The Stranger Alongside Me

Stranger Beside Me cover

In 1974, a few months after I started working in the same doctor’s office that I wrote about in Little Women, I triaged a woman with a severe and painful case of shingles. As we talked she told me something as if she were desperate to unload a terrible secret. She had witnessed the aftermath of a murder and then been chased by a pickup truck, and was tailgated so closely she couldn’t see its license plate. I ushered the woman into an exam room so “Bernie,” the doctor I supported, could see her. Afterwards, he and I didn’t discuss the woman’s diagnosis, but I did tell him how I’d been pursued by a pickup just before coming to work with him.

Continue reading “The Stranger Alongside Me”

Otitis Tedia

Girl and Man photo image

At this point fluoride in drinking water (not to mention toothpaste) is so widespread that we might not remember a time when its use was controversial. I personally don’t think that adding it to our water supply is wise, but I won’t discuss that here. I’ll simply recall my own experience with fluoride in the 1960s as something to keep in mind. Continue reading “Otitis Tedia”

Sibling Cities in an Invisible Empire

KKK Letter

We’re all familiar with the Charlottesville chant from two years ago: Jews Will Not Replace Us.

It’s a perennial paradox. Torch-bearing worshippers of an almighty God who answers prayers with miracles, and devotion with salvation, at the same time have an inferiority complex as vast as their numbers. In 2014 the Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study reported that if the U.S. had a population of only 100 (adults) there would be two Jews, one Muslim, and 71 Christians. Verily: Jews will not replace Christians. But what might rightly rile these folks are two other Pew stats: 1) only 47 of those 71 nominal Christians are white and 2) as many young people identify as “unaffiliated” as they do “Protestant.” (Earlier I discussed how sex surveys of young people show that about 1 in 5 don’t ID as straight—about the same percentage as the unaffiliated total in the Pew poll.)

KKKpleton

When my wife Andrea Carney and I first moved to our Denver neighborhood in 2005, Andrea found it was named for a mayor who had profited politically from the prototype of what we saw in Charlottesville. We were heartened in 2015 when Black Lives Matter began an effort to change the name.

Town Center Sign
A Black Lives Matter 5280 banner is draped over our local town center sign in August 2015. The oblong Stapleton logo below the LED display no longer appears on the sign, an indication of how the name is being removed from public display, little by little.

In July of this year, we and our neighbors (property owners only, no renters) voted whether to retain the neighborhood name Stapleton, which we inherited from the former airport on which our plots are platted. (Our true legacy, of course, is from indigenous people, as explained here.) Continue reading “Sibling Cities in an Invisible Empire”

The Summer of Our Discontent

Paul Goodman Article image

The same edition of Gay & Lesbian Review that I touched on last time—its Stonewall Special—contains an essay by author and publisher John Lauritsen: “The Rise and Fall of the GLF.”1 I reread the piece last month.

Shortly after Stonewall in the summer of ’69 Lauritsen attended a meeting of gay people who were debating whether to align with the antiwar movement, with which John had been involved since 1965. He and the other radicals at the meeting carried the day and so the group eventually was dubbed Gay Liberation Front, a nod to the National Liberation Front—aka Viet Cong—of Vietnam. This is an example of the overlap I always saw as perfectly natural. As a kid I organized against the war in high school and did a book report on James Baldwin’s Another Country.2 Others might have preferred cubbyholes over connections. Continue reading “The Summer of Our Discontent”

Little Women

Graduating Class photo image

Comment by David Hughes: From the time I became aware of the Industrial Workers of the World, decades ago, I’ve called my wife Andrea Carney “the accidental Wobbly.” The Wobblies’ modus operandi is to organize on the job and call for what’s needed—if not take over the means of production entirely. Here’s the story of how Andrea did the former. It’s taken me months to get her to tell this story, and I’m so grateful that she has.

In 1973 my then-husband left his business to become a freelancer. We needed money so I decided to go back to work—at the Bullock’s department store in Sherman Oaks. Meanwhile I enrolled in a medical assistant training program at Los Angeles Valley College and received my certificate six months later. After a month of internship I looked for a job. Continue reading “Little Women”

Stonewall, the Great Gay Migration and the Monumental Divide

West Virginia Hero Shirt design image

Last Wednesday I watched a somewhat slimmed-down version of the new documentary Lavender Scare, based on the 2004 (!) book of the same name by David K. Johnson.1 In the film Meryl Streep’s narration explains how the influx of homosexuals from rural to urban regions began in the 1930s, the start of the Great Gay Migration.2

Washington was a boom town. The government was creating thousands of new jobs to combat the Great Depression. Many of the young men and women who came for those jobs were homosexuals. They grabbed the chance to experience a new level of acceptance and friendship in a big city far from home.

I was reminded of a recent essay, “Forget Stonewall,” in the May/June edition of The Gay & Lesbian Review, by Yasmin Nair who reminds readers that the source of that influx still exists. Continue reading “Stonewall, the Great Gay Migration and the Monumental Divide”

Atoms for Peace

Nuclear Power Plant Cooling Tower photo image

I hadn’t intended to post more than one or two entries per month here, but stuff keeps coming over the transom. Bear with me. This is a first look at the embrace of nuclear by environmentalists and climate scientists.

Back in November I sent my wife Andrea Carney yet another TED Talk. By chance I would catch parts of these talks on public radio during my drive home from meetings. If something interested me I’d pull up the talk on YouTube. Michael Shellenberger’s topic, “Why I changed my mind about nuclear power,” struck me because I’d recently tracked down a hazily-remembered segment regarding nuclear power from years ago on Democracy Now! that featured columnist and environmentalist (and near-vegan) George Monbiot (I kept spelling his name wrong).1 And I’d forgotten it was a debate—with anti-nuclear (weapons and power) champion Helen Caldicott, who was considered a 20th century hero.

In his March 30, 2011 debate with Caldicott, Monbiot expressed sympathy for the people of Fukushima, who had experienced an earthquake-caused tsunami as well as the ensuing nuclear power plant failure. But he hoped the disaster wouldn’t cause a global retreat from nuclear and a return to coal.

In China alone, last year, 2,300 people were killed in industrial accidents to do with coal mining; purely by coal mining accidents, 2,300 killed. That’s six people a day. That means that in one week, the official death toll from coal in China is greater than the official death toll from Chernobyl in 25 years.

Continue reading “Atoms for Peace”

Survives of the Rich and Famous

Robot photo image

Over the weekend my wife Andrea Carney told me that Greenland is experiencing another heatwave, not unlike in 2012. And as always the opinion of an expert, at an institution forty-five minutes away from me, brings the iconic island and its—our—challenge ever closer.

It reminds me of a topic I’ve intended to cover here.

Survivor: A Reality Competition

I once got burned, listening to and then watching a TED Talk by someone who claimed to be able to turn desert into meadow. So enthusiastic was I that I sent the talk to family and friends, only to be told by one friend, who had ranching experience, that the claim was preposterous.1 When I looked into it I found out my friend appeared to be right. So, caveat lector; I don’t think I could confirm or deny what follows as easily.

I came across an article online last October and made a note to write about it. Checking now, wouldn’t you know, the author did his own TED Talk in December. When reading the article, all I knew about Douglas Rushkoff was that he often is invited to speak at gatherings of—well, the conclave he discusses in the article was of “a hundred or so investment bankers.”2 I could have moved on at that point but his title and tagline were too intriguing: “Survival of the Richest. The wealthy are plotting to leave us behind.” Continue reading “Survives of the Rich and Famous”

I coulda been a bartendah!

Andrea Carney photo image

—with apologies to Marlon Brando

On the eve of PrideFest here in Denver I thought I’d reminisce by telling about a particular visit to a lesbian bar in the Los Angeles area.

I started hanging out with Judith1 in 1959 or 1960 when we both worked at a North Hollywood manufacturing plant, Borg-Warner, making electronics for aeronautics.2 One night she convinced me to go on a double date and I agreed. But I could tell that my guy wasn’t really into me; he seemed to be interested in her. And Judith’s guy wasn’t really into her, so we swapped partners. (The three of them had gone through school together and at some point the district allowed girls to wear pants. These same two boys—our dates—had been so angry at this change that on the day it went into effect they attended class in dresses.)

After a bad experience with a guy, Judith told me she was swearing off men and she’d occasionally invite me to go with her to lesbian bars. At the time, North Hollywood and Studio City were known for having several that catered to women and to men. Later she (and her son) and I got a two-bedroom apartment together in North Hollywood. Continue reading “I coulda been a bartendah!”