, watery soup, and clear broth are the order of the day.  No dairy – not even with my coffee, which is frowned upon but not forbidden. Mayo and cheese count as dairy, right?  I can have juice, but no pulp. Why don’t I just kill myself now? Actually, it’s not all that bad. I’ve got plenty of homemade chicken stock in the freezer.Add a few carrots, some celery, and… dinner!

Did I happen to mention it’s Super Bowl Sunday? No wings for me! — Wait! Is killing myself still an option?

Instead of preparing for the “big game’ I’m doing laundry, setting clothes aside, and putting fresh sheets on the bed. After a hospital stay, so matter how brief, there’s nothing better than coming home to freshly cleaned bed sheets. It’s the little things in life that make me happy. Isn’t that what life is all about? Being happy? 🙂

Stay tuned, dear readers. Maybe I’ll take some more pictures. 😉

PS: Here’s a fun little video I found that demonstrates, in layman’s terms, what I have to look forward to…

Warm Wishes For 2014

I wanted to write something clever and enlightening for this post. Lines like, “Good Riddance!” and “”Don’t let the ‘Auld’ hit you in the ‘Lang Syne’ on your way out!” came to mind. But every year has it’s highs and lows. The worst part was losing people with whom I’d become close.

I never intended to get so personally involved with people on the internet. Honestly, what a pleasant surprise.

As I look back on 2013, I have to acknowledge the incredible people who have crossed my path and made my life a little more interesting and a lot more fun. I am especially grateful for the friendships and connections I’ve made through twitter, tumblr, and of course, wordpress.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy new year’s eve, and that 2014 brings much happiness into everyone’s lives.

Happy New Year!