Mashed Potatoes and Dumb Blonds at Cross Streets

Mashed Potatoes and Dumb Blonds at Cross Streetsbull-horn copyIsrael is at war with Hamas over the Gaza Strip, and all flights to Tel Aviv are suspended. The entire Middle East is in bedlam–as ISIS forces are destroying human lives–and historic accomplishments. (They stupidly reduced ancient Assyrian monuments to rubble for “religious reasons”.) Another Malaysian airliner has crashed—this time wrongfully shot down over the Ukraine by drunken rebels. Californians are embarrassing the entire United States with ignorant anti-immigration hatred directed at Central American children attempting to seek safety and asylum to escape violent drug wars. House Republicans are suing the president for doing his job. And Ebola is lose on international flights. In other words, another day, another litany of unspeakable horrors. We’ve come to expect as much. In fact the next senseless mass-shooting or genocide is an ever-pending inevitability.

Bullhorn_announceYet as our world becomes more violent, we ourselves become more helpless. And our compassionate side becomes curiously incoherent–or at best well intentioned.

The other day while walking Winnie during a break from rolling-thunderstorms, I heard a voice of indeterminate origin, a bit louder than a normal pitch. As the dog and I approached an intersection situated between Philadelphia’s Wills Eye Hospital and the The Reading Library for the Blind, we heard the voice again. It was an authoritative, celestial voice–firm and commanding in sultry feminine tones. She had valuable, albeit androidal information to impart. Clearly it was our duty as astute citizens to lend an ear to absorb her message. The loudspeaker voice-boxes were hidden 10-Weirdest-Things-You-Can-Rent-a-fembot-1from view–perched at a height taller than a transit bus aiming her electronic words directly at pedestrians on the sidewalk below. Hers is a voice that could keep people awake at night, and in fact it does, because some of the loudspeakers are mounted on the walls of Jefferson Hospital’s student housing–which is probably good training for a profession scarred by scrambled sleep patterns.

But what was she saying? All I could do was sweep aside all my meandering worries about our globe full of troubles, if only to find out what this mysterious goddess-like voice had to say.

fembotThe “She Voice” was both comforting and at once decidedly synthesized in a very science-fiction-sorta way. I paused to listen to her siren’s song. She was the voice of all wisdom and at once, temptation. (It’s worth noting that the Miriam Webster Dictionary defines a “siren” as: “female and partly human creatures in Greek mythology.” This, definition does give the overtly insensitive impression that the entire female gender is merely a distant relative of “partly human creatures.”

But I digress. Allow me to return to what I was originally describing…

images…I moved in closer, merely for a listen. It wasn’t easy to discern what advice she was dispensing to all locals and passersby. After a dozen or more attempts at dissecting her sounds, (interrupted by buses roaring past and other ambient city noises) as best as I could tell, the auto-siren was saying: “Mashed Potatoes and Dumb Blonds at Cross Streets.” And she was repeating that same phrase over and over and over again.

I live in a neighborhood bordered by several hospitals as well as institutions for the blind. I’m vision impaired, but only to a point where I wave furiously at perfect strangers and walk briskly past people I’ve known all my life. My eyesight falls more into the category of “unreliable.” So keep in mind that I’m only partially damaged in both eyes, but not totally blind in either. Perhaps if I were totally blind I’d have been able to hear AND properly decipher what the electronic lady wanted me to know. To the best of my understanding mechanicalbride_japan_fembot2a(at least at that particular intersection) there was no dispensation or warning for the deaf nor the gluten free. And meanwhile, anyone driving a car who needed to be on the lookout for vision-impaired pedestrians could mow-down a dozen blind nuns before hearing (let alone understanding) what the mystery voice means to convey. It basically boils down to: “Try not to plow over pedestrians even if some of them might make for an easy mark.”

We live in a horribly violent world overrun with people who don’t have a clue how to conduct themselves or treat others. Lame as it all may be, I feel privileged to live in a society with “kneeling buses”, wheelchair access ramps, braille in elevators—and yes, lady_sonna_and_the_fembots_by_xskullheadx-d68ohknincoherent voice goddesses bridging the communications gap from Esperanto to jive–from Ebonics to Coptic with a very important message: Our thoughtless or distracted actions can–and will impact others. And at least we try to do the right thing. OK some of us do, but we don’t always succeed. We try, in an otherwise trying world.

 

Disassociated Press, 7/29/2014

Mastering the Art of Blaming Obama

Cult of ISISiraq-explosionHistory exists to serve as a road map to guide us into the future. War, while unsavory business, is a sad but inevitable part of history. War represents a portion of history humanity rarely seems to learn from. But let’s get serious, no one pays attention to history, so we’re doomed to repeat it. War creates profits for some, and unspeakable horrors for others. The profiteers however, have an uncanny way of always coming out on top while everyone else suffers.

Mideast IraqAt the risk of sounding sarcastic, haven’t things turned out just Jim-Dandy in Iraq during the past decade-plus, since President Bush and Puppet-master Cheney marched us into those desert sands? The previous maladministration handed the United States an unforgettable history lesson if we pay attention–“IF” being the operative word. Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, that nation has been in an endless state of medieval turmoil, fulfilling Colin Powell’s prophecy: “you break it, you bought it.” However, the current spin is: They broke it and then blamed it on the guy in the checkout line behind ‘em.

en-destruction-in-iraq2A new terrorist insurgency group called ISIS has overtaken Iraq and much of Syria threatening any hope for peace in the region–as if there ever was any. ISIS is not to be mistaken for the ancient Egyptian Cult of Isis. And here we were hoping for a more sensual kind of orgy–springtime fertility rights would have been nice, but no, the world is reaping a harvest sewn by The Bush Administration. The Iraqi oil fields surrounding Baghdad are burning, major Iraqi cities have fallen and Iraq’s entire infrastructure (that we bought and paid for–while our own rotted)–HAS BEEN UTTERLY DECIMATED. Well now, wasn’t that American blood and treasure well spent?!!!

imagesMeanwhile the masterminds of the world’s largest Middle-eastern gas station robbery gone wrong, have been sucking the air out of the airwaves playing The Blame It On Obama Game. Bear in mind these holier than thou statesmen lied to Congress and led us into an illegal war, thus bleeding multiple nations dry of peace and prosperity–all in the Holy Name of Oil and global free enterprise. History be damned, and witnesses be silenced. Cheney in particular sees the ISIS insurgency as an opportunity to blow gas out his pie hole as if he were a genuine elder statesman and patriot. The Bush/Cheney Legacy is planning on redeeming itself by blaming the fire they lighted, on the successor to whom they handed the lit powder-keg. It’s important to remember that a vast number of the American people have short memory spans and minimal powers of logic–but few have any appetite left for war. However, that doesn’t prevent people from believing sideshow barkers on noise radio giving voice to a variety of extremest opinions, even when those viewpoints are rush-limbaughconsistently self-contradictory. (If you want an example, take-in five minutes of Rush Limbaugh if you have a stomach for bile.) The simple and irrefutable fact is; had we not invaded Iraq in the first place there would be no ISIS insurgency. There would be some other form of bedlam, because that’s what the world has come to expect from the fractured Arab nations who can’t get along with themselves, let alone other cultures.

Who is Isis?The catastrophe in the Middle East is now perceived by right wing talking-heads as Obama’s fault because he ended America’s involvement in our longest running war too soon. While this may be stating the obvious, we wouldn’t have been in the nation’s longest running war if two powerful and shortsighted oil men didn’t lie their way into the conflict under the pretense of spreading democracy in the Middle East. Remember how Iraq was going to thank us with open arms and repay us with cheap and plentiful oil?

Iraq__s640x427American politicians (mostly Republican hawks) have armed our enemies, set up puppet regimes (like the late Saddam Hussein’s) and then acted surprised when those rogue nations and their psychotic leaders have turned against us. We even toppled a democratically elected regime in neighboring Iran, and again were stupefied when the nation fell into the grip of religious extremists. All of this took place long before President Obama took the oath of office.

obama3Human beings are a collective catastrophe, and a mortal threat to their (our) own well-being. Cross-culturally in every corner of the world, humankind is rarely ever overpopulated with deep thinkers. We are a greedy, violent animal, and quite possibly the worst possible stewards for the planet. But that doesn’t make everything into Barack Obama’s fault. History is a linear continuum–and when you start a war in the Middle East, you can expect that conflict to drone on for a thousand years or more. While America’s response to the current violent outbreak in Iraq requires Obama to respond responsibly, the multiple root causes are not his fault. We now have 300 troops back in the region, which is nothing like the 2,500 troops initially deployed by George Bush with countless more that followed.

TS-Nic6339856When it comes to blaming Obama it’s necessary to overlook the 4,500 dead American soldiers, countless wounded and the hundreds of thousands additional human casualties caused by the conflict Bush and Cheney started. Instead focus on the four Americans who died at the Benghazi Embassy–that really inflames the Republicans. You need to also overlook that the Republican led House of Representatives struck down a measure that would have increased funding for securing American Embassies abroad–and instead, Blame it on Obama.

18gw0zg0xka4qjpgWhen Obama withdrew our troops from Iraq, he did so in accordance with a timetable masterminded by Bush and Cheney, an agreement which the nation was committed to upholding. In adhering to the withdraw agreement, it became Obama’s fault and was highly criticized by Dick Cheney. Meanwhile, George W. Bush was too busy painting mediocre pictures of Bichon Frise’s and views of his feet in the bathtub (as if anyone really wanted to see that!).

53816193387299490490noWhen blaming Obama, it’s important to buy the bull-pucky that he wasn’t born in America. You need to overlook the absolute congressional constipation engineered by Republicans. You need to turn a blind eye to a conservative leaning Supreme Court who just today limited the president’s power to make recess appointments when the White House and the Senate are controlled by opposite parties (which is a presidential authority that dates back to the dawn of the republic). But when blaming Obama, it’s important to confuse racism with patriotism and progress with walking backwards blindfolded. In closing, only time and history will reveal what actually will be blamed on Obama. But until then, blame it on Bush, and meanwhile, go impeach yourselves, right-wingers.

– Disassociated Press, 6/26/2014

A Word in Remembrance—On Father’s Day

BehilGoesGayA Word in Remembrance
by William Thomas Whiting – ©2005

DadOnAPonyI’ve always been told my father was a man for whom issues of integrity mattered. But people are human—neither good nor bad—each person rather a curious blending of both. We’re as much a product of our mistakes and shortcomings as we are of our triumphant shining moments. To me, my Dad often seemed distant and beyond reach. But everyone loved him.

He was from a different era, and born to parents who were themselves a product of the 19th century. He was born in 1912, the year the Titanic sank and his life spanned the dizzying transformations of war, depression, science, technology and social-upheaval that marked the past century. In spite of whatever external distractions life brought to bear, for him there was only one path; that of being an honest and generous gentleman—but that was not always fully extended to me. I know very little about his early journey through life, and what stops along the way might have Bob & Betty Whiting Dec 1941guided him toward his demeanor. I do know that both he and my mother always saw to it that my brother and I had what we needed to prepare us for life, even if that meant putting aside many of their own dreams. My mother was always quick to remind me of this, lest I ever forget it.

Characteristic of his generation, Dad kept a great deal tucked away as part of his private thoughts, and he was sometimes difficult to ‘read’—so that which he shared of himself has become all the more precious. When I think now about my father, I’m touched by the things he tried to impart, and by the example he provided. I recall when he was very, very old, and his mind unsound, how he pressed a Kennedy half-dollar in my hand, and told Dad-Bme the man on the coin was a president who’d been shot. I was thirteen when Kennedy was assassinated, and I remember it like it was yesterday—but I played along. He was trying to do the things you’d do with a boy—a son you knew you wanted. The very things he’d done with my older brother, but forgotten to do with me. A second child lacks the novelty of the first. But he tried.

I remember our unsuccessful attempts at his ‘teaching’ and my ‘learning’ how to swing a bat, or a golf club or any number of sporting activities that eluded me. When I was very young, I was a slight child, and preoccupied with gentle things that were different from what interested Dad. He was concerned that I would be ridiculed and unable to defend myself. So he taught me how to throw a ‘sucker-punch’, and then told me: “run like hell son, it’ll be your best defense.” I’ve never had to use that sucker-punch’ but MAN, have I been tempted.

Dad torn photoWhen his efforts to interest me in sports didn’t pan-out, its not that he lost interest in me, but I felt like he was secretly disappointed in me. I was an effeminate little boy—and no father, certainly in the 1950s nor before or since has wished for a girlish son. Once as a young child my mother caught me engaged in naked experimentation with a neighborhood boy. Per usual, I was sent to bed without dinner. With the memory span of a child, and secretly seeking forgiveness, the following day I went up to my father and put my arms around him and tried to kiss him on the cheek. He pushed me away saying: “Men don’t kiss men.” And that was the end of the subject—and the end of my being touched in a loving way by my dad. I have no doubt he tried to love me in spite of my predisposition to disappoint, but like typical Protestants we eventually arrived at an unspoken agreement not to discuss anything that was too painful or revealing.

Dad-A sepiaI have a special memory of my father sitting down with me at our old round oak dining table when we lived on Second Street. He had bought some balsa wood and glue from a hobby shop, and taught me how to build an architectural model. He explained in far greater detail than necessary (given my age at the time) the principles of balloon frame construction. Dad was trained as a mathematician and engineer. That flicker of time he spent with me introduced me to a skill that was perhaps more valuable and satisfying than any of my formal education. As a result of this germ of inspiration, I’ve occasionally earned my living as a model-builder.

Dad1A parent teaches as much by example as by instruction. There was a brief time when the tranquility of our home was threatened by strange ‘hang-up’ phone calls. Sometimes something hateful would be said, followed with a ‘click’ and the line would go dead. Both of my parents were visibly shaken by this series of incidents. I wasn’t old enough to be confided-in as to what all this meant. But one day I answered the phone, and a voice on the other end said, “Your daddy’s a nigger lover.” Again the line went dead.

It was important to my father that he be liked, but not more important than doing what was right. It was the early 1960s, and I later learned that in the face of criticism he sponsored a black man’s application for membership in our local country club and was met with harassment, resistance and defeat—but not with failure. He had done what was right, and Dad5aSEPIAhe was able to come away from the experience with his integrity intact. He taught my brother and me by example, that tolerance and understanding don’t represent the easier path, but the only path worth pursuing. And in the same breath, he taught us when challenged, never to back down from a fight—even if its not destined to be won. Ideals are to be defended.

However, as I grew old enough to make my own decisions, he and I found ourselves at odds over my choices in life, and lifestyle. I became an openly gay man, and this was beyond his understanding. His concerns for me were genuinely heartfelt in his worry that my life would not be easy. Over time he was a big enough man to come to accept our differences, and make remarkable strides of understanding beyond anything I could have anticipated or hoped. But that didn’t happen right away, it took many years of distance and silence.

CorporateDADToward the end of his life Dad was in rehabilitation following a stroke. My (then) partner, Billy and I went frequently to the nursing home to visit him, sometimes bringing my mother, who would wrench her hands, and continually ask, “Why is this happening?” As if asking the same question over and over might eventually solicit a more agreeable answer.

During one of Billy’s and my visits, it came up in conversation that Billy’s father had not stayed by his family, and that Billy had been denied the presence of a father all through his growing-up years. When Billy’s father re-married, he named his new son Billy, as if the first son had never existed. My dad, while too weak to care for himself, called Billy over to him and said, “You can think of me as your dad too.” For my father generosity and gallantry were one and the same. That gesture was something I could have never predicted, but it felt as much like an act of acceptance directed to me, as it was a compassion meant to heal the long suffering pain of a comparative stranger.

It was of tremendous importance to me to be of use to my father in his declining years. Maybe it was a need on my part to prove myself to him. But illness and old age are indelicate adversaries, and a person can require assistance that infringes on one’s dignity. Dad had brain tumors and after his stroke he would pop-in-and-out of full-lucidity. He was jockeyed back and forth between hospitals and nursing homes, and eventually a practical Dad3and financial decision was made that he finish his days at home with my mother.

My mother always seemed to be of two opinions about dad. To her, he seemed one part handsome movie hero, and one part distant daydreamer who could lose himself in menial tasks that separated him from her—but the thought of him failing or losing strength was unthinkable. No sooner had we brought him home, than mom sat herself down in front of the TV set and watched videotapes of soap operas she’d missed. I was asked to get dad settled-in. She thought it would be better if another ’male’ helped him (for his dignity’s sake). In truth, I don’t believe Mom could face the reality of what was happening to her once strong and handsome husband.

EPSON MFP imageOne evening while I was looking after him, and his mind was in an absent, nearly vacant place, I became aware that he’d soiled himself. His clothes and body were a mess. I stood him up on old towels, not wanting him to track the mess any further, and sponge-bathed him. I was in the process of changing him into a clean diaper, when he chose that exact moment to regain full awareness. It was embarrassing for us both, and for a second it nearly seemed as if anger flashed through his eyes.

“Why are you doing this?” he said—and I replied, “Because it needs to be done,” continuing to clean him off. Loose stool was everywhere.

He said, “I’ve never been very nice to you, and I’ve never really known whether or not I liked you very much.”

DadSepia2ndStreetI felt stricken—so much so that I was unable to react. “When I was a young man” he continued, “I used to go into town on the South Side of Chicago, and me and my buddies would get drunk and beat-up queer guys on Saturday nights”.

I know I was trembling, but I did my best to calmly look-away from him while putting the filthy towels into a plastic bag—but my heart was racing. There was a moment of silence, which he broke by saying, “I never felt very good about it, but that’s how it was back then.” I couldn’t look at him so I busied myself with the task at hand. I remained silent, and allowed my father to speak.

“I never thought that you’d have been the one to be there for me,” he said. And then he rose to full height, naked but unashamed, and the once stoic and enigmatic old gentleman very simply said, “thank you”—and wept. It melted years of distance between us, and I never loved him more.

Bob and Betty Millman Whiting 1940My Dad had a secret regret. He wished that he could have been able to leave his sons with a great inheritance. It’s my belief that he did leave us with wealth of incomparable value. He always stood by us, whether he liked us or approved of us. In doing so he imparted a sense of integrity, honor, fairness, tolerance, and understanding—at which he himself hadn’t easily arrived. There’s no price that can be placed on that sort of gift. In the end my father, like myself turned out to be just another flawed human being who made mistakes and tried to learn from them. He had regrets, and owned-up to his shortcomings as a man and as a father, toward the end of his life as a gift of generosity to me.

Robert Napier Whiting, Sr.,1912—1999 & Elizabeth Millman Whiting, 1920—2011

 

My Annual Mother’s Day Tribute to My Mother—Grandma Betty

betty2a copyBettyDuckCake‘Hurricane Betty’
by Bill Whiting ©WTW 2013

In trying to best recall my mother as a young woman, I’m more than a little distracted by my last memory of seeing her. She was laying on a convertible hospital gurney with her mouth open and her eyes out of focus. She was on hospice and easily confused. She spoke with labored effort when she was able to even complete her thoughts—but my mother as a young woman was a force to reckon with.  She turned 30 the year I was born and was a few years older than most of my friends’ moms.

aMy friends considered my mother domineering and didn’t like to come to our house to play since mom demonstrated an overly protective interference that made playmates uncomfortable.  “What are you kids doing in there” she’d bellow if my bedroom door was closed.  Generally speaking, we were up to nothing worse than a clutter of toys and art supplies but her concern made me feel like I lived in a fishbowl.

 

b“I won’t have you making any messes in this house” was another frequent complaint. Other kid’s moms seemed to roll with the punches, while my mother was continually convinced there was something wrong with my playmates by referring to them as “bad influences.” She’d always been a perpetual worrier. Mom was happiest with me when I was practicing the piano or doing homework. I loved playing the piano. I was never genuinely all that good at it, but I made up for my lack of skill by playing louder than required. That meant even if my mother was doing laundry in the basement she knew what I was up to and was assured that my hands weren’t messing up her perpetually “straightened-up” house.  She never liked anything out of place.

cOur grandmother lived with us while we were still in the old Victorian double-house on Second Street. When we moved to the ‘L’-shaped’ rancher on a lake-lot in a new suburban development called “Valley Stream,” my grandmother had just begun to fail. In hindsight, a lot of my mother’s tensions and crabbiness could probably be traced to the heart-wrenching task of taking care of her elderly mother. My mom was one of seven surviving siblings, several of whom were far more affluent than my parents, but Grandma Nanny lived with us.

dMom cemptied bedpans and administered medicines, changed soiled sheets and bore the brunt of the burden. Dad was always on the road for business, so she was effectively going it alone. I was about 11 or 12 at the time, and as useless as any other prepubescent adolescent. My mother’s sisters were continually critical of how mom took care of Nanny but you didn’t see any of them stepping forward to help either. They criticized my mother unmercifully when a decision was made to put Grandma Nanny into a nursing home—still, there wasn’t a ‘show of hands’ when it came to taking Nanny into their own homes.

eMy mother’s back had gone out several times lifting Nanny—and so it became too much for her.  Dad traveled, and my brother was college-age by this point (there’s eight and one half years between us). And I was young, unfocused and of little substantial help.

The way I got my own bedroom was a result of my grandmother being placed in a nursing home and dying shortly thereafter. I felt guilty about how I had come by my own room, but I was glad to have the room nevertheless. I painted it colors my mother didn’t care for and I trash-fpicked chairs and cool junk from the curb to fill my room which my mother viewed as socially embarrassing. I also COVERED the walls with movie posters, which were an endless source of contention. My mother claimed all those pushpin holes in the drywall would be impossible to cover-over and might affect the value of the house if we ever were to sell. My mother eventually won the decorations battle of my room, painting it ‘soft earth-tones’ and filling it with traditional Windsor chairs with hooked seat-covers depicting American eagles and other patriotic ‘faux’ colonial themes.

gThere was a Wedgwood blue chenille bedspread and a slant-top clerk’s desk topped by a reproduction light designed to look as if it had once been a whale-oil hurricane lamp.  Below my window-wall was placed an antique spinning wheel converted into a philodendron planter which mom dutifully watered.

Now the door to my room could be left open when we had company, but it wasn’t really mine anymore. I just slept there, and got scolded if I left underwear and socks on the floor.

hI had a sizable collection of movie posters and still-frame production photos from classic motion pictures.  I’d gotten them from an old gentleman named Reds who worked for The National Screen Advertising Service. Thinking back, I suspect my parents viewed Reds as a potential molestation risk. I already had a history of experimentation with other little boys. I still think Reds was harmless, in spite of him being an effeminate sort of man. He gave me tons of stuff from classic films like ‘Casablanca‘, ‘Gone With the Wind’ and ‘To Catch a Thief’. Reds never touched me inappropriately but my dad insisted on going with me one time after Reds had called the house to tell me he had more posters he wanted me to have.  Dad had answered the phone.

iAfter that visit to collect the posters, I was told not to have anything more to do with Reds. He and my dad had a private conversation while I sat in the car admiring my prized ‘Breakfast at Tiffanys’ posters and stills. The posters sat in drawers where I would take them out only to look at them—then fold them-up and put them away again. Some were rolled in tubes.

 With my bedroom ‘faux-colonialized’ to my mother’s own tastes, I insisted on being given a small, unfinished section of basement to make-over into my own“MAN-CAVE”. We had 2 pianos in the house, the maple spinet in the living room and an old turn-of-the-century golden oak upright in the basement. My dad had gotten a deal on a Victorian pool table, and the fancy old upright piano was thrown-in with the deal.  That was all part of my Dad’s and brother’s ‘Man Cave’. They had shuffleboard, a punching bag and all sorts of butch-stuff which didn’t interest me. However I LOVED the old upright piano.

-tmp-jpgtjqzgsI put thumbtacks in all the felt-hammers so when they struck the strings the piano had a tinny, old-fashioned sound. My childhood friend Luther and I used to show 8mm silent movies in the basement while I accompanied with honky-tonk piano. We’d charge the other kids a nickel a head. Ragtime was the only kind of piano music that I ever came close to mastering.

article-2184482-1467F3EC000005DC-865_634x385One section of the basement was my dad’s table saw and tools.  Another section was the washer and drier with the utility sink (where I often raised baby ducks I’d bought / slash / rescued) from the Franklin Five and Dime on Main Street. I kept these little birds alive to the best of my abilities waiting for the disturbing lavender Easter egg die to wear-off or drop-out with the new coat of feathers. Once they got their white feathers, I’d set them free on the bank of the lake that defined the end of our property line.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur first encounter with baby ducks didn’t go so well. They smelled-up the house, and my mother, Betty, insisted I wash the little birds with Fels-Naptha soap and set them loose in the lake at once. They all sank to the bottom and drowned except for 2 which I was able to fish out from under the waters and save. Neither Betty nor I realized ducks secrete a waxy-oil that allows them to be buoyant. I hated Betty for making me do that and kept the rescued ducks in a large tub within a pen in the basement, from which they learned to escape, often chasing Betty from pillar to post when she tried to do the laundry. (I wonder if ducks hold a grudge?). I purchased Easter ducks other seasons that followed—and while Betty still continued to complain, she never made me wash any of them ever after that.

Per usual, I’ve wandered off the track…

images…I started to talk about my adolescent “Man Cave.”  There was one small unclaimed, unfinished section of the basement with no windows.  I collected old pillows and sofa-cushions from trash-night to toss around on the floor. I taped-up my posters all over the walls, and found an old shelving unit (also from the trash) to display my favorite sentimental toys. As the years melted into the mid-1960s I cordoned-off the room with HUGE free-standing cardboard movie displays thrown out from behind the local movie theater—but you had to be fast because other kids wanted them too. I started adding beaded curtains and fluorescent posters for ‘peace and love’ illuminated with a black-light—eventually burning incense which I‘d heard was a cool thing to do. That really set Betty ‘off‘. If I was burning incense then I must be smoking pot, which I wasn’t. But if I was going to be punished for something I wasn’t doing, then I figured I might as well go ahead and give it a try. After all, I was paid-forward on punishments front. So I started hanging out at the church annex where the kids really WERE smoking pot. Mom was delighted that I was spending more time at church.

toys-1950sMy ‘Man Cave’ was no longer permitted to be closed-off—therefore it was no longer a private space, and hence less appealing to me. Everything was in full view. With no privacy, I lost interest in it.

One day after an extended time ignoring the space, I noticed all my toys were gone. Mom had given them away to the Salvation Army. After a strenuous argument about the posters, which my mother considered unsightly and a fire-hazard, I was pressured into getting rid of them. Easily defeated, I called friends and let them take whatever they wanted. I’ve since seen some of my old toys AND vintage movie posters on ‘Antiques Road Show.’’ Perhaps not the very same ones—but their duplicates. Prior to the most recent economic crash, if I still had that collection to sell on eBay, I could have paid-off the house I’m living-in.

hurricane-donna_2381681cIt wasn’t pressure however, or giving away posters that brought-down my‘Man Cave’. It was a virulent hurricane that caused lake water to back-up into our basement.  I can’t for the life of me remember the name of that storm, ‘Donna’ perhaps, but it was back when hurricanes always had female names.

Brother Bob was away either at college or post-grad (I forget). Dad was still traveling for business. So mom and I had to unhook all the appliances, turn off the electrical and put whatever we could lift onto sawhorses and makeshift high ground. There were countless trips up and down the stairs relocating flooded-basement-ruined-furniturethings to higher ground. In no time we had close to a foot of water in the basement. The veneer on the Victorian pool table started to peel and some of the applied carvings were floating on the surface. Betty, in total hysteria, was running around like a wild-woman with a saucepan in hand ‘bailing’ water out an open window. This effort, in my eyes, was beyond useless and against all logical odds, but she was a woman possessed. I flatly refused to participate in her futile exercise and sat myself down at the old tinny upright piano and started to play and play and play…

two-hands-pianoI began with “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” and worked my way up to “Maple Leaf Rag”. All I could think was; tomorrow my favorite trusty old piano was going to have a warped sounding-board and rotting inner pedal mechanisms. So with pant legs rolled up to my knees, I continued to sit there and play every piece I’d ever committed to memory, like honoring a treasured old friend, giving the instrument a stylish send-off in the moments before it would go silent forever.

02_01I ignored Betty’s desperate pleas for me to assist her in the ridiculous effort to hand-bailout a foot of water (and rising) as the wind and rain pounded down all around our “L” shaped rancher on a lake lot. Betty’s face reddened with rage and the veins at her temples started throbbing with frustration. My mother reached deep down inside herself to find the harshest criticism she could conceivably hurl my way, and said:  “YOU… YOU… YOU… YOU’RE no better than NERO…!!!”, she flared.

titanic-doomed“Nero was the fat one who played the fiddle while Rome burned”, I laughed, “And you’re on the Titanic trying to bail-out with a saucepan.“ I started to laugh so hard; I had to stop playing, when the opening chords of “Nearer My God to Thee“ fell from my fingertips.  The more I laughed, the more bewildered Betty became, until she started to laugh too. We laughed together ‘til we both nearly cried. “Shut-up and shove-over you traitor, you!” she said as she joined me on the piano bench. She played the treble while I played the base in the best rendition of ‘Heart and Soul’ ever performed with no one but the two of us listening. We did a duet of ‘Peg ‘O My piano-duet-300x200Heart’ and transitioned into an improvisational boogie-woogie—and ended our jam only when the piano itself began to choke and jam. We forced out a few chords now missing notes, and played and laughed until the water reached the cushion of the piano bench giving us both soggy-bottoms.

In triumph and defeat we retreated upstairs to higher, dryer ground. My mother, reacting in the way she always eventually did, burst out into tears, and I comforted her. I closed the basement door. The house was gonna stink for months.

ElizabethWhiting'sMissingblanket2That last weekend I sat by my mother’s rolling-cot in the nursing home, trying to decide what I would write about in my recollections of her as a younger woman. I studied her aged features as she lay there with her mouth open like one of my long-gone baby ducks. Her eyes were nearly glued shut by the secretions forever needing wiping from her eyes. It was very difficult to understand her tiny-little voice—once booming, it had softened as she lost strength—to little more than a squeak and a whisper. She was moving her mouth, and I bent in closer to hear what she was trying to say. “I love you so much” she said. “I think you’re beautiful.”

Elizabeth Millman Whiting 1920 - 2011

Elizabeth Millman Whiting     1920 – 2011

Conservative a Dirty Word?

SisterSarah'sVitriol copyPalinDuck1a2b“Conservative”—The New Dirty Word

by Beihl

Sarah Palin recently declared while chewing a mouthful of tinfoil, that “water-boarding terrorists is America’s way of baptizing them.” Palin can neither harm nor hurt herself, she can only make money. And such is the gospel of the Christian Right.

That said, liberals do not have all the answers.

BUT: Yes, “Conservative” has indeed become a dirty word. It’s the new “C-word”, thank you Sister Sarah. For years conservatives have bandied about the word “liberal” as if uttering it were something obscene and beneath contempt. For an equal amount of time I’ve observed the stinging disconnect between conservatives chastising the struggling poor for their inability to be rich—while congratulating themselves on their overachieved abundance of gluttony—frequently in the name of Jesus Christ and the Holy Land of Our Fathers.

CWinnie&DuckExplain footballIf you haven’t noticed how conservative leaders consistently block every pathway for the working poor to join the dwindling middleclass, then you’re in a coma or under a spell. Right wing pundits preach the godliness of obscene wealth to a slack-jawed FOX News viewing audience watching their TV sets from behind a mountain of debt—only to go out and pull leavers for politicians who stab them in the back—but since there’s always sports on TV, no one notices.

A bovine electorate is a bone-headed electorate. While FOX viewers were being tossed sacrilegious red meat equating holy baptism with unholy torture—Sarah was doing what she does best, and delivering one-liner sound-bites devoid of substantive ideas on how to best address the nation’s genuine problems. For instance, Sarah got enthralling applause from the knuckleheads in attendance when she paraphrased NRA honcho, Wayne LaPierre by saying “The only way to stop a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke.” Sarah must be craving rapture—and soon. Both her comments about ‘baptism-by-water-boarding’ and a ‘nuke-for-a-nuke’ are in direct violation of Christian principles, but that sort of thing never stoped that hypocritical media whore from only opening her mouth to change feet. Besides, in the right wing world, sexual indiscretion is a far greater sin than death, torture or mass destruction. Unless (of course) it’s the Palin family popping-out unwanted and unplanned babies. Then it’s a public teaching moment that they, themselves don’t quite learn. Rampant procreation is like a hobby for the whole Palin family. And Sarah’s getting damned rich touting her confusion at the expense of an easily persuaded following. Her fifteen minutes is up, but no one told her.

polls_2142gjl_1943_378270_answer_1_xlargeA startling number of the nation’s populace seems to possess a barely rudimentary grasp of how they’re being manipulated into supporting the very people who keep them downtrodden and debt-ridden. No, I’m not talking about the black guy in the White House: (note to FOX fanatics who need everything spelled-out for them).

11palineryThe genius of the GOP machine has always been their ability to win the propaganda war through convincing gullible voters that everything, which brings them harm, really is in their long-term best interests. Take for example, the last decade-plus of war for (failed) profit, and the blemish it left on our national character. Think of the countless severed human lives. But somehow magically through the spirit of the Lord, religious America (largely synonymous with the Christian Right) has embraced war with impunity, ignoring the declared fact that Christ stood for peace. AND did not carry a concealed weapon. Or any weapon for that matter. They JUST—DON’T—GET—IT. They cannot or will not grasp the message of their own messiah.

However, religion as a distraction is becoming less and less effective with an increasingly liberal populace. More people are finally catching onto the fact that there’s no payoff forthcoming for anyone who isn’t already a member in good standing of the GodHatesFacts2millionaire/billionaire club. So flush that down your gold plated toilet, Pat Robertson, because you can’t take it with you—but integrity follows you beyond the grave.

The traditionally preferred political tool used by right wing conservatives has been the second-rate sword of sexual “morality.” This pursuit was ripe for manipulation—back when sex scandals trumped the larger definition of ethical conduct. You need only look at how easy it was for Congressional Republicans to cast slings and arrows at Bill Clinton’s extramarital affairs—up until it became public knowledge how many conservative congressmen were forced to resign when their own sexcapades were revealed by Larry Flint. (Everyone from speaker-hopeful, Bob Livingston to then Speaker, Newt Gingrich was forced from office in a flurry of hypocritical disgrace.)

CheneysBlackHeartWhile America will always be fascinated by a good faux-morality scandal, people are starting to come to terms with the REALITY that death and destruction—caused by wars declared under false pretenses—coupled with unbridled greed and environmental rape—for profit—and paying upfront to suppress voter rights—are far more egregious morality crimes than sexual indiscretions between consenting adults. (All other wrongheaded conservative “values” notwithstanding—the list IS after all, endless.)

breedingrunIn summation: Go out and have an affair. It’s good for your country, and good for your health. Liberals be liberated. Have an affair with a republican if nothing more suitable is available. Get into some wild bipartisan action with a dirty talking “conservative.” RememberSIN is way more satisfying when committed by (or with) guiltier parties. That includes political parties. No wonder the Palin family reproduces like a basement chinchilla farm. Filthy conservative guilt was baptized into their DNA.

– Disassociated Press, 5/1/2014

WinnieToons Annual Easter Interview With Christ

Winnie and Duck, as members in good standing of the Animal Kingdom have powers we humans don’t possess. Animals know when a tsunami is coming and head for higher ground—while we “higher life forms” run down to the beach to check-out the low tide. Animals see fascinating invisible things floating through the air—and they even know when we’re coming home two hours before we walk in the door. So with this all-knowing, all-seeing power, Winnie and Duck will conduct their annual Easter interview with Christ.

Duck Jesus2WinnieToons: “We want to welcome back the Prince of Peace. It’s been a year since our last confession—(ahem)—I mean Interview. We have a couple of issues we’d like to clear up if you don’t mind. What do you prefer to be called? Jesus? Lord? Your Holiness? Prince of Peace…?”

Jesus: “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince of Peace” is too cumbersome. Just call me Jeez.”

WinnieToons: “Ok Jeez. How is it being the son of God, God of man, begotten and not made being of one substance with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost?”

Duck-Moroni1-150x150Jesus: “I didn’t make up any of that doubletalk. Other people did that. I never set out to be worshiped—but I’ll tell you this—that whole human religious experiment sure went awry. I was trying to tell the world that everyone was interconnected by using myself as an example, not that I was GOD. If you define God as the whole natural world-sphere that surrounds you, then you’re part of that world-sphere and have a responsibility to serve as an accountable steward of your environment. It’s up to the human race to look after the world they live in, and to respect it and care for their fellow man and all the creatures that inhabit the earth. Like I said, it’s not that I’m God or anyone else is. Oy vey, it’s only common sense. People need to take responsibility for themselves and share this earth without giving into avarice and greed.”

WinnieToons: “Deep. Very deep. But does that mean there’s no God or Satan per se?”

Jesus: “You’ll have to wait and find out the answer to that question on your own when your time comes. But like I told you—you’re an integral part of the world and the life that surrounds you. If people choose to divide life into that which is good and that which is bad, then humans are part and parcel of both constructs, and therefore have the free will to choose on which side of the path they decide to walk.”

Wayne-LaPierre-the-French-gun-nut-e13563719306211-150x150WinnieToons: “Can you at least give us a definition of Satan?”

Jesus: “Yes, Satan is a gun.”

WinnieToons: “Can you be more specific?”

Jesus: “The minute a mortal human holds a gun, he has Satan in his hands. Guns and weapons and the people who produce, promote and use all weapons against their fellow man are in direct violation of all that is good and decent. Nothing good ever came out of a gun. Firearms create a false sense of God-like power akin to climbing behind the wheel of a Corvette while intoxicated.”

WinnieToons: “So can we take that as an endorsement of gun control?”

EasterBunnyDog-150x150Jesus: “Yes, of course you can. I would never have carried a gun while I walked the earth nor would I have recommended others to do so. After all, they do call me the Prince of Peace. Just look at the catastrophes at schools and military based, movie theaters and shopping malls. Guns are inconsistent with peace and sanity.”

WinnieToons: “How do you explain why so many self-proclaimed Christians cling desperately to their guns?”

Jesus: “I’m Jewish, so I can’t speak for those Christian people, especially the people who fail to grasp my message of peace and inclusion and attempt to convolute My word to suit their own paranoia. I suppose they’re insecure and probably watch too much propaganda on FOX News. My yoga master, Mahatma Gandhi is always giving me a hard time about this whole religious thing that sprang up in my name after I was crucified. Mahatma teaches a hot yoga class I take twice a week. He’s always rubbing it in, saying ‘I like you, Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike you, Christ.’ Peaceful man, but quite the prankster. That said, he does a mean ‘down-dog.’”

WinnieToons: “Can you give us your position on homosexuality?”

Underwater view of the ruins of a statue of Christ submerged in Italy after engineers created a man made lake. We never leave well enough alone.

Jesus: “Missionary. Hehe. Nah, just pullin’ your leg with a little religious humor there. Gay or straight is a non-issue. Take a look at me, I had two fathers, and I turned out just fine. If two people love one another, that has no impact on two other people who love each other, gender, and gender orientation notwithstanding. To each his own. You gotta keep in mind that human men wrote the bible and revised it and translated it over and over again through the centuries to suit their own ends. An awful lot of that gobbledegook defies logic. For example: Leviticus condemns a person for eating shellfish and commands you to slaughter your next door neighbor if he roasts a lamb on the Sabbath. Now I don’t roast_leg_of_lamb-jpg-150x150wanna get the animal rights people all railed-up (’cause you know those people are crazy) but you can’t go executing folks just because they decide to cook a Sunday supper. It doesn’t make any sense. Neither does sticking your nose into what other consenting adults do behind closed doors with their own private love lives. Hear me clearly, I never wrote down a word of the Gospel. People just quoted me willy-nilly however they liked, so I had no part in drafting the new testament. That said, there is absolutely NO mention of condemning homosexuality in the Bible Part Two. Part One is a lot angrier and more contradictory. Pay less attention to so called ‘holy books’ and listen more to your own conscience—your own inner Jiminy Cricket will never lead you astray. Do what feels right for you and leave other people to live in peace.”

WinnieToons: “We were wondering about your take is on immigration?”

DuckJesus2 copyJesus: “Geographic boundaries are arbitrary lines drawn in the sand which have no bearing on how humans should treat their fellow man. If a person from a foreign land is living or visiting in your country and they are hungry, feed them. And if that foreign stranger becomes ill have your physicians treat him. If you don’t, then you run the risk of others becoming sick. Disease knows no boundaries nor does prejudice and hatred. Likewise, love knows no boundaries either. So treat all people the same as you would treat your own loved ones. As was previously mentioned, we’re all interconnected. It’s a good idea to respect people from different and diverse backgrounds because it makes for a healthier nation and a happier world. Otherwise you find yourself with a whole country full of white MicheleDuckmann-150x150Anglo-Saxon Protestants as inbred as Brittany Spaniels—you can’t even house-break them. Take Michele Bachmann for example: Need I say more?”

WinnieToons: “Would we be right in assuming you approve of the races mingling?”

Jesus: “Damned straight. Just take a look at how Beyonce turned out—not bad at all—AND she can sing and dance too. The closer the world gets to the color beige, the more human beings will understand each other. The human race isn’t supposed to be like the Westminster Dog Show—mix it up already and get those gene pools intertwined. Seriously now, no one wants to end up like Michele Bachmann?”

WinnieToons: “One last question before we let you carry on about your business weeping over the sorrowful state of the human race and their pitiful misinterpretation of your message: What do you think of laws that allow for capital punishment?”

Jesus: “Not much.”

And with an impressive but humble flourish, the Son of God went to yoga class. Happy Easter everyone, regardless what believe or what you celebrate—any reason at all is a good enough reason to celebrate: Even getting back up and brushing yourself off after a nasty, painful crucifixion.

– Disassociated Press, 4/20/2014 – reposted from 3/31/2013

Is Greed a Diagnosable Disease? What Medical Term Should We Use?

IsGreedADiagnosableDiseaseDrDuckWe live in an era when everything seems to have a diagnosis. And while some of these diagnosis’s represent meaningful medical progress–some seem a little far fetched and over-used. We have a diagnosis for itchy children who don’t pay attention in school. We have a diagnosis for people who choose not to eat in order to become too thin. We have a diagnosis for old white men who can’t get it up in the sack. In Sweden they went so far as to declare homosexuality a diagnosable disease–only to have the entire nation call-in sick to work the following morning. We’ve got a diagnosis for nearly everything, but do we have one for greed? And is there a cure? Can the greedy be helped? Can they be trusted to help themselves? You bet they can–to every last dime in your pocket–especially here in capitalist America.

duckMoneyWhen does greed set in? I’m a bad example because I had a tendency to give away my toys as a child. But I suspect greed fully manifests itself in unmistakable ways by the time one reaches middle-school, only to fully ripen by middle-age.

DonaldClamGreed is fear driven–the fear that obscene abundance still might not be enough to tide one over. I also suspect that greed is somehow linked to the fear of dying–as if amassing an endless accumulation of whatever the greedy feel a need for, will in one way or another fool mortality. You don’t have to be smart to be greedy–take Donald Trump for example: he’s dumb as a clam, but he has one of everything in every color. Meanwhile monetary success often eludes brighter individuals of a much higher moral stature than specimens like “The” Donald. Success is relative, leaving each individual to carve-out his or her own personal definition. Greed, on the other hand is pretty difficult to miss. When you see greed at work–it’s right there in your face.

JP MorganEconomic disparity in America hasn’t been this bad since the days of the robber barons of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. And today’s robber barons have no compunction about accepting federal subsidies paid by U.S. taxpayers, and then shipping American jobs overseas for the sake of a shortsighted bottom line using third world labor–only to wonder why sales figures here at home are down. It’s very simple: Americans can’t afford to buy the products these corporations offer–because WE haven’t economically recovered–only Wall Street has.

Napoleon2nd DuckIt is speculated that the collective yearly interest earnings of the United States’ upper two percent exceeds the entire collective wealth of the working American poor and lower middle-class combined. That is not a recipe for national prosperity, and it’s forcing more and more people out of the middle-class. What the greedy don’t quite grasp, is the middle-class is the buffer zone between the rich and an uncontrollable angry mob. If you don’t want the numbers in that the mob to swell, then quell the masses with a share of the wealth. Stockpiled money sitting in offshore bank accounts doing nothing but earning interest for a select few isn’t particularly helpful to the national economy.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-image35859660Sometimes I wonder if the uber-wealthy fail to possess normal human compassion? There’s been a lot of talk about how insulated they are–and how that insulation leaves the  rich unable to relate to anyone in circumstances different from their own. (Poor things.) That would imply that a vast number of the wealthy don’t have human emotions such as empathy for example. The world is indeed rosy from an ivory tower. But what excuse do people like Ken Langone, founder of Home Depot use as a justification for greed? He dug ditches and worked hard to achieve success–but has success rendered him so narcissistic that he thinks he’s the only person in the world who ever worked hard? Langone, like his fellow tycoon, Tom Perkins equate the masses need for a living wage to be DuckDefarge2atantamount to a Fascist uprising. Here is what Langone said about the Occupy Wall Street Movement: “I hope it’s not working, because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.” News flash dickhead–“different words” have different meanings, and you’re not grasping the definitions. I don’t envy people like Langone or Perkins. I pity them. They’re incomplete as human beings, lacking genuine human caring.

Let em eat yellow cake duck2Is it possible in the rarefied and cloistered environment of the super-rich that everyone else who worked hard simply didn’t work hard enough? By that logic every hardworking person in the world would own a corporation listed on the New York Stock Exchange–if only they’d applied themselves. Or maybe the other ditch diggers working along side Ken Langone merely dug themselves in a bit too deep and couldn’t escape through some failure of their own? In conclusion after an exhaustive and fruitless search on Google for a medical diagnosis for greed, I found nothing useful. (Vampire Syndrome turned out to already be taken for a condition that causes a blueish skin tone.) I welcome reader input for diagnostic name suggestions. But for the moment the following term will have to do: Gluttonously Repulsive Elite Egomaniacal Dimwititis–or GREED.

– Disassociated Press, 3/27/2014

CPAC–Not to be confused with a ZPAC. The first one makes you sick.

CPACdiseaseGutCheckIf today’s WinnieToon is short on substance, it’s because it’s about CPAC, or the Conservative Political Action Conference. Where conservative is not to be confused with conservation. Politics are polluted. Action means inaction. And conference refers to the inability to communicate coherent thought.

There was no reason to even prepare new graphics for this year’s CPAC post. Nothing has changed other than the attendance of New Jersey Ann-Coulter-Hands-cropped-proto-custom_28Governor, Chris Christie–who is now officially corrupt enough to be considered a Republican with a capitol “R”.

You didn’t hear Ann Coulter singing Chris Christie’s praises this year, but if you were in attendance, you had the misfortune of seeing Ann Coulter telling her customary tall tails and confabulations. There’s nothing to report on what Coulter had to say. She’s just mean and prone to getting her hair tangled up in high voltage power lines. That’s when she gets her best ideas.

Palincpac13Sarah Palin spoke at CPAC, taking a page from Ted Cruz’ failed reading of Dr. Seuss and failing in her own inimitable way. The most substantive thing she had to say was her defense of the mental midgets on the “reality” show, Duck Dynasty. Duck Die-nasty’s primary blatherer is a nitwit named Phil Robertson who, in line with Republican’t philosophy believes that discrimination against fellow citizens is a god-given right to be wrong.

 

Did I say that Sarah Palin was Bachmanncpac13inimitable? I was wrong. I admit to having overlooked Michele Bachmann who out stupid’s the dimmest bulbs in the GOP. Michele’s message was the stupefying belief that the Tea Party is an intellectual movement. Michele didn’t say a word about the alleged ethics violations that have her not running for reelection in the next term due to what we understand to be the supposed misuse of campaign funds. Lets face it–funding anything to do with Michele Bachmann is money poorly spent.

CriZcpac13Ted Cruz spoke at CPAC garnering applause lines for comments about government spending–much of which would actually de-fund CPAC and a number of other “conservative” causes. Sometimes I wonder if we all wouldn’t be better served if Ted Cruz were given full range to run amok however he pleases. He’s bound and determined to be his own undoing as he does his best Joseph McCarthy impersonation, and taking the worst of the right wing down with him.

 

RUBIOcpac13Marco Rubio kicked off the convention with nothing new. He, like Ted Cruz wants to cash in on his Latino heritage while hoping no one notices he’s Latino. Much of his “small government” message was devoted to the concept that the United States should be promoting democracy across the globe. Translation: Don’t tell us Americans what to do, just let us run around like beheaded chickens while telling the rest of the world how to govern themselves.

RandSequestration

 

The point of CPAC (if in fact there is one) culminates with the CPAC “Straw Poll” where straws are drawn (if you will) and the most incompetent and deranged political operatives are culled down to who is craziest. The most insane and unelectable whack-a-doodle is then groomed to begin confusing the gullible in Iowa and New Hampshire to become the next Republican presidential candidate. This year Rand Paul won. No big surprises there. The big surprise would come only if the nation is delirious enough to actually elect him president–at which time the entire country will collapse into warring feudal states. And so it goes. All you need to know, dear reader, is nothing important happened at CPAC–again.

Disassociated Press, 3/11/2014

Power & Persecution–Money Squawks–But Who Are the Real Victims?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image3444050

Venture capitalist, Thomas Perkins.

Venture capitalist, Thomas Perkins.

Money squawks and common sense has to breathe into a paper-bag to avoid hyperventilating. Each and every one of us feels a certain sense of privilege in life; including the most under-privileged among us. All individuals (secretly or not so secretly) believe that they are somehow special—each of us being the center of his or her own private universe—and quite possibly the most important person in the world. (If only the rest of the planet would take notice.)

man-with-empty-pockets-blink-imagesRealistically, some folks are born into privilege, while others struggle and never get their fair share—that’s been true since the beginning of time. But it’s important to point out that being born into privilege doesn’t make a person good or bad. Nor does being born into lowly circumstances prevent a person from being either a prince or a prick. But all of that aside, the most remarkable of creatures is the dumb-assed knucklehead who through accident (and/or a dash of dishonesty) stumbles by random luck into success, or worse—staggering wealth or power.

One of poor Thomas Perkins' penthouses.

One of poor Thomas Perkins’ penthouses.

Which brings to mind venture capitalist and undiagnosed Tourette syndrome sufferer, Thomas Perkins who labors under the misconception that the value of each American’s vote should be gauged on how much that individual pays in taxes—(as if Citizens United hasn’t already brought that to fruition). Perkins thinks if you pay more in taxes then your vote should yield a higher return than some poor working slob who never gets a break in life. The insulated rich have no idea what it’s like to be mired in debt and frightened about how to make ends meet, therefore they assume that anyone experiencing those things must be stupid or lazy.

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Poor Thomas Perkins’ yacht.

Perkins has everything in the world that money can buy, but possesses nothing of any real value because he has no soul. You’ve heard the frequently quoted phrase:

“If you’re so smart, then why aren’t you rich?”

In honor of Thomas Perkins, let’s turn that phrase inside out:

“If you’re so rich, why aren’t you very smart?”

Thomas Perkins believes that in spite of his yachts, penthouses, celebrity wives and lavish lifestyle—largely earned ruthlessly off the backs of the struggling middleclass—that HE (yes, HE) is a victim. He claims that there’s a progressive war on America’s wealthiest one percent that’s reminiscent of the Nazis persecuting Jewish people. (Really?)

fascismIn his paranoia, Perkins maintains that the Occupy Wall Street Movement is really a burgeoning form of brown-shirt Fascism bound and determined to take away everything he’s fought so hard to swindle and stash into offshore bank accounts. Idiotic as he is, he can rest assured that it’s not going to happen here in capitalist America—trust meit’s just simply NOT going to happen—ever. Perkins IS the ruling class and can buy and sell his own rules up to and including avoiding prison for manslaughter in 1996 by buying his way out of the crime. He couldn’t be safer or more insulated. But there is some truth to the concept that paranoid people bring-on—and thus realize their own worst fears. But no one is coming to get Day_40_Occupy_Wall_Street_October_25_2011_Shankbone_8Thomas Perkins and take away all his stuff—nor is that going to happen anyone else living in cushy circumstances similar to his own. There is no storming the “ghetto” of wealthy people like a modern day Kristallnacht the way Nazis rounded-up and persecuted the Jews.

I’m not fond of people bandying about comparisons to Nazis, Hitler or any of the atrocities of World War II—unless there are valid comparisons.

oqAteGkdYVXUAKF-556x313-noPad

Russian homophobic agitator, Ekaterina Zigunova heads up “torture safaris” to hunt down and persecute LGBTQ Russian citizens.

Baring Thomas Perkin’s paranoia in mind—on the other side of the world there’s a whole other story about a cute looking little Russian punk girl—who at first glance appears to be just another skinny club kid. Her name is Ekaterina Zigunova, and while looking all “modern” and punked-out, she is a complete throwback to primitive thinking anti-intellectualism that festers wherever ignorance runs amok. This little girl is almost singlehandedly leading the charge against gay people in Russia. This “child” along with her followers have sexually tortured and maimed over one hundred men in Russia merely because they are gay.

15635849904e85d26ac662c342141268_v4bigInflammatory graffiti is scrawled across the facades of the homes where Russian gay people are known to reside. Windows are broken and people are dragged out into the street as everyone from President Vladimir Putin to the Russian Catholic Church turn a blind, if not encouraging eye to this budding atrocity.  Suicide rates among sexual minorities in Russia have skyrocketed. Meanwhile, here in America, mental midget and extraordinarily incompetent, Arizona Governor

Gov. Jan Brewer

Gov. Jan Brewer

*Jan “brain-freeze” Brewer is expected to sign a bill allowing Arizona residents to discriminate against LGBTQ people. This discriminatory law (which will undoubtedly be struck down by a higher court) would allow for LGBTQ people to lose their jobs and homes based on sexual orientation. Other ignorant people would be then deemed as “within their rights” to refuse to serve gay people at restaurants and retail establishments citing “religious” freedom as the basis for their discriminatory behavior.

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A victim of gay bashing in Russia.

So yes, Thomas Perkins, there is a Kristallnacht taking place in the world today, in America, Russia, Uganda, the Middle East and around the globe, but you are NOT the victim of it—nor are all the other thieves in your cadre of corporate criminals. But if feeling paranoid agrees with Thomas Perkins’ conscience and constitution—then I say go for it—because in the long run all that paranoia and anxiety will do is rot a person from the inside out—much the same way as hate ultimately destroys the hater.

gty_russia_130730_wmainThomas Perkins reminds me of when I was a little boy building an elaborate sandcastle in my backyard sandbox. I’d pressed stones and shells into the sand structure. I’d given the sandcastle turrets and balconies. When my elaborate palace was complete, I noticed an ant had been watching me from the perimeter of the sandbox, so I decided to make him the king of the castle. I scooped him up with a leaf and deposited him on the front balcony as if he were Eva Peron addressing her adoring throngs. But no sooner did I place him on the balcony than he produced a set of nearly transparent wings and flew away not at all appreciating everything he’d just been given. The little bug flew off to join his extended 9421146685_2a7129f802_bfamily of termites that were merrily noshing away at the foundation of my family’s wooden home.

Thomas Perkins, Ekaterina Zigunova and Jan Brewer are merely examples of modern day human-like termites devouring everything that decent people hold dear. Avoiding the catastrophes wrought on society by hateful or greedy human-termites could easily be accomplished by learning from history—but no one ever learns from history when it’s so much easier for the dim in our midst to give in to the gravitational pull of their own downward spiral.

– Disassociated Press, 2/25/2014

*Update: On February 26th, 2014, under extreme pressure from all sectors of society, Governor, Jan Brewer vetoed the state Republican bill that would have legalized gay discrimination in Arizona.

Article links of note:

http://www.msnbc.com/politicsnation/billionaire-rich-should-get-more-votes#

http://chrismorris.com/articles/2014/02/arrest-ekaterina-zigunova/

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/02/i-crashed-a-wall-street-secret-society.html

http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/24/politics/arizona-brewer-anti-gay-bill/

Tarzan the Pizza Delivery Boy–WinnieToons Annual X-Rated (embarrassing but true) Homoerotic Short Story

Couple talking in bedTarzanDuckTarzan the Pizza Delivery Boy             © WTW 2014

by Beihl Whiting

Dating is hell. But so is the mere act of trying to find casual sex. I’ve pretty much given up on the idea of love, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still get horny. I remember my old psychotherapist once telling me:

“The minute anyone gets horizontal with another person, it’s already complicated.”

Today however, finding sex is an online game not dissimilar to ‘Angry Birds’ so the complications begin long before anyone has even assumed the position. People put together online profiles with a special screen name and a paragraph or two with a couple photographs of themselves (or a selected “part” of themselves) to entice prospective partners to connect with them either through the computer or on their mobile device. I call myself “CyberSpaceTraveler.”

lutzWhile perusing the available specimens online—who, like myself, are still circling the meat rack in hopes of being chosen by someone who is also of our own choosing—a light went on indicating that I had a message. The message was from someone named JungleMan9.” Upon opening the message I saw a very enticing photo of a nicely built fellow washing his car in the driveway. The photo was cropped so his face wasn’t showing in the picture. There were several other torso shots but none of them revealed his face.

indexWe began a little online banter, and I asked him to email me a face photo because it’s nice to have some kind of an idea who in the world I’m talking to. The photo arrived a short time later, and his face wasn’t bad—he didn’t look particularly bright, but I wasn’t interested in his intellect. He was kind of a typical Irish-Italian looking guy in his late thirties or early forties. Seeing the face, the torso shots became more believable. Before long he’d sent me his cell phone number and asked for mine in return, telling me he was going to be in Philadelphia later that evening.

2923191-tarzan1Frequently nothing comes of these exchanges, so I often tend to forget about them and move on to other things that don’t involve scorching the earth for a willing sex partner–but later that same day my phone made a dinging noise to alert me that a text message had just arrived.

The following dialog is a verbatim transcript of an epic text message exchange that began around 6pm on the same night as the president’s State of the Union Address, which initially I had been anxious to watch.

JungleMan9: “Hey Bill, it’s Mike from ManHunt. I’m JungleMan9.

Me:  “Hey Mike—what’s up?”

 JungleMan9: “I’m at work now. Near Broad and Locust.”

 Me: “I live near 10th and Locust.”

JungleMan9: “Wow. That’s close by. I’d love to see how you like to tease and tickle a man. My feet, legs and nipples are very sensitive.”

Me: “I need to brush-up on my tickling techniques. You might make a perfect test subject.”

Casper-Van-Dien-TarzanJungleMan9: “Woof!!! What if all I wore was my Tarzan loin cloth?”

…I stopped to digest that comment before sending a reply. It was somewhat unexpected to say the least…

Me: “Don’t tell me that’s what you wear to work? It’s been awfully brisk outside lately.” (It was late January, and the entire east coast of the United States was blanketed with snow and a heavy Arctic freeze.)

JungleMan9 texted back again: “Ha. No, but I do have my loincloth in my backpack. Maybe you are the naked tribesman that wants to slowly drain Tarzan’s powers?”

Me: “What’s with the ‘maybe’ Jungle boy? What time do you get off work?”

dell027JungleMan9: “Hmmmm… I’m trying to get out by nine o’clock. Would I sit on a chair for this?”

Me: “I suppose I could miss the State of the Union Address for now. And yes, I have chairs and furniture, indoor plumbing and all sorts of things.”

JungleMan9: “Let me get back to you in a little bit. It just got busy here at work.”

Me: “Let me know if you gotta cancel.”

Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan of the Apes Whitman CoverJungleMan9: “I just hope your fingers don’t go right for Tarzan’s cock, and remove his loin cloth too soon.”

Me: “Tarzan no have control of when mighty native warrior priest will strip him of all that hides his manhood.” (I figured I might as well get into this a little bit and have some fun.)

“Grrrrrrr….” Said JungleMan9. “Will the native warrior priest start at Tarzan’s sensitive nipples or his mighty man feet?”

Me: “Warrior will lick every square inch of the powerful man of the jungle. White man not just for breakfast any more. He’s what’s for dinner.”

TarzanJungleMan9: “HOT…!!! As long as warrior doesn’t go right for the apeman’s cock. Maybe warrior can trace the muscles on Tarzan’s chest and feet first. So lightly that the apeman quivers.”

Me: “Warrior priest will be fascinated with exploring the apeman’s beautiful body, taking time to drink-in all of his magnificent maleness while Lord Greystoke is naked, helpless and restrained.”

JungleMan9: “Wow…!!! I like the way the warrior priest thinks. Will Tarzan be in a chair for this?”

Me: “Always with the chair again. Tarzan will be lashed with restraints to an ancient throne deep in the jungle inside a lost Egyptian city known only to the god, Osiris.”

bedroomFPBear in mind that this JungleMan9 (whoever he was) had absolutely no idea that I’d decorated my bedroom in the Egyptian “taste” as it’s not the sort of thing most people do. But then again, I’m not most people.

JungleMan9 texted back: “Woof, but can we not use the restraints? Tarzan will be on his throne with his hands clasped behind his back pretending to be tied-up. The room will be dim, and then the naked warrior enters slowly approaching the apeman from behind.”

Me: “Hmmm, so now you don’t want the restraints. Then restraints will not be necessary because Tarzan will cooperate with his captor to insure the safety of the rest of his compatriots on the safari. Tarzan will sacrifice himself sexuality to the base desires of the warrior priest purely to insure the safety of the others.” I rolled my eyes thinking to myself that I do the damnedest things just to gain genital access to other men.

tarzan3JungleMan9: “Yes, and in the end, if Tarzan spills his seed, he will sacrifice all his jungle powers.”

Me: “It will be at the pleasure of the high priest to milk Lord Greystoke’s loins. As it was foretold in prophecy it shall be done.”

JungleMan9: “Yes, with the priest’s evil fingers the loincloth is stripped from Tarzan, and the priest grazes Tarzan’s manhood, like caterpillars along the shaft.”

Me: “Caterpillars(?) Really(?) OK… It is Tarzan’s seed and Tarzan’s seed alone that will become the elixir that breathes life into the God Anubis. Tarzan must produce the sacred semen to fulfill the prophecy of Osiris. So when is his lordship going to get off work, its quarter past nine already?”

tarzmov8JungleMan9: “How late can you do this? How about 10ish? I still have a few things to finish up here at work. I definitely want to do this tonight. You have a great imagination. It will be very hot when it builds to the point that the warrior’s fingers toy with where Tarzan’s loincloth is tied at the hip. The apeman pleads ’Nooooo!!!’

Me: “Harrumph. I would not have yet lighted the sacred eternal Duraflame log had I known his Lordship was to be detained.”

JungleMan9: “Nice. So Tarzan’s muscles will be glowing in the light of a real fire? Will Tarzan still be in a chair?”

Me: “There you go with the chair again. Yes Tarzan, PLEASE be seated.”

sjff_03_img1265JungleMan9: “Even when the warrior unties the mighty apeman’s loincloth and tugs it to the floor, he just grazes his fingers up the insides of Tarzans legs and barely touches his cock.”

Me: “Yes, Tarzan’s uninvited pleasure will be savored and prolonged.” In spite of the ongoing absurdity, I’m embarrassed to admit I was starting to look forward to this odd encounter when I received yet another text…

JungleMan9: “Final spilling of the apeman’s seed will be done with the evil fingers of the warrior priest won’t it?”

Me: “What ev’s. The warrior priest will prepare his hands, cleansing them for the ceremony where he tastes the apeman’s mighty rod.” I was losing patience with this endless banter, but sarcasm was completely lost on the King of the Jungle.

tarzmov12JungleMan9: “Woof!!! I just have to check-in the last guest at the hotel, and then I’ll head over. Will the naked warrior approach the apeman in the chair from behind and slowly reach around to play with Tarzan’s hairy chest?”

Me: “The sacred chamber isn’t all that big, jungle boy. Tarzan will be sitting with his back against the wall facing his captor.”

JungleMan9: “I mean, when Tarzan arrives and changes into his loincloth and sits in the chair, then the naked warrior enters the fire-lit room and approaches the apeman from behind?”

Me: “As previously mentioned, the room isn’t all that large. His Lordship will have to make due with facing his false master directly during his agonizing moments of sexual pleasure and humiliation.”

tarzan-1918-grangerJungleMan9: “Grrrrr…. But it will be a slow, tantalizing path ‘til the warrior finally strips the sacred cloth from the mighty apeman to access his manhood. I’m finished here at work, I’ll meet you at 12th and Locust. Will the warrior be verbal much?”

Me: “The warrior priest is a wordsmith when his mouth isn’t full.”

JungleMan9: “What does that mean?” (Good lord, I thought to myself.)

Me: “You shall see when the hour is ripe, and your member is nursed, stroked and caressed to distraction.”

lbsg17h6JungleMan9: “Woof!!! I prefer it when the spilling of the seed comes from the delicate stroking of Tarzan’s manhood so I can watch the seed spill everywhere.”

Me: “So it is written, so it shall be done.”

JungleMan9: “Leaving now.”

Me: “The warrior priest will see you at 12th and Locust in five minutes. He will be walking the God Anubis in the form of a Jack Russell Terrier.”

TarfzanJungleMan9: “The warrior should have Tarzan’s cock rock hard and leaking before even touching it.”

Me: “As you wish. Now get your kinky ass to 12th and Locust Streets before the warrior’s kinky dick freezes and falls the hell off.”

As I approached the corner of 12th and Locust Streets walking Winnie, my little “Anubian” Jack Russell terrier, I immediately recognized JungleMan9 from his face picture. He was leaning up against the brick wall outside of a local gay bar.

“Mike?” I asked tentatively.

Tarzan“I’m Tarzan.” He replied. “You must be the evil warrior priest.”

“At your service.” I said slyly, trying to get into character. It was difficult to get a read on “Tarzan’s” physique given that we were both bundled up in winter coats and hats, but we walked the two blocks back to my house in comparative silence making small talk about Jack Russell terriers.

WhitingLivingRoomDetailOnce inside, he seemed surprised to see that my living room was decorated to resemble the Pompeian Hall of Mysteries. I’m a muralist, and I’ve decorated my entire home to reflect the ancient world. I’m not into costumes and role-playing but I do like living with an interesting backdrop.

Upstairs in my Egyptian decorated bedroom, I poked at the ebbing “eternal” Duraflame as “Tarzan” asked for some privacy while he changed into his loincloth and arranged himself to resemble the captive King of the Jungle.

george-de-la-jungle-97-06-gI decided to keep my clothes on thinking my being dressed would heighten his sense of nude vulnerability. After a reasonable waiting period I entered the bedroom to see a slightly out of shape middle aged man with skinny legs and the budding beginnings of a beer belly, seated in one of my Egyptian style chairs having arranged himself to appear as if he were tied-up. “This is absurd, I thought to myself.” I go to the gym regularly, and while I’m a gentleman of a certain age, I look a hell of a lot more like Tarzan than this dude. I do, however think his torso photos were of him, but they taken during a much earlier decade—perhaps even during the preceding 20th century.

1-tarzan-the-mighty-1928-grangerI commenced with tickling his feet, which I didn’t find to be particularly interesting, so I traced my fingers along the places where his six-pack abs had once been. I’d never done a “role-playing” scene with someone before, but I can muster-up dirty talk if I have to, and throw in a few Tarzanian references. I prolonged this tiresome activity up until I decided I might as well get naked and attempt to get into the spirit of the moment. Once enough weird obligatory foreplay had transpired, I lifted Tarzan’s loincloth to touch his “mighty man-rod” which was quite a few inches short of the promised number “nine’ he suggestively added to his screen name. Best as I could tell, he also appeared to only have one ball. I’d never given it much conscious thought before, but aside from broad, muscular shoulders and narrow hips, I assumed Tarzan would also have impressive junk. This was anything but impressive. So while I had the loincloth lifted, I ever so gently tickled the ruffle of flesh below the head of his penis, when without warning he came all over the place. Just my luck, another poorly hung premature ejaculator.

tarzan1“WOW,” he said, “That was incredible.”

I couldn’t hide my disappointment, and blurted out, “you’re done already? That was it…?!!!”

“Yeah,” he said. “I gotta run. I have to get up early tomorrow morning.”

“Whoa there jungle boy,” I said, “I haven’t gotten off yet.”

“You mean you didn’t cum?” he replied as if this were surprising.

I was annoyed and let loose, “There was nothing happening in this ridiculous scene that I found even remotely erotic.”

“I’m sorry you were disappointed.” He said.

images“You should be sorry.” I said. “In fact you ARE sorry. You’re one sorry-assed excuse for a Tarzan. There’s only one person in this room who can bench his own body weight, dude, and it isn’t you. You’re nobody’s Tarzan. In fact you need to change your role-playing shtick to be a pizza delivery boy—but not like the pizza delivery boys in a porn movie—you need to actually bring along a pizza.” Looking him over, it was abundantly clear that he was one dumb sad-sack frozen in time–stuck in a weird adolescent fantasy. He stared back at me and said, “What am I supposed to do? I need to get back home to mother.”

Vanilla_Tea_Bags“Oh for the love of Christ,” I spat back, “at least teabag me while I get myself off.”

“I can’t do that.” He replied. “I don’t touch other people, I just let them touch me.”

“Listen asshole, you are too fuckin’ mediocre to pass yourself off as a ‘do-me’ queen. I can’t believe I rearranged furniture for this travesty. Just get the hell out!” I said as he scrambled to pull on his trousers. I couldn’t help but wonder why it is I always meet the married men, the guys with infantile genital syndrome and the dudes who I’m not entirely sure are actually male. I’m beginning to think there are no good ones left out there to be had… And where does that leave me on the spectrum of the unclaimed?

51aRfJwbyhLOn his way out the door, I tossed his brown felt “loincloth” at him and said, “You could at least get some convincing faux leopard in the wholesale fabric district.” I closed the door behind him and triple locked it. The whole non-event had left me completely put-off to the idea of sex altogether, so I watched a rebroadcast of the president’s State of the Union Address, and laid down in bed for the night.

tkk18Reflecting later on the evening’s peculiar goings-on, I felt kind of sorry for the King of the Jungle. He was an idiotic middle-aged man still living out a teenaged sex fantasy that a normal person would have outgrown in puberty. But I suppose we all want to be gently raped on our own terms.

Finis

– Disassociated Press, 2/1/2014