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

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

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

Thursday, June 16, 2016

More of the same, more of the same

Dan Ponder--Fox News fan, Republican, mayor, and newest owner of The Donalsonville News--and spouse

I didn't even expect that Seminole County's "Donalsonville News' would have any comment
on the massacre at the gay Orlando club early Sunday morning.

Like the GOP representatives and 'leaders' in the aftermath of this shooting, pretending that gay people don't exist --or aren't worth acknowledging-- is par for the course for the sleepy town's rag. Promoting a false sense of invisibility is also the tactic that conservatives and right wing evangelicals around the nation use to try and keep us in the LGBTQ community marginalized, demonized, and great targets for speculation and dismissal. And violence.

The only place the shooting was even addressed was several pages into the publication, under the banner of editorial, which the local man didn't even write. The piece, which of course didn't condemn guns, nor investigate the actual facts of the shooter's motivations, also did not bother to mention that hate crimes against gay people are prolific and on the rise.

No mention of how a multitude of so-called Christian pastors, preachers, and talking heads have been vehemently calling for the murder of gay men and women these past few years. One, Swanson, even headlined an event featuring his "Kill the Gays" stance where Ted Cruz and other GOP Presidential wannabees attended.

No, the editorial depicted the real concerns of 'real Americans,' god-fearing (and inventing,) flag-waving, Fox-News watching, war loving folks; We need to bomb the life out of anyone we suspect is against us, anyone who might one day be against us, and anyone who has looked at us funny.

The hawkish call-to-arms was strident, and not at all concerned that the shooter's connection to ISL (ISIS) or any other terrorist group had not been made. Did the shooter express that he was doing what he did on behalf of ISIS? Yes, he did...among a multitude of other claims. I don't know for a fact, but I imagine if you're out of your mind enough to plan, prepare, and carry out a mass shooting of strangers, likely because 'you don't like what they do in their own lives,' you might be prone to talking out of your backside in the midst of an hours-long rampage.

So what we're really talking about here is an agenda (surprise!) that the paper has to promote attacking Muslim-based areas or countries...because that's what they want to do. NOT because the situation warrants it. NOT because we respond to all terrorist attacks equally (as the response here is VERY different than if white shooters are involved. We're talking about a driving desire for war that circumvents reason and fact. Gosh...that even sounds...extremist.

No, I am not worried about offending anyone. There are Muslim terrorists, and they need to be stopped. But caution and preventative measures and appropriate military response have to be handled with care--this isn't a cowboy movie. (By the way, the actual largest mass shooting in American history--albeit not by a single shooter--was Wounded Knee in 1890, where 300 Lakota Indians were massacred by U.S. forces.) No, I have no problem saying when ANY group of people is guilty of committing horrors, as the Right often accuses.

Ironically, Republicans are themselves loathe to call out terrorism when it comes from a group they choose to turn a blind eye to. How convenient.

No, the way to show respect for the men and women killed for no good reason four days hence is not to jump on a bandwagon of war-starters who are just looking for any excuse to get in a battle, never mind the repercussions. Never mind that our President is already involved in such actions (He's another one they like to either pretend doesn't exist, or make up stories about so as to suit their own pre-existing view.) We couldn't just have some empathy and respect? Some calls for reason and tolerance? Nope. Not even for one day.

You can be in absence of the facts if you so choose. You can falsely accuse people of doing things they aren't guilty of. You can even be in denial over why you do what you do. But at some point, please, just for the sake of human decency, lose the self-importance of it all. You aren't automatically correct just because you refuse to consider that you might be wrong. Others aren't stupid or soft because their reaction is not as extreme as yours. 

If you want to make war, just admit it. But be willing to admit that your 'reasoning' is not supported by the excuses you throw out there. You claim you're truth-tellers, but your actions don't reflect that. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

As I sit here at my desk, solemn and sickened, I am
still trying to wrap my head around this morning's 
mass murder in Orlando. 

Right now, it's all very surreal, very frightening, quite
maddening, very personal, and yet...not shocking.

Soon enough, the very real tragedy of the lost lives 
will be translated into profit-making and political 
agendas for everyone save the family and friends of 
those killed. Less than 13 hours ago, those people were
merely living their lives, trying to unwind and enjoy 
what can be a stark existence even without the input
of deranged gunmen.

And, even as a gay man, even as a former denizen of
Orlando who still has friends and family there, I too will
fall prey to the same distancing mechanism, albeit as 
coping mechanism. That's who we are; The Detached
States of America.

Will the gunman truly turn out to be an ISIS member?
Was there a conspiracy to get him in the club? How 
will the right-wing react to this tragedy (other than badly
and falsely?) What will be the next target? These and 
other questions and worries plague people's minds now, as the
horror and unreality are not only startling us, but the endless
media coverage is whipping us into a frenzy about.

I can already hear the coming hours and days unfolding:
The endless speculation, the ever-changing stories, the 
rumors, the false leads bandied about with certainty, people
doing everything they can to get their faces on tv and their 
names in the paper. 

There will be Republicans pretending to be outraged, while
in truth this is the sort of terrible repercussion that we can 
expect after decades of hate speech, innuendo, fear-mongering,
baiting, and campaign lies and manipulation. Hell, George W.
Bush won his second term on a hateful, despicable anti-gay 
platform. And just look at what the governors and other GOP
higher-ups have been doing and saying in North Carolina, 
Mississippi, Oklahoma, Indiana, Alabama and elsewhere.

No, the GOP conservatives will do as they have with the 
racism fury of the last few weeks regarding Trump; They will
play innocent and offended and hurl names, while they grin 
through their teeth in private, knowing that these actions are
merely 'worse than' theirs, and make them seem nicer by 
comparison. But 'less hateful' is not something to be proud of, 
nor is it acceptable.

We'll also be getting the usual unstable religious sorts who will
blame us homosexuals for this happening. They will once more
label us 'sinners' and thus detach us from 'regular humans' who 
deserve sympathy and respect. They will do what they do; blame
victims, even as they stroke the fires of their own delusional 
self-righteousness regarding their unholy attack on trans-
gendered people, gay men, lesbian women, and any who dare 
live their live by their own accord. 

But, Rick Warren? You have blood on your hands.
James Dobson? You're a killer too.
National Organization for Marriage? 700 Club? American
Family Association? You are all to blame for this massacre. 
You too are murderers. This hate doesn't come to fruition in a
vacuum. It doesn't manifest magically or mysteriously. 

We know how hate and irrational distrust is formed, and it most
certainly doesn't come 'from god' in an attempt to 'cleanse the
impure.' That's just sorry propaganda designed to give excuse to
very human insecurities and bitterness. Hate and fear and 
distrust is taught, slow and harsh, over the long haul. And 
evangelical churches, broadcasts, literature and groups have 
also been cultivating baseless hate towards the LGBTQ people 
of the planet for decades.

They will all be saying that we 'deserved this,' and that we are
as much terrorists as the people who did this.

They will have celebrated in this morning's services, and will 
continue to use it for their own agenda of 'what happens when 
you aren't following (our version of) god's will.'

They will continue their campaign of hateful divide, or promoting
intolerance through legislation, of blaming and scape-goating, of
raising funds from their flock based on the hate they inspired 
with gays and lesbians.

And they will see to it that this murderous assault is seen as an 
example of what 'good soldiers' are willing to do to enforce 
what they see as the law of a 'higher power,' even though it's
their own feelings they promote.

The religious will also deny culpability and avert attention 
away from their policies and rhetoric, as though in no way 
connected. But as surely as someone gives an arsonist 
matches and gasoline, knowing what he is intending to do
with them, the pastors and talking heads and Donald Trumps 
of the world stir things up from their soap box and pulpit, 
smiling insidiously as their homemade bombs go forth to 
ravage and destroy. "But I didn't do anything!"
Manipulators and cowards, all of them.

It's only a matter of time, given the current insane state 
of conflict and irrationality, before American-born terrorists 
(a.k.a. local church-goers, co-workers, police, and more) 
are mirroring this massacre to make their feelings known..,
because they've been told by people in authority that it's just
that important, and it's an acceptable act. Maybe even the 
'will of god.' This is the power of those who bend people's 
wills with their words.

I'm afraid because this happened so easily.

I'm afraid because it may well happen again.

I'm afraid because this means all of the beatings, assaults, 
murders, and tortures of LGBTQ community members 
that happen every year from 'god-loving ditto-heads' has 
now escalated beyond individual incidents.

I am afraid because our country seems to be on an escalating 
path to destruction, each day advancing further and further
into depravity, and so I unfortunately see this not as isolated
incident,' but rather the Beginning.

A 'Beginning' whose origins have been cemented in the 
pulpits and on GOP platforms for quite some time.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Constant Loathing: Intermittent Victimhood

There's always been a sense of fear amongst the self-proclaimed
'pure-breeds,' or Anglo-descended sorts, that one day their rule
would end.

It may not have been a conscious thought, or an articulated one, but
just there under the surface of the all-important skin it was percolating.

People of any sort or conviction have always been prone to hatred of
other, different groups of people--'different' by means of comparing a
singular distinguishing characteristic that each group has formed a
bond under, at least.

With the election of a black-skinned man for our highest office, many
Americans found that vague discomfort of subverted rule brought
forth with a violent thrust. The sensation may have even surprised and
shamed some of them.

But for others, the fear itself provides a sense of 'proof' to the false
narrative that there is a necessary division between the 'races.' (One
can never mention often enough that the concept of race is just
that--a notion. The pigment of our skin differing is no more or less
significant than a person's eye color or blood type differing. 'Race'
is completely a social and political invention.) People love them
some pigeon-holing!

But back to the scape-goating. We--people, every last one of us--have
a tendency to want to simplify things. To make them more easily-digestible.
Hence, elected leaders to make tough choices, hence religion, hence
a host of addictions and distractions from this terrifying and confusing

But designing or assuming a reason to blame others for our ills doesn't
make that person/group responsible. Again, it's just notions.

But for love of simplicity, people blame.

We blame different religions, the opposite sex, other states, political
parties, family members, neighbors, other 'races;' anyone who is not
the same as us is by default scary and can easily be made into the
bogeyman. It seems to be in our DNA.

But the seemingly-decreased degree of 'people who actually hate
people who are different' seemed to be a sign of improvement for
our country. Really, it was a 'seems too good to be true' scenario,
an actual cauldron of indignance and seething rage boiling and
getting ready to blow.

And then came Donald Trump. Riling people up, blaming these
'others' outright and proudly, giving people permission to engage
in their baseless accusations and disgust, inciting them to act on it.
The fa├žade of civility in America went straight out the window, and
we have seen exposed the deep and disconcerting pall of fear and
loathing for the longtime scapegoats, people of color.

The fear is based on false notions, on stereotypes, on lack of
exposure, on long-held fears and assumptions, and--in large
part--on mob mentality.

If you've ever been to a concert, a festival, a wedding, even a
packed movie theatre, you may have noticed there is a sense of
energy present--"something in the air" as it's often referred to.
There is in fact documented elevation of emotions in groups,
and certain areas of the brain react to the overriding emotion
that is being presented. There is a 'chain reaction' in effect, and
we are most of us easily drawn into whatever energy is most powerful.

So when people in a crowd get riled up, and get reminded of all
that's wrong with their lives, and are then given a simplistic rationale
for why it has happened and who is responsible, they can get carried
away. Mob mentality is a real thing. It isn't an excuse for inappropriate
or criminal behavior, like yelling slurs or assaulting people, but it is
a phenomenon.

And the people behind these pushed buttons are well aware of this.
I'm calling you out, Donald J. Trump. In your desire to increase
followers you are knowingly spreading false narratives to excite
and offend people, unconcerned with the fallout of such reckless

((As a side-note, if I or anyone else I know (poor, not a household
name, not carrying the prestige of power and influence) were to
hold a rally and call on people to harm other people, we'd be under
the jailhouse. Our country has a strict set of double standards in
place; the Rules of Law apply differently to the Two Americas.
The Have-Nots get the full force of the law crushing them and the
Haves have no repercussions at all.))

The mindset of these disenfranchised, predominantly-white people who
support Trump and all his euphemisms and hate speech is that they are
justified in feeling and responding this way because they have been

'Victimized' in the sense that not everything is going their way, life
is not 100% perfect, they are not in control of what everyone says
or does, and the day is coming closer when everyone will have
equal footing in this country. So in other words, not victimized at all,
just confounded that they can't have things the way they want and
wanting a way to act up about it.

I'm reminded of the tumult in the last few years of religious groups
in this country crying foul and painting themselves as victims of
abuse and terror because they were being forced to move into the
21st century and were no longer being allowed the special privileges
they had been accustomed to holding for so long.

See, people do not like giving up things. Whether they were
deserved or not has nothing to do with it. Whether others were
being harmed in order for them to have had that privilege has
nothing to do with it. People are simply severely adverse to
change and loss, and they get a little crazy about it. Others are
simply looking for an excuse to act on being racist prigs. They've
been dreaming of the day when it would be acceptable again
to treat others like second-class citizens.

This phenomenon is not going away. In fact, it's getting worse
the longer this fanning of flames and pandering is allowed to
continue. Our tax dollars are being spent to close down streets,
pay police, pay Secret Service detail, and more so that DJT can
have rallies to work people up and then let them lose back into
their communities where he will never see or experience the results
of his actions.

Because make no mistake--the words he puts into their minds, the
permission he gives folks to combust, it doesn't fade when he closes
out the night. He's planting seeds of constant loathing, and they'll be
fed and nurtured long after his campaign is done.