Tuesday, May 26, 2009

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

"It takes no compromising to give people their rights. It takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no survey to remove repressions." - Harvey Milk

I'm sad to write that I'm truly disappointed with my country on this day. This day, which started out so promisingly with the announcement that President Obama had selected a liberal Hispanic woman, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, to be the next US Supreme Court Justice was tainted by the damnable decision of the California State Supreme Court to uphold Proposition 8, which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman and thus denies legal recognition and protection to same sex unions.

I have to admit that I've missed living in a so-called "blue state" for the past couple of years. California, which I used to think was so much more liberal, so much more enlightened than some of the so-called "bible-belt" states has proven itself to be just as ignorant, just as conservative and perhaps even more hypocritical than the red states. The liberal west coast loves gays in the entertainment and fashion industry, just not enough to extend them the same rights as straights.

I found my own identity and consciousness as a bisexual woman around the same age as I found my identity as a Chicana and I've never had to think twice about defending the rights of my gay, lesbian and transgender friends to enjoy the same freedoms and protections I enjoyed. It's sad that even as President Obama makes one giant step forward and leads our country towards a brighter future (yes, I'll admit that I was wrong about him - he makes me proud and happy to eat my own words), narrow minded bigots beholden to the social conservative Neanderthal constituency insist on dragging us two steps backwards.

Shame on you, cowardly Justices of the California State Supreme Court. My fellow Californians, I urge you to take to the streets and let your voices be heard! In the words of Harvey Milk, hope will never be silent!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Belated Mother's Day Post

This snapshot is from one of the old photo albums that my mother saved. I'm guessing this photo was taken in late 1978 or early 1979. Michael Gira (later of Swans and Angels of Light), me and Rick Jaffe/Morrison (BPeople, Catholic Discipline) are sitting on the steps outside my parent's house on Ditman Avenue in East LA. We were all experimenting with new musical styles by this time as early punk was splintering into post punk, dance, noise and hardcore.

The reason I've chosen to post this photo is that it reminds me of my mother, who was always warm and hospitable to my friends when they came to visit and hang out with me. She's probably in the kitchen while we're posing for this photo, whipping up some bean and cheese burritos to feed my hungry friends. She never made anyone feel strange or unwelcome simply because they had crazy colored hair or wore clothing that was considered "weird" at that time.

I'm very grateful to my mother for being so supportive and caring. If I hadn't had her and my father's unconditional love, I'm not sure how my life would have turned out.

Happy Belated Mother's Day to all the loving mothers out there.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Keep On Trekkin'

OK, I'll admit it. I can't wait to see the new Star Trek movie being released tomorrow. I've been a fan of the adventures of the Starship Enterprise since I was a young girl and I've never quite gotten over my childhood crush on Mr. Spock. I mean, what sensitive young female could possibly resist that tormented half-vulcan, half-human psyche hidden behind an (almost) impenetrable mask of stoicism? The infallible use of logic in the midst of chaos, the one eyebrow raised to indicate bafflement or surprise, the pointy ears with the bowl haircut and the (swoon) tapered sideburns?

But the hottest crew member hands down was Lieutenant Uhura, who helped define what it meant to be a strong, sexy woman for young girls like me. She wasn't just a sex kitten; as the ship's communications officer, she was smart and in control and quite possibly one of the first true feminist role models on TV.

It's probably obvious to people of my generation, but Star Trek is arguably one of the most influential cultural touchstones of the past fifty years. Sure, there have been more critically acclaimed plays, books, films and television shows during that time, but I can't think of one that touched on issues of war and peace, racial and gender equality, good and evil, the merits of unbridled technological advancement, the very nature of reality and the universe like Star Trek did. Perhaps Twilight Zone but that series never had the staying power of Kirk and co.

So I'm looking forward to seeing the early stories of some of my favorite fictional characters. I'll take my daughter of course and I'll bet you that she falls in love with Spock by the time we leave the theatre.

Live long and prosper,


Sunday, May 03, 2009

Bring On The Heat

It’s been over a month since I’ve posted anything on my blog and it’s finally time for me to get back into the habit. Six months of almost daily writing while I was working on my Violence Girl stories really took a toll on me and I was very much looking forward to a nice long break upon finishing, so I guess you could say I treated myself to some time off for good behavior. In the meantime, I’ve kept myself busy with lots of baking and cooking, sewing an Elizabethan outfit for my daughter to wear to a school presentation and plenty of daily walks in the increasingly hot mornings and evenings.

It’s the time of year when Phoenix starts to heat up and the reptiles come out of hiding. So far I’ve seen rattlesnakes, a huge white lizard that scared the hell out of me and either a king snake or a coral snake; I was too busy screaming and hopping around to be able to tell the difference. It did have lots of yellow along with the red and black and I vaguely remember something about "Red and yellow, kill a fellow..." but all in all, I would say that I’ve adjusted well to desert life.

I’ve learned that a lot of the plants and animals living in the Sonoran Desert are naturally more dangerous than anything I grew up with in the city; they have to be tough just to survive in this arid environment. A couple of friends from LA, Colin and Jessee came out to scan some of my punk collection for the UCLA archives over the past few days. As we were walking through my neighborhood I told them about the jumping cholla, a type of cactus that is rumored to literally jump onto animals that get too close. They didn't believe me and insisted on seeing it so I walked them over to one, whereupon my friend Jessee went right up to it and called out to the cholla "Put up your dukes!" He bounced around a little like a prize cactus boxer but while he was looking the other way, the cholla bit him in the butt, attaching itself to his denim pants. The plant seemed to have launched two or three little cactus grenades at Jessee who made the mistake of trying to brush them away with his hand. He was visibly in pain.

"See, I told you," I grinned at him. Colin came over from where he'd been inspecting the other side of the cholla.

"Aww...I missed it, do it again!" he told Jessee.

"Fuck you, you try it, you wuss! Go on, you do it now, see if it bites you!" But Colin declined, pronouncing that he was now a firm believer in the legendary jumping cholla. The poor guy walked home with a bloody hand and liitle barbed spines sticking out of the tops of his fingers, pants and shoes. We all walked back to my house with Jessee holding his porcupine hand up like a spiny Edward Scissorhands. The patient required two shots of vodka before allowing us to removed the fish hook-like barbed spines from his fingers and from under his fingernails with a pair of pliers, "Count to three, OK? Just hold it... don't pull it yet!" he pleaded with me and Colin through red, watery eyes. We eventually got the nasty little pricks but we practically had to sit on him to get him to hold still.

Round One went to the cactus but Jessee cursed and promised he'd take revenge by peeing on it the next day. We advised him against it and the thought of a second attack from the Cholla on an even more sensitive part of his body was no doubt a strong deterrent.

The next day my city friends accompanied me on my dog walk again and as we walked on the opposite side of the street from the Jumping Cholla, Colin and I swore we could hear the cactus laughing and calling out to Jessee, "Why you walking on that side today?" So believe me when I say you should never, ever pick a fight with a jumping cholla cactus.

We are still in the process of editing and rewriting my autobiographical series, The True Life Adventures of Violence Girl. Several exciting developments have come out of my writing of Violence Girl but the most exciting and rewarding has been one that was completely unexpected. After almost thirty years of not speaking with my old friend Patricia, we are once again in regular email contact with each other. It took the process of writing about the breakup of the Bags to force me to examine my own motives and actions and to admit my own fault in the messy breakup. That led to our reconciliation, for which I am so very grateful. As difficult as I found the process of writing this book, every second of it was worth it because I have my old friend back.

Realizing that one can still change at age 50, that there is still time to learn from one’s mistakes - that’s the real reward of writing for me and so I’ll continue to blog on my Diary of a Bad Housewife.