C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Free Speech is a Civil Right

Much ink and many pixels have been employed recently over the oppostion of Chick-Fil-A's Chief Operating Officer, Dan Cathy, to marriage equality.  The mayors of Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D. C., have called for the company to be banned from opening stores in their locales.  But pardners, that just ain't the American way.  Giddown off your high horse for a minute and give a listen to Kevin Naff in the Washington Blade:
It’s true that the bigots at Chick-fil-A are on the wrong side of history, but unfortunately so are HRC and the groups that support government retaliation against a citizen on the basis of his political views. Does the LGBT movement really want to find itself on the losing side of a debate over freedom of speech? Sure, criticize Cathy and his views. Organize boycotts and protests of the restaurants. And use this ugly episode to make the case for the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, because surely Cathy’s LGBT employees lack job security. But endorsing government attacks on a business over its president’s views — however offensive and wrong — is reckless and ignores our community’s long, painful history of being victimized by government officials. . . .

Members of the LGBT community ought to be the most aggressive in defending the freedom of speech. We continue to use it in powerful ways to advance our equality. To now applaud politicians who would deny business licenses to companies based on the political views of their owners might feel good, but are we so desperate for validation that we want to stoop to the ugly (and unconstitutional) practices of our opponents?

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg got it right when he said, “trampling on the freedom to marry whoever you want is exactly the same as trampling on your freedom to open a store.” Dan Cathy deserves the right of free speech. He’s entitled to his views and welcome to spend his money funding our enemies. It’s ultimately a losing fight so his money is wasted. We should counter his message of hate and intolerance by pressing for justice. This controversy should be Exhibit A in the case for ENDA.
Let's think this through here, fellas. What is the purpose of a business? To sell a product or service to the public, and thereby make a profit for its owners. As long as the business pays its taxes, complies with the laws that prohibit selling shoddy or dangerous merchandise, as well as the laws regulating pay and treatment of its workers, you're good to go here in the U. S. of A., right?

There is no political or religious test for running a business. And do you really want to see that here, friends? The proprietor can be an atheist or a Holy Roller - a flaming liberal or a die-hard conservative - a member of PETA or the NRA. None of that matters a bit, nor how the proprietor votes or what he thinks about any issue of the day. Our government simply takes no notice of all these irrelevant things. Nor should it.

They don't ask to check your gay card when you walk up to the counter and order a scrumptious chicken sandwich and waffle fries, do they? Which is a treat your Head Trucker dearly loves - but I won't be eating any, anytime soon. That's also my privilege in this land of the free and home of the brave. 

But frankly, this whole uproar is getting much more attention than it deserves - to reduce marriage equality, which means so much to so many, to a goddamn chicken sandwich is just so fucking 5th-grade that I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

So can the government - local, state, federal - take any action against a company run by a bigoted owner? Um, no. No more than the government can tell you what neighborhood you can or can't live in because of your political views, bucko, or where you can or can't buy your groceries. It's called freedom, ya know?

So Russ, you're asking me, does that mean the government can never touch a business that's behaving badly? Well, it can - when the business breaks a duly enacted law. It's called the rule of law, ya know?

Take a little walk with me back to the Civil Rights era of the 1960's, to a controversy involving another Atlanta-based outfit. The government did indeed step up to the plate then to prosecute businesses that broke the law - but it was because they violated the law, not because the owner shot off his mouth in one direction or another. That is always an American's privilege - yours and mine and even the buffoonish bigot, Lester Maddox, whose Pickrick Restaurant in Atlanta was smack-dab in the middle of a major civil rights confrontation back in 1964. From the New Georgia Encyclopedia:
Maddox refused to serve African American patrons. He kept ax handles--called "Pickrick drumsticks" near the restaurant's front door to discourage African Americans seeking to eat at the restaurant.

Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Maddox chased two African Americans away from the Pickrick at gunpoint. Maddox publicly announced he would go to jail before serving African Americans, even after being charged in court for pointing a gun at the men. On July 22 in a case against the Pickrick and the white-only Heart of Atlanta Motel, a federal court upheld the Civil Rights Act and issued an injunction beginning August 11 against both businesses prohibiting them from denying service to customers based on color or race. Lawyers appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court which heard the case in October; while waiting for the court to hear the case, the Heart of Atlanta began accepting African American customers, and Maddox closed the Pickrick on August 13.

On September 26 Maddox opened the Lester Maddox Cafeteria in the Pickrick's old location and announced he would serve "acceptable" Georgians. During a trial for contempt of court on September 29, Maddox argued that he was not in contempt because he was no longer offering service to out-of-state travelers or integrationists. In December 1964 the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Civil Rights Act. On February 5, 1965 a federal court ruled Maddox was in contempt of court for failing to obey the injunction and ordered him fined two hundred dollars a day for failing to serve African Americans. Maddox closed the restaurant February 7, 1965 blaming president Johnson and communism for putting him out of business.
Maddox had to close his restaurant not, be it noted, for his opinions on race, but because he violated the law - though the notoriety got him elected Governor of the state of Georgia at the very next election. And so for four years, he was Bozo-in-Chief of the Peach State, until succeeded by Jimmy Carter in 1971.

Still, it's the rule of law that is the lesson here. White, black, gay, straight - everybody can speak their mind in these United States, even if it's the mind of a dipshit jackass. And if you don't agree with that, you don't deserve the freedom to speak yours.

Picket, protest, abstain, do whatever peaceful thing you want to do - but just remember: what goes around comes around, fellas. We may be gay, but we're Americans first.

Here's some clips of Lester at his asshole best, I thought you boys might get a chuckle out of them. The first is from 1964, when a few black activists tried to enter the Pickrick, and Maddox arrogantly turned them away:

Another clip is from 1968, when then-Governor Maddox was interviewed by Joe Pyne - forgotten now, he was a hard-hitting forerunner of Phil Donahue:

See also: Rob Tisnai's brilliant post, "Hating Hate Speech Laws."

Bonus: The Rev. Baxter Wynn, of First Baptist Church of Greenville, South Carolina, and a nephew of Lester Maddox, compares his uncle with another Atlanta boy, Martin Luther King Jr., in this fascinating excerpt of a talk (I wish someone had posted the whole thing on YT):

Monday, July 30, 2012

Gays Have Destroyed Freedom in Europe, U.S. Next

It's that ol' Radical Homosexual Agenda that's already wiped out religious liberty, parental controls, and fundamental freedoms everywhere in Europe that same-sex "marriages" exist. And now they're coming to crush America!

Listen carefully to what Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline megachurch in Rancho San Diego warns about the advancing threat - Christians will die!

The fundies and rightwing nuts have whipped themselves into such a frenzy, they really do believe we're planning to murder them all in their beds.

How do you resolve a conflict of values when it's completely out of hand and totally irrational?

Middle Class Is Un-American

The New Yorker reports on the arrogant, thieving, high-Tory mindset of today's Republican Party, and their Orwellian attempts at corrupting the meaning of plain English - emphasis mine:
On the floor of the Senate this week, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Republican Minority Whip, criticized President Barack Obama for talking about the middle class. The mere phrase “middle class” — that most anodyne of demographic terms, the category to which half of all Americans polled identify, and into which Mitt Romney is always trying to shoehorn very, very wealthy people like himself — emerged, in Kyl’s evocation, as some kind of crazy-lefty bumper-sticker slogan. By alluding to “what he calls ‘the middle class,’ ” Kyl said, as though Obama had come up with the phrase, the President was “pitting these Americans” against the wealthy, “spreading economic resentment, and weaken[ing] American values and ideals.” Kyl went on: “We don’t need the current American President touring the country and defining every American’s values and status based on a class system that he’s made up. I don’t think there’s anything called middle-class values. I just think the whole discussion of class is wrong. It’s not what we do in America.”

Increasingly, it isn’t. Not if we’re in office or running for office, and especially not if we’re Republicans. America perpetuates a class system — and an income-inequality gap growing faster than that of most other countries — but American politicians try not to speak of it, because if they do, they get slimed. “What you could do for me,” President Obama told a group of Presidential historians in May, 2011, “is to help me find a way to discuss the issue of inequality without being accused of class warfare.” A year later, it takes even less to attract that particular charge, even as it takes more rhetorical chutzpah to get around the reality.

It’s remarkable how far to the right the acceptable political discourse about the haves and have-nots has shifted — or perhaps it’s just moved into the realm of denial. In the not-so-distant political past, it was considered reasonable for Republicans to allude to inequality and even vow to try to remedy it. In an excellent recent article in Rolling Stone about the contemporary Republican party’s extreme attachment to tax cuts for the rich, Tim Dickinson quotes a 1985 speech by Ronald Reagan, a speech that somebody — maybe Kyl — would surely be calling “class warfare” talk until he heard who’d made it. “We’re going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share,” Reagan vowed, adding that they “sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10% of his salary—and that’s crazy." . . .

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Marriage in Maine: "It's about Family, not Politics"

A very touching PSA by Harlan Gardner and four generations of his family in support of Why Marriage Matters Maine:

Even though it's short, this little video blows your Head Trucker's mind:  to think of an entire family sitting down at one table to support the gays.  Unfuckingthinkable for me, way down here in Texas.

The Pine Tree State will go to the polls this November to vote on whether to allow marriage equality or not, which was voted down in a similar referendum there in 2009.

Why Everybody Says "Thank God for Mississippi"

Everybody in neighboring states, that is; Mississippi makes them look good by comparison.  Fifty years ago, as your Head Trucker well recalls, and perhaps even forty years ago, this would not have been news at all in most parts of the South:  just bidness as usual.

Yet though times have changed drastically for racial equality across the length and breadth of Dixie, there are even yet some pockets of resistance, as in Crystal Springs, a small town near Jackson, the capital of Mississippi.

If they feel that way about the blacks, just imagine how they feel about the queers.

Sunday Drive: Remember When

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Celluloid Closet

My truckbuddy Frank has posted a clip from a new documentary about the late author and activist Vito Russo over at Reluctant Rebel; which reminded me of this documentary, now posted in six segments on YouTube, of Russo's Celluloid Closet, a survey of how gays were depicted in film during the past century.  Fascinating stuff; and as Frank says, should be part of the required viewing before anyone gets their gay card.

You might be surprised at how much gaiety some filmmakers managed to slip past the censors back in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Here's segment 1, narrated by Lily Tomlin:

Cary Grant - "I've just gone gay!" - in the
screwball comedy Bringing up Baby, 1938

Friday, July 27, 2012

Waitin' for the Weekend

God, I love ordering out of the Sheplers catalog.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wedding Recap: Barney and Jim

From the Daily Dish:  Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) reflects on his recent wedding to Jim Ready.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Southern Language

Unfortunately, ever since they won the War, our friends at the frozen Nawth have looked down upon our lovely, euphonious Southern speech as something déclassé.  But the late humorist and author Lewis Grizzard from Georgia sets the record straight in this clip that makes your Head Trucker howl with laughter.  Maybe you will too:

Update: My truckbuddy Frank has posted a reply of sorts over at Reluctant Rebel, go check it out. I reckon it's a reply - hard to tell since it's in some weird furrin language.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Posthumously Out: First American Woman in Space

Astronaut Sally Ride died yesterday at age 61 of pancreatic cancer, after a remarkable career that included being the first American woman to go into space, during two trips aboard space shuttle Challenger in 1983 and 1984. Her obituary, posted yesterday, marks the first time public acknowlegement of Ride as a lesbian has ever been made:
Sally Ride died peacefully on July 23rd, 2012 after a courageous 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Sally lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, joy, and love. Her integrity was absolute; her spirit was immeasurable; her approach to life was fearless.

Sally was a physicist, the first American woman to fly in space, a science writer, and the president and CEO of Sally Ride Science. She had the rare ability to understand the essence of things and to inspire those around her to join her pursuits.

Sally’s historic flight into space captured the nation’s imagination and made her a household name. She became a symbol of the ability of women to break barriers and a hero to generations of adventurous young girls. After retiring from NASA, Sally used her high profile to champion a cause she believed in passionately—inspiring young people, especially girls, to stick with their interest in science, to become scientifically literate, and to consider pursuing careers in science and engineering.

In addition to Tam O’Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years, Sally is survived by her mother, Joyce; her sister, Bear; her niece, Caitlin, and nephew, Whitney; her staff of 40 at Sally Ride Science; and many friends and colleagues around the country.

Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed got confirmation from Sally's sister:
"The pancreatic cancer community is going to be absolutely thrilled that there's now this advocate that they didn't know about. And, I hope the GLBT community feels the same," Bear Ride, who identifies as gay, said.

"I hope it makes it easier for kids growing up gay that they know that another one of their heroes was like them," she added.

Terry McEntee, a spokeswoman from Sally Ride Science, the company Ride formed to provide educational materials and programs for schools, confirmed to BuzzFeed that there had not, to her knowledge, previously been published acknowledgment of Ride and O'Shaugnessy's relationship.

Bear Ride, though, said that her sister "never hid her relationship with Tam. They have been partners, business partners in Sally Ride Science, they've written books together .... Sally's very close friends, of course, knew."

O'Shaugnessy is the chief operating officer and executive vice president for Sally Ride Science, as well as an emeritus professor at San Diego State University. Sally Ride had previously been married to fellow astronaut Steven Hawley in 1982; they divorced in 1987. Ride went into space on two missions, first in 1983 and then again in 1984.

Of Sally Ride's sexual orientation, Bear Ride said, "Sally didn't use labels. Sally had a very fundamental sense of privacy, it was just her nature, because we're Norwegians, through and through."

I don't know what being Norwegian has to do with anything, but I can't help thinking how vastly more encouraging it would have been to thousands of young lesbians and gays to have a living example to look up to. A couple of years ago, when I think every gay man and woman in the country wanted to contribute a video to the It Gets Better Project when it got started, would have been such a wonderful time to have come out - truly an inspiring moment. Don't you think, fellas?

Still, as I've blogged here in the Blue Truck before, coming out is a process of many stages and levels, a movement of the soul, very personal and not something to be dictated by anyone else. So I have to respect that choice of Sally's, and anyone else's - as long as they aren't working against us.

Rest in peace, Ms. Ride, and condolences to your partner and family.

Update:  More from Sally's sister on "Why Sally Ride waited until her death to tell the world she was gay."

And an excerpt from a powerful piece by Michael Signorile in Huff Po, via David Mixner:
While the news of her death at the age of 61 after a 17-month battle with cancer is immensely sad, and while it would have been terrific if she came out while alive, Ride's posthumous coming out is a wonderful gift to America's youth. And it's what we needed right now. If astronauts are among the ultimate heroes and examples of American ingenuity, fortitude and bravery, then with that one line in her obituary -- survived by "Tam O'Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years" -- Sally Ride dispelled all the ugliness foisted on this country in recent weeks by the Boy Scouts of America, Chick-Fil-A and Jennifer Carroll, Florida's GOP lieutenant governor, who, denying charges that she had sex with another woman in her office, claimed women who look like her are not involved in same-sex relationships (and refuses to apologize).

Yes, Lt. Governor Carroll, you are right. With your bigotry and cowardice, you are not what a lesbian looks like.

This is what a lesbian looks like: Sally Ride: physicist; author of seven science books for children; member of the space shuttle Challenger crew; member of the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology; director of the California Science Institute; inductee into the National Women's Hall of Fame, the California Hall of Fame, the Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Astronaut Hall of Fame; recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service, the von Braun Award, the Lindbergh Eagle, the NCAA's Theodore Roosevelt Award, and the NASA Space Flight Medal (twice).

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lovelight: Baby Blue

It's not gay-themed, but of course we're all used to transposing pronouns and things in our heads, aren't we fellas? This song hit the charts in the spring of my senior year, and it recalls to mind all that I felt during the Pat-and-me era I blogged about last week: equal parts thwarted love and the high electric charge of youth.

Sunday Drive: Eleanor Rigby

I searched for a hymn but nothing sounded right today. Only this.

Is it possible, just possible, do you think, that instead of Right and Left using all these horrible murders - which are now become routine, a new horror every week in every city and town across the land, it almost seems - to score points off each other with outrageous, unprovable accusations - could it be just barely possible that the fault has nothing at all to do with politics of any stripe - but with ourselves?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

"We're Just Living the Constitution": Uniformed Troops in Pride Parade

For the first time ever, gay servicemembers marched in uniform at San Diego Gay Pride today, with the specific blessing of the Defense Department.

The Associated Press reports:
In a memorandum sent to all its branches this year, the Defense Department said it was making the allowance for the San Diego event even though its policy generally bars troops from marching in uniform in parades.

The Defense Department said Thursday it did so because organizers had encouraged military personnel to march in their uniform and the parade was getting national attention.

Cmdr. Kent Blade, who will retire this fall after 26 years in the Navy, said being able to march in uniform was a perfect culmination of his career. The 47-year-old said that since last year's repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" law, he has received unconditional support from his fellow officers.

"We've all been able to talk more freely about our lives. Nobody's leading a second life," he said. "And now that I can march freely in uniform, I think it's a great display for the Navy."

About 200 active-duty troops participated in last year's San Diego gay pride parade, but they wore T-shirts with their branch's name, not military dress.

How NOT to Run a Restaurant

Your Head Trucker hasn't watched broadcast television for nigh on twenty years now, so there are a lot of shows I've missed - which is the point.

But every once in a while, on YouTube or Netflix I come across something that engages my interest and is decent enough to watch. Like this one I'm now working my way through the episodes of, Restaurant Impossible. I suppose most of my truckbuddies are already familiar with it, but if you aren't, it's worth a look.

At first, I took the host, Chef Robert Irvine, to be another one of those ranting ravers so very popular now - why do you people out there in TV land like to watch people berating other people and making them feel like shit - dehumanizing them? Which, by the way, takes no talent whatsoever - even a toddler can be ugly and maliciously cruel. Have you ever asked youself why you get off on that? You must, by the tens of millions, or those shows wouldn't stay on the air year after year, now would they?

But as I got into the first episode, I began to detect that underneath the contrived drama, he not only knows his way around a kitchen expertly, but he also has excellent teaching skills and people skills too - between bouts of shouting for the benefit of the cameras, he displays a lot of empathy where it's truly needed. He's a very sharp fellow, and a good guy; he really does help these people, if they have sense enough to learn their lesson.

So I can recommend it for those qualities, and because it's very educational. (Also because the butch head carpenter would be very studly if he had some hair on his face and weren't straight as a board - pity.) I've never done any sort of restaurant work, and I see that a lot of other people shouldn't do any. I suppose because no degrees or credentials are required, quite a few simple souls suppose that because they can pour soup out of a can, they can run a restaurant, ooh!

Which is sadly NOT the case, as witness this entirely clueless couple in South Carolina whom Robert labors mightily to enlighten:

And he really rips these cafe queens down in Florida a new one, but it's for their own good:

Somewhere in the back of my mind persists the idea I had in childhood that of course all grown-ups know what they're doing; and so it still registers with a faint shock to learn that they don't. In fact, it seems to me now that the vast majority of folks really haven't got a clue about anything: in many, many cases, what passes for success is really due not to talent or skill but to a kind of animal persistence and just sheer dumb luck.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Waitin' for the Weekend

Full photo of this blue-eyed dreamboat here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

First Gay Wedding on a U. S. Military Base

Go read the Slate article to get the full story - and a sweet one it is - and lots more pictures of the wedding of Erwynn Umali and Will Behrens at at McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, a joint military base in Wrightstown, N.J., last month on June 23rd. Base officials said they heard no complaints from anyone about it. Neither set of parents attended - both grooms are from very conservative religious families - but a few relatives did attend, including their four kids, and about 150 friends.

And a good time was had by all. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

In Memoriam: My Mother

Mama's favorite photograph of herself, taken about 1945, and much later hand-colored by a photographer friend.  She is seated in a restaurant or nightclub in San Antonio, where she spent the happiest days of her life.

It seems very strange to say that today would have been my mother's 90th birthday. She has been gone to a better land for nearly two decades now, and still I think of her every day, things she said and did, and lessons taught, and laughter shared. I miss her more than I can tell you, fellas; nor can I possibly describe by any number of words the vast, unfillable void that was left when her steady, inexhaustable, and incompassable love was taken from me.

My mother's smile was like the sun in the high blue sky of summer, and her laughter a very song of cheer. Dark indeed was the day when the last of those smiles faded from out this world forever.

It is very difficult to write about Mama. We were very close, and for the last twenty years of her life, when she was in a long, slow decline of health and abilities, but never of spirit, I made a home for her, and cared for her to the last. I wished then and I wish now that I had been able to do all of that better, but though my talents were and are regrettably small, I did all that I could do, and she never lacked for the necessities of life, and enjoyed a number of small luxuries, and all the comforts that filial devotion could supply.

Nor did I ever ask so much as a dime's worth of help from anyone, though mayhap I staggered sometimes under the heavy load of responsibility, in the days of youth when others cavort and sport about as free as the birds of the air. Your Head Trucker is a true son of the South, with an ancient lineage he has traced himself, and far too proud to beg. What my labors could not supply, we did without, though it meant hardship and poverty for a time; but somehow we endured all that together, and prevailed.

The one thing that was never in short supply in our home was love, with which we were abundantly blessed, pressed down and running over. To Mama, who bestowed it so extravagantly to those who could receive it, love was always the prime thing in life, and thus very naturally to me also, with unshakeable loyalty besides.

It was hard sometimes - very hard, I must tell you, both financially and in other ways as well - but it was my duty, and mine alone, being an only child, and I am proud to say that I did it, well or ill as the case may be, regardless of the cost to myself. And it was a duty of love and devotion that I was glad to pay - as I had promised my father I would. She died a little before the morning of a new day dawned, holding my hand while I briefly drowsed, exhausted from keeping watch all through a long, terrible day and night: but which of us was leading the other, and where, I cannot say.

Unlike your Head Trucker, who as a rule is more diffident and reserved - except when roused to anger, and then it's Katie bar the door - Mama had the sort of warm and generous personality that easily made friends wherever she went. Beautiful, even glamorous in her youth (as other relations have told me), while she was very much a lady of the old school - and one of the dauntless Texas variety, who flinch not under the lash of adversity, nor shrink from any needful task, no matter how hard or menial - she also had the common touch, and no one was too humble for her to befriend or succor. Indeed, though she had grace enough, and regal charm as well, to walk with kings and princes had occasion offered, her own humility of spirit was perhaps her chiefest virtue.

Now what I am about to say, perhaps only my fellow Southerners will completely understand, and as for the rest of you, I beg your indulgence here for a moment: the faces of children, aged folks, and black people all lit up when Mama was present among them. For each of those groups are in some sense of the word marginalized, and often not quite as respected or as valued as they should be by some in society. But Mama spoke to each of them as equals, not inferiors, which they all recognized at once; and lightened many a heavy heart thereby, listening to their troubles and cheering them with laughter and merriment, compassion and understanding. And so she was beloved by many.

Though her step and her smile made her the cynosure of male attention everywhere she went, even into her seventh decade, men sought her friendship and her counsel too; for she was smart and savvy, full of earthy pragmatism and great common sense, and indeed was more often to be found playing poker with the boys than having a coffee klatch with the girls; though of course she had any number of girlfriends over the years who depended on her good sense and listening ear.

But though Mama was generous to a fault, she was not one to suffer fools gladly, nor fraudsters either, nor yet the two-faced and the hypocrites, for whom her especial despite was reserved. With but a single glance, it seemed, she could read people like a book, even total strangers: an uncanny ability, I always thought. Though at this late age, I begin to see that some of it is a function of age and experience of life. And always she favored mercy over justice, and especially to the underdogs and outcasts, the poor, the lonely, and the forgotten of the world. Many, many are the jewels in her crown, I have not the slightest doubt.

I would like to write more about my darling Mama, whose memory lingers yet, sweet and fragrant, all around me, and comforts my heart. But there is so much that could be said, I should hardly know where to begin or end; and it breaks my heart to recall the undeserved sorrows and unavoidable tragedies of her life. Would that she had been as rich in the goods of this world as she was in the riches of the spirit; and would that her great choices in life, especially in the men she loved, had been happier ones. To love well she knew, to choose wisely, not; but nevertheless spilled every drop of the alabaster jar, loving without stint as far as all hope lasted, and then some.

And if across her human failings, in common with all the daughters of Eve, in filial reverence I draw the veil of Oblivion, I think none will dare reproach me, for it is meet and right so to do; as we may all piously hope that a merciful God will do for our own offences when we come to judgment. Our Lord said that to her who loved much every sin is forgiven, and in that kindly assurance of pardon may she rest in peace and rise in glory, and all we besides.

So I can say no more here but to heap honor upon her memory, and join praise to her name, which for me shines always foremost among the company of heaven with whom the faithful join their voices in thanksgiving to God, always and everywhere. But I will share with you a little thing that is so very like my beautiful, gallant, vivacious Mama, who passed down her love of the Rubaiyat to me. Here are the concluding stanzas of that exquisite poem, and very fitting they are today, as you would certainly agree if you had known my wonderful, incomparable mother:

Yet Ah, that Spring should vanish with the Rose!
That Youth's sweet-scented manuscript should close!
The Nightingale that in the branches sang,
Ah, whence, and whither flown again, who knows!

Would but the Desert of the Fountain yield
One glimpse--if dimly, yet indeed, reveal'd,
To which the fainting Traveller might spring,
As springs the trampled herbage of the field!

Would but some wing'ed Angel ere too late
Arrest the yet unfolded Roll of Fate,
And make the stern Recorder otherwise
Enregister, or quite obliterate!

Ah, Love! could you and I with Him conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
Would not we shatter it to bits--and then
Re-mould it nearer to the Heart's Desire!

Yon rising Moon that looks for us again--
How oft hereafter will she wax and wane;
How oft hereafter rising look for us
Through this same Garden--and for one in vain!

And when like her, oh, Saki, you shall pass
Among the Guests Star-scatter'd on the Grass,
And in your joyous errand reach the spot
Where I made One--turn down an empty Glass!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mormon Bishop Finally Gets It - Really, Really Gets It

Actually, now an ex-bishop. And he got it via, of all things, reruns of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Excerpt from his essay in this week's Advocate:
For me it was much more than watching five gay men help get straight guys’ act together in grooming, home decor, fashion, culture, and cuisine. It began to create a bond for me to these men. They had a certain synergy that kept me wanting to watch more. I liked them as people. I saw them as individuals expressing their God-given talents and trying to make people’s lives and the world a little bit better. As Carson Kressley, the show’s fashion guru, would often say, it’s not a makeover show, it’s a “make better” show.

I would watch the show and imagine what it would be like for them to be in a Mormon bishop’s home, which is probably considered the heart of enemy territory by some in the gay community since Proposition 8. There was something about the spirit of these men that seemed to break barriers of orientation, politics, and even religion. Perhaps like every other fan, I considered them to be more familiar than reality would dictate. Then something that Carson said in his cheeky manner struck me like a thunderbolt. He said, “We are very pro traditional marriage.” Those words echoed in my mind for months and months. It seemed to disrupt and challenge a deeply held belief that the traditional family was under attack by a so called “gay agenda.”

That belief was dismantled at that moment and I realized that these good men had no desire to hurt me, my marriage, or my family. On the contrary, if they were in my home, I could only see them supporting me, my traditional marriage, and my family.

Watch as Kloosterman apologizes for the church's homophobia - not speaking on behalf of the church, mind, but what seems to be a very sincere, very aware personal statement:

P.S. - So you mean, like, straight guys really do watch that show?  Seriously??!

Honk to Truth Wins Out.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lovelight: Forty Years On

A compilation of the most poignant scenes from your Head Trucker's favorite movie:

Which makes me remember that I have neglected to mention here in the Blue Truck that last month on June 7th, it was 40 years ago that I graduated from high school. My, how the years rush away, the older you get. Perhaps some of you fellas will relate to how slowly time seemed to pass for me as a teenager - I used to feel like I would never be old enough to get my driver's license, and then it was another eternity until I finally got out of high school hell.

But the time did eventually pass, though not without some big bumps and detours along the road. I spent several months of the spring of my senior year in a state of suicidal depression - not for the first or for the last time, I might add - it all had to do with the gay thing, and the fact that I was in a militantly evangelical and extremely homophobic church.

All of which happened so long ago now, I don't remember exactly all that led up to it - though for the seven years I was in that church, from age 14 to 21, when I finally had enough and left, I was chronically depressed and often thought of doing away with myself - there could be no future for me, since I was such an enormously wicked sinner whom even God hated with fury.

I know some of you boys, even the ones who just lurk here at the Blue Truck and never comment, can relate to all that. Looking back, it's a wonder I got through alive, so alone and utterly isolated from any other gay people. Or at least - so I thought at the time.

Looking at the early scenes in the clip above of how Jack and Ennis met somehow reminds me in a vague way of my best buddy Pat in senior year and how we got to be close. I don't remember exactly how we met now, but we were part of a network of church friends and relations. We also both had close relatives in a major city 300 miles away, and I had a car, so it worked out nicely that whenever I would drive up to visit my family, Pat would ride along and share the gas expenses and visit his people too.

Our story was not outwardly like that of Jack and Ennis, who in the movie are already full grown and living all on their own. I was still living at home, though Pat had dropped out of school and was working construction jobs. He was about a year and a half older than me, so when I was 16 he was already 18. I was never much to look at in either face or body - the scrawy kid always picked last for teams - but Pat already had the body of a Greek statue from all that manual labor: if you can imagine an appearance like a blond Cherokee Indian with a sharp, sensuous face and rippled muscles beneath a skin that was always bronzed from working shirtless in the sun - well, that was Pat. The blond hair came from the Irish side of his family, I suppose. (Continued below . . . )

Another friend of Pat's, who I now think was as queer as we were, used to tease him about looking like 1950's movie/TV star Nick Adams, but although I can see why he said that, I never thought it was a close resemblance.
The Pat I knew was a lot sexier.

By a very curious coincidence, I just happened to find these pics of a current young star of Broadway, also named Nick Adams - and this, my friends, is much more what Pat looked like to me, though with surfer-blond hair.
He was hot all right, yeah buddy.  I tell you what.

And he definitely has Pat's body, which I knew so well - from but a slight distance.
Can you blame me, fellas, for being smitten?

Continued below the jump:

Sunday Drive: The King of Love My Shepherd Is

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Rainbow Trees

Discovered by your Head Trucker while surfing the 'net:  A curious form of eucalyptus, used most often for pulpwood production in the Phillippines.  It sheds pieces of its bark at different times, revealing first a bright green inner bark, which later turns to blue, purple, orange, and maroon.  How pretty.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Guest Post: Nothing New under the Sun

A guest post from my English truckbuddy Tim, now residing in sunny Spain:

Continuing with our occasional series on Universal Truths, this week it’s “There’s nothing new under the Sun.” Usually we pick a UT and try to fit some stories around it. This time, however, the stories came first and the UT followed.

With the 2012 Olympics in London soon to begin, it will not be long before the reports of ‘payments’ and ‘appearance fees’ for our financially astute athletes begin to make the rounds. If such matters worry you, relax, they’ve all happened before, and can be found in the writings of the underrated Victorian writer, Richard Jefferies (1848-87), who wrote with great affection about life and nature in the English countryside. He wrote for The Times, The Standard and numerous other London periodicals. Your Head Trucker and I much admire his work.

Re-reading some of Jefferies’ essays, I came to realise that, almost 130 years ago, examples of Sportsmen seeking fame, and a fortune, were as much of interest then as they are now; showing indeed that there is nothing new under the Sun. There is also a lovely symmetry about the 2 tales; all have an Anglo-American slant, beloved by Russ, and some interesting cross-connections.

In his essay, ‘The Strength of the English’, written around 1884, Jefferies writes an almost homoerotic salute to the English male physique. Talking about the development of the arms and shoulder he mentions a Captain Webb:
Our arms easily acquire that peculiarity (a well developed bicep) but I do not think it is so common among us as the development of the shoulder, the arm just below it, the muscles at the back, and the remarkable width of the lower arm. The three first are singularly prominent in the arm of Captain Webb, the arm that swam the Channel: His arm about the shoulder is of immense size. These are the muscles that push, swim and strike.
Later on he mentions one Captain Barclay:
The record of athletic sports contain instances beyond number of the extraordinary strength and staying power attained by those, who possessing great natural abilities, improved them by cultivation. Say from the days of Captain Barclay only to the present, what a wonderful history might be compiled of strength and endurance.
Who, I wondered, were these two Captains?

Well, the muscly Captain Webb first.

Handsome, I think, Mathew Webb (1848-83) was originally a ship’s master with the Cunard Line. However, after attempting to save the life of a passenger lost overboard, and enjoying the resulting press attention; he began to enter professional swimming competitions. In 1875 he became the first man to swim the 21 miles of the English Channel (actually he swam 39 miles in total due to a zig-zag course through the strong currents!), completing the crossing in just under 22 hours. He swam breastroke all the way, and his record remained unbeaten for 35 years.

He became an overnight international sports celebrity, receiving funding and income from a testimonial fund set up by the London Stock Exchange. He licensed his name to a string of merchandising products; commemorative porcelain, tea towels, and most famously, Bryant & May matches. He wrote the obligatory book, The Art of Swimming, and continued to earn large sums of money from exhibition swimming matches and stunts, both in England and abroad. He earned large sums of money for taking in part in races in the United States including the 'World Championship Race' at Nantasket Beach in 1880, where he easily beat the US champion, Paul Boyton. Strangely, he also won $2,000 at the Boston Horticultural Show for floating in a tank of water for 128 hours!

In 1883, buoyed by his own self-confidence, and driven by concerns over reduced funds, he rashly accepted a challenge to swim across the river just below the Niagara Falls for the sum of $12,000. Within 10 minutes of entering the water, Webb was dragged under by a whirlpool. His mangled body was found 4 days later, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Niagara Falls. A salutary tale for all those athletes wanting to make a final come back at the Olympics. This contemporary illustration captures his final moments!

Our final tale is that of Robert Barclay Allardice (1779-1854), the 6th Laird of Ury, but usually called Captain Barclay. He was a notable Scottish walker, and was known as ‘The Celebrated Pedestrian’. His rank, rather aptly, was in the 23rd Regiment of Foot!

Long distance walking, or Pedestrianism, was a popular spectator sport in the 18th and 19th centuries with huge crowds willing to pay entrance fees to watch walking events. It could also be extremely lucrative for its top competitors, particularly if, like Barclay, they were not adverse to a degree of gamesmanship to stack-up the odds. In 1801, he wagered a thousand guineas that he could walk 90 miles in 21 hours, but reputedly caught a cold, and lost. He then increased the stake to 2,000 guineas, and lost again. He then got odds which would pay him 5,000 guineas if he won, which he did, with an hour to spare.

His most famous feat was the walking of 1,000 miles in 1000 hours for 1000 guineas in 1809. Capt Barclay had a large sum depending upon his undertaking. The aggregate of the bets is supposed to have amounted to £100,000. If the report of the total wagers was accurate, they were equivalent to some £5 million ($US 8 million) in modern terms.

This feat caught the public imagination, and the career that followed allowed him ample opportunity for both money-making and gambling, a professional athlete in the truest sense! In addition to his undoubted stamina, he possessed great strength, and could lift a 252lb man with one hand. Today, he is considered to be the father of the modern day sport known as racewalking; he may also be considered a role model for today’s well paid track stars.

And if the name Barclay sounds familiar, yes it is. He was from the same family that founded Barclays Bank, that now infamous London money-lending financial institution, whose former CEO, American Bob Diamond, is now racewalking away from accusations of financial malpractice. Feel that connectivity! And one final American connection, Barclay was survived by his daughter, who after his death, emigrated to, yes you guessed, America.

So that concludes our tales from Richard Jefferies, which have so aptly illustrated our subject, Universal Truth. You should seek out his work; he has a passion for nature and man’s role in it. Here is his picture:

But wait, that noble brow, that penetrating stare, the full, luxuriant beard, does it remind you of someone? Well, there’s nothing new under the Sun!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Episcopal Church Okays Same-sex Blessings

As I told you guys yesterday, the House of Bishops of the General Convention, meeting in Indianapolis, approved not marriage per se, but a provisional rite of "Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant" - long, awkward title - by 111 to 41, with 3 abstentions.

Today, the House of Deputies, which comprises 4 lay and 4 clergy delegates from every diocese in the country, approved the measure by a vote of 171 to 50. Among the clergy, the vote was 85 to 22 in favor, and among the laity, 86 to 19.

So bishops, clergy, and laity each approved the rite by 75% or more. Which just seems so strange to say. Your Head Trucker is still trying to get his mind around that. But then, Episcopalians are in general pretty cool people, better educated and more open-minded than some other groups I could name. And very, very few are anything like the ranting fundamentalists and evangelicals who have given Christianity such a bad name in recent years. In fact, you rarely get to hear an Episcopalian on the TV news when they are discussing religion and gays and other social topics - why that is, I don't know, but it's a pity.

Of course, there's an exception to every rule. Your Head Trucker is living in one of four dioceses that seceded from the Episcopal Church in 2008, preferring to align themselves with the hateful, homophobic, murderous archbishops of places like Uganda and Nigeria rather than dignify teh nasty gays among them with anything like respect and Christian love. So I haven't been to church in the last several years, and I consider myself an Episcopalian-on-hold these days. But still, it's good news for those who can and do attend, somewhere.

As my truckbuddy Frank said in a comment on yesterday's post, "Every step forward by individuals and institutions helps swell the tide of equality." Amen.

The rite will come into use on the first Sunday of Advent this year, December 2nd. However, each bishop gets to decide whether to allow the blessings in his diocese, and the measure passed with an opt-out clause forbidding anyone from being penalized for refusing to perform the rite.

Today's action makes the Episcopal Church, with 1.96 million members, the largest U. S. church, and the second mainstream Protestant denomination, to approve same-sex blessings. The United Church of Christ, with 1.08 million members, approved such blessings in 2005.

The Episcopal Church has been slowly moving towards this day for a long time: see here for a quick historical summary of developments in the Church's position on gender and sexuality issues since 1976.

And same-sex blessings are even coming to Texas, which is hard to believe, but true:

And here's an article about the other Texas church that will be offering same-sex blessings, St. Stephen's in Montrose, the gayborhood of Houston.

Update: Your Head Trucker has been searching for the text of the proposed rite, and finally it came to light. Here it is in the middle of a long PDF file about the subject; the rite itself begins on page 65.

It's pretty good. Your Head Trucker would improve an awkward phrase or word here and there; but on the whole, very decent and quite moving to read through. However, I would also infinitely prefer to be married - though the chances of that happening at this late age are slim to none - using the old, familiar words of the marriage office, as every other couple does, and has, down through the ages.

Background summary on the proposal and the work of the liturgical commission that presented it to the General Convention is here.

And for anyone interested in further reading on this topic, a very nice 16-page collection of essays and interviews on same-sex unions and Episcopal theology, "Claiming the Blessing," is here.

A well-written, very readable book, What Episcopalians Believe, is partly viewable on Google for anyone who wants a broad overview of the Church, its history, teachings, and ethos.

And the golden thread that binds all together, the beautiful and beloved Book of Common Prayer.

The Meaning of Marriage

A resolution authorizing the blessing of same-sex couples - not marriage per se, but still a formal ceremony in church - was approved on Monday night by the House of Bishops of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church now meeting in Indianapolis. It now must be approved by the House of Deputies (clergy and laity), which is expected to do so in the next few days. I'll update you all when that comes to pass.

The full convention also approved ordination of transgender clergy on Monday.

In the meantime, here's a short but very moving documentary I just found about what marriage really means - I know my truckbuddies will appreciate it:

Monday, July 9, 2012

You See How They Are?

Send this one to your diehard, Bible-believing, uneasy-about-the-gays relations:  Even Pat Robertson says the Bible isn't an infallible guide to life:

Of course, the truth is that wealthy straight white men have always picked and chosen, just as they pleased, the parts of the Bible they wanted to ignore - or not.

Which, of course, everyone else does too - but they aren't usually in the driver's seat.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Barney Frank Marries Jim Ready

When:  Earlier tonight in Newton, Massachusetts, making Barney the first sitting Congressman to marry a spouse of the same sex. How: Governor Patrick Duval officiated, and numerous other Democratic political leaders were among the congregation. New York Times story here. Your Head Trucker's reaction: Sweet.

P.S. - That Barney sure knows how to pick 'em, don't he?

Dallas Marriage Equality Sit-In

Mark Jiminez and Beau Chandler applied for a marriage license at the Dallas County Clerk's Office on Thursday.  When they were refused, they promptly staged their own sit-in.  I'm not sure what actual good that did anyone, but way to go, guys!  I can remember when something like this would have nearly gotten you lynched here in Texas - but times are changing, s-l-o-w-l-y, even here:

The Dallas Voice, the local gay paper, reports:
“City police, county sheriffs and building security are all here,” Chandler said. “Nice to get their support.” Although he was joking, most of the people the couple encountered in the building were supportive, even if they were unable to issue the license.

Sr. Cpl. Laura Martin, LGBT liaison officer for the Dallas Police Department, accompanied the group, even though she didn’t have direct jurisdiction since they were in a county building. Lt. Shelley Knight, LGBT liaison for the sheriff’s department, also followed the couple. “I told them if they want to smoke, do it before going upstairs,” Martin said. “And have a full belly.” Martin said the couple could be held overnight, depending upon how backed up the magistrate was.

“They’re the nicest couple,” Martin said of Chandler and Jiminez. “They’re the first guys after any protest to come up and thank the officers.” It was unclear at press time what charge would be filed against the couple. Last week, a sheriff’s spokesman indicated the pair likely would be charged with criminal trespass, a class-B misdemeanor. The penalty for that is up to 180 days in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Waitin' for the Weekend

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Gay Marriage, Buses, Dogs, and Ice Cream

A satiric take on all the fucked-up reasons to oppose marriage equality, via Joe.My.God.:

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth!

Hope you guys have a good one.

P.S. - a belated happy Canada Day to my truckbuddies north of the border. 

What the delegate from Texas would have said.

From the White House, a performance of "America the Beautiful." Yeah, it's partly a campaign ad - but aren't you glad it's not McCain or Bush or Romney?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

In Memoriam: Andy Griffith, 1926-2012

Andy and Opie do a little fishing.

It's a sad day for the South. Andy Griffith, beloved for his TV portrayals of decent small-town Southerners, died today at his home in Manteo, Roanoke Island, North Carolina, at the age of 86.

Even though they were different personalities and from different parts of the South, something about Griffith's portrayal of Sheriff Andy Taylor always reminds me in a vague way of my father. (As it happens, Ron Howard and I are very nearly the same age, too.) There is - or at least, there was, well into the last century - a certain kind of well-rounded, down-to-earth, easy-going Southern personality that's hard to describe but easy to recognize; and it's not the stereotypes that our friends at the North love to make fun of. Something wise and dependable and comfortable to be with, and often rather humorous around the edges - a certain attitude towards life that is not seen so often these days.

Griffith was a great actor - if you doubt it, go watch his performance as an out-of-control rockabilly star in the vastly underrated A Face in the Crowd (1957) - so it would be a mistake to think that he and Sheriff Taylor are just alike; but Griffith was a Southerner and let the real, genuine flavor of that small-town background shine through his character.  It's never the same at all when a Yankee tries to imitate Southern accents or manners;  a few have done a good job of acting, but - it's obviously just acting.  Griffith gives you the real thing, although of course he's also playing for laughs much of the time. 

I still get a kick out of watching the Andy Griffith Show from time to time. Here's one of my favorite episodes, and one of the funniest.

Amazingly, Griffith never won an Emmy, either for TAGS or for Matlock - a great injustice.

One more thing: it should be remembered to his everlasting credit that Griffith, a lifelong Democrat, came out publicly in favor of Obama's healthcare reforms in 2010, despite heavy criticism from his Republican compatriots. Here's the PSA he made at that time:

Additional: It's come to my attention that George Lindsey, who played the clownish grease monkey Goober in TAGS, has also passed away, back in May. He was a very good actor too; everybody on that show was.
Lindsey as Goober:  "Judy, Judy, Judy."

Monday, July 2, 2012

Night Skies

Soundtrack is lousy, but the star trails are pretty cool.

T-RECS - Night Skies from T-Recs (Timelapse Recordings) on Vimeo.

Anderson Cooper Comes Out of the Closet

Finally. In an email to his friend Andrew Sullivan:
Recently, however, I’ve begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle. It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something - something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true.

I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible. There continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all ages, based on their sexual orientation, and I believe there is value in making clear where I stand.

The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.

I have always been very open and honest about this part of my life with my friends, my family, and my colleagues. In a perfect world, I don't think it's anyone else's business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted. I’m not an activist, but I am a human being and I don't give that up by being a journalist.

A collection of his most dramatic on-screen moments from the Daily Beast:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Feel the Love

On Friday, Chief Justice John Roberts jokingly ducked questions about his role in the healthcare ruling by telling an audience he was heading for "an impregnable island fortress"  - i.e., Malta, where he was already scheduled to participate in an international legal conference.

Your Head Trucker doesn't know about Malta, but Bermuda I've always thought would be a real nice place to go to.  I don't know how they get so many houses and beaches and everything squeezed into an island that's only 20 square miles in area, not quite as big as Manhattan, but somehow they do. Never been there myself, but it looks right pretty, would make a dandy island refuge I think. Would sure suit me. Take a look at some of these videos:

Gee whiz, wish I could go there. Maybe one day I can, when my ship comes in:

Sunday Drive: I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls

I've heard of the title many times over the years, but not until today have I ever heard the song. It's lovely. From the 1936 film version of the 1843 opera, The Bohemian Girl, with a bit of comedy relief thrown in:

If you click around on YouTube, you can find other delightful versions by Joan Sutherland, Celtic Woman, and Enya, among others.

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