Dear Target:

I am writing to inform you that you have lost my business as a customer because of your donation to MN Forward, a hateful GOP PAC which supports hateful candidates and ideology bent on squashing the human and civil rights of my fellow human beings. Just because a person is gay does not mean they do not deserve the exact same rights, freedoms, privileges and protections as the rest of us.

Target has always been a corporation who has been kinder than many toward their gay and lesbian employees. For you to now be the largest contributor to a disgustingly homophobic organization such as MN Forward, you have shown your true colours at last.

I have been a faithful customer of Target’s for many, many years. No more. You will not suppress the rights and freedoms of other human beings with my dime. My refusal to patronize your business may not mean anything to you, but there are a lot of people out there just like me who will refuse to do business with you as well, and together we will make an impact.

You and your support of such reprehensible, anti-gay, homophobic cretins will lose. Someday, gay people all over this country will have the right to be an equal human being in the eyes of the law of this land, even if people like you may never accept it.

You should be ashamed and disgusted with what you have done today. No amount of backpedaling will excuse you. The damage is done, and you are forever changed in my eyes and the eyes of millions of people all across this country.

I will leave you to do business with the kind of people you clearly prefer to be associated with: The Teabaggers, wingnuts, religious fundamentals and other scum of humanity whose sole purpose is to make the lives of anyone who is not exactly the same as they are as miserable as possible.

You will fail. You and your ilk shall not prevail, and I, for one, cannot wait to stand with my gay brothers and sisters when victory against people like you has been achieved at last. I will stand for humanity and equality and tolerance. To you I will leave the hate and the poison and the bitter gall of discrimination and suppression of rights and liberties. May you rot in the offal of your kind.

http://www.seattlepi.com/business/1310ap_us_corporate_donations_backlash.html

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Three weeks and counting!

Well, it’s three weeks to launch. The weekend of 14 May will be my last as a resident of Los Angeles at long last – for better or for worse. It’s the worse I’m worried about, but what will be will be. I can’t stay here, that’s for damned sure. I’ve been here about eight years too long already, and I am a hollow, horrible shell of the person I used to be because of it. I just wish I could have known Los Angeles without the drama, negativity and vampire-like, soul-draining psychoses I had to deal with in my home environment for all these years. I dont like the city of Los Angeles much, but it does have its good points and I wish I could have experienced the city without being a complete fucking basket case.

Ah, well.

At any rate, I am both dreading and looking forward to being home again. Dreading just because things are uncertain, and in my current state of mind “uncertain” is worse than a death sentence. But I’m looking forward to pretty much everything else, so things even out.

The packing is progressing. I’m in a state of mild panic because it’s three weeks to go and I’ve “got nothing done,” but if I remain consistent and get a little done every day things will work out nicely now that the library is finally packed up. I’ve got some hardcore OCD crap going on that is insisting things be packed “in order,” meaning all like kinds of things have to be in sequential order -all the art supplies have to be packed together and at the same time. All the toys and knickknacks have to be packed together and at the same time. And so forth.

No. Just no.

It’s taking a little effort to break out of that mindset, but it’s happening little by little – mostly because it has to.

So these are my final three weeks in Los Angeles, and I couldn’t be happier. There are some things I will miss, but nowhere near badly enough to remain. I am going home to my city, my state, to be with my friends who, for some reason I am unable to understand, love me enough to want me back.

It’s finally time to say New York, here I come. At long last, I’m going home.

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Bon appetit!

So last night I saw “Julie & Julia” for the first time, and I haven’t stopped watching it since.

I adore Julia Child. She has been one of my most favourite and inspirational people for just about forever. The movie is nothing so much as a joyous love letter to the woman she was, and I thought it was really well done. Meryl Streep was fantastic. I have read reviews that have indicated it’s not such a great movie if you’re not a big Julia Child fan already, but why you’d want to watch it if you weren’t is not something I’m sure I understand anyway. Unless, of course, youre someone who gets paid to watch movies you dont especially like and then write reviews from that curious standpoint.

I loved it. If you’re a fan of cooking, eating, and especially Julia Child, this is the film for you.

Anyway, by amazing coincidence I’d been wanting to make boeuf bourguignon for a couple weeks now – well before I saw the movie – and of course when I say “boeuf bourguignon” there is only one recipe I mean, and that’s Julia’s. Then I saw the movie yesterday and it lit a fire under me, so to speak, and left me with the insatiable desire to cook like a madwoman. It was nice to feel that way again – I hadn’t felt that in years. It came back to me like an old friend who has stayed away for far too long between visits.

I’ve been so busy with work I never got the chance to get to the grocery store, but today I was determined. When I got to the store, I decided to do the last big grocery shopping of my life as a resident of L.A., so I made it count. It’s going to be a very, very busy five weeks for me between now and 14 May, which is the weekend I begin the move back home to New York, and I’m going to treat myself as well as I can, and that means I’m going to do some cooking.

I came home and started the boeuf bourguignon immediately. Several hours later, tired but happy and not a little anxious because it’s been so long since I’ve made it and so long since I’ve cooked anything in general, I pulled the gorgeous thing out of the oven, strained and thickened the sauce, added it to the perfectly done meat and vegetables, and just stood and looked at it for a while. First time in probably 20 years I’ve made it, and it came out perfect. I had been strongly tempted to just say fuck it and use the Crockpot, but I was stubbornly determined to make the classic recipe instead specifically because I wanted to see if I could still manage all the steps and stages. I am obscenely pleased with myself for pulling it off so well. It’s nice to know Ive still got it.

I sampled the stew this evening to make sure it was right, but soon it will be cool enough to transfer to a Tuppy. It will spend the night getting acquainted with itself in the fridge and I will make a meal of it upon the morrow (and the morrow and the morrow), because it’s never as good on the first day as it is on the second or third or the fourth. Lovely crusty bread, fresh, buttered egg noodles, and crisp asparagus will round out the feast.

It was lots of work, lots of detail, and lots of cooking, but as always it was worth every minute of time and effort spent for one of my favourite dishes of all time. I have pictures. I’ll put ‘em up later, I think.

Thanks, Julia. Youre the best.

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Updated!

At long last, I’ve done the update of the blag software and plugins.

I still like the way the site is laid out, but soon the archives will disappear. I just want to make a couple of custom error pages so folks hitting any soon-to-be-dead links will have an easy way to get to a fresh starting point.

A fresh starting point – a new slate – is what I want, and this is a perfect time to do it. I can’t erase the past, but I dont have to live there, either. I’ve spent way too much time there already, and I have more behind than ahead now. I want to begin at least the attempt of not wasting so much of it anymore.

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Nobel Peace Prize, 2009: Barack Hussein Obama

Suffice to say that the announcement that President Barack Hussein Obama (it may be a touch pedantic of me, but man, I love saying “President Obama”) was the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize came as a surprise to everyone, including him. Obama even said himself that his winning the prize came as a total shock because he hasn’t really achieved anything yet. He said he understood the objections that arose to his being the recipient of the award, and that he would strive to live up to it and deserve it someday. He acknowledged the criticisms and showed that he himself agreed with many of them. His acceptance speech was handsomely stated and appropriately humble. As always, he said the right thing at the right time and pulled no punches.

This kind of thing is one of the many reasons I like Barack Obama as a person. I do. I’ve studied up on him and read a couple of his books and a lot of the things he does and the way he thinks of the world and of human beings and many of the things he believes strongly resonate with me.

Many people are claiming that Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize simply for not being George W. Bush. To be fair, it would be completely hypocritical to deny the truth of this, at least to some degree. However, this isn’t something that should reflect poorly on Obama, as many are implying it does because he “ain’t done nothin’ yet” and simply won it, as right-wing wit Erick Erickson from RedState.org expressed it, as an “affirmative action quota.”

As far as I’m concerned, such a lens is badly skewed. When you step back and rationally regard those two presidents, those two human beings, whatever part Obama’s not being George W. Bush played in the final decision by the Nobel committee in awarding the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize is not a denigration of the prize itself or an indictment of Obama but rather a devastating, profound statement on exactly how deep the incredible damage our 43rd president wreaked upon the entirety of humanity ran.

Are there other people who deserve the Nobel Peace Prize far more for what they are actually doing in the world? This is such an obvious truth that why it’s even brought up as an argument is beyond me. Of course there are. It’s probably safe to say that every single one of the candidates deserved the Nobel Peace Prize more than Obama did, if you look at it from the perspective of worthy action and not simply words and ideas.

That being said, I’m very proud of and happy for Barack Obama for his win. As my president and fellow countryman I am proud of the way he comports himself and of the many things he has done so far in his life of service and dedication to his fellow humans. I, for one, believe him when he says he will work to deserve the honour of winning the Nobel Peace Prize. I have no doubts that someday, he will deserve it for his deeds as well as for his words and ideas.

However, the main complaint regarding the Nobel panel’s decision is over the fact that they awarded the Peace Prize to someone who has not, by his own admission, achieved anything of substance yet. Detractors claim with some truth that traditionally it has usually been actions and not words that have merited the award, which comes not just with the honours of being a recipient in and of itself but with a substantial monetary prize that provides often badly-needed funds to recipients, most of whom put it to good use in furthering their specific cause.

So if we’re talking about action then I’d be a hypocrite myself if I didn’t agree that no, Barack Obama does not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. I have to admit that I’ll be far, far prouder and happier that Barack Obama is my president when he starts doing things, such as putting the public option for healthcare not just back on the table but reintroducing it as flatly nonnegotiable, and when he starts doing things like finally moving forward on various gay rights issues, making gay marriage legal, repealing DOMA and DADT and so forth.

Frankly, it’s astounding that he hasn’t done these things yet. I was and am willing to give him time and I recognize the immensity of the mess he voluntarily inherited, but it shouldn’t have taken this much time now for real action on such agendas as gay rights, and there are still no signs of his moving on it, either.

I’ll be a lot more satisfied when the bailout moves beyond Wall Street shrubs and hedges to Main Street roots and soil, when he starts helping people he knows for a fact are the ones in real life-and-death need of assistance. I want to see him start holding the leaders of big corporate accountable for the escalating abuses they perpetrate. I want to see an end to “too big to fail.”

I want to see him start reforming our government, rooting out corruption, holding elected officials who act like schoolyard thugs accountable for their reprehensible behaviour, and this includes forcing Bush 43 and Dick Cheney and their criminal cohorts to face justice. I don’t care what side of the aisle they’re on, I want to see corrupt politicians punished in meaningful ways. I’d like to see some real forward movement on the environmental front, ecological and conservation initiatives put into place to save our atmosphere, our water, our wild places. I could go on and on.

Barack Obama has already put some important legislation into play and made some important decisions, but not enough and he’s taking far too long to see the forest for the trees. People are hurting. Every aspect of life is hurting in this country for 99 percent of the living things who inhabit it.

So from the street level I have to say that big business can go bugger itself off a cliff for all I care and so can the Nobel Peace Prize – I want to see my president do what he promised he would do. I want to see him making the change I voted for. I want to see him start actually helping the country as a whole, not just big corporate.

I want the everyday, ordinary people to get some assistance, some help. The majority of his promises, some of which he could absolutely have kept by now, are one by one falling to the wayside. For most of the really big issues, yes, he needs a LOT more time. But for many of the smaller things, too much time has gone by for him to have not made changes by now. He has shown that in the face of strong opposition within his own government, he instantly, shockingly capitulates.

I still have great hopes in Barack Obama. I believe in him. Right now, though, he has displayed a marked lack of action and I’m starting to get worried about what the next round of elections will hold in store because of it, and all the ideals in the world will not change that without action being taken that will prevent it.

There’s still time for him to stand up and at long last accept the fact that this insanely marginalized and extremist GOP will never, ever, ever willingly work with him in any way. There is still time to move swiftly past them and actually get some things done with or without them, but he has to act now. He has to act. He has to do. He has to move.

However, I would argue that while yes, actions do speak much louder than words and words without eventual action mean little, it’s vitally important that we remember that it is frequently words and ideas that ultimately motivate people to action in the first place. Often, no action can occur without the right words being spoken at the right times.

The Nobel committee, in explaining their decision, said, “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.”

Let’s ask the glaring question: Why has this man been so ineffective in so many areas when he has in all the other aspects of his life achieved such impossible goals? Why now, when it is most important, does he seem to be falling down on the job? I don’t believe it’s because he doesn’t have the capacity and I don’t believe that he lied to achieve his goals. These are nonsensical notions. The man has literally spent his life in service to others. For him to make that radical an about-face flies in the face of every single fact about the guy. It’s the last thing I’d believe about him.

The reality is that really, the only significant character flaw Barack Obama possesses is that he’s so focused on equality and bipartisanship, that reasonableness and cooperation are so ingrained in him, he can’t seem to comprehend he will never achieve it or that some people really are completely immune to being decent human beings.

I will never forget what the world felt like between 4 November 2008 and 20 January 2009. The change in the air was profound. The change on the planet was profound. It was very, very similar to the way the world felt to me in the three or four days after the events of September 11, 2001 unfolded, but where that was the most somber and wretched of times, the period between the 2008 U.S. presidential election and the 2009 presidential inauguration was utterly joyous.

The way Barack Obama changed the world just by standing up, just by communicating with others, just by expressing his visions of the future of not just his own country but the world at large, is something I had never before experienced in my lifetime. I drank it in like I’d never drunk anything before. It’s a time and a living, pulsing passion whose end I never wanted to see; it was wrenchingly poignant because I knew it was inevitable that it would end far too soon.

For myself, I do think that actions are almost always more significant than words, but I also deeply believe that the right words, spoken at the right moments – the way Obama’s were – can literally shake the world. He did exactly that. The planet glowed with hope and people everywhere – everywhere - were united in the spirit of hope and peace and community.

His impact was vast and his words, those glorious words, resounded from the highest skyscrapers to the lowliest villages. That is a rare and wondrous and shining achievement, and other factors, whatever they may be, should not detract from our recognition of that, most especially since this is a genuinely good man. There are no atrocities to have to somehow look beyond, there is no guilt involved in having to temporarily turn a blind eye to monstrosities he has perpetrated, because these things do not exist. Barack Obama, whatever else he may be, is a good man, and he has dedicated his life to making the entire world a better place for everyone who lives in it.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since the prize was awarded and absorbing the world’s various reactions to it. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that it may actually be more important than anything else to make sure that we do, in fact, stop in our tracks and focus sharply and with great reverence on the moments like these which occur in human history precisely because they are so rare, because they do move the world so, because they do inspire people to strive to achieve those ideals, and because the promise and desire such moments hold are truly our only hope for survival as a species.

What makes Obama’s words so remarkable is that they enflamed the hearts of so many people from every conceivable walk of life, all of whom were revealed to hold deeply in themselves the same passions, the same desires, the same dreams: equality, peace, and freedom. This is what Barack Obama’s words achieved – a global, simultaneous insight that laid bare the fact that fundamentally, we’re really not so different after all. That we have to join together to defeat those who would keep and worsen the status quo.

We need to learn how to get along. We really, really do. This man? He’s all about that. That’s who he is. That’s the essence of his humanity. The fact that his tolerance, his willingness to cooperate and compromise, his inability to believe that people can be that inhumane and selfish and uncaring about the entire rest of the world are attributes widely considered to be his greatest failings as an effective politician doesn’t speak badly of him, but of everybody else.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee saw this, recognized this, and chose to celebrate him. After slowly grinding my own cerebral wheels for a while, I have to say that I agree with them. I am grateful for their acumen, especially since it’s apparent that much of the rest of the world lacks it, thereby proving that we have a long, long road ahead of us as a species.

For his words and his ideals and for generating a mighty resonance so palpable that you could taste it on your tongue, something so extraordinarily rarely felt on such a scale, Barack Obama is really the only choice for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize that makes sense. I can think of nobody else who has had the kind of impact he’s had during the same time period. Whether or not he can deliver these heartfelt, soul-fed passions to fruition is another thing entirely, but the principles, the ethics, the values, the integrity, the credo, the chorus – they must be recognized. Not to do so would be a monstrous disservice to the spirit of humanity as a whole.

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Anne Frank

The Anne Frank House has posted what is so far the only known moving images of Anne Frank, leaning out of the second-story window of her home in Amsterdam. Pretty spectacular find.

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Mary Travers ceases her fearless roar.

Thanks for giving me one of the best memories I have of my mother when I was very, very small.

This song is still unutterably sad to me. It was also the first real song I ever sang with my mom. I still remember hearing it when it was on the radio. I was about two. It’s one of my earliest, clearest memories, and one that I will probably have forever.

Say hi to her if you happen to see her, would you, Mary? You guys will probably wind up in the same neighborhood anyway. =)

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