Let's just eliminate all the bullshit, shall we?







Sunday, August 20, 2017

"You're only as sick as the secrets you keep."

America has a problem dealing with race; That's not an aspect of 
the issue that requires debate. But more pressing that the specifics 
of race (yes, really) is the method America uses to address and 
handle all of its problems;
We don't.

The grand American tradition is to ignore what is in front of us 
(the uncomfortable, squirmy, yucky underbelly of problems!) 
and deny their very existence. We just repeat this practice until 
all of our anger and resentment and crazy has built itself into a 
fever pitch and EXPLODES!

And then--and only then--we'll talk about it. Oh, we'll sit around 
and say our piece and react and stomp feet and cry out. Each of 
us adding our two cents to an issue the majority didn't even 
acknowledge less than a 24-hour news cycle before-hand. 

We will talk rings around it, because there surely is one 
unifying force in effect in this country: We all love to hear 
ourselves talk. The listening? Notsomuch. But we can run that 
mouth like we're getting paid by the syllable. And then, just as 
quickly as the conversation began--it ends.

Now, those of us who were always affected by whatever the 
issue du jour was still have to deal with it in its gory entirety; 
whether it's Flint citizens unable to drink or bathe because of 
still-unfixed toxic water, a mother whose only son was murdered 
by the people sworn to protect him, a child who just heard the
ersatz leader of his country say 'white supremacists' aren't so 
bad, and so on. 

We still have to face the weight of situations that could have 
been long-ago addressed and resolved, or at least improved. 
You know--if addressing and fixing was something we actually 
did here.

Republicans have been adamant about fostering the notion that 
race is not the issue folks are claiming it is. Ignoring their own 
gerrymandering, voter suppression through illegal voting laws
(Texas found guilty again just this last week,) and propping up 
institutionalized racism, they seem hell-bent on either white-
washing reality or keeping blinders on. I'll give them credit for 
being smart enough to simply be evil and corrupt. But I may 
be wrong--they might just be elitist and ignorant.

Today, Rick Santorum and Virginia's Scott Taylor won the 
title of "Most Entitled White Dudes Ever" for their joint 
appearance on Jake Tapper's show. They audaciously 
contended that race does not play a part in the problems 
people face outside of what's caused by the hate-speech 
(and presumably hate-attacks) perpetrated by Nazis and 
'white supremacists' (I can't even write that phrase without 
getting nauseous.)

Translation: 'The whole nation is in favor of hating Nazis 
this week, so for political expediency we'll break with our 
nationalist, racist platforms and party to stand behind that
idea--but don't push it asking us to come clean on the other
harmful ideologies we support.'

There can be no healing of a problem until there is an open 
and honest addressing of a problem. And the idea of coming 
clean about our secrets, our lies, our troubling past, and our 
crimes does not seem to be on any politician's 'to-do list.' 

So we scream at the TV, shake our heads at apathetic 
politicians, stew over the clown that stole our highest office, 
and we wonder what will happen as a result of the continued 
avoidance?

In the meantime, I say we do what we can; Follow our own 

hearts and minds. We don't have to follow suit and be quiet 
just because the men with the most to lose are running scared.

Call them out. 
Speak the Truth.
Hold them accountable.
Make strides to have real talk with friends, neighbors, even 
strangers.

I have started more conversations with people in stores, waiting 
in lines, passing on the street...striving to make connection and 
experience some realness in the midst of a crucial time in this 
country. We all need to know that we're not alone in this fight
right now.

So don't be discouraged by a lack of leadership. Determine to step 
up and provide it yourself, wherever you are and however you can.
We know from experience that one person can make a difference.
Just today we learned of the passing of a great man--Dick Gregory--
who made strides and changes in this old world by refusing to 
accept things the way they are, and daring to reach out for better.

Let's take that example and run with it--all the way into the 
bright light of day. America has a problem with fear of exposure,
and the only way to get over it is to shine that light.
"This little light of mine--I'm gonna let it shine."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

"I'm NOT Racist!"

Even the mention of the word 'racism' brings about a
twitchy, nervous reaction in most Americans.

Doesn't even matter on which (of those infamous 'many')
sides you fall on in the equation, either.

Conservative, liberal, middle-of-the-road, or unconcerned...

Possessed of dark skin, light skin, or orange skin...

Upper class, middle class, the ever-increasing lower class...

We all share a history of not only having witnessed the way
that People of Color have been treated , but what gets said 
when those same folks are not present--the American
tradition of a schizoid approach to the matter.

We are all racist, to some extent. All white-skinned people
have had it ingrained in them--consciously, subconsciously, and 
all points in-between. We saw it. We were influenced by the words 
and actions of our parents and guardians, the police, neighbors,
family, classmates, movies, television, and every other form
of experience we went through in our formative years.

Invisibility and being side-lined are also aspects of the overall
issue, so every time we were alone in a room for a special
purpose and there were no faces that looked 'different from us,'
there was some kind of subliminal acknowledgement that "Oh,
I guess this isn't something black folks can/want to do," however
subtlety it may have etched itself on our consciousness.

Everything we do has impact on our understanding of the world,
regardless of whether we're interpreting it correctly. Exclusion
by proxy or by default is still exclusion, and our minds are used
to 'filling in the blanks' and playing detective as to how and why
things are the way they are. (This 'figuring stuff out on our own'
business is how most intentional racists get where they are; They 
did some bad work 'filling in the blanks' for themselves.)

But guess what? While all of us who are not 'People of Color'--
or at least not obviously so--are experiencing the big and small
indoctrination of race-preference in our upbringing, folks who are
black and brown are also experiencing it.

And regardless of whether or not you're actively on the receiving 
end of the lesson, you still get exposed to the gist of it. Black folks
get schooled just like the rest of us as to how they're supposed to 
feel about black folks. And that ends up being internalized as 
both self-hate (and low self-esteem, and depression, and illness,
etc.) as well as dislike of one's fellows.

When I was a teaching assistant at an elementary school in 
southwest Georgia (where I still live,) I saw all kinds of horrific
examples of teachers and staff sending very clear messages of 
racism to kids all day long. Not overt. Not actionable, usually.
Just definite preferential treatment of one race (take a guess!) 
over another, and a superlative knack for giving serious attitude 
(micro aggressions) to deliver the point home to the 'unwanted'
child.

Children are, as anyone who's read a psychology or parenting 
book knows, highly impressionable and absorptive little creatures.
You don't have to beat them over the head with directness, like, say
a 'NO COLORED ALLOWED' sign at a bathroom door. You can
raise an eyebrow or turn your lip up in disgust and send a very
clear message as to your opinion of them. 

Children, ever-ready to adapt and please their care-givers, will 
respond. And they're too young to know when they're being 
groomed by a malicious spirit who isn't concerned for their welfare.

So, when people readily defend their honor by screeching the
phrase "I'M NOT RACIST!!!" we have to look beyond that reaction.

First off: Of course you are! You really can't help but be if you 
were raised in this still-new, angry, scared little place we call
America. It's just the way it has been for so long, there's no escaping
it. (That's not defeatism: Of course we have to struggle to engage
in 'doing better.' But we have to deal with The Reality of 'how 
things are' before we can hope to change them.)

Second: We are all guilty of having passive, subconscious actions
which can be racist without even being aware of it. Looks we give,
comments we innocently make, bad ideas we have never reexamined
since childhood that we cling to still. It's instilled in us. It's a sleeping
beast, and even if we don't mean to, we are all at some time or
another, guilty of sleeping in its cave.

Friday, July 28, 2017

REALITY TV Makeover Edition

If we must continue to suffer the existence of 'reality TV,'
can we not at least infuse the damning experience with
some substance or value?

What about a premise of implementing social reform,
or developing progressive policies that give back to our
communities, as the basis for the competition?

It's still a competition, it's still about winning that money,
it's still horrible people that America loves to obsess over.

Only now, the weekly challenges have not only a positive,
but a potentially lasting effect on the world.

One week, the wanna-be celebs have to create a viable
market plan for a halfway house that assists people being
released from prison transition back into the working world.
The next, working with battered women at a domestic
abuse shelter to determine solutions for their specific needs,
and so on.

Not only would the issues be given airtime, but the idea
of the importance of volunteerism and support for various
projects can be promoted, and actual work and monies are
being funneled into these programs by the contestants' ideas
and fund-raising efforts.

Would it really be so unheard of to better the world while
creating otherwise mindless entertainment?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

"How an I supposed to live without you?!?"



A few years back, I began the slow and steady process of selling my 
comic book collection. Calling it a 'collection' seems a cold and unequal
means of labeling something so important to me--shades of being offended 
at one's best friend being referred to as merely a 'pet.'

Nonetheless, my lifetime collection of tens of thousands of comics, graphic
novels (yes, they are two separate things, posers!), paraphernalia (accurately
enough, a drug reference,) posters, fanzines, and so forth was departing. 

The reason for the sale was not that I was tired of my books or any less
emphatic about my love for the medium, despite having inconveniently
become an adult and being jaded with many parts of the industry's direction.
No, it was pure financial need that drove the 'decision' to part with my 
paper-babies. That pesky 'sacrifice' part of growing up.

Despite my monetary desperation, I chose to piece-meal sell my books over 
the period of a few years, rather than all at once. Those who know the  
market might assume that's because I would likely get a better deal through 
this method over selling bulk. That's not wrong, but it wasn't the true rationale
behind my inability to depart with my possessions. No, I was having trouble
saying 'goodbye.'


For a non-fan/non-collector, that's likely an absurd statement. To put
it in perspective, I don't understand getting up at 2 a.m. and standing 
in freezing weather to get a deal on retail, nor do I comprehend the 
indulgence in putting war paint on and sitting on lousy stadium seats
surrounded by screaming drunks to attend a ball game. We all have our
'thing.'

Comics always have been and always will be far more than fictional
characters and colorful paper. Growing up, I knew early on that I was
unlike other kids/people. I gravitated to comics--I'm not ashamed to
admit--because it was an outlet and a support for loneliness and not
fitting in anywhere. It was a welcoming landscape of unusual, wild,
creative, fun, and familiar, and they were a lifeline for me.

I became deeply interested in the recurring characters and their complex
histories, their exploits, their personalities. I was intrigued by the creators
who provided the tales. I took interest in other fans' opinions regarding 
our shared interest, whether similar or not. This was an entire universe
unto itself, a community made up of the real and the unreal, and it was 
a 'something' I was part of automatically.

I relished the connection the heroes had with one another. The beauty 
of Curt Swan art made me tingly. The intensity of Dick Dillin's work
took my breath away. Reading Steve Englehart scripts enlivened me.

I woke up when I saw Ernie Chau's or Rich Buckler's covers. My blood
raced as I saw new covers with familiar logos on the spinner rack. My
comics were excitement and catharsis for a thirty-five cent investment
each. They were far more than mere 'entertainment' or outlet; they were
an integral part of my childhood and young adulthood.



I could not merely load up these boxes and depart with them in one fell swoop.
Time was needed to pour over each cover, taking in the flood of memory
and feeling that was attached to each one, almost as if a diary entry. I could
recall the enjoyment of first reading the issue, my favorite moments on the 
page, who my friends were at the time, and later on whom I was dating, what
job I was at, and more.

Memories of the landscape of the comics universe and the industry at those
times were revived. All those years of being attached to something regular,
something real... it creates a bond. And yes, comics had been my medication 
for my depressive moods, my buoy during frightening times. They were my 
go-to assistance, substituting for friends. 

One of the reasons I don't understand the appeal of digital comics or reading
novels on a tablet is the loss of tactile and other sensory stimulation. Comic
books were the whole experience! The lively art and colors for your eyes, that
feel of the paper under your finger as you followed along--or the book held
firmly in hand as you gripped the entirety of it tight! That tell-tale, almost 
addictive scent of newsprint. It all helped to serve up a unique experience,
an experience that could be relived by placing that same comic in your hands
and having scent and sight trigger the imprinted memory.

By shipping off my paper-babies a little at a time, ceremonially departing 
with them on a smaller scale, it was more manageable for me to let go.
It wasn't the idea of them, the money invested, the market value, or the
heroes I had trouble letting go of in the venture. My difficulty was saying 
goodbye to friends, therapists, memories, a support system, a journal of
all my years--and connections to characters, fans, and creators.

As is all the rage now in cleansing one's surroundings, I had to pick up
my beloveds, remember and honor the service provided, thank them for 
their contribution, and then--now unburdened--let them go.

*******************************************************************

Friday, July 8, 2016

What we really need

 The United States has gone far afield of its
stated intentions: a country that celebrates 
diversity, welcomes others, appreciates and 
respects all its citizens, and maintains a solid
separation of church and state.

"All men (people) created equal..."
Let's keep working on making THAT
a reality--not elect a man who
wishes to return to all the worst parts 
of our history.

Follow the Trail






Flame-fanners and shit-slingers






Blood is on your Hands 2






Not Forgotten: The Misery Persists