It has been a long birthday day. Which began with breakfast with my sister in laws daughter, Hubby’s niece, so I guess that makes her my niece as well ??? Hmmmm.
Later around noon, we hit the theatre for the noon showing of Absolutely Fabulous.
When a long running, successful, small screen television series finishes its run on tv, and had the numbers and a handful of seriously good episodes, sometimes producers figure that a Silver Screen adaptation of said television show is possible.
Sometimes turning a television show into a movie works, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Absolutely Fabulous is a DOESN’T …
If you are going to see a full feature film presentation, then you will be sadly disappointed. If you are going to see the ensemble cast, together again, then you might enjoy this film, along with the assorted cameos, tossed in here and there.
About halfway through the movie, I seriously thought about getting up and going, but since hubby bought the tickets, I sat till the end.
Nuff said …
I had a few hours before my evening event, so we hung out and had a nap, before I had to leave again.
It being the last Sunday of the month, we had a speaker for Step Seven.
Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
Step Seven is the exercise in Humility. Something the world lacks, and is the basis for all the twelve steps.
When I think about Humility, I think of the story I often tell when sharing on this topic.
Not long after I got sick, many years ago, I was working at the bar. I learned many lessons there, about life, myself, others, and survival.
Sadly, In the short term, I did not figure out how to marry these lessons, with my first stint in sobriety. Had I made that connection, and remained, in a few weeks, I would have celebrated 22 years sober. Alas, I did not make it.
So, back to my story …
On certain Saturday night, the bar is packed, and it is late in the night.
I walk into the bathroom and a toilet is overflowing with piss and shit, with water all over the floor. I run up to my boss an start bitching about the pig men in the bar and that they stopped up a toilet, again…
He was like, Go Clean the Toilet and Stop Your Bitching !!!
Being the only “bar back – cleaner” cleaning up messes was my job.
I pull on my rubber gloves and fish out a plastic cup that is shoved into the toilet backwards, that had blocked up the toilet, and none of the guests, saw fit to NOT put that cup in the toilet. They did it on purpose.
I do the job … Not at all happy … But I learned a valuable lesson or two.
If I need a lesson in Humility or Being Right Sized, All I need is to think about that toilet.
The other lesson was more personal.
When you got AIDS, (had you back then), the stages usually went from, healthy human, into sick human, into incontinence, and having to wear diapers, when you went out in public.
Several of my friends lost their ability to remain dry and continent.
The lesson was this … If you learned how to clean up someone else’s shit, if you ever got that sick, in the end, and were in a diaper, I would know how to clean up after myself.
Gratefully, I never got that sick, ever …
Lesson Learned …
It was a great day. We had cake, and guests from my original Home Group on Miami Beach, who know my friends, who still live there, and hit that meeting, the SOBE 10.
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord ( Lord Voldemort) approaches … born to those who have thrice defied him ( that’s Harry Potter), born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives … the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies …
Today is July 31st, 2016. Harry would be 36 today. We wish him a very happy birthday.
I share this date in common with Harry. Today I turn 49 years old.
It was Harry, who saved my sanity, when I returned to the rooms in 2001.
Though we of A.A. find ourselves living in a world characterized by destructive fears as never before in history, we see great areas of faith, and tremendous aspirations toward justice and brotherhood.
Yet no prophet can presume to say whether the world outcome will be blazing destruction or the beginning, under God’s intention, of the brightest era yet known to mankind.
This thought was taken from a Grapevine from the year 1962. All of the writing that has been collected in As Bill Sees It, comes from an original source, either in a book, or a letter or an article.
After the last two weeks, we have two visions of the world, the first is one of FEAR and DESTRUCTION and DEVASTATION. The second is of HOPE, FAITH and TOGETHERNESS.
We have a saying in a certain room that:
What we could not do ALONE, We can do TOGETHER.
When the fellowship began in the early 1930’s, and when we look back at history, it is either one thing or another going on in the world.
Wars, Hunger, Homelessness, Poverty, Hardships.
Today, right now, we have a choice to make. We either accept the fear filled vision, or we accept the Hope filled vision. To me there is only one choice.
WE MUST MAKE THAT CHOICE TOGETHER.
Last night, Pastor William Barber spoke so eloquently. He quoted one of my favorite passages from the Old Testament:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Tonight, we read the reading I posted above, and immediately, I imagined Bill, sitting at a desk, having witnessed the past two weeks, and penned that passage, as if he were speaking about the NOW.
And that is exactly where I went when I shared my words. A.A. has no opinion about outside issues, hence the A.A. name not be drawn into public controversy.
But everybody in that room tonight, did the same thing. We listened to words of Hope, amid a world that is sunk in Fear. Many people referenced last night’s events in what they had to say as well.
“I am concerned about those that say so much about what God says so little, while saying so little about what God says so much.”
This quote when I heard the words, spoke to me on many levels. When we sit together in a room, we come for unity, we come for safety, we come for each other, and some, come to hear God, (as he reveals himself in our group conscience).
When all is said and done, I believe that God would want us to abide in Hope, in Faith, in Brotherhood, and Justice.
People who find their way to the rooms, come from places of destruction, from places of sadness, from places of fear, and from places of no return. We know what the bitter end looked like to each of us, each in our own ways. The reading above, goes on to say that
“We do not fear the world outcome, whichever course it may take. This is because we have been enabled to deeply feel and say, “WE SHALL FEAR NO EVIL – THY WILL, NOT OURS BE DONE.”
In my life, there have been many things to fear. And those fears began, in my earliest memories, in a house that I was born into, being beaten and chased around a house listening to him say “You were a mistake and should never have been born, as that man tried to kill me more than once.”
I do not often think of this, any more. Because I lived. And I survived.
Many of my friends who faced fears early in their lives, went to the drugs and sucked on a bottle, early on, spending decades dousing those fears with anything that would take them out of those fears.
I did not have that kind of luck. I did not turn to the bottle in that way. Even though it was there in the house, I never took advantage of it. I bore what I had to bear. And over time, I found ways to get away from him, and my home. I did not use to get away, I physically moved away from fear. Spending inordinate amounts of time, living at friends houses for a number of years, while that lasted.
I would leave for school hours early just to get out of the house. And the teachers knew that, and they provided for me in their own ways.
This life of mine, has not be devoid of Fear, or Pain or Loss. Far from it. I have sat in the midst of the maelstrom of AIDS and watched my friends die, one by one. I know what it is like to face ones greatest fear … Waiting to DIE.
We must let go of FEAR. We must move past it.
And in the words of Hillary Clinton,
We must go out there and do as much good, for as many people, for as long as we can, to the best of our ability.
That is what we learn in recovery, to do good, for the many, for as long as we can, to the best of our ability.
We Will Never Bow to FEAR.
Not Now Not Ever…
Francis passed under the gates alone, wearing white robes and skullcap. After meeting the survivors, he placed a candle at the Death Wall, where prisoners were executed by the Nazis, before continuing on his own.
The Pope stopped to pray at the prison cell of Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Catholic friar who sacrificed his life to save that of another man. The Church made him a saint in 1982.
Pope Francis knelt for many minutes in the underground cell, illuminated only by the light from a tiny window, the Associated Press news agency reports.
The Argentine Pope is on a five-day trip to Poland.
During a World Youth Day rally in the southern city of Krakow on Thursday, he urged compassion for migrants.
He told hundreds of thousands of people that “a merciful heart opens up to welcome refugees and migrants” – a statement that puts him at odds with Poland’s anti-immigrant right-wing government.
Today, a 19 year old boy, walked into a church in France and murdered Father Jacques Hamel.
He was known to authorities, was on probation and was wearing a monitoring device.
Kermiche and a fellow attacker stormed the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen, during morning Mass.
They slit the throat of the elderly priest before being killed by police.
One of four people taken hostage – said to be an elderly parishioner – suffered severe knife wounds, Mr Molins said.
The Sanctity of the Church was defiled today.
I would like to tell you a story. A story about human beings, a story about a people, who only want to live. To Live in a land that is theirs, and not to know fear, death, or hunger on a daily basis.
I would like you to suspend you judgment about hatred, war or “Us versus Them.” I would like you to see human beings, and not Terrorists.
I’ve spent the better part of weeks reading
“The Way to the Spring, Life and Death in Palestine.”
Now I know what people think about this subject. We see daily, people killing each other and fighting among themselves, and we have branded certain groups as terrorist organizations. We are taught not to trust them, or those who are part of, that part of the world.
In the words of the most MILITANT Jewish settlers their common cry is:
KILL THEM FIRST !!!
I am not well versed on the intricacies of the Middle East, on any front. I have what I know, from what I have learned in my educational career, and by those I listen to in life.
I have to say though, that the simple Palestinian family, faces a uphill battle just to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, jobs to work, and keeping their children safe from the scourge of several groups of people.
Many people, who lead, those who were supposed to do good for their own, did not. Leaders were handed cold hard cash, hand over fist. Many of them skimmed that money into their own pockets and pet projects and off shore accounts.
The Israeli and Palestinian issue runs very deep. And they are no closer to a two state solution or better yet, PEACE, right now. Not Ever.
I don’t want to talk about Hamas, or Fatah. I don’t want to talk about the Palestinian Authority, or the IDF.
I want to tell you what our author saw, while he traveled and lived in Palestine, meeting people, reporting what he saw, and seeing for himself, the carnage that happened before his own eyes on a daily basis.
Israel is guilty of many things. Benjamin Netanyahu, is one of the most crooked leaders, Israel has ever seen. And in reading this book, you will find proof of just how he sees Israel, and the Palestinians.
I’ve never read a book, filled with so much hatred and death in my life. The simple Palestinian family, all they want is a life of freedom. But faced with utter ruin, what are they supposed to do?
They fight for a better way of life, by any means possible.
The problem with this action is that the Palestinian Authority is guilty because they themselves, work very hard to make sure that their own people are kept “Down.” Protests are shut down, so the every day human, cannot fight for what they need. The P.A. shoots itself in their own feet. They are more concerned with keeping some form of silence, forced upon their own, because they are complicit with the Israeli’s, in stopping any kind of revolt on the Palestinian side.
Talk of who owns what land, and by what right does anyone have to land that has been contentious since Biblical Times. I don’t think we will ever see a two state solution to the Palestinian – Israeli conflict.
Why is that ?
Israel moves its settlers into Palestinian land, and they build settlements. They are constantly building Walls, and Checkpoints, and Prisons all along the lines of those cement walls that separate Israelis and Palestinians.
Segregation is the name of the game. Neighborhoods are carved apart by cement and barbed wire. Jews have supremacy when it comes to land and homes. Jews have supremacy when it comes to where one can drive, or where one can walk. Palestinians live in a maze of shuttered and destroyed homes, shops are shuttered, work is almost non existent.
I did not mention on my first draft, the “Skunk Trucks” that the Israeli’s use against Palestinians. These skunk truck roll through neighborhoods, drowning Men, Women and Children, with SKUNK WATER. They also use these trucks on homes, where windows are smashed through and homes are FLOODED with skunk water. This unsanitary practice is a common daily practice as part of the terrorizing of Palestinians.
When ever a Palestinian is either imprisoned or charged with a crime, their homes are destroyed, no matter if other family members live in that home, the home is lost to them, and they must move elsewhere or with friends and family.
Many Palestinians, have work on the Israeli side, because they have been forced off their land, out of their homes, and out of work because of the Jewish authorities who spend day and night terrorizing Palestinians. The Jewish Military Machine, is terribly guilty of killing innocent Men, Women and Children.
Palestinians march in their streets to protest the grotesque ways in which they are treated by their own Palestinian Authority, by the Israeli Government and the Israeli Military Complex.
And what happens ???
I don’t think a day went by, during this read that Palestinian Men, Women and Children weren’t gassed, shot with rubber bullets, AND LIVE FIRE ammunition, beaten in the streets, arrested and imprisoned, and even more Men, Women and Children are killed senselessly by the Israeli Military, who shoot first, and don’t even ask question later.
The Israeli Military who shoot and kill, Men, Women and Children, in almost all of the cases, are never investigated, never reprimanded or judged for their crimes.
Almost every bullet that kills a Palestinian, usually has no legal justification.
On a daily basis, Palestinians die for no reason, at the hands of soldiers who will never face justice. On the face of it, Palestinians are always guilty of one thing or another. If questions are asked, peaceful human beings, who mean no harm or just trying to get home, or cross checkpoints, are pulled out of cars, shoved to the ground, beaten and shot dead.
Several accounts of in discriminant killing were trumped by the soldiers. Non existent guns, knives and other killing instruments were put in their hands to make sure the Israeli’s are always right and justified in killing those they think are trying to kill THEM.
The Israeli Military are consumed with being killed, and that reasoning, always justifies they way they kill with impunity.
And when Palestinians go to court or ask for the TRUTH, what they get in response is usually SILENCE, or LIES, or a COVER UP at the hands of the Israeli government.
Truth is very lacking when it comes to Israeli’s killing Palestinians.
Israeli settlers, are just as complicit in these kinds of situations.
Palestinians march, they shout, and they throw rocks.
Do you know what the most useful job in Palestine is? Shoveling up rocks at the end of every day.
Settlers, do not only throw rocks, they throw cinder blocks, they bomb homes and shops, they shoot Palestinians, they mock them in the streets with impunity. There are many incredibly militant settlers, who think they own ALL the land that Palestine occupies.
They not only buy land from the Israeli government, they buy land from Palestinians. They encroach on Palestinian land, one foot at time. They take away ages old grazing land for livestock, they bully Palestinians out of their homes and annex them into Israeli settlements.
Step by Step, they are methodically taking for themselves, what was once Palestinian land.
And they act with impunity, over and over again.
The Israeli government spins stories that are false, when Israeli’s are kidnapped and killed, they automatically blame Palestinian Terrorists and they repeat lies over and over, as if at some point, they believe their own lies.
For the most part, Men march and are imprisoned, leaving their wives and children to carry on the cause. So the women and children march, they scream, they throw rocks at the soldiers.
The soldiers shoot back with Gas, Rubber Bullets and Live Fire Ammunition.
Kids throw rocks, some never hitting their intended targets, and one can be sure that where a rock is thrown, a soldier is going to respond with mostly deadly consequences.
Amid all this strife and sorrow, our writer tells stories of some of the men he met and befriended. And these men are peaceful, and care about family and love.
One man in particular, Eid, a Muslim man, educated in the U.K , who comes from a large family, is idealistic. He is a mixture of Muslim faith and Buddhist practice and thought.
Eid believes in humanity and goodness, peace, and LOVE.
He builds replicas of Catepillar machinery that the Israeli’s use to demolish Palestinian Homes. Some have ended up in museums on display.
His brothers do not necessarily agree with his philosophy, but they allow his simple eccentricities, because they love him.
Love is a very strong thread that runs across all familial lines in Palestine. Brothers, Sisters, Husbands, Wives and Children are held close. Marchers mark arrests, they mark killings and they mark assassinations.
All I want you to know is this … Peace will never take root as long as this field of killing remains. The Israeli’s are guilty of many things. And they perpetuate stereotypes that damage the honor of human beings, just like themselves.
When Israelis speak the words, Kill Them First, what does the world at large make of this declaration?
Israel does what Israel does. World leaders look on and pledge 100% support for Israel. Ambassadors come to the region and make nice, trying to build some consensus on both parts to reach some kind of Peace, that goes no where.
As long as divisiveness and hatred remain, Peace will never come.
And where do Palestinians go when they all have been forced off their land and out of their homes? Their fathers, mothers, sons and daughters are beaten, imprisoned and killed ?
What do they have left ? Dignity should be something important.
HUMAN DIGNITY is so far from the consciousness of the Israeli oppression.
How can you kill the spirit of an entire people ?
You deny them Rights, you deny them Humanity and you deny them Dignity.
Ben’s book is a serious story of terrible circumstances for people who are shown NO Respect nor Dignity.
Is it a Political Statement ? Yes.
Is it an Indictment of Israel ? Absolutely.
What did I think of the book ? I felt, many emotions. Mostly ANGER.
I just don’t understand how we can treat each other with such disdain and deny basic human rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Wait, I know this isn’t the United States here, but come on.
Everybody should be able to live life freely, have liberty and be able to pursue happiness without having to constantly look over ones shoulder all the time, and stare down a soldiers rifle or machine gun.
And wait for that soldier to either shoot them or better yet, Kill Them.
Read This Book …
It has been an exciting week all around. “The Work” continues in serving our young men and women in many places. So it’s all good.
She Said My Name …
I call Baby Mama every day. And I have conversations with baby Lu Lu every day as well. She is growing up so fast. And in the past few weeks, she has amassed a number of words, she sings songs, because we sing her songs on the phone when we speak, and lately she has been singing along.
The other night, Lu Lu was in the bath, while Mama and I were talking, and Mama said to Lu Lu that she was talking to Jeremy … And for the first time in her young life, Lu Lu said my name for the first time. She’s been hearing it for over a year. She not only said my name, but she was singing to me in the bathtub … “Jeremy is in the bath, lalalalalala…”
It brought tears to my eyes.
It was a good weekend. We welcomed new men and women to our M.A. meeting on Saturday, and we set them with a plan of action, in addition to their rehab schedules. It was a good thing, some of our women came as well, because they all got hooked up.
This evening, we met at the church for the next phase of “The Work.” I’ve got a new sponsor, and SHE is taking me along with her in the Big Book Study, with another lady friend from the meeting.
The Big Book, never changes. Well, the first 164 pages that is. And we were reading “There is a Solution,” and the thought came to me that, I’ve been reading this book for fifteen years, that very same book, I read when I came in, and today I read with new insight the text that helped get those first 100 people sober in the 30’s and 40’s.
We are reminded that back then, they had no support for themselves, alcoholics, all they had, were each other. And for Bill and Bob, the only way they could keep what they had was to go “Out There” and find some down and out drunk and tell their stories.
Tonight, we talked about “Our Stories,” and how important each of our stories are.
Our Big Book Homework for this week is to read, Dr. Bob’s Nightmare, from the back of the book. But I used his story in the reading for the evening’s meeting.
After Dr.Bob heard Bill’s story, he had listened, but the next few days were telling. On his mind, was his ego, because the only thing he wanted to do, was to attend a professional meeting in Atlantic City, where he spent the bulk of his time there, DRUNK.
After that bender, June 10th 1935 … was the day he took his last drink.
Funny, that in the end, Bill Wilson, chose Dr. Bob’s sobriety date (June 10th 1935) to mark the beginning of the fellowship of A.A. Bill did not use his own date, but the date that marked the first time Bill carried the message to another suffering alcoholic.
I did not realize that until we talked about it tonight.
On any given day, while sitting in a meeting, you might say something that changes the life of someone sitting in that same meeting. You Just Never Know.
A friend of mine, who’s been in a few years, but hasn’t been around much, lately, showed up tonight, and I was like Holy Shit, Look who’s here. We share a friendship with Rafa, so while we were in the meeting, I cheated a little and texted Rafa while I was listening to the shares go round the room. So I could tell my friend that Rafa had said hello while we were sitting together.
After the meeting, he came up and asked me some questions, about The Work. I did not have his number, but I do tonight. And my friend is supposed to call me tomorrow.
Like the Long Horns say … “Hook Em !!!”
The book does say … “If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, THEN you are ready to take certain steps.”
These are the most important words coming out of How It Works.
Hit a meeting and listen to the reader, read this passage. We hear it at every meeting. Not many people, take the time and due diligence, in reading it, rather choosing to rifle through it like machine gun fire ….
Mind the pauses, the commas, and the periods. Love the reading, don’t rush through it.
More will be revealed.
Last night, our little neighborhood was inundated with Pokemon Go players, all night long. When Pokemon Go came to life, it did not roll out “all over the world” at once, but in stages “by location.” People had it downloaded into their phones well before the Canadian release date.
And last night, they went stark raving MAD …
Cabot Square, just up the block became a Poke-stop with a sighting of a RARE Pokemon, I forget what it was, I heard it on the news last night, in any case, a mob of players descended on the neighborhood, in their cars, on bicycles, and on foot.
Traffic was jammed in all directions, the neighbors called the cops to complain about the crowd and the associated noise that came with it. The cops stayed on scene for hours, making sure no one got killed or hurt in the crowd fun.
This afternoon, I walked up Tupper to check out La Catherine build progress, and ended up in the park, and there must have been over a hundred people sitting in the park, with their phones in hand, looking for Pokemon.
Aside from snark and people who have no idea or the inclination to play along, are skeptical of all this hype. But, honestly, it has brought communities out together, playing a common game “together.” They are peaceful and there have been NO reports of damage or injury as of tonight.
In the Forum building today, they opened a PokeStop with artists and charging stations for people to charge their phones. That was a lot of fun actually.
People need to see just how beautiful this end of downtown has become, from what it looked like long ago. Cabot Square was refurbished and that was intended to bring the people to the park all the time. That was the city’s main goal.
The weather has been HOT and HUMID. Lightening is flashing across the sky at this hour and we are expecting storms overnight, last night was the same. The city proper has escaped damaging rain and storm winds. But other areas outside the city were not so lucky.
Tonight we gathered for the Friday event. We are still pulling BIG numbers, for the summer season. Last week, I began another round of Steps “ALA New York City.”
There are three of us sitting on Sunday afternoons at the church, myself, a lady friend I know and our fearless leader, who is first generation in this series, working with 40 other folks sitting on Saturday afternoons on the East End.
As soon as first Gen’s start the work, they are turning around and taking others, Second Gen, along with them. The TAG LINE … HOW FREE DO YOU WANT TO BE ?
Thank God we don’t live in the U.S. because it is getting very nasty out there. I do, in fact, have registered to vote in November as a Democrat Abroad.
Earlier tonight, we heard Hillary’s response to last night’s acceptance Speech by Mr. Blow Hard.
More to come time for dinner.
HyperLink: Ezra Klein-Vox.com
I like Ezra Klein. He is a fantastic Reporter, Writer, Television Host. I trust what he writes and I wanted to share this with you. Do visit Vox.com for more on Ezra’s work. His, is a voice, one should take very seriously.
This may be the only time you ever see a photo of Trump on this blog. But it is necessary for this piece to keep the attached image that comes with the article. I am NOT a Republican. I have been a Liberal Democrat for years.
Updated by Ezra Klein on July 21, 2016, 1:20 p.m. ET
Tonight, Donald J. Trump will accept the Republican Party’s nomination for president of the United States. And I am, for the first time since I began covering American politics, genuinely afraid.
Donald Trump is not a man who should be president. This is not an ideological judgment. This is not something I would say about Mitt Romney or Marco Rubio. This is not a disagreement over Donald Trump’s tax plan or his climate policies. This is about Trump’s character, his temperament, his impulsiveness, his basic decency.
Back in February, I wrote that Trump is the most dangerous major candidate for president in memory. He pairs terrible ideas with an alarming temperament; he’s a racist, a sexist, and a demagogue, but he’s also a narcissist, a bully, and a dilettante. He lies so constantly and so fluently that it’s hard to know if he even realizes he’s lying. He delights in schoolyard taunts and luxuriates in backlash.
He has had plenty of time to prove me, and everyone else, wrong. But he hasn’t. He has not become more responsible or more sober, more decent or more generous, more considered or more informed, more careful or more kind. He has continued to retweet white supremacists, make racist comments, pick unnecessary fights, contradict himself on the stump, and show an almost gleeful disinterest in building a real campaign or learning about policy.
Here is what we know — truly know — about Trump. Here is why he should not be president.
Trump is vindictive. So far, the unifying theme of Trump’s convention is that the leader of the opposition party should be thrown in jail. Trump didn’t like the Washington Post’s coverage of his campaign, so he barred its reporters from his rallies and threatened to use the power of the presidency to bring an antitrust suit against the Post’s owner, Jeff Bezos.
He was upset that Ohio didn’t vote for him, so he sat its delegation in the cheap seats, even though the state is hosting the convention. He was angry about an interview his ex-ghostwriter gave to the New Yorker, so he sent his lawyers after him. He hates the protesters who interrupt his campaigns, so he said he would look into paying the legal fees of a supporter who sucker-punched one of them.
Imagine Donald Trump with the powers of the presidency. Imagine what he could do — what he would do — to those who crossed him.
Trump is a bigot. Donald Trump kicked off his campaign calling Mexican immigrants murderers and rapists. He responded to Ted Cruz’s surge in Iowa by calling for a ban on Muslim travel. He sought to discredit a US-born judge by saying his rulings were suspect because of his “Mexican heritage.” Trump’s campaign is certainly the first time in my memory that a sitting speaker of the House has had to describe something his party’s nominee said as “the textbook definition of a racist comment.”
This is not a man who should be put in charge of an increasingly diverse country that needs to find allies in an increasingly diverse world.
Trump is a sexist. Stories of Trump’s casual sexism abound, but during the campaign, it was women who questioned him who felt the full force of his misogyny. The first Republican debate, for instance, was hosted by Fox News and moderated by Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier, and Chris Wallace. Kelly wasn’t obviously tougher on Trump than her colleagues, but she was the antagonist he focused on, retweeting a follower who said she was “a bimbo” and saying she had “blood coming out of her … wherever.”
After Carly Fiorina challenged him in a debate, Trump said to Rolling Stone, “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” After Hillary Clinton needed to take a bathroom break during a debate, Trump told the crowd, “It’s too disgusting. Don’t say it, it’s disgusting.”
It’s not just during political campaigns that this side of Trump emerges. Trump once told his friend Philip Johnson that the secret to women was “[y]ou have to treat ’em like shit.”
Trump is a liar. Trump boasts constantly that he had the judgment and foresight to oppose the Iraq War. But he didn’t. On September 11, 2002, Trump was asked by Howard Stern whether he supported the invasion of Iraq. “Yeah, I guess so,” he replied. Trump has not sought to explain these comments or offer evidence of an alternative judgment he offered elsewhere. He just lies about this, and he does so often.
But that’s true for Trump across many issues. He says his health care plan will insure everyone, when it will do nothing of the kind. He says his tax plan raises taxes on the wealthy when it actually cuts them sharply. Trump has lied about his net worth, his reasons for not releasing his tax returns, and his charitable donations. He lies easily, fluently, shamelessly, constantly.
Trump is a narcissist. Trump’s towering self-regard worked for him as a real estate developer. His real business was licensing his name out for building, menswear, golf courses, steaks. A bit of a narcissism is necessary to become a global brand. But the trait is maladaptive in a presidential candidate.
The most recent example was the 28 minutes he spent talking about himself when he was supposed to be introducing Mike Pence, his vice presidential candidate, for the first time. The most grotesque example was when he responded to the deadliest mass shooting in American history by tweeting, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.”
Trump admires authoritarian dictators for their authoritarianism. When MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough asked Trump about his affection for Vladimir Putin, who “kills journalists, political opponents and invades countries,” Trump replied, “He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country.”
But it’s not just Putin. Trump has praised Saddam Hussein because “he killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn’t read them the rights.” He said “you’ve got to give [Kim Jong Un] credit. He goes in, he takes over, and he’s the boss. It’s incredible.” It’s not just that Trump admires these authoritarians; it’s that the thing he admires about them is their authoritarianism — their ability to dispense with niceties like a free press, due process, and political opposition.
Trump is a conspiracy theorist. Trump burst onto the scene as a leader of the absurd “birther” movement. He’s said that Bill Ayers is the real author of Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father, explained that the unemployment rate in America is really over 40 percent, and suggested that both Antonin Scalia and Vince Foster were murdered.
Trump is very, very gullible. This is related to his conspiracy theories, but Trump has a habit of believing and retweeting bad information that sounds good to him at the time.
This has led to, among other things, Trump retweeting false crime statistics, Trump retweeting Mussolini quotes from a Twitter account called Il Duce, Trump promoting a fake video claiming a protester who rushed his stage was sent by ISIS, and Trump endorsing a National Enquirer report suggesting Ted Cruz’s dad helped kill JFK. When pressed about these sundry embarrassments, Trump said, “All I know is what’s on the internet.”
That’s a reasonable response from your uncle who forwards you weird email chains, but not from a presidential candidate.
Trump doesn’t apologize, and his defensiveness escalates situations. On Monday night, it became very clear that Melania Trump’s 2016 convention speech had lifted two paragraphs from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech. The error was an embarrassment, but it could have been dispatched quickly by simply admitting fault and apologizing.
Instead, the Trump campaign turned it into a multi-day story and a character issue by denying anything had happened and blaming Hillary Clinton. This is “an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down,” said campaign chair Paul Manafort, in one of the most genuinely ridiculous comments in recent American history.
The campaign also tried to argue that Michelle Obama doesn’t own the English language, and that similar language was used by Twilight Sparkle, a My Little Pony (I’m serious). Finally, days later, the Trump campaign admitted there was plagiarism and blamed a miscommunication between Melania and her speechwriter.
1. Deny everything.
2. Blame Hillary Clinton.
3. Blame My Little Pony.
4. Deny everything.
5. Confess & apologize.
— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) July 20, 2016
A similar pattern played out when Trump tweeted an anti-Hillary meme that superimposed a Star of David atop a pile of money and accused Clinton of corruption. The image was obviously anti-Semitic, and the Trump campaign quickly took it down. But Trump himself went on a Twitter rampage, arguing that what was clearly a Star of David was actually just a sheriff’s star, or maybe just a regular old star, and that the campaign shouldn’t have removed the offending meme in the first place.
So far, these examples are farce, but as Tim Lee writes, this tendency in the Oval Office could lead to tragedy: “[Trump’s] behavior on the campaign trail suggests that he would be unlikely to admit mistakes and defuse tense situations. Instead, his first instinct would be to escalate every conflict in an effort to bully foreign adversaries into giving him his way. That might work in some cases. But in others — especially against powerful countries like China or Russia — the results could be disastrous.”
Trump surrounds himself with sycophants. It’s tradition for presidential candidates to release a note from their physician testifying to their fitness to fulfill the duties of the presidency. On December 14, Donald Trump submitted his entry to this quadrennial custom.
“If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,” Dr. Harold Bornstein writes. “His blood pressure, 110/65, and laboratory test results were astonishingly excellent. … His physical strength and stamina are extraordinary.”
This is … not how most doctor notes read. “Reached for comment regarding this, a spokesperson at the American Medical Association just giggled,” reported the Daily Beast.
There are many positions where one might accept a pliable crony. But “personal physician” should not be one of them. The fact that Trump would entrust his health to a doctor who would sign off on a note like this should terrify his family and friends. But more than that, it should disqualify him from the presidency.
Trump has proven too lazy to learn about policy. Trump didn’t know much about policy when the campaign started, and as far as anyone can tell, he hasn’t made any obvious effort to rectify that.
The latest and most damaging example is his interview with the New York Times, in which he said he would not automatically defend NATO countries against attack from Russia. It’s not obvious Trump meant to say that, or even knew what saying that meant, as Manafort immediately began denying Trump had ever said it. (The Times subsequently released a transcript showing that, yes, Trump had said it.)
But this is a pattern for Trump, who doesn’t bother to come up with convincing answers even to obvious questions, and definitely has not put in the time to develop a deep understanding of the issues he might face as president. As Matt Yglesias wrote, this is very much a choice Trump has made. “Trump is now the GOP nominee, and there are hundreds of professional Republican Party politicians and operatives around the country who would gladly help him become a sharper, better-informed candidate. It doesn’t happen because he can’t be bothered.”
Trump has run an incompetent campaign and convention. As brilliant as Trump has been in securing media attention for himself and channeling the anxieties of conservative voters, he hasn’t bothered to build a real campaign organization, and his convention has been a festival of unforced errors.
This is the context of Melania Trump’s plagiarism, of Ted Cruz’s anti-endorsement, of the night that was supposed to be about jobs and the economy but was actually about Benghazi and jailing Hillary Clinton. In isolation, these are gaffes, mistakes, bad luck. Together, though, they tell a damning story of organizational incompetence.
The most generous interpretation of this is that Trump is capable of running an effective organization, but he’s just not interested in conventions and field operations in the way he is interested in golf courses and condos. Others have certainly testified to the trouble Trump has focusing on tasks that don’t engage him. His former ghostwriter says, “He has no attention span.” Unfortunately, the president actually needs to focus on all kinds of dull and unpleasant tasks.
Trump is a bully. Trump won the Republican nomination by proving that even adults can be bullied with schoolyard taunts. There was “low-energy Jeb,” and “Little Marco,” and “Lyin’ Ted,” and now we’ve got “Crooked Hillary.” Trump made fun of Rand Paul’s looks and Chris Christie’s weight and Carly Fiorina’s face and a New York Times reporter’s physical disability.
It seems like this shouldn’t have to be said, but it’s better to be kind than cruel, and there’s a deep, instinctual cruelty in Trump — he finds people’s weak spots, their insecurities, and he exposes them in front of crowds.
Trump has regularly incited or justified violence among his supporters. At a rally in St. Louis, Donald Trump lamented that “nobody wants to hurt each other anymore.”
The topic was protesters, and Trump’s frustration was clear. “They’re being politically correct the way they take them out,” he sighed. “Protesters, they realize there are no consequences to protesting anymore. There used to be consequences. There are none anymore.”
Earlier in the campaign, two of Trump’s supporters attacked a homeless Mexican man and told the police, “Donald Trump was right — all these illegals need to be deported.” Trump’s response? “I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again.”
The simple fact of it is that Donald Trump should not be president of the United States. That is not because he is too conservative, as some Democrats would have it, or because he is not conservative enough, as many Republicans would have it. It’s because the presidency is a powerful job where mistakes can kill millions, and whoever holds it needs to take that power seriously and wield it responsibly. Trump has had ample opportunity to demonstrate his sense of seriousness and responsibility. He has failed.
It is said that the benefit of America’s long presidential campaigns is they offer the candidates time to show us who they really are. Trump has shown us who he really is. He is a person who should not be president. That he is being brought this close to the presidency — that he is one major mistake by Hillary Clinton away from winning it — should scare us all. It certainly scares me.
Mario Götze is leaving FC Bayern to rejoin his former club Borussia Dortmund, where he played between 2001 and 2013.
“The negotiations were very fair and serious. We’d like to thank Borussia Dortmund, Mario, his father as well as his agent for that,” said FC Bayern München AG chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. “I think the transfer is a good solution for all parties. FC Bayern thanks Mario Götze for three years wearing the Bayern shirt and wishes him all the best for the future.”
The 24-year-old Germany international’s contract with FCB was scheduled to expire on 30 June 2017. In his three seasons with FC Bayern he won the German championship three times (2014, 2015, 2016), the DFB Cup twice (2014, 2016), the FIFA Club World Cup (2013) and the UEFA Super Cup (2013).
Götze scored 22 goals in a total of 73 Bundesliga appearances for Germany’s record champions, with nine goals in 26 Champions League matches and four goals in 10 DFB Cup appearances.
Borussia Dortmund Confirm Signing of Mario Gotze From Bayern Munich
Borussia Dortmund have confirmed the signing of Mario Gotze from Bayern Munich, the 24-year-old returning to the club where he made his name just three years after leaving for the Allianz Arena.
In a statement on their official website, the Bundesliga side confirmed that Gotze will sign a four-year deal at the club, subject to an upcoming medical.
— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) July 21, 2016
Quoted in the statement, Gotze said: “When I transferred from Dortmund to Bayern in 2013, it was a conscious decision I made and I will not hide behind it. Three years later, and at 24 years old, I look with different eyes at my former decision. I can well understand that many fans could not understand my decision. I would not make the choice today!
“When I return to my home, I want to try to convince all people – especially those who do not receive me with open arms – by my performances. My aim is to play again my best football. For all of us, the club and the BVB fans.”
Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke also commented on the signing, saying: “I am personally very pleased that Mario has decided to Borussia Dortmund. Ever since his departure in 2013, I have always hoped that he will one day return to us.
— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) July 21, 2016
Sporting director Michael Zorc added: “Mario is a Dortmund player, one of the most creative midfielders in Europe and only 24 years old. He had multiple transfer options and made a conscious decision to return to his hometown club, which was not easy.”
With the flow of players between Bayern and Dortmund continuing apace this summer, Watzke added: “My thanks at this point go to Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. We have negotiated three transfers with Bayern in this transfer window. All our conversations were marked by great professionalism and mutual trust.”
Wow, it has been a while since I have sat down and written anything. Not that there isn’t anything to write about. It’s just, we have to be politically correct, and use the right words, and support the right groups, and be mindful of everybody out there, so as not to offend anyone’s sensibilities.
Terrible things have happened over the last week. Watching the world go to hell in a hand basket is rough. What kind of lunatic, drives a truck, down a road, packed with Bastille Day participants, on one of the most beautiful places on the Mediterranean?
I’ve read many articles over the past few days, and France is right in the middle of the cross hairs, and it seems that there are too many disenfranchised people in many different locations in France.
There are certain communities in France who are suffering a great deal, because many are disenfranchised, poor, immigrants, with no way round to upward mobility, and all it takes are the right words, to incite pent up anger and frustrations, into terrible consequences, on unsuspecting citizens, who, I am sure, live in fear for their lives, daily !
Then you have everybody else.
I can imagine what it feels like to not be able to go out in public, without having to constantly look over ones shoulders, and spend your time outdoors, learning where NOT to go, and what NOT to do, and having to judge your surroundings all the time.
Terrorism does not respect country, people or circumstance.
Terrorism IS a scourge on the world, and try as governments might, to collect useful intelligence, and keep the people safe from harm, terrorists are in their hovel neighborhoods, planning to blatantly kill people indiscriminately.
Canada might be an ocean away, but we have had our handful of events over the past two years, that tells us that even here, we are not immune. Social Media and the Internet has taken that safety away from the world at large.
We might be eternally connected to our I Pads, Phones and MP3 players, and it seem that nobody is paying attention, but we are. Our mayor ensures us our safety, here in Montreal, and that is all well and good, but I still find myself, surveying bus passengers, and being vigilant on the Metro and in the stations. Because it only takes one crazy person to ruin a good day.
Constant Vigilance is the phrase of the day right now.
If you see something, SAY SOMETHING.
Cop Killing has become a real sport lately. A very sad state of affairs, below the Northern Border. I was talking to a friend before the meeting and he said that the difference in gun laws between Canada and the U.S. are light years apart.
I’m not sure what Montreal would do, if crazed and angry citizens went out into the streets and began to kill cops here. That would be unheard of. And after Texas, three more cops are dead in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and several others are injured.
It seems that some in the U.S. are living in Biblical Times, running on the thought of
“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
It seems that a few believe that the only revenge for killing black men, is to kill white men in return. Because nobody is paying attention to “Black Lives Matter folks.”
So let’s all say it together … “BLACK LIVES MATTER ”
Now we got that out of the way, can we find a way to exact retribution in a more humane and civil way ? Not all cops are dirty rotten scoundrels, who want nothing better than to kill innocent citizens just because of the color of their skin.
And it is a hard sell when there are those who will KILL first and ask questions Later. It serves no purpose and turns all of law enforcement into targets for trigger happy citizens, who want to exact retribution directly on ANY law enforcement personnel. There are more than a few BAD APPLES in the BUCKET and that has tainted every Good Cop out there, who believe in Law and Order, Respect and Dignity.
Tempers are really running high and I fear that what is going on down south is only going to get worse, which could turn to anarchy in the streets, if they cannot move towards resolution and peace.
Changing gun laws, immediately, will not curb the killing in the streets. And the Gun Lobby will never allow real change to at least, calm trigger happy people.
There is so much bad blood circulating in the bodies of the general public that unless we can find a way to stop the violence, more bloodshed will take place.
I’m not sure who needs to be listening and doing something to stop the carnage, but in my observations, the men and women in government who need to do something to stop this, are safely ensconced in their crystal caves in Washington, impervious to what is going on around them, who are protected heavily, with total job security, and their will to do something RIGHT is not even a thought.
Because if they DID something RIGHT, they would piss off the wrong people, and they would loose valuable support and political protection.
The Government FOR the People and BY the people, does not exist.
And people do not have the ability to do anything political right now, until the next election, and in that spectrum, INSANITY is the rule of the day right now.
So what are they doing to make change ? They are marching in the streets, rioting and killing as indiscriminately as the cops are, so who is right and who is wrong ?
And how do we find the other side, and WHEN ?
What goes on in other countries, goes on here. So do not think we are not connected to the reality of world strife right now.
People have been gathering. Marching, Shouting and Protesting.
Black Lives Matter folks were in the park, up the block all day yesterday. People are gathering at foreign consulates paying respects to our counterparts overseas. Vigils continue day and night in Montreal.
We are very engaged with the world at large.
We need to find PEACE. We need to find SERENITY. We need to find a WAY OUT of this before things really get out of hand, and reach the tipping point into insurrection and anarchy.
That is all I got right now.
Canadian Holocaust survivor Nate Leipciger tells PM how he survived death camp
By Murray Brewster, for CBC News Posted: Jul 10, 2016 6:39 AM ETLast Updated: Jul 10, 2016 6:20 PM ET
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid an emotional visit on Sunday to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the former Nazi death camp, in southwestern Poland.
He was given a personal glimpse into one of the darkest chapters in human history through the recollections of a Holocaust survivor and his family. As they walked the dusty lanes of the former concentration portion of the camp, which is now a museum, Nate Leipciger recalled how some of his Nazi guards were brutal, yet occasionally capable of inexplicable acts of kindness.
It was a raw memory, impressions witnessed through the eyes of a young boy, but recounted by an old man. Leipciger was born in Chorzow, Poland, and was sent to Auschwitz as a teenager. He had been in the line for the gas chamber, but survived because his father negotiated with an SS guard to get him into the slave labour pool.
After the war, Leipciger immigrated to Canada, where he obtained an engineering degree and became a leader in the Jewish community in Toronto.
Locks of human hair
The hardest part for him, he told Trudeau, was looking at the display of hair shaved from the heads of victims, which is sealed behind a glass wall. He says he often wondered, in previous visits, whether there are locks belonging to his mother and sister among the carefully preserved piles.
Trudeau was deeply affected by what he saw and wiped away tears several times as he and Liepciger surveyed the massive ruins and shattered masonry that had once been gas chambers where millions met their deaths.
Trudeau made a point of asking to visit Auschwitz following the NATO summit in Warsaw.
When he wrote in the book of remembrance, his reflection seemed to speak as much to today as the horrors of the past.
“Tolerance is never sufficient,” Trudeau wrote, “Humanity must learn to love our differences.”
Trudeau writes of ‘capacity for evil’
He had to switch pens, at one point as he scratched out a longer message. The first one ran out ink.
Trudeau went on to write: “Today we bear witness to humanity’s capacity for deliberate cruelty and evil. May we ever remember this painful truth about ourselves and may it strengthen our commitment to never again to allow such darkness to prevail. We shall never forget.”
Some of Trudeau’s critics, who struggled to get the Liberal government to recognize the slaughter of religious minorities in Iraq as genocide, may take note of the inscription.
Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion did declare, in mid-June, that the atrocities committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria against the minority Yazidi people constituted genocide.
But the declaration only came after a United Nations statement, something critics said the government shouldn’t have waited to hear.
Liepciger says he believes the message he was trying to convey to Trudeau got through and he knows the two of them cried together.
It was a lesson for Trudeau, the new statesman, on the world stage.
“You must realize the dangers and you must confront them. You cannot ignore or write them off. You must face reality in the world we live today,” he said.
Canadian tourists at Auschwitz
The discreet visit took place amid groups of tourists, including Canadians, some of whom stopped when they recognized Trudeau.
How the horrors of the past can be repeated today was on the mind of a Toronto high school teacher, who watched the prime minister walk past.
“Unfortunately look at what’s going on another places in the world,” said Mel Stein, a high school teacher from Toronto whose father also survived the death camp. “It’s impressive that he came, but if any citizen of Canada should see this, it’s him.”
Trudeau was following in the footsteps of Jean Chrétien and Stephen Harper, who also visited Auschwitz during their terms as prime minister.
Afterward, Trudeau flew to Kyiv, where he’d expected on Monday to sign a free trade deal with Ukraine, an agreement that was initially struck by the former Conservative government.
The deal is expected to have a positive effect on the eastern European country’s gross domestic product and benefit mostly small and medium-sized businesses that want to get into the market, said an official with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
The group is also hoping it will help develop western standards of transparency in Ukraine’s economy.
“It’ll help speed up the reform process and the modernization and westernization of Ukraine’s economy,” said Orest Zakydalsky, a policy analyst with the congress.
In addition, Trudeau will hold talks with President Petro Poroshenko about Russia’s support of separatists in the east and the occupation of Crimea.
There is just so much WRONG going on in the world right now. The tragedy of trigger happy cops, killing more black men, is a scourge on our collective humanity.
The NRA says that Guns don’t Kill People, People kill People.
So on that front, nothing is going to change.
Then we have a disgruntled black man, with combat intelligence, and knows how to kill people, sets out to kill white officers, because white officers, don’t know how to act accordingly, when it comes to others. (read: Black Men)
I’ve been having an ongoing conversation with a man I met a couple of weeks ago. That conversation has been about GOD. With all of this killing and tragedy going on in the world, it is too easy to be angry, maddened, and resentful at God, for allowing all this to be going on, without stepping in and doing something about it.
I don’t believe that God has anything to do with men killing men, women and children. I believe when man decides he is going to create havoc and kill another, the notion of God, or the belief in God, is forgotten.
And for those who kill because their holy scripture calls for killing, or that certain killing is God divined, this is entirely misguided and bastardized faith.
Where is God, in all of this suffering ? I don’t have an answer for that.
Every Life Matters. Every Single Human Life Matters.
No matter your skin color, your religion, your race, or your creed.
It seems that somewhere along the line, man has forgotten about the sanctity of human life. Every life is sacred, and before a man ponders whether or not to kill another man, he really needs to STOP and THINK, before he pulls that trigger.
OBVIOUSLY, Men are not thinking.
I think that collectively, we all need to take a step back from tragedy, killing, rioting, and marching in the streets calling for vengeance in retribution for wrongs committed, and we need to be reminded why we are here and what we are supposed to be doing for each other and our fellow man, woman, and child.
Everybody just needs to take a few moments to just BREATHE ….
That is all I want to say about these things. Because nothing I have to say is going to make any difference, because I am here, and the world is out there. I can pledge solidarity all I want, but I know that what is going on is Not In My Back Yard … NIMBY.
**** **** ****
I spent a fair amount of money on books last week, because Canada Post in still in negotiations, fearing either a blanket LOCK OUT of employees, or a total strike and work stoppage, which is going to fuck up mail delivery for the next little while, until they sort themselves out.
Instead of relying on the Mail, coming or not, I shopped locally,hoping to find, here at home what I wanted online.
I’ve got three new books for you to consider:
The Way to the Spring, Life and Death in Palestine, Ben Ehrenriech
When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
All three books come recommended by the Indigo staff and web bots.
I’ve chosen to begin in Palestine. The subject of Israel, and Palestine, is fraught with complications, and a subject I never write about because of my lack of knowledge of the complexities that exist in a land, that is claimed by several “peoples” and has been a source of struggle for centuries.
I would rather spend my time reading and studying, then putting words out there, that aren’t backed by study and understanding.
So that is a thing …
I completed my read of “The Spirituality of Imperfection” by Ernest Kuntz. This little book has changed my life, and the life of my best friend, who read it before me, who embodies much of what this book teaches us.
Tonight, taking from Ernest’s book, we read a bit of Bill’s Story from the Big Book, and talked about God, as in “Why don’t you choose your own conception?” or God, “As we understood Him.”
We had a lively discussion, and everyone participated.
I’ve just been very grateful for one certain man in my life right now. The man, I know today, was the embodiment of all that is good in the world, and for me, became God incarnate in my life, and kept me alive, amid years of sickness and death.
If you want proof that there is a God, I am here, twenty two years later, I am still alive.
Over the past few days, I’ve had conversations about the world “out there” and the world, that people in recovery inhabit. And how, we as recovering people, work to navigate the “world out there” while working daily, in “the world we inhabit” in recovery.
The world “Out there” is constantly stuck in the grind of produce, produce, produce, and push, push, push. Gotta get MORE, MORE, MORE, as fast as we can, or else we might miss the opportunity to ATTAIN.
The Kill or be Killed and the Eat or be Eaten mentality.
We, on the other hand, work to maintain a spiritual connection to that which gives us life and sobriety, knowing that we get what we need on a need to have basis, on God’s time and not our own.
But hopes and dreams are good and necessary, because they keep us focused on certain goals, and in the “world out there” people need to get there as quick as possible, by any means necessary, even backstabbing their fellows, just to get the quick buck.
Life has taught me one thing about that …
I can hope and dream all I want. But it is the WORK to get there, that is the challenge. Knowing that whatever is going to come, is going to come when WE are prepared to receive it, and when the time is RIGHT.
God knows what we need, before we even speak it. And in my life, I know that, before I even want something particular, I need to do the WORK to get there.
Nothing in my life came on my time table. However, some things did come, but they did not come without specific challenges. Nothing comes that easily. Ever.
All these spiritual axioms did not come, until they came. When the time was right for me to be able to study and begin to apply these axioms in my life. The Spirituality of Imperfection came to me, from Rafa, at the right moment in my life, and it has shaped who I really want to be. That will take time and work on my part.
Life is a One Day at a Time proposal.
Teaching my guys to live on that principle is going to take work on all of our parts.
Remember that being good to one another is our jobs in this life.
A kind word or a kind gesture will make someone’s day.
There is too much death and destruction going on right now. And we need to work, every day, to pump as much good into the world as we can, as we are able.
July 4th 1994
It was a nice day. Josh and I prepared the house for company; we were hosting a “friendly” BBQ in Ft. Lauderdale. Alan and his hubby and other friends from the complex were coming, a veritable who’s who of my social circle back then. It was a great day. We cooked and ate at the picnic table out back – the drag queens in the adjacent area were entertaining, and the conversation was light and campy.
The day wore on into night, and fireworks were going to be shot off over Ft. Lauderdale beach. So we piled into the convertible and headed out for the five-minute drive across the bridge to the beach. Parking was a nightmare, but eventually we found a spot to sit in. I remember that things were happy and there were no worries; we were out celebrating the holiday. After the fireworks we came home and imbibed a great deal, and sat down to watch the new film out on video, “Philadelphia” with Tom Hanks. Little did I know how much life would…?
Imitate art that week?
I watched with a certain attention, as if saying to God, “I know what’s coming so please be gentle with me, because I am not sure I am ready to do this or die.” It had been a year since the first time I was tested at “Planned Parenthood” and that test came back negative.
The second test was done in a city hospital lab, and those results came back negative as well, but six months later we found out on the news that the lab had switched our (100 gay men’s) HIV tests with a retirement home lab list. It was freaky when 100 elderly folk got positive HIV tests back from the lab, OOOPS – someone made a HUGE mistake.
Anyway, that was that.
Around 8 o’clock I called my parents to wish them a Happy July 4th; there was another piece of information I needed to get across to them, and this was not going to be very easy, I had been feeling pretty sick since January, and checked 7 of the 9 symptoms off the list from “If these things are happening to you — you might have HIV” wallet card.
The conversation started light and airy, then all the air left my lungs and I could not breathe. And this is how it went
Pleasant conversation, then I dropped the bomb!
I have some news for you.
Yes, what would that be?
I’ve been feeling a lot sick lately and tomorrow I am going to see a doctor…
I could hear the wheels spinning in their heads. My mother had been working in Home Health Care for a number of years and she had seen what AIDS can do to a human being; couple that with what they were watching on TV and she was having worse case scenario visions in her head!!
They were watching “Philadelphia” at their house at the very moment I called. Suddenly my mother must have looked at the TV and she screamed. Yes, that’s right, I am sick, and I need to go get tested tomorrow, it’s time. My father was listening in on the extension, and I am sure he was beside himself; his fag son was sick and putting two and two together led to only one conclusion.
Josh was sitting in the living room while I had this conversation, he didn’t say a word. I had to prepare him for what was coming; Josh and I would never see the end of the week together. In the end, I would never see Josh again.
After a bout of hysterics, I told them that everything would be all right and I ended the phone call. That night I did not sleep at all, and Josh was all over the place. He was such a quiet and calm young man; we were both young then. We had only been dating for a couple of months by that point. Tomorrow’s test was just a formality; I knew already the answer I would get confirmed in a few days’ time. I did not tell any of my friends that night. Todd and Roy were in Province Town on holiday. But I would eventually call Todd.
Tuesday July 5th, 1994
I got up this morning, with one item on my list of things to do today, and Josh did not sleep all night and was restless and upset. I got him up and ready for work and I drove him to work, and then proceeded to the clinic where my friend Ken was working.
It was in a little “medical mall” type building. The offices were on the second floor of the suites. I parked the car, put up the top and sat in silence and I prayed. “If there is a God up there, please, whatever happens, I am not ready to die.”
I find it peculiar that certain prayers at certain times remain locked in my memory on certain days of my life. I locked the car and walked the fifty feet across the parking lot and went into the office, where I was asked to take a seat and wait. Do you know what it feels like to be told “hurry up and wait?” I just wanted to get this show on the road.
You see, where I worked, at the nightclub, Ken, my friend, was the nurse for the masses. He worked off hours at the free clinic, he donated time to events, and he did home visits and took care of all of our friends who are now dead, at that time, so he had seen a lot of friends die in the five years we lived in Ft. Lauderdale. He was a very emotional man, who wore his heart on his sleeve and I knew that.
This was a hard week for him; any new diagnosis is hard when you are such close friends and part of a dynamic community where everyone knows each other intimately. We had seen each other over the weekend at the bar; I worked all weekend long. He knew that I was sick; because he was the one I went to when things got dicey. I think he knew as I did, but I think we both wanted things to be different. Alas, they weren’t.
Ken was preparing himself to do what he had to do and keep a straight face and be strong in front of me, you know, be positive about things, and keep up appearances so that I would not crack under the pressure.
It was time. Ken came and got me and escorted me to the lab, and he did not look me in the eye the entire time I sat there, tears falling from his face. It was quick, and painless. Afterwards he sent me off into my day. I signed the papers and went for the door; Ken was right behind me. He walked me to my car, and stopped and he sobbed in my arms. I was relatively calm.
You see I was only 26 years old, and many of our friends had been gruesomely sick and died long drawn-out deaths. It was NOT pretty; many of my friends had KS, and cancer and some of my friends lost their minds and many of them died alone, because friends, lovers and family had thrown them out on the streets to die. Ken and I were people who cared for these people from the day they were diagnosed until the day they died. It was sad.
He said that he would call me in a few days and let me know when the tests come back…
And he tried to leave it at that.
I grabbed him and looked into his eyes and I told him,
“I know, and when you call I will know, just by the tone of your voice!”
He kissed me goodbye and I went on with my day.
I don’t remember what I did to pass the time until Josh got off work, but we tried to live normally and not get too upset over things. All I remember is that once the word went around that I had gone for the test, my friends started pulling away. It was the longest week of my life.
Friday July 8th 1994
the week passed by without incident. Thursday I waited impatiently for the phone to ring, and every time it did, I would jump through the roof. Alas, Thursday night I went to bed, knowing that tomorrow it would come.
I got up in the morning and drove Josh to work and returned to the house. It was around 11 am that the phone finally did ring. It was Ken. His voice was shaky on the phone, and all he said was “Jeremy, you need to come to the office, and you need to come now!” Then the line went dead. I got dressed and headed over to the clinic. I already knew the answer, but you never know, right? I parked the car, and said my prayers, and I rested for a moment.
I went up stairs and logged in at the reception desk. Ken was nowhere to be found. After a little while they escorted me into an examination room; it was blue in color, very sterile and cold. I sat down on the table and I waited. A few minutes later the doctor came in, file in hand. I guess he wanted to make sure I was prepared for this.
“Well, no better time than the present,” he said.
Let’s get this over with. “Jeremy, you have AIDS and that’s the bottom line. “
“You are going to die.”
The words rolled off his tongue with the flair and style of a practiced doctor. He sat with me for a few moments while I considered my fate. I think he was hoping that I would say something.
“Thank you for that information,” I replied.
He said that we would need to do a few tests to get started; those labs would show just how compromised my immune system was, and what the next course of action would be.
I did not know how bad things were, but I would soon find out. Back then, who knew from death or life? Drugs were hard to come by, and there surely was no system of treatment in place for me to go to.
He dismissed himself and said that when I was ready, I could leave.
So I gave him a five-minute lead on me, then I gathered up my soul and I walked out the exam room door and out to the car. I looked down from the second floor and Ken was sitting on the hood of my car, waiting for me. When I got down to my car, Ken stood up opened his arms and embraced me; he was sobbing. I stood there; I guess I was in shock. I stood there and held him, while the wave ran over both of us.
I guess I was not prepared to show my cards just yet. We talked for a little while and we set out a plan of action for the next week. I would return to this lab and get some baseline labs drawn to get a more total picture of my immune system and figure out how I was going to proceed. (That’s what eventually happened in the coming days.)
I drove home. I was relatively calm. It’s funny that I was totally prepared to stand up straight and tall and accept my fate, but watching my friends and coworkers and family crack up was very disturbing. People with AIDS were pariahs! You did not touch them, you did not hug them, and you surely did not want your neighbours or family members to know that you socialized with or employed someone who had AIDS, God forbid we infected someone you knew or even transmitted our disease to you by touch or breathing in the same space!
I got home, and I sat in my space and I tried to make some decisions. Who do I tell and when? I don’t remember what I did that day, but I kept myself busy. I called Todd and Roy, and they were on vacation. When Todd got the news, he was sad, and immediately he stepped up to the plate and became the man who would save my life.
That evening, Friday, I went to pick Josh up at work; I forgot to clear the tape deck in the car. The soundtrack to “Philadelphia” was still in there. It was around 5 o’clock when I picked him up; the sun was setting in front of us as we drove West towards the house. I tapped the tape into the deck, and it started to play…
I watched Josh convulse in the front seat, and throw up out the car door. He was hysterical. I did not have to say a word to him, but he knew. When we got home, he went into the bedroom, he packed his duffle bag, without a word, he looked at me, said goodbye, and walked out the door, got into his car, and drove away. That was the last time I saw him.
Crazy S.O.T.B. Redux
Cue the music – start the fog machine – blue light GOBO slow pans across the floor through dimly lit space, and the first beat comes…
I am alone, it is early, the bar is not yet open, but I am there alone. Just me, the music and the spirit of God. Well, what little spirit of God there was at that time of my life. It is mid-summer in Ft. Lauderdale. I have just told Todd that I was going to die…
Over the next few weeks, the teaching would begin. The team rose to the call, one of the boys was sick and was left on the side of the road with nothing but what little dignity was left in his soul. All I needed would be provided come hell or high water. Wild Horses would never stop the charge for life. We were all sick, we were all dying. Save for two people in the entire organization. My champions would save me, if I wanted it or not. Death was not an option and I would either get it or I would die…
So it began…