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.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Sunday Drive: Green River

Little Niagara Falls at Chickasaw NRA.  Click to enlarge.
Photo by Jonathan C. Wheeler, CC-by-SA 3.0, at Wikipedia.

Today I'm serving up some virtual relief from the long, hot summer with this video montage I made twelve years ago, when M.P. and I spent a day picnicking and exploring at Chickasaw National Recreation Area up in Oklahoma - a big, beautiful, cool, green national park with no entrance fee that ought to be better known than it is. I blogged about our trip with more pictures here and here, as some of my longtime truckbuddies may remember. 

I'm no longer nimble enough to go hiking and splashing around like this, but it's a pleasant memory. The soundtrack is a favorite by CCR - crank it up.


Friday, August 26, 2022

Waitin' for the Weekend


Wednesday, August 24, 2022

The Church of Social Justice

This new church at a mountain resort near Qingdao, China, is unconnected with anything or anyone mentioned in this post.  However, its stark, absolute purity of form and color seems emblematic of something.  You be the judge.

Helen Lewis, a staff writer at the Atlantic, has put into words some thoughts your Head Trucker has had for quite a while now.  Excerpt from her article in the current issue:

In the U.S., the nonreligious are younger and more liberal than the population as a whole. Perhaps, then, it isn’t a coincidence that they are also the group most likely to be involved in high-profile social-justice blowups, particularly the type found on college campuses. They’ve substituted one religion for another. In The Coddling of the American Mind, Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff suggest that we look at campus protests as outbreaks of “collective effervescence,” a term coined by the sociologist Emile Durkheim to describe emotions that can be accessed only in a crowd. Singing, swaying, and chanting build up a kind of electricity, which ripples through the group. And that’s how a person can end up screaming “repent” at a stranger for the crime of holding a funny sign.

Many common social-justice phrases have echoes of a catechism: announcing your pronouns or performing a land acknowledgment shows allegiance to a common belief, reassuring a group that everyone present shares the same values. But treating politics like a religion also makes it more emotionally volatile, more tribal (because differences of opinion become matters of good and evil) and more prone to outbreaks of moralizing and piety. “I was thinking about that Marx quote that religion is the opium of the people,” Elizabeth Oldfield, the former director of the Christian think tank Theos, told me. “I think what we've got now is [that] politics is the amphetamines of the people.”

Oldfield was one of the many commentators, activists, and religious leaders—and, sometimes, people who are all three—whom I recently interviewed for a new BBC documentary, The Church of Social Justice. Some of what I discovered surprised me. I asked Alex Clare-Young, a nonbinary minister in the United Reformed Church, whether their faith or their gender was more surprising to Generation Z acquaintances. “I think probably being religious,” Clare-Young responded. “I know a lot of LGBTQ+ young people who say it’s harder to come out as Christian in an LGBT space than LGBT in a Christian space.” . . .

This phenomenon is not confined to the left, though. At Donald Trump’s rallies, booing members of the press, who were kept in an exposed pen, became part of the ritual. The storming of the Capitol involved hardened militia members and amateur gun nuts, but also dozens of otherwise law-abiding citizens swept up in collective effervescence. There are other religious parallels: QAnon’s lurid myths about blood-drinking elites echo medieval anti-Semitic tropes, and the QAnon rally where adherents awaited the resurrection of John F. Kennedy Jr. had a distinctly millenarian feel. As my colleague Adrienne LaFrance has reported, followers of this conspiracy-theory movement treat the anonymous Q’s online postings as something akin to divine revelations. “I feel God led me to Q,” one QAnon follower told LaFrance. . . .

In real life, churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples force together, in their congregations, a random assortment of people who just happen to live close to them. But today’s social activism is often mediated through the internet, where dissenting voices can easily be excluded. We have taken religion, with its innate possibility for sectarian conflict, and fed it through a polarization machine. No wonder that today’s politics can feel like a wasteland of anguished ranting—and like we are in hell already.


Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Robert Reich: Liz Cheney and the Future of the Republican Party

Robert Reich, Policy Network, April 6 2009, detail
UC Berkeley professor Robert Reich was Secretary of Labor
during President Clinton's first term, 1993-1997.

I must say, it is always gratifying to your Head Trucker when he sees that leading journalists and commentators have arrived at the same conclusions as he. An excerpt from Robert Reich's syndicated column this week
I expect that Cheney will run for the Republican nomination for president in 2024. If Trump is still alive and coherent, and most Republican voters are still deluded by him, she will lose. I hope she then runs as a third-party candidate for a new Republican Party that represents the best values of the old GOP — one that I recall from when Dwight Eisenhower was president. 

My father was a Republican. So was my grandfather. The first administration I joined in Washington was Gerald Ford’s. One of my dearest friends is Alan Simpson, former senator from Wyoming. 

But since Ronald Reagan became president, I’ve watched the Republican Party turn from a governing institution into a crazed cult. It is not just bent on returning America to what it was before the New Deal. It is now intent on turning America into an authoritarian nation. It represents a clear and present danger to the future of the United States and the world. 

I have disagreed with Liz Cheney on almost all the substantive issues she has voted on while in Congress. But on the transcendent issue of democracy — the foundation on which all other issues depend — I salute her leadership, her dedication, and her commitment. And I grieve for the Republican Party that has lost her and lost what’s left of its moral authority.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Sunday Drive: I Wish It Would Rain

Here in Texas, we are eagerly expecting some much-needed rain later this morning.  What a long hot summer it's been!  At times, almost too hot to even think, let alone do anything else.  Hence my selection of today's song by the fabulous Gladys Knight and the Pips, which I listened to many times on their Greatest Hits album, back in 1970-71.  Gladys was one of the few soul singers who could give Aretha a run for her money. 


Bonus:  Here's Gladys, pretty in pink, singing a medley of hits with the Pips on the Ed Sullivan Show, February 1968: 


And finally, if you want some real rain-dance music, here's one of their biggest and bestest hits from 1967. If this doesn't make you want to tap your feet and shake your booty, there's something wrong with you, bud.

P. S.:  It rained - and how!


Friday, August 19, 2022

Waitin' for the Weekend


Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Liz Cheney: "Let Us Stand Together"

Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney lost her primary battle yesterday to a Trumpist, but her concession speech will no doubt live in history.  After stating that she loves her country more than her party, she ended with a stirring call for Democrats, Republicans, and independents to join together to defend American democracy and the rule of law.  

“I have said since Jan. 6 that I will do whatever it takes to ensure Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office — and I mean it,” Cheney said.  She is a true patriot - and I will tell you frankly that if she ran for President, I would not hesitate to vote for her, if the Democrats had nothing better to offer.  Somebody has got to stop the madness before it is too late.

I wondered in a recent post why no one is leading a charge against the dark forces now threatening to submerge the nation in a fascist dictatorship.  Perhaps that turning point is here.


Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Growing up Gay in the Country (Australia)

A mini-documentary from Australia about Ivan, a gay man going back to his roots in the homophobic small town of Tumut, New South Wales, shot in 2014. Ivan and his husband married in 2013 during a one-week period when same-sex marriage was legal in the Australian Capital Territory (like our District of Columbia) in 2013.  The Australian Federal Parliament legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in December 2017.

The film may be set on the other side of the world, but it all seems very familiar, somehow.


Friday, August 12, 2022

Waitin' for the Weekend


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

In Memoriam: David McCullough, 1933-2022

McCullough I 

David McCullough, author and popular historian, died last Sunday at age 89.  He was a fine writer and a fine American; his biographies of Harry Truman (1992) and of John Adams (2001) won the Pulitzer Prize, and he was the recipient of many other honors and awards during his long career.  A perspicacious man of wide learning, good humor, and grace, in all his works he kept a spotlight on the American experiment in democracy:  an experiment he, like the people he wrote about, always believed was worthwhile, enduring, and noble.

McCullough also had a wonderful baritone voice, which many of us even now remember from his narration of the Ken Burns documentary The Civil War, first shown on PBS in 1990, a masterpiece of filmmaking.  It should be required viewing for every schoolchild, and indeed, for every American.  If you haven't seen it, you should.

I also highly recommend his biography of the 33rd president, entitled simply Truman, which is a masterpiece of biography.  The chapter on Truman's whistlestop campaign for re-election in 1948, leading to a surprising upset victory over Thomas Dewey, his Republican opponent, is particularly vivid and engrossing.

McCullough may be the last of his breed:  neither a crusader nor a revisionist, but in essence simply a good storyteller with a fine mind, profound respect for the truth, and a keen instinct for the telling detail.  The American mind has been so dumbed-down in recent decades, and hamstrung by propagandists both left and right, that it is difficult to imagine there is any future in history-writing at all.  

Especially when, as I have heard, there will soon be machines to write anything and everything, in any genre, any style, any viewpoint you please - what then will be the point of knowing any history - indeed, of knowing anything at all?

Here is McCullough interviewed by Morley Safer on 60 Minutes in 2013:


Monday, August 8, 2022

In Memoriam: Olivia Newton-John, 1948-2022

Beloved Australian singer and actress Olivia Newton-John has died at her home in California, aged 73.  Despite her personal struggles and sorrows, she brought joy to many millions of people around the world, and though her voice is silent now, her songs will live on for generations to come, I'm sure.

I remember when she started out as an unlikely Country singer in the early 1970s, and went on to evolve in other directions.  I particularly recall going to see Xanadu in the summer of 1980, when I had finally finished my long-delayed bachelor's degree and was starting grad school.  And had just come out of the closet.  

My date for the movie was my summer romance, Prince Charming:  a slim, suave, brown-eyed, mustachioed, very handsome voice major, about my age, whose dark looks were intoxicating, and who was all I could have wanted physically.  He was more experienced than I:  a willing teacher and an eager student.  We fit together very well, I thought, in that pre-plague time when safe sex was not even thought of.  A fairy tale come true . . . 

But it was not to be a Cinderella story, after all.  He broke off the relationship at the end of the summer. I called for a date; he said he was seeing someone else.  I didn't ask why, didn't want to know.  Just cowboy up and move on, I told myself.  Don't mind the pain.

At the end of the decade, I noticed his name in the alumni magazine - "Deceased."  I assume it was AIDS.  I remembered he had said he didn't want to live to be 100.  He didn't even live to be 40.

The Xanadu soundtrack takes me back to that sweet, sensual summer when I was young and hopeful, and it was still possible to believe in magic.  Here are some of my favorites that Olivia sang then.  Perhaps she is still singing somewhere, beyond space and time.

Odd coincidence:  Xanadu was released on this day in 1980.


Sunday, August 7, 2022

Sunday Drive: San Francisco

Back in 2015, my truckbuddy Frank published Did You Ever See a Horse Go By, his memoir of growing up gay and coming out late; now he has released it on his blog as a free PDF file, newly revised and complete with color photographs. 

The book is a vivid, poignant, sometimes funny, often brutally honest account of the fears, perplexities, and eventual triumphs of finding his way to adulthood as a gay youth in a straight world, before and after Stonewall - something we all had to go through in the 1960s and 1970s. Young gays today have no idea what a struggle it was.  But Frank surmounted all the difficulties and went on to lead a productive, fulfilling life as a proud gay man.

I admire Frank's courage and diligence in setting down his detailed memories so plainly, exposing his inner life for all the world to see. I can't do it - I have the memories, and our experiences paralleled each other's, but it's still just too hard to write about, even after all these years.  The scars have grown over, but they are still quite tender. 

I heartily recommend Frank's book to all my other truckbuddies and readers. And I hasten to add, it does have a happy ending - very much so. Click on the link below to go straight to the PDF. 


Friday, August 5, 2022

Waitin' for the Weekend

Steve Kelso has the perfect body:  an S-curve that just won't quit.


Dick Cheney Condemns Lying Coward: "He Knows It"

I never expected to post a video from Dick Cheney on the Blue Truck, but I agree with every word he says here: 


I commend Mr. Cheney for speaking the truth so plainly - even though his hands are not clean - and I very much admire his daughter Liz for putting the whole story of Trump's failed coup on record. 

But the Republicans are far gone. They are hellbent on turning the United States into a fascist dictatorship, one state at a time, and are nearly there already in Texas, Florida, and other places. But what can be done to stop them? 

Where are the voices of outrage and oh-hell-no from the Democratic side? Where are the good guys in the white hats riding into town to stop the crooks from terrorizing the citizenry and burning down the place?  

The thug party has a plan and a playbook they've been working on for years, step by step, to pack the Congress, the courts, the state houses with their henchmen, even down to the cellular level of county commissions and school boards.  What exactly are the Democrats doing to stop this collapse of democracy besides sipping their lattes and playing with themselves?  No, really, tell me -- I'd like to know.

Edging with Russia and China doesn't count.

Maybe I'm just out of the loop - I don't watch TV news and I'm not on Facebook or Twitter. Maybe there is a peaceful, patriotic movement arising to defeat all the lies with truth, and dictatorship with democracy . . . maybe millions are even now being enlisted in a righteous crusade to restore our country to what it was meant to be: one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. 

(If that's not too racist/misogynistic/transphobic/culturally insensitive/too many carbs/contains nuts/disturbing/triggering/ polluting/fattening/uncool/something only boomers do.)

But all I hear are crickets.


Thursday, August 4, 2022

Donald Duck: Bee at the Beach, 1950

I think we all need a nice, relaxing day at the beach, don't you?


Wednesday, August 3, 2022

What I'm Watching: The Making of Fantasia, 1940

My class got bused downtown to see this wonderful film when it was re-released in 1964 or 1965.  The 2000 remake was very good, but nothing can match the magic of the original for me.  Here's how it was made with human skill and ingenuity - and not a damn computer in the world at that time.


Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Spotlight: Richard Chamberlain

Publicity photo, 1964.

I can hardly believe it's August already.  The year is speeding by, and the planet is speeding up - no wonder the world is going all to pieces.  When M.P. made Sunday dinner this week, everything seemed to go wrong - the hamburger steaks were tough, the onion rings too crunchy, the biscuits didn't rise, and the cake fell.  Now we know why.

If your nerves need steadying, here's a look at smooth and mellow Richard Chamberlain - yes, he's still alive and well, and living in Hawaii.  I can't say I was a big fan of his as a kid - we watched Ben Casey at my house instead of Dr. Kildare (swarthy and hairy has always done it for me), but I loved his swashbuckling performances in the 1970s:  The Three (or Four) Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, and The Man in the Iron Mask.

In this first video, Chamberlain talks about coming out at age 68:

I passed on his big miniseries hits like Centennial, Shogun, and The Thorn Birds - but here's a clip of Richard with a gorgeous beard talking up Shogun in 1980:

Admirers of the male form will enjoy this compilation of Richard's shirtless pics - turns out, he's actually quite hairy when you get right down to it:


And if you just can't get enough of Richard, you'll enjoy this wide-ranging interview, circa 2013:


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