Sleeping Trees and Pumpkin Spiced Lattes–Is it Fall Yet?

It’s a relatively cool morning for August in Texas. Trees in abundant green, and in full bloom surround me. Beautiful by any sane persons measure, but all I can do is look at them and wait for them to die. Or at least take the slow march to slumber.

Fall. I want fall to be here like, yesterday. Selfish really as this has been the kindest summer Texas has given us in recent memory. Or any memory for that matter. But Fall is my jam! Fall is my season and it begins (in my mind) on my birthday, which is on the exiting side of September. Or whenever I order my first Pumpkin Spiced Latte from Starbucks. I’m not terribly fond of my birthday, there is some infighting between myself and my birthday.  A disagreement. The more I seem to have, the greater the disparity between what the calendar tells me I am and what I feel I am. Still. On my birthday people give me things, and the finest kind take me out for tacos and I let them.

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So once the celebration of my Vaginal Escape Day ends, the fun begins, because what my birthday really means is Fall is right around the corner. A few weeks after my birthday, comes October and this signifies that I am now at the doorstep of Fall, and Pumpkin Spice Lattes are flowing. October will wane and I will find myself at my favorite Holiday-Halloween, Though Halloween and Christmas often tussle for the prize of being favorite, But that’s my point. As soon as I get past my birthday, good things happen. Cooler weather is upon us, I can swap out my sandals and shorts for my boots and jeans. I always feel better when I wear my boots. I don’t know why. It’s funny really, as most of my youth I rebelled against anything that was stereotypically Texas. Now it takes 90 degree days to get me out of them, and that’s only because I can’t rock the whole boots and shorts thing. Also I am a hoodie guy. Fall is my hoodie time. They are like walking Woobies. Jeans, boots and hoodies are my fall uniform and I can’t wait to get into it.

It’s also family time. Thanksgiving is a few weeks of X’s on the calendar  and I find myself across the table from people I love, but see far less than I would like to. It’s extra special for me as it also marks when my Lady Love and I got together. Thankful in deed I am.

Jingle Bells and here comes Christmas. If you know me you would know that I am not overly fluffy. I have missed more Disney films, than I have seen and I’m fine with that. So, while I wouldn’t call myself Angsty or Stabby, the only “bright ball of light” in my world is the sun. Which as a pasty white boy, I loathe. So it might surprise you that I am a dues paying, card carrying member of the Christmas Whore Club. I love everything about Christmas, even the corny stuff that you wouldn’t think would appeal to me.

Right now my mind is on gourds, Halloween and the cool embrace of Fall. I am looking so forward to Halloween I can’t stand it, but I have to. The Nightmare Before Christmas, one of my all time favorite films, as it celebrates both Halloween and Christmas, is usually my official Fall kick off. I saw it the other day on Netflix calling me like a lover hopped up on Oysters and chocolate. I will wait though, just a couple of more months Jack. I think I’ll go pluck a leaf and see if I can get this party started.

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Some Thoughts on Faith and Intolerance

There has been a lot of hate, talk of religion and the holidays falling on my windshield of life in the last week or two. It seems those three things should not be able to co-exist. In fact one would hope that one of those would cancel the other out, or at least not be the source. So how do we tolerate the intolerable? How do we honor our freedom to speak our truth even when it flies in the face of the very teachings many claim to follow? Truth is I don’t know. I’m just a guy who tries to be his best self and stumbles quite a bit in the process. It sure seems there is a war brewing. Jesus is white. Santa is white,  I’m offended at you wishing me a Merry Christmas…

It seems so pointless and trivial. I could tell you of a large school of thought that would point out that Jesus was Middle Eastern and his birthday would have been no where near December. But what does it matter? Why does it matter? If we weren’t so wrapped in something as fragile as appearance, why would it matter what color he was?  People are putting so much energy into something that should be of no consequence. If this matters to you, I ask you to ask yourself, why? Shouldn’t any following of Jesus be based on his teachings, and only his teachings? And what of these teachings? Why are those that seem to shout the loudest the least informed about their own chosen path? I’ve read the bible, but I certainly wouldn’t consider myself an expert. In fact I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on anything…except maybe tacos. How novel of an idea is that? To remove the pressure of knowing everything, to be a perpetual student, always learning. But I digress into flights of fancy. 

I know of no passage in the new Testament where Jesus espoused hate and intolerance. I mean he got a little cranky with those temple merchants but I remember teachings of tolerance, and love. So how does that translate to so many of his followers as the exact opposite? I don’t know. It sure makes me wish more people would read the manual that their whole life philosophy stems from. It’s good stuff.

I’m not Christian, but many of the teachings are good rules to live by.  As are the teachings of the Buddha, Mohammed, the Torah and numerous other philosophies. Which by the way, most have the same teachings, so why must we beat the crap out of each other with our differences when the similarities far outweigh the differences? What is it with our addiction to division? With our obsession with uniformity? How can a nation built on freedom be so allergic to it?

We live in a largely Christian nation. I have no problem with that. I say Merry Christmas…happily. In my mind I am wishing you happiness and joy for the season. Of course ideally it would be year round, but lately we can’t even get through a season. So while I follow no particular path, but rather all paths that offer me something to learn, which are most, I am still in the minority. I’m fine with that. I have no need for matching jersey’s. But where I take issue and a lot of those people who are supposedly at “war” with Christmas, is the intolerance of any other point of view. I don’t mind honoring the traditions of the many, as long as the many honor the possibility that others find a different path to a good life. It does nothing to me to honor Christianity. It takes nothing away from me. So why are so many threatened at the simple acknowledgment of the unique mind. Isn’t that our greatest gift no matter who you think the creator is?

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We live in complex times. It’s the price of our progress as a species. That’s why you don’t learn calculus in kindergarten. Race. Guns. Wealth. It seems a good place to start is where we are. Honor the complexities and admit that we don’t know everything. Admitting what we don’t know seems a good start to knowing.

 

The purpose of this piece is not to give you the answers, I don’t know them. It’s not to tell you what to think, but to implore you to think. Tolerance should be a human instinct. If you follow a path, are you honoring it with your humanity? If you don’t follow a path you are still a part of humanity, and that is the road that we all share. 

 

As for what color Jesus is, I still say it shouldn’t matter, but personally, I think he’s purple.

Published in: on December 19, 2013 at 8:47 PM  Comments (2)  
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Walk On The Wild Side; Growing Up With Prostitutes and Lou Reed.

I’ve been neglectful of my blog for some time. Last thing I posted was something I wrote for a performance piece. Not an original post. I posted it because I felt I should let the readers and followers that I am so grateful for, know I was still here. A pebble on a window pane.  Meanwhile I struggled with what to say. I faced this at the start of my blogging journey, and was surprised at what came out. It was not the subject matter I expected, nor the tone. In fact I became a kind of blogger of death, rather than a guy who pulls down his pants and honks a horn. That last part has less to do with blogging and more to do with a lifestyle choice. Chicks dig it.

Wouldn’t you know it though, that another death would bring me back to the page. In this case Lou Reed. He was a hero and guide to me. I grew up in San Antonio. But in my imagination, I lived in New York. Not the New York of now, but the old New York, before it was cleaned up. The mean streets. I was different, New York seemed home to the different.

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Lou Reed became my guide and mentor to New York and the shadow side of life. I had no idea what a transvestite  was. What a prostitute was. I learned that Head could mean something other that what I would put my baseball cap on. I learned that people put needles in their arms, becoming their own doctors and making bad choices. It began a life long interest in the people that no one else saw. The invisibles.

I looked for New York in San Antonio. I might see an alley, and with some flexibility and imagination, I could almost see it as a New York alley. Through Lou Reed, I discovered those well dressed women in my neighborhood that I always thought were walking to the store, were actually prostitutes. I just thought they were rich and dressed up wherever they went. Friendly too, they always seemed to be leaning into a car giving directions. Some drivers were so lost that the women got in the car with them.

Lou Reed told me what they were, what they did, even why they did it. I was thrilled! We had prostitutes! Just like New York.  I lived close to downtown and I was already sneaking out at night, riding my bike to visit the homeless people downtown. I liked stories, they seemed quite willing to tell theirs. It seemed important to them that someone knew their stories. As the hour would grow late I would leave downtown so I could get some sleep before school at St. Cecilia’s the next morning. I started spending a little less time with the homeless, and more time with the prostitutes. On my ride home I would ride down Cherry Street, find the girls, say hello, sit on two old tires, and watch. First they tried to shoo me away, when that didn’t work, they seemed to find amusement in me, a sort of pet. Eventually they talked. They seemed to need to talk even more than the homeless people. I saw some walking, some talking to people in the cars and disappearing for an hour or so. Sometimes they would come back and step into a shadow. I would watch their silhouettes as they would wrap their arm, then put a needle in it, pause for a moment, then slide down the corrugated metal wall they were leaning against. A while later they would emerge right as rain.

I visited even more, they seemed to talk to me even more. They were also protective of me, as were the homeless guys downtown. My mother died when I was 3. I was raised by a grandmother who was cruel and distant.

Two of these women, one named Jasmine, the other Denise would become the closest I would ever come to knowing what it was like to have a mother. One day Denise never came back. Jasmine told me that the last time Denise took her shot, she got “bad medicine.”

Lou Reed changed the the way I looked at the world. What started out as characters, became people, the most human among us. I’d like to say that it was the Church and Catholic School who taught me tolerance and compassion. But they seemed to be teaching something quite different. It was Lou Reed’s songs and stories that taught me the importance of story; of knowing the story behind a life, of hearing it when it’s told, and doing it right if you ever were the one to tell it.

I still love New York. Even many years later when I became a rabid Red Sox fan. I love the character of a city, so full of characters. It is the creative epicenter. The birth canal for creative expression.

Lou was my first favorite writer, he opened the door to me finding others. He taught me how to see the darker side of life more through your heart and less through your eyes.

Thank you Lou. You will be missed.

Published in: on October 30, 2013 at 7:33 PM  Comments (6)  
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The Tao of Woo

When one fancies another there begins a dance. It is called The Woo. In nature there is either an easier Woo, or no Woo is required. For us humans however, this can at times be dangerous business, fraught with peril and humiliation.

To best understand the Woo, we must learn some of it’s history and go over some mistakes to avoid.

The evolution of The Woo:

After Adam and Eve screwed things up for all of us, we had to work (hard) at seeing each other naked. During the Cave Dwelling period, one would simply walk across the cave and draw a picture on the wall, point to it, and grunt.

Then came post cave days. The complexities of the Woo grew, as did the danger. Now it was fathers with hatchets and guns. This usually also involved the trading of a sow, (In Texas this is still the case.)  Still,  if your woo was found wanting, it was a long walk back. Horses came, cars, telegraphs and telephones. All this made things a little easier, but with this ease came the pressure to raise the  level of one’s Woo.

Then came Email which pretty much killed the art of the handwritten note, once a great source of The Woo. Email led to chatting, you didn’t see the person you were chatting with, but everyone who did it seemed to be gorgeous! Texting arrived. As did a whole new language. Thank goodness we didn’t need to use whole words any more. Sometimes you didn’t even have to use words. You simply rearranged punctuation marks and made little people.

There was, LOLing and OMGing and lots of Rolling On The Floor Laughing. Apparently many were laughing so hard their asses fell right off!  I guess I don’t know many of these people. My ass is never falling off or rolling. It’s a shame really, as I have a very rollable ass, and it could use some falling off.

We are a long way from the cave days. Grunting is no longer considered attractive. Things just got downright complicated. Depending on the level of smitteness you held in your heart, the Woo can break quickly and often.

To avoid the pitfalls, one must know the pitfalls. So let’s review the three levels of broken Woo:

Level One: The Visitor and the Impostor

There are those that fall down the Dork Hole and only find themselves knee deep. Often this can be overcome with a shot of tequila and a held gaze. The right gaze can make the whole skitter disappear. If you are an experienced “knee deeper,” this may not fluster you.

Level Two: Deep In The Doo-Doo Of Woo

Best not overshoot here. Do not attempt cool. You’re not. If you were, you would have come by Level One honestly. If you attempt and fail, you will be road kill. It is best to adjust your sights. Aim for endearing or adorable. Take heart Level Two, there are women who lean towards the awkward fellow. Go to any Comic Con and you will see a tubby Superman walking along side a Xena. If you are so lucky as to be smitten with one of these, marry her!

But tread carefully Level Two. Do not become too sweet or too adorable. If you overplay, you will find yourself in the Friend Hole. There is no escape from this.

Level Three: No Woo For You

If you are at Level Three. Give it up. You are like a Chilean minor without the happy ending. Accept that you will be your own lover for a long time. Perhaps a very long time.

Level 3.5: Return Of The Woo

One day, hopefully, you’ll be back. You feel a breath force itself into your lungs, and you feel your heartbeat rise above a sleepy thump.  It’s time to begin again. Perhaps you go for what you assume are easier targets. You start hanging around laundromats, looking for girls washing saggy panties, reading romance novels, self-help books, or anything by James Patterson. You learn to also keep an eye out for the hidden gems.  Maybe a girl who’s eyes point in opposite directions. Then there is the mother load! The target of your smitten-ness  has Tourette’s.  Not every guy could deal with a woman who screams “Cock sucker!” at any given moment, but she could be your Juliet.  There is even a reasonable chance she could be quite cute.  Plus, there is the cost saving aspect, you can probably cancel your cable and not lack for entertainment.

This leads us into Level Four: True Woo

I didn’t mention Level Four before, because it is a rare bird indeed. Level Four is the prize. It’s where you find out your Woo is not broken after all. It is where she looks for you. You are not merely accepted, you are sought after. You are wanted. She looks into you, and past how you see yourself, she sees behind all those fears, dusts off the scars that started all this. She shows you that the scars are no longer there, that you have been holding onto a part of yourself that ceased to exist long ago.  She saw something in you and waited until you saw it too.  Even if every time you saw her, and tried to speak. you sounded like a 7th grader speaking remedial Dutch.

Then one day you open your mouth, and it’s you.  You realize you never had the Woo you sought. Never needed it. The true you, was the Woo.

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Published in: on June 24, 2013 at 6:20 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Naked Girls Reading; Open your mind. Open a Book

I have a friend who has selflessly raised the flag and beat the drum for body acceptance and encouraging a love of reading. She literally puts it all out there. She is the founder of Naked Girls Reading Austin. It is the Austin chapter of the national organization of the same name.

About once a month they put on a performance, it is a stage performance. If you are seeking something salacious, keep moving, this isn’t your thing.  Each performance has a theme; the selections are chosen to reflect this theme. This month’s theme is local Austin authors. I am very privileged to be included. I write this post not because of this, but to honor and promote the dedication of these ladies.

Our attitudes about nudity are odd, and usually given to us by someone else. Just the other day I saw two scenes in two different shows where nudity, while not shown, held a commentary. One was sexualized, the event was bent and formed to create that context. The other was comedic, and presented (a male in this case) in such a way as to invite repulsion. So often we are guided by our culture to run toward nudity with an exploitative mindset, or we are trained to be repulsed by it, usually cruelly, and at someone else’s expense. So rarely is the message of acceptance offered. That is why I support NGR.

At the heart of the evening however, is entertainment. These are beautiful women (by any definition). They are smart, funny and have been doing this for a while. They put on a hell of a show! Each show has about 4-5 readers. Within the themes, each girl chooses her own selection. They usually have a personal connection to what they are reading and they share that with the audience. These stories can be quite touching, but often, they are simply hilarious. No matter what their day job, these girls are performers. They each have such a stage presence that you would be riveted if they were wearing turtlenecks, though the name of the show wouldn’t be quite as snappy.

So if you want to get crammed and jammed, doused in spilt beer, and if you’re really lucky, maybe get thrown up on, then you know where Sixth Street is. However; If you really want to have a different kind of evening, grab your husband or wife and come on down. You will have stories for the next day and memories that come free with the show.

The next Naked Girls Reading is this Friday at The Spider House Ballroom at 8:00pm. If you’re in Austin that night, you should come out.

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Published in: on June 19, 2013 at 3:13 PM  Leave a Comment  
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London Bridges

Aside from my already publicly confessed love of the Red Sox (Yes still), I’m not much of a sports guy. However, in a previous post I spoke some about tennis. One of the things I like about the game is it’s global aspect. Men and Women from different countries coming together to play a game. I am trying to love soccer for that very reason as well. I’m not there yet, but I’m trying. All these people from completely different cultures and backgrounds who find common ground with a ball. It might be a big leather ball with sewn dimples, or a small yellow fuzzy one, but there is a sense of community.

The ultimate example of global community and competition is almost here, the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. I’m fairly slow to the whole Olympic thing. I remember watching the Winter Olympics that took place in Norway in the mid 90’s, but that was more about me wanting to see reindeer. But by watching, I found out that I did kind of like watching some of the winter sports. I also learned that I have a (previously) unspoken love for Norwegian music. Also, and this must be said; I just don’t get curling.

The Summer Olympics quite frankly were just a foreign concept to me.. Running…in the summer? I’m a chubby white guy in Texas. I simply cannot relate to that idea. I don’t run unless someone’s chasing me. And Swimming (I call it floating) is for relaxation, not speed.

Enter Beijing 2008. China is such a closed society, I was curious what their handshake with the world would look like, so I watched the opening ceremonies. I’m glad I did. Those ceremonies remain the single most amazing artistic performance I have ever witnessed. Years later I try and find words to describe what I saw, and how it affected me. Gratitude and awe remain the truest.

I was so caught up with the whole experience I found myself watching as much of the games as I could. I found it inspiring. Exhibiting both national pride and a sense of worldwide community. From world superpowers to nations of one. I watched volleyball, track, even badminton. I had never watched a swimming competition, nor had I really felt I was missing much by abstaining, but like everyone else I wanted to watch the miracle that was Michael Phelps. It was amazing.

The Olympics show us the incredible feats that one man or one woman can accomplish, whether individually, or as part of a team. They also show us the beauty of the whole. What is unique. What is the same.

We are a nation apart. Red, Blue. Pro-this, Anti-that. We stand across from each other based on silly things. Also very real things. It’s not for me to say which is which.

That time has come again where for a few weeks the world seems a little smaller. Where two athletes who play for countries whose Governments are at war, can remember that we are nations of individuals. One man, one woman helping another who has fallen, up off the pitch, or off the track. A smile, a touch, a hug. No matter the global economy, the most valuable thing we can give one another is free.

One World

Published in: on July 26, 2012 at 1:49 AM  Comments (2)  
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