daily preciousness

Friday, September 30, 2005


Josh does great work. He's a graphic designer. He and his bf, Ben, spent a fun Friday evening together at the Arts Club with Henry and me. We listened to a lovely soprano and shared a wonderful meal together outside on the patio.

Ben is from Louisiana, so we had a lot to chat about. He has a friendly cajun way about him -- even if he's a little on the quiet side. (Maybe that's because we had just met.) Henry had met the pair at a fundraiser for our pal, Adam.

Ben and I commiserated over the plight of those poor New Orleanians. That was a few weeks ago.

Little did we know that Rita would strike his family home, in Iberia Parish. We sipped cocktails and laughed, not knowing what was around the bend. (It was all wine and circuses before a great tragedy... there's something very decadent about that.)

Now, much of his family is homeless. His elderly parents are being denied medical care because it's "too expensive" and the u.s. treasury (which is running low) cannot help them during this perilous time.

That's why Josh came up with making a t-shirt to help raise funds for the small community where his parents live. Can you imagine what it must be like? He's thinking up ways to generate money so that his parents can survive.

Please buy one of these t-shirts. As Ben says,
You wear this, women will want you, and men will want to be you. Or the other way around, depending on your predilections."

Windi city

Originally uploaded by spyrylgyrl.

This pic eloquently captures two things I will miss about New Orleans -- the beautiful old trees, reaching out in all directions, in all their verdant spendor, alongside the lovingly restored historic homes, all tucked into the expansive boulevards.

Thanks, Windi, for these amazing pictures.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

faith-based disaster

A few days ago, I made an off-hand remark that Katrina was the country's first example of a "faith-based" disaster: The official response by local, state and national agencies was to just pray that everything would get better. Help was ridiculously slow to arrive, so the suffering had to pray that everything would turn out OK.

Alternatively, they could simply pray for their souls, like the hundreds of people who died of starvation, flooding or who died of medical problems. So the faith-based disaster relief was less expensive and certainly more faith-positive.

Turns out that I was right.

I had no idea of these facts.

On the official FEMA website, there were only two secular organizations listed for contributions. The rest were faith-based. Additionally, FEMA ignored some experienced secular organizations with prior disaster relief experience. They went, instead, with Baptist and Catholic Bible Camps. (I guess poor people need a little dose of the old time religion with their FEMA checkcards, right? Or maybe the checkcards are faith-based, too?)

Friday, September 16, 2005


Remember these guys?

They're the famous right-wing company that supported Bush and helped deliver the election to him.

Yeah, thought you might.

Well, seems that they found a little problem with their programming. Specifically, they found a vulnerability in their system that allows a "backdoor" way into the software, which a local or remote user could utilize to modify votes. The United States Computer Readiness Team reports that, "No workaround or patch available at time of publishing. We are not aware of any exploits for this vulnerability." Wha? No exploits?!? You're not aware of any exploits for this???


I'm feeling pretty exploited right now. Most of the rest of the country probably is, too. So do we somehow get a refund on two presidential terms of illegal presidency?

"What's he talking about, Dick? How is my presidency illegal?"  
"He can just go fuck himself like the commie that he is, Mr. President."  
"Oh.... Damn commies."

I know what it means.

The song has always been a personal favorite. And it's always made me a little nostalgic. "Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?" is a classic of jazz. And it has given many a transplanted Louisianian a lump in the throat. No more so than in recent days.

So, as a personal tribute to a world-class city, I would like to explain what New Orleans means to me. What this city of moonlight and water has given… What it nearly took away… What it means to miss her so dearly…

My first memories of the city involve muppets. The City Children's Museum had a wild and wooly exhibit of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Big Bird and the rest of the bunch. My parents took my brother and me to saw how all the Henson magic worked.

It was spectacular to peek behind the veil like that. What a glimpse that was! The sheer magic of bringing those characters to life inspired me. I remember going home and making puppets out of socks, paper bags -- anything. My brother, my best pal Christina and I must have made puppet shows for months afterwards, because I remember the exhibit with the crystal clarity of Something that Really Mattered.

Not far from the children's museum, in City Park, there was a little train that pulled a train of a dozen or so cars. My nostrils would fill with the smell of oil and smoke as the train began to move. The tracks wound around the city park. An old man in denim and gold-rimmed glasses was the conductor. He had to sit on the little engine car with his knees jutting out at an awkward angle. I remember it had a loud, high-pitched bell. He rang it as he called, "All aboard!"

I vividly recall being jealous of the children who dwelled in the houses and apartments that faced the park. "The kids that live here must get to ride the train all the time -- and that's not fair at all!" I remember thinking. What wonderful logic.

My first trip on a real train took me from Baton Rouge all the way across Lake Pontchartrain. I remember thinking that the water must go on forever. "Is that the ocean, Mama?" I remember asking. I had never seen a body of water that vast before. Nor had I been on a bridge that went that far. Miles and miles later, t steady noise of the train must have put me to sleep. I rested in my mother's lap. By the time I awoke, we had just pulled into the station.

Tiny mountains of powdered sugar couldn't hide the glory beneath them. The little pillow-shaped bounty beneath the snowy white sugar could never hide for long. After a meal with Dad, we would board the riverboat and listen to the jazzy calliope echo off the waterfront.

The World’s Largest Ferris Wheel stopped one day. With me on it. It was the 1984 World’s Fair. Yikes!

Dad had scored us free tickets to go. I remember being so incredibly proud of him. His black and white pictures won us three or four visits to the World’s Fair for the whole family. It was amazing. I remember seeing the Space Shuttle, awesome, spectacularly huge and powerful.

There wasn’t much of a breeze that day. The steamy river air was still and stagnant. After what seemed like half an hour baking at the top of the Ferris Wheel, they finally let us down. Was it a cigarette break? A labor dispute? A broken part? Nope. A very fat passenger had somehow gotten herself stuck in the seat and she couldn’t get out. They had to call the police to help pry Mistress Lard out. Thanks a lot, lady!

Many years later, I would celebrate my first New Year’s Eve as an adult in the French Quarter, popping noisemakers and wearing silly hats with friends. We sipped Irish coffees and leaned over the French metal work of the Quarter balconies. I was 18 and so happy to be an adult. I kissed Joel, my very first long-term sweetheart, for good luck that year. The joy of that evening is balanced by the shock of just a few years later when a mugger got his wallet and shot him in the chest in the same part of the Quarter. It happened just two years after that wonderful New Year’s kiss. He very nearly died.

New Orleans did not take him.

But now, New Orleans is hurt. And we now know what it means to miss her.

These memories, good and bad, form a composite of the city in my mind. It's a city of moonlight and water, seductive and treacherous. I hope that we can revive her. Until then, I will miss her.

Part of being from Louisiana is helping people understand what this city means. And I hope that this glimpse at her will make you understand just how special of a city she is.

Monday, September 12, 2005

sushi bash

I’m just back from a weekend of pure gama-go ahead fun. It was friendly people and a splashy, campy, real-life adventure. It was my once-a-year treat: rolling on the river in the big WV. And I had would share it this evening. I was going to paint a picture and really take you there, squeezing out the story -- a tale teeming with more life and more promise than a drop of pure river water. Just like last year.

But I can't. I lost it all on the way to get some sushi.

The scene is a dimly lit parking garage in the ‘burbs. Arlington’s little postage stamp sized village of Shirlington. I hop out of the Volvina and walk over to pick up my carry out: yellowtail, tempura special and a just a tickle of the old ivory salmon.

Was it my perfectly coiffed hair? Was it my stylish yet retro shirt? Or was it the perfectly coordinated belt and shoe combo? Did I prance when I should’ve strutted? Or was I too expressively happy about the oncoming wasabi and ginger rush?

I will never know.

All I know is that a shabby red hatchback with Virginia plates drove by me. The window open. The teenage passengers (all girls?) pass by and shout “faggot” at the top of their lungs. One leaned over from the back seat toward the window and shot a crumpled diet Coke can at me. It flew past me harmlessly. It was an attempted Diet Coke bashing. By girls. I got verbally fag bashed by girls.

Or maybe they were just boys whose voices hadn’t changed yet.

It matters not. All that matters is that I kept walking, doing nothing. I let them win. I just stood there in shock.

There was no “Oh yeah, you little cunt faced motherfuckin’ hetero scum? Well that’s ‘Mister Faggot’ to you!”

The rejoinder was not a flashy, “I’m more man than you’ll ever get and more lady than you’ll ever be you sorry-faced proto-neo-con bitch!”

And I can’t say that I had a “Thank you for noticing that I have a better hair, a better education, and more disposable income than you ever will!”

I just stood there and watched the crumpled can of Diet Coke land and spin on the black and shadowy asphalt behind me. The car was out of the parking lot before I had the urge to run. I nearly dropped everything and just raced after it. But there was no stoplight nearby. They could’ve easily outpaced me in the white trash hoopty car. Marathon training or not, I was powerless to pursue them.

And without missing a beat, I start the blame game on myself. Why didn’t I do something? Where was the snappy come-back line? Why didn’t I at least try to chase ‘em down? How can I even let this hurt my feelings?

It reminded me of 9/11: Don’t let this upset you, or the terrorists have already won! God, why can’t I let this go?

A few moments later I’d calmed down. The sushi shop was nearly empty. I grabbed my order, left a generous tip and made it back to my car. I didn’t even realize that I was crying until I tried to pick out the right key for the car door. I guess the terrorists (in this case) did kind of win. Because I let it bother me.

A beer and a meal of yellowtail, tempura special and a just a tickle of the old ivory salmon followed. It was not as sweet as usual. The rice had lost its charm. The yellowtail was kind of waxy. The tempura had too much sauce. But I enjoyed it as best I could.

I’ll try to write about the weekend tomorrow, when I feel better. On a happier note, I found great solidarity when I Googled sushi and gay-bashing and found a similar instance in DC. So I wasn't the only one whose sushi dinner was ruined by hatred recently. Misery loves company. Misery also loves nifty anti-bashing graphics:

Please, parents, stop the cycle. End the violence. All I am saying is, give peace a chance. And let me get a piece of sushi without all this drama!