Another Day in the Neighborhood 

Walking to work from MUNI in the Civic Center can be a fascinating experience as long as you remain alert. Mind you weaving through traffic and around waste – less said the better – hones one’s observation skills. 

But those skills create the false illusion you are seeing everything.

Case in point the Mid-Market (read Loin) attempted metamorphosis into a “middle class neighborhood”  – only in San Francisco – through high rise apartments averaging $3,000 plus a month. 

Will it succeed? Initially yes but long term remains questionable. Why? It’s unclear the newest neighbors understand San Francisco’s cyclical economy and population density require certain attitude adjustments. Conversely those most resentful of the financial upheaval must accept these folks are not going away.

As the weather people are fond of saying the earliest indicators are not good. A beautiful new supermarket opened next door to Twitter – replete with enticing pictures promising foods from all over- but it doesn’t list it’s hours and remains closed before 8:00 a.m. 

I guess if you have to ask the hours you don’t belong there. Surrounding this newest slice of retail heaven are emotionally disturbed street residents navigating a savaged mental health system. Contrary to developers’ dream designs these folks’ psychotic breaks will not take place off stage. See John King’s great article on Developers Narrow Vision

Okay how do we fix this problem? 

Developers and tenants must understand short of tanks rolling you will not move everyone to Oakland (Nice Try Libby but No Thanks). [Given each also lives paycheck to paycheck thanks to their high rents a certain humility would also be welcome.] This means directing additional money to mental health programs. 

Homeless Advocates and City Hall must set up shelters accepting pets, offering showers, and providing treatment while demanding accountability. [Forced treatment of mentally ill remains a seemingly intractable issue but if we don’t allow people to bleed to death on the street how can we ignore self-harm or assaults on others.] Those screaming about criminalizing the homeless must understand prisons don’t only exist behind bars.

 In the meantime the neighborhood continues strong. 

I toddled off to Walgreens which has been serving and welcoming all San Franciscans for decades. Retirees practiced their tai chi and lapped me as they circuited the Civic Center Plaza. Two homeless men eagerly played cards. 

Throughout Falung Gong members continued their vigil. 

 Yep it’s Another Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Fred Rogers the beloved conscience of the pre-Sesame Street generation.)

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Cutting the Heart Out of Content

Time spent away from blogging and photography has moved me back to consuming content. But like other viewers this has inflated my personal self-worth as an entertainment connoisseur (read untalented critic). Hence today’s quick rant.

Throughout my life – whether by choice or happenstance – I followed a different drummer. In my teens and 20s I adopted politics from half-century earlier, voraciously collected even older blues music, and sacrificed my personal life to work or school. In short a rebel without a clue how to communicate with her peers.

When I pulled away from this identity – outside of the Blues; God’s true gift – I honed my observation skills so I could create a new one. Much like reading a book or watching a play I not only saw but predicted. It wasn’t a smooth transition but in time I fell back into society.

At the time I felt clever but I only returned to my earliest conditioning. Like most of my family I read before kindergarten and kept books as a constant companion. They became my talismans and friends. Slotting people into books or shows helped me figure out what would Sherlock or Hawkeye  do in this situation. [Sorry Jesus has never ridden on my Dashboard.]

Imagine my outrage with modern media’s whiplash approach to current productions. Characters randomly die as a ratings splash or seeming de riguer obligation ( yes Good Wife this means you). Every character advancement or interaction gets sacrificed week to week or even within an episode (see Glee ). Other times they self-immolate with no apparent other than who re-signed for the new season (see The Killing; actually the excuse behind its suicide eludes me).

No, it’s not post modernism or uber originality. It’s contempt for your audience. Nor is it confined to entertainment (see most politicians but this another rant). Never has greater opportunity existed to reach audiences but it seems as if most content producers forget numerous outlets does not guarantee a “sticky” audience.

I found myself watching a Christian Brodcast Movie  Woodcarver starring Cliff from Cheers. No, I don’t drink so I have no damn good reason. Other than the characters — despite religious platitudes — spoke and looked like real people. Plus they were carving wood and I have been known to watch this Old House Marathons. Regardless I bet CBN at least made its money back if not more.

This is my plea to liberal, secular, feminist and queer content producers. Give me likeable characters who have the capacity to love and hate (and not just when you are building audience via subtext teases Rizzoli and Isles — see great rant at Autostraddle Takes on Queerbaiting. Remember to respect my intelligence by not 360ing the characters because someone in production is bored (see above). Understand a really great love story crosses the gender and orientation war boundaries (see Fried Green Tomatoes and Brokeback Mountain  — though wiser minds than me have written near treatises on why queers in love always seem to die — see Lady Geek Girl on queer love tragedies

Remember content is king only if connects to an audience.

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Friends of Dorothy Finally Win a Round

I must commend The Log Cabin Club for finally obtaining recognition within the Republican Party. See Log Cabin Recognized 

Mind you I just sent generations of my working-class ancestors ancestors spinning in their graves. I’ll leave it to you to figure out whether Gay or Republican put them over the edge. Given brains run in my family – – as well as homosexuality – –I’ll pick the latter.

Cohn & McCarthy HUAC

The easy post would attack the “Grand Old Party’s” closeted history. I could conjure up the HUAC specters of Cohn and McCarthy rooting out hidden homosexuals while at least one lived an openly gay life. Or I could snipe at more recent Republicans performing tap dances in bathrooms while spending their careers smashing fellow queers. See Outrage Video

But quick and easy would deny the more storied history surrounding Lincoln’s Party. Abolitionists helped found the Party. Later it fought on behalf of freed blacks during and after the Civil War. See Radical Republicans Even as a child I remember the Rockefeller Republicans who fought for the ERA.

More importantly both paragraphs above deny the United States’ complicated political history. Southern Racist Democrats moved en masse to the Republican Party in the 1960s and visa versa. This pattern has repeated itself throughout US history with Parties whose name only means something to PhDs. IMHO it comes down to believers in government and haters of government. The twain shall only meet on April 15.

Gadsen Flag

You Did it Dorothy

No I write because the Log Cabin member fought and won acceptance on their home turf. This emotional acceptance helps not only any child seeking his or her proverbial home –“Auntie Alice, Auntie Alice” –but all parents, siblings, and others desperately wanting to extend the greeting. Besides given the homophobic horrors currently thriving within the California GOP it’s a meaningful victory despite being decades overdue.

More to the point, haters only really win when they can demonize [make distant] the other. Anytime and anywhere this breaks down humanity moves forward.

Of course my tree splitting friends, the niceness goes away tomorrow. Then you non-1%ers can explain why you keep hanging out with Koch and his friends. 

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Paring Down to the Essentials

Where am I, who am IYes, like the proverbial bad penny I turned back up. Mind you, WordPress seeking its renewal fee played a huge role. Every time I change a card number my automated life goes to hell because — gasp — I must remember passwords and type numbers.  With those skills I would be a techie and not struggle with inserting images.

DSC03846But truthfully it’s been a long time in coming. Why? Communicating feeds my soul. Without it I become my migraine fog or current obsession. Neither are very pleasant nor particularly interesting. Even when I’m (literally) hiding from the light I’ve begun listening to nonfiction shows or books. I don’t fear dementia – some would say it’s already arrived – I just want to learn stuff for later conversation or posting.

Says it all

Crowd shot

Crowd shot

A lot happened over the past year. Like everyone else, I lived, died, and resurrected with the Giants. I can’t thank those boys enough for being so San Francisco. Too cool for school most of the year and then pulling it out of their [fill-in-the-blank] at the end. Yes, I can hear the haters chant it’s a corporate machine. Whatever. They brought every part of this City together without scandal or violence (are you listening Niners?). Not to mention forced the East Coast Media Establishment’s heads to explode. A win any way you look at it.

Pigeon Vultures

Pigeon Vultures

I have loads to talk about in future posts. The homeless situation spawns almost daily and seemingly endless tragedies. Our local archbishop beats the local media like a drum despite using every page of the Internet Troll playbook. With MUNI imploding and rents rising we continue to build our City’s future on quicksand.

But for now I must stop. Need to figure out what and where to pay WordPress. Then climb into bed with icepack strapped to my scalp.

Before I leave, however,I pledge a weekly post. Pictures may be sparser until I remember previous free sites. I must adjust to a world without my camera (see future post).

When It Doesn’t Quite Work

ImageSome days the photography goddess goes with you. Other times she  hangs out with the real photographers. Such was my Saturday. After deleting almost half of my photos I felt like the wolf in this great graphic adorning a bakery near Flax Art & Design. What the hell happened?”

Immediately mantras sprang to mind. “The worst day spent [hobby] is better than the best day working.” “If you at first don’t succeed, try, try again.” “You learn more from your mistakes.” Fill in your favorite cliché. But the pounding in my ears sounded too much like “grab some pine, meat.” [A shout out to my fellow SF Giants fans.] Certain photos [like this fire hydrant] caused this familiar taunt to grow louder. DSC01588

 Then I recalled a great Additude Magazine post I read this week on the near addiction folks like me have to quitting.  The author explained how many steps ADHD sufferers will take to avoid being “devastated by disapproval.”  See http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/10121.html for the original article.

Initially I pushed the article aside because I approach the world like a battleship (invoking the strong women running through both my blood lines). However, closer reflection — notably an apartment littered with failed hobbies and the frustrated voices of exes/friends past — chastened me. I remembered how quickly I dropped things I could not master in an afternoon or [being fair] not ever given certain of my limitations. Not only did it prevent me from perhaps one day mastering certain subjects (hey a girl can dream), but it cost me respect (both my own and that of others). These are losses I no longer want crumbling my foundation. DSC01566

Then I read a great Lifehacker post urging readers to adopt a Buddhist approach to life. It advised making one’s life goal to remove unhappiness rather than chase happiness. You can find this provocative piece at http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/what-do-you-need-to-let-go-of.html

Frankly it deserves a blog post of its own. It still runs through my mind like a waterfall: beautiful but beyond grasp. It’s incredibly empowering but also seemingly dishonest. What if you owe an obligation to the unhappiness? (Ah; the neglected child and first wife lament – time to put this puppy [post] to bed soon). Too many things are whirring in my brain, much like the mural excerpt below. I real sleep more than blogging absolution. DSC01551

Besides not everything becomes a total loss. You end up with the parent best able —and most willing— to care for you. Both you and your ex grow inwardly stronger  after you part. [Plus you get to litter your new apartment with anything you want. Evil grin.] Finally it’s virtually impossible not to come home with at least one or two nice pictures in San Francisco (as hopefully shown below).

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DSC01570  Good night and thanks for hanging in with this post. DSC01597

 

A Near Epic Journey Through a 50 Year LGBT Epoch

ImageI could hardly allow a glorious day to pass in total silence. DOMA rocked  and Same-Gender Marriage rendered legal (again) California. It’s a state of affairs only dreamed of just a decade or two ago. I will let others speak to the intricate legal issues or pour their hearts’ happiness gleefully across the blogosphere. Tonight clearly belongs to LGBT families and those who labored so long for them. I only wish my friends lost to AIDS, substance abuse, and assorted illnesses who also labored and created families were still here.

DSC01533Still I cannot help but feel oddly proud it occurred during my 50th year. My favorite college professor, Stanley Balis, always taught societies cannot appreciate a major epoch until 50 years passed. It was why books on WWII exploded in the 1990s as survivors finally opened up. Its a phenomena repeated throughout historiography. Being part of a generation who moved from ” a love that dared not speak its name” to one “that will simply not shut up” was both glorious and painful. In other words an epoch (whether I view my politically active stages or my downtime on the proverbial sidelines).

Just the week I came home choking back tears and smiles after a bus ride home on Sunset neighborhood bus. As I told my brother, “we (meaning my LGBT community) already won.” Why? I watched four high school age boys giggle and flame all over the bus about their planned dates and summer jobs. Yet no one moved to censure or mock them. Having grown up in the Sunset my brother and I knew this would have been a near death sentence in the 1970s and 1980s. Yes, our neighbors included Sunset punks who carried their hatred on baseball bats they wielded in the Castro.DSC00864

Nor was it confined to Irish Catholic communities in San Francisco. I can recall my very first day  of (yes) Catholic High School in Southern California. In not so whispered tones folks talked of a boy stomped in the showers that morning for allegedly having an erection. I still can see the principal (actually a decent priest and very straight) running around handling it. Few expressed sympathy and all stated the obvious “he will have to leave now” [and he did]. It’s a memory which lingered in my consciousness and helped bury my nascent sexual orientation further into my soul’s recesses. I can’t help but wonder if other 14-year-old Catholic boys and girls suffered similar reactions when our Archbishop pompously characterized today as a great tragedy. Nah; this is now, not 1977 – the Church has zero credibility. Image

But time to banish those bad memories for tonight. It’s a joyous celebration belonging to all of us gay or straight.

Liked the Lucky Framing

Let me extend my love and heartfelt thanks to my brothers, parents, ex-in-laws, aunts, uncles, and cousins who cast aside generations of institutionalized bigotry to embrace me. Not only did it allow me to live my life like any other boring, middle class product of parochial institutions, it comforted many of my friends and acquaintances. Kudos to my countless LGBT fellow travelers who also reached out to their families (regardless of the results; y’all tried). Thanks to my supportive coworkers and political colleagues who endured the “strident years.” A deeper thanks to everyone for not falling victim to the AIDS hysteria and locking us all up.

Those boys wouldn’t have traveled safely and the Court would not have made its ruling without each and everyone of you. Hug yourself and everyone near you in gratitude. It’s a blossoming of all the love held fast through the losses.  Image

The Power and Treachery of Speech

2012-05-27_12-09-39_665-1Tonight technology driven by a sore shoulder brings you this post via dictation. I feel like a cheap episode of an old Star Trek. Of course all the episodes of Star Trek were cheap so I guess this puts me right at home.

Mind you the power amazes me given the state of computers just 15-20 years ago. I vividly remember a disabled friend typing via a pencil clenched between her teeth. Now folks perform high-level jobs without ever touching a keyboard or mouse.  Of course ever since we crawled out of the caves  we have improvised around our puny bodies’ limitations.  We erect huge buildings, roar down streets in fancy cars and literally fly to the moon.  Powers which have wrought great beauty and even greater destruction. Like everything else it depends on who wields the power and the circumstances surrounding them.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Still I find this power of speech particularly terrifying. Oddly because it has always come to me so glibly. As a child I live surrounded by relatives who verbalized everything. Looking back it went beyond merely filling silences. On all sides of my family we saw and experienced everything. Our glimpses became fodder for stories, jokes, and fights. I suppose the modern term is processing, but I prefer living.  Yet when the time came to give my heart away it went to a woman who taught me to value silence. An amazingly gifted  musician she experienced the world by being still enough to hear sounds beyond my range of hearing and understanding.  Like many long-term couples we eventually drifted apart but not before I learned of worlds I missed by not listening hard enough. [Note: picture is not my ex – just random (also gifted) musicians].DSC00949

I suppose the fear arises from using speech in everything I do.  Like many in my family  I always fall into the caregiving professions, no matter how much I try running from them. It’s closely linked with the whole world domination thing I have  had going  since kindergarten. Taught always to give back  my family members and I seek to lift up the world around us. In my case I use persuasive skills –either verbal or written– to cajole, console, or scold.  In my youth I  sought justice  and power. Now in middle-age  I seek to settle or repair things. It no longer seems like a compromise given what I’ve learned of the world’s fragility. Mostly, much like the dictation, its  learning to trust going with the flow. The faster you dictate the fewer mistakes you make. The more people and situations you quickly clean up, the better the worlds.   It’s like bringing a  little spring  in the middle of winter.DSC00704

So what so terrifying? It’s knowing how easily people use speech to do the wrong thing. It’s not just the larger questions of morality its seeing people ripped to pieces by someone else’s words. It’s knowing people so damaged they no longer trust anyone.  It’s remembering, how like any other non-perfect human being, when I used  speech to destroy people. With glibness comes too many glitches is or gotcha’s. With writing I feel distance and a chance to edit (unless I had  the itchy send button finger going).  Of course given my clumsy dictation skills I will always have a chance to edit. Still it harkens of a world where  speech will grant instant gratification. Hopefully I will remember what my ex so wisely tried to teach me, just wait and listen.DSC01267