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A creative blog by Jim Kalin on The Whole 9

Novelist Jim Kalin lives in Los Angeles, writes a monthly column for Amateur Wrestling News, and has traded in his speargun for a banjo. His wife and son sing harmony.

BAILIN’ PALIN

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

Never has that saying been more appropriate than yesterday, when President Sarah Palin stepped down from office after serving only thirteen months.

“I thought thirteen was a good number to quit at,” the 45th President told the press from the Oval Office. “You know, those stars on the first flag and all for the thirteen original founding fathers. It just seemed like a very American number.”

“The voters should have seen it coming,” said former President Barack Obama, whom Palin defeated in his reelection bid last year.

In 2008, Palin abandoned her post as Alaska’s governor, claiming that she needed more time to be with her family, however, two months after stepping down, she appeared in Southern California at The Reagan Library as a key speaker for the National Republican Women’s Convention. Palin’s reason yesterday for resigning as President was similar.

“I need more time to spend with my grandkids,” she told the press, referring to the four children who belong to Palin’s oldest daughter. “I mean, gosh, they need their grandmom.”

Palin gained national attention when she ran as John McCain’s Vice President candidate for the Republican ticket during the 2008 campaign. There was much doubt then as to her qualifications, and her supposed impotent intelligence was the butt of late night talk show jokes. But Palin silenced all doubters and brought the G.O.P. house down when greeting fellow Republican Joe Lieberman at their first debate for the 2012 ticket’s top spot.

“Can I call you Joe?” winked Palin, a reference to the exact thing she said four years earlier to Democrat V.P. candidate Joe Biden in their televised debate.

Palin was divorced two years ago and has been seen lately in the company of Joseph Plummer, a shrimp boat owner/operator out of Charleston, S.C. When she was not in the Oval Office the past thirteen months, she was usually with Plummer at a house on Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas that she bought after her divorce.

“We go out on Joe’s Boston Whaler,” Palin told the press. “And let me tell ya’, he can make one heckuva margarita. But we like to shoot hammerhead sharks with shotguns. They’re so dumb, you don’t feel too bad about killing them.”

Vice President Pat Buchanan will be sworn in as Palin’s replacement as soon as she returns from Green Turtle Cay.

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I don’t know whether to laugh or run for the hills. Of Russia, that is…

Scary.

POWDER BLUE

The blues. They’ve been pressing heavily on me these past two weeks, and although the death and funeral of Michael Jackson was indeed sad, that hasn’t been the source of my bruised and oozing mood.

I traveled with my wife and son to Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, then continued on to Charleston, S.C. If you’ve never been to Charleston, you’ve missed America’s grandest city.

The Tennessee leg of the trip was to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary and was attended by both my sisters and their families. There were fifteen of us in a giant three-story rented house in the hills above Gatlinburg.

Family gatherings have common traits. Grocery shopping for a clan of fifteen is difficult, especially when seven of them are children. The amount of Pop Tarts (blueberry with frosting, mainly) they went through was wondrous. There wasn’t a day where we made fewer than two trips to the grocery store.

We were guilty of ambitious starting times for tourist attractions and daily outings. The Tuckaleechee Caverns were a sight we’d all decided looked pretty interesting, so a departing time of 11 a.m. was agreed upon so we could get back with plenty of time to put a turkey in the oven. Noon passed and we were still loading the vans with baby gear and kids. We ordered barbecue at a local joint called Bennett’s that night for dinner.

My family is pretty generous, and paying tabs at restaurants became somewhat of a strategic game. Leaving the table for the bathroom with a secret stop at the servers’ stand worked at the beginning, but by the end, if you were going to have any success at picking up the tab, you had to phone in the request an hour before arriving.

I found that my sense of time shut down. I can wake up in the middle of the night at home and know exactly what time it is. We live in California, and Tennessee is three hours ahead, but even taking that into account, I was unable to guess within an hour of the actual time.

Of course we all ate and drank too much. My brother-in-law was diagnosed with diabetes since returning from the trip, and I suspect that the gallon bottle of pre-made margarita he and I charged through nightly couldn’t have helped.

My blues have faded somewhat since our return, and I sort of miss that lonesome yearning. Have you ever attended a family gathering where everyone lived under the same roof, and if so, what were some of the things you experienced?

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My family consists of parents, grandmother and brother, the last time we all cohabitated was many moons ago, definitely didn’t have the idyllic experience you describe-oh and come to think of it, now that my brother is married to one of the most annoying creatures on the planet, I avoid family gatherings at all cost. ALSO, if you move to South Carolina, and take away that adorable child and fabulous wife from all of us, I will never forgive you.

Only once has there been an event where we as a family shared a roof as adults. It went well enough, but there aren’t many of us. My sister has tales of sharing space with immediate as well as some extended family while evacuated from Hurricane Rita a couple years ago. Doesn’t sound like something I’d want to visit. Granted it was under different circumstances, but you’re a brave man!

I’m with you — bring on the family (albeit with a lot of booze) and stay away from politics and we should be able to have a grand time together!

THE END

This is the end, my only friend, the end… ~The Doors

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine… ~REM

In early March, asteroid 2009 DD45 came within 48,000 miles from earth. It was a close call, to say the least. Had this been a baseball game, nobody would have argued if the umpire had yelled ‘Steee-rike!!’

What I find difficult to believe is that we weren’t told of this until the very last minute. The media was informed that DD45 snuck in under the radar, but with the technology we now have, and the advanced tracking system for keeping tabs on these roaming islands in space, I don’t buy that it was a surprise visitor.

In 1908, an asteroid entered the atmosphere above Siberia and exploded overhead, leveling 800 square miles of forest. If this had occurred over a major city, we’d be out a good chunk of skyscraper and taxi drivers.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist exactly, but when common sense and solid evidence trump the outrageous, as in the ludicrous assertion that Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated J.F.K., I become interested. So, think about the repercussion if the planet had been told about DD45 months before its arrival, that this asteroid would be skipping by 200,000 miles closer than the moon is to us. There might have been mass pandemonium, and that would have had some impact on national economies and security. Why chance that? It was much easier — and safer — to just inform the world when the asteroid was literally on top of us.

On April 13, 2029, asteroid 99942 Apophis has a chance of colliding into the earth.
Apophis, a serpent god known as ‘the uncreator,’ dwelled in eternal darkness and was the
enemy of Ra. I find it interesting that the projected date is the 13th, and that the first
first three numerals in its identification number are 9’s. It seems worthy of a
Nostradamus prediction.

But what if we don’t make it that far? What if another asteroid hits us first? Worldwide
famine seems a good bet in Vegas. Experts predict that the commercial tuna supply will
disappear within five years, and other food sources are dwindling just as quickly.

I don’t want The End to be something as unspectacular as worldwide starvation or
climate change. I want that asteroid. Or give me an alien invasion. You know, Mayflower
Martians who we unsuspectingly welcome, then they take over. But unlike the
American Indians who helped the Europeans survive those first brutal years, we probably
will knock the aliens off before they get word back to their fellow explorers that there is a
beautiful new place waiting for settlement. We are capable of learning some lessons;
Columbus and his men should never have been allowed to leave the New World alive.

If The End is indeed imminent, how do you believe it will happen, or how would you
prefer to see the final chapter unfold?

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I don’t think the World will end as I would like it to. I think it’s going to be more collision than cascade…but I’m hoping that some alien-being will come along and sing, “Why don’cha come with me little girl, on a magic carpet ride?”

And as they sailed away, she saw everyone else floating alongside her…Peace to all.

The Aliens have Landed…………. and I am engrossed in SMALLVILLE. I believe in a Clark Kent from Krypton helping Us Keep pace with our insanities In SECRET. The super heros are @ work EVOlve…………….()()()()()()O)(o)oO0oooo iNG .US… ANd so I live On in the dual world of the imagination and HOPE………. that we humans do catch oN.. SOon

Is the World COming to an end? ALWAYS.*+**….

I’m with you guys..all about the aliens. Remember ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’? There’s also ‘When Worlds Collide’…not so much aliens, more a passing planet they can take a rocketfull of selected folk. I have always been fascinated by the possibility of demise on a global scale….maybe we all are.

I’ve been subscribing to http://www.spaceweather.com for the past 5 years. Not so much because I fear Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs) but because I enjoy the excitement of their presence in our not very distant atmosphere.

Personally, I believe that humans will totally wreck this planet before an asteroid or an alien fleet gets the chance to. We are the most suicidal, homicidal and -well-”earthicidal” critters ever known to infest a carbon-laden celestial body. We’re not very nice to each other – or to any other living things- in either intention or behavior.

If God is watching from on high, he’s either like a mischievous kid, gleefully pulling the wings off of flies (that’s us) or a bitter old man, knowing that his own days are numbered, so he feels, ” why not take the whole goddamed world down with me!.”

“…and do I love the human race? No, not much.” The planet is just fine, it’s the hominid cretins who have bullied and poisoned it into cancerous submission that I resent. Thanks for askin’.

in the END
i hope there is a party with balloons

DIVE HIGH

I once chased a lunatic out of the bar with an ax handle that we kept beneath the cash register. He had wandered in, twitching, snarling, and then sat on a barstool and growled that he wanted a drink. I refused to serve him, and with lip-jerk and drool, he swore he’d kill me. By that point, everyone at the bar, and those sitting at the booths, had gone tornado quiet. The lunatic was frightening, not only because he was big, but because he probably was sincere in his threat.

What excitement!

Dive bars are like the Old West; lots and lots of downtime between moments of high drama. It wasn’t all gunfight and barroom brawl in the days of the cowboy and cattle drive, and with today’s dive bars, the general lack of drama is also the norm.

The constant that I find interesting at work are the patrons. Each is unique amongst the specific lounge that he frequents, yet his counterpart exists in every dive bar. Some are loveable, and some aren’t, but they all contribute to the rent and the location’s flavor.

The Nurse: This customer can make a drink last all night. They’ll nurse a cocktail for hours, and whenever it gets down past the halfway mark, will ask for more ice and mix. Sometimes they can’t afford another, and some just have a low tolerance to alcohol. If the Nurse is a woman, she might wait around for hours until someone rolls along to buy her another drink.

Mr. Mystery: This character reveals very little about himself because he believes that zero disclosure renders him exciting. He drops irrelevant clues that are meant to make him appear mysterious. He might allude to fellow spies that he knows, or ask if you’ve ever killed anyone. When you answer ‘no,’ then ask him the same question, he’ll just shrug and sip his beer. It usually turns out that he is a telemarketer.

Liar Liar: Like Mr. Mystery, this customer wants others to find him exciting and interesting. He just goes about it differently. He usually reveals way too much about himself, and his stories begin to contradict each other. Liar Liar drops names. He will insist that he flew with Neil Armstrong on an Apollo mission, then a week later tell how he won the Congressional Medal of Honor in Viet Nam by saving Chesty Puller’s life. Liar Liar and Mr. Mystery can not stand each other and will sit at opposite ends of the bar.

The Ex-bartender: He always offers to ‘help’ if you ever need it. He’ll clear dirty glasses from tables and offer to come behind the bar and wash them. He brags about crowds he drew wherever he tended bar. The Ex-bartender will criticize the way the present bartender works. He is absolutely someone you’d never want behind your bar because he’d drink the profits then steal whatever is in the cash register.

The Joker: This customer always has fresh jokes. He can go for an hour and tell new jokes the entire time. He likes an audience and usually buys a round for those listening to him. The Joker will tell racist jokes, but does not consider himself a racist. Many times he’s not. The problem here is that I can rarely remember any of the jokes he tells.

The Mixologist: This person requests obscure drinks. The cocktails have long, ridiculous names like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea or Steven Tyler’s House Slippers, and when asked what the ingredients are, it usually is something simple, like a screwdriver with a lime garnish. These drinks are absolutely concocted at home by the Mixologist with the belief that if they go to enough bars throughout the country and request their own creation, the cocktail will eventually turn up in some bartenders’ guide. They don’t realize that nobody receives residuals or commissions on a drink they create.

Mr. Big Tip: He always leaves way too much money. Sometimes his intentions are good. He has worked in the business and just knows what a grind it is. But there is also the big tipper who feels that because he has laid out more gratuity than anyone else, he can hound the bartender regarding jukebox volume or what’s playing on the televisions. He is generally the loudest person in the bar. Big tip can sometimes mean big mouth.

Mr. No Tip: These characters are usually not regulars. They tend to fold their money so they can scoot away before the bartender unfolds it and sees that it is the exact amount. When they order a drink, they specify that they want a strong Jack and Coke, or a stiff gin and tonic. They don’t order a double because they don’t want to pay extra. When I hear ‘make it strong,’ you can be sure they’ll be plenty of mix in the drink.

So, these are just a few of the characters found in dive bars. Most patrons are very normal. Quiet. Friendly. Decent. I have one regular who tattooed our bar’s name on his bicep. When I saw it, I told him we were thinking of changing the bar’s name.

Tell me about the most interesting character you’ve ever come across while diving.

Cap\'n Vik\'s Tattoo

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I grew up in a neighborhood where there were four bars on every corner except mine. The reason that there were only three on my corner, as the story was told, was the fact that the fourth one was burned to the ground by an angry mob with torches and farm implements. Seemed like the owner made a pass at a woman who came in regularly to drink and get some 2:00 AM lightning in her life. That was nothing new but it just so happened that the woman was the wife of the local jamoke with a family of thousands who took umbrage to the fact that it was the owner and not a customer who planted his wife that night. They said he had an unfair advantage because he poured the drinks!

So, the outraged hubby and about seventy-five cousins, uncles and a few aunts came around sometime between closing and opening, and let me tell you, in that neighborhood, that was a short window of opportunity, and torched the place.

I miss all the great people who used to hang out there like Shaky Bill who earned his name by his appearance before seven AM first drink. You never asked Shaky to light your cigarette before he had his first drink. He might’ve set you or himself on fire.

Then there was Off-the-Wall Paul. Now there was somebody you didn’t want to mess with. He always had a smile pasted to his face, especially when he was sitting stropping his razor. He always nodded his head to me when I came in the door, up and down, up and down. I wasn’t sure if he was being friendly or measuring me for a coffin.

Then there was “The Girls.” Well, that is an euphemism. These two were girls about the same time my Mother was – back before women got the right to vote. They talked trash to all the guys but would’ve required serious operating machinery to get out of their girdles. Everybody loved them but I don’t know anyone who would admit to having anything more private than a hug with them.

Finally there was Pop-Pop. He drank his liquor straight up and woe to the person who ordered one of those fussy drinks with fruit, flowers or even an olive in it. He’d call him things that would get me kicked out of Whole Nine if I repeated them. Pop-Pop stood about 5′5″ and weighed ninety-eight pounds if he had an anvil in his pocket but don’t get in his face if you wanted to walk out that night and whatever you do, don’t ask him what time it is. He has a thing about time and once I saw him turn a guy’s lights out with one punch because the guy dared to ask him the time. I learned that he wasn’t called Pop-Pop because he was a grandfather. He wasn’t even married. When he hit a guy, you could hear it: Pop Pop and it was over.

Back in the day … No wonder I became a writer. I can’t fight to save my life.

Lollipops and unicorns

this needs to be longer.

catherinedaly

Oh I enjoyed reading this…I can’t believe someone actually tattoed the bar’s name on his bicep…I’m dying..
We use to frequent a neighborhood bar called “Montys” in my hometown…My mother was constantly berating me, “Lolly ladies don’t go to bars”…and my reply was “GROUPS”…we would go there every night…and I always remember the lady behind the bar singing ever so lightly – Last Call For Alcohol…those were the days!

Holy Cow…awesome. Brought back some potent memories. The drunk guy who swore I was a cop, wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer so I played along. Or the Hungarian drag queen…or the sad, homeless Irish kid. The most intriguing had to be the little old lady (seriously) who could roll a joint faster than anyone I had ever seen. I can appreciate the talent though I’m not a smoker myself. MANY years ago…I wonder where she is now….hope not in jail.

HIGH DIVE


I tend bar. I’ve done this on and off for about thirty years. My first job as a bartender was in Columbus, Ohio at a punk bar called Mean Mr. Mustard’s, but I’ve also worked the wells in Florida, South Carolina, and California. Most of my jobs have been at dive bars.

I’ve made some money at writing. I have a published novel titled One Worm that Russian Hill Press in San Francisco put out. I paid for half of a new Honda with that money. I rewrote a kids’ movie about soccer called Home Team that was released in Canada. I had to sue the producers for my money, and I insisted they remove my name from the credits. Don’t ever rent it.

I took up banjo late in life and have made more money at that than at writing. My biggest payday came when the band I play in opened for the Bellamy Brothers this Fall in Aspen. The Bellamy Brothers had several chart-toppers in the eighties, and their mega-hit was Let Your Love Flow, which they opened and closed their show with.

I now have small percentages in two Los Angeles bars. The dividends from those places might put a new roof on our house. But I am a bartender. That’s what pays the bills. It’s given me an expertise, however, and I was interviewed recently by an online magazine that wanted to know what makes a great dive bar. Here are a few of the things I told them.

1.    No mirrors in the bathrooms. We want customers who drink, not primp.
2.    A great jukebox with both accessible and underground cd’s. And no greatest hits! If the place doesn’t have either Let It Bleed or Get Yer YaYa’s Out, it ain’t divin’.
3.    No energy drinks. Whenever someone asks me if I carry energy dinks, I tell them I have the original one; Coke.
4.    No blenders, and we don’t make anything you can’t see through.
5.    Reasonable prices. If you can’t get two drinks for $10, you’re not in a dive bar.
6.    Year-round Christmas lights decorate the ceilings, either because the bartenders are too lazy to take them down, or they just need the light.
7.    No uniforms on the bartenders.
8.    Very few windows in the place. The sun is not a welcome customer.
9.    A limited beer selection, and if there are more than two beers on tap, go somewhere else.
10.    Offer chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon. If the customer requests a wine list, we tell them Napa Valley is only seven hours away by car.
11.    Have a great Bloody Mary mix. The regulars will depend upon it. This could save lives.
12.    No dress code.
13.    No flat screen televisions, and especially directly behind the bar. That ends customer conversation at the bar.
14.    Dive bars have their own matchbooks with great logos.
15.    No dishwasher behind the bar. Three sinks are sufficient, and like blenders, the noise a dishwasher makes is just plain disruptive.
16.    The bartenders must be friendly, but with a dose of surliness. They aren’t necessarily required to remember your name, but they absolutely must know what you drink.
17.    And remember, in a dive bar, the customer is always wrong!

What elements do you think make a great dive bar?

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good tippers- i’ve worked the wells too, and know it makes the night better for everyone.

There’s got to be at least one guy slouched over the back corner of the bar, staring into his drink like it’s a magic 8 ball and it can help him ascertain his future.

A dark and semi private corner for heavy necking and moderate petting. A foot rail under the bar. A shuffleboard. Darts. Real darts, not that electronic stuff. Adequate ventilation – a dive doesn’t have to smell like a morgue. Large mirrors behind the bar are better than shelves of bottles: they facilitate down-the-bar eye-to-eye. Part of me likes the frames full of cut out pictures of favorite locals. A small part. A very small part. The rest of me hates them altogether. Enough barkeeps – nothing worse then a single slacker overwhelmed during the rush. I don’t care what kind of bar it is – have a working door on the crapper. Well placed speakers keeps sound even, not blasting from one location. And please, have a back door.

Having spent my misanthropic youth in dive bars in the river wards of Philly, I got a thrill and chill reading your list. I’d add to it a few additional elements.

* Sitting upon the furthest stool from the light is a guy of indeterminate age who is called “Yo!” He drinks shots and beers without ever uttering a word. When he needs service, he tips his head a few degrees north and the bartender refills his glasses. He wears a Baseball cap from a long-past era and a loose-fitting sweat shirt with raggedy sleeves. Don’t ask him the time. Those would most likely be your last words.

* There’s always a lady whose best days are far behind her but whom everybody loves and respects. She hasn’t paid for a drink since before prohibition.

* Three guys fresh from slinging cargo on the docks sit together and speak in a language that probably even they don’t understand but they are friendly to everyone and buy drinks for anyone who says “Hi!” to them.

Then there’s two guys or a guy and a gal at the booth in the back talking theater, politics and the decline of Western civilization. One of them is me.

Lollipops and uncorns.

Jim, I think everyone’s suggestions make for a good Part II of this blog, “All of the Colorful Barflies I’ve Met in my Day.” Some would be surprised at the famous names, some wouldn’t be the least surprised. Oh, if you’d only consider writing a tell-all book!

SEMPER FI

My godson Thomas joined the Marines several years ago. His father Tom, who happens to be a very close friend of mine, is a Republican, deep-fried in the lard of Rush Limbaugh and pickled in the bitter vinegar of Sean Hannity. I’m beyond Democrat and could be considered a Liberal with a pitchfork.

My godson has spent the past year in Hawaii. The base had a golf course that overlooked the Pacific Ocean, and he and his fellow Marines spent evenings drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon in town. He has been lucky with his assignments. Until now. Thomas will soon be heading to Afghanistan.

I don’t want him to go. His father feels the same. Yet I believe that our young people in the armed forces are dying in the Middle East because of policies and issues supported by my friend Tom and his fellow Republicans. I don’t care what anyone says or how Conservative radio hosts spin it; wars are propagated and inflamed by the rich. The reasons are concoction, sold to and bought by the masses. The correct war would be a march down Wall Street, the middle class armed with torches and pitchforks, and the only choice given to the criminal fat cats being to jump out the window or get prodded out.

But politics don’t matter so much to me these days. I used to be angry about Tom’s Republican ways. Now I just feel sorry for everyone.

We’re in a world of trouble. All of us.

Be safe, Thomas.

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I’m sending good thoughts to your godson, and all those sons and cousins and brothers just like him. If anything is to be gleaned from this last wave of blind “patriotism” perhaps there are more of his generation who understand that those who sent him to war (many who never served a day themselves, a la Cheney) did so without one single molecule of dignity and true love for their country…they did so for profit and personal gain. What were those “brave” words Buh uttered…oh yeah, “I’m a wartime President”..

May he (Thomas) return safely, soundly, more matured in a healthy way, and may he share his experiences without the toxic mind control matter that those above him would have him do so.

LUXURIOUS INTERIOR

I’m proud of my life
But don’t ask me why
-Lux Interior in ‘Primitive’

Lux Interior, vocalist of The Cramps, died at 4:30 am on February 4 of an existing heart condition. And it’s fitting that the Mad Daddy went precisely at a time that if anyone asked “what were you doing when Lux Interior died?” the answer would be a unanimous SLEEPING!

Lux was a creature of the night. He sang about it. Wallowed in it. Slathered the thing all over his body. He was corpse-twitch, a combination Bride of Frankenstein and Iggy Pop. When Lux sashayed, bolts clanked and worms moaned.

I snatched a strand of pearls from Lux Interior’s neck in the mid 1980’s in Cleveland while he was leaning from the stage far out over us devotees in the slam-pit. I turned it over to my sister for her birthday. She always claimed that they were cold as death when she put them on. That would seem right, being that they originally belonged to Lux.

Los Angeles writer and legend Jim Krusoe never saw The Cramps perform live, but upon hearing of Lux’s death, he logged onto YouTube and viewed the Napa Mental Hospital footage.  “That is one of the most transcendentally joyous and generous concerts I’ve ever witnessed,” wrote Krusoe.

Indeed.

The first time I ever saw The Cramps was in 1979 in Columbus, Ohio at a bar called Crazy Mama’s. They had just released their first recording and were touring small venues. Lux ended the show bleeding and naked.

If you never got to see The Cramps perform, you sure missed out. Nobody raged onstage like Lux. He gyrated nonstop and jerked like a man on the toxic end of a noose. His voice was cattle prod and his demeanor werewolf.

In The Human Fly, Lux sang “I have 96 tears and 96 eyes.” Unfortunately for us, he only had one heart.

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EL CRY-OTE

My seven-month old son, Kyd, knows a kitchen staff at El Coyote Mexican restaurant that I have never seen. We always sit on the patio, and if our favorite waitress, Rosio, is working, she scoops Kyd up and zooms away on a tour of the place that always includes the bar, front desk, and ultimately the kitchen. He is always returned to my wife and me smiling.

Lately, El Coyote has been having some lean days. The staggered economy is part of the problem, but they have also been victim of a witch hunt.

Apparently, the owners’ niece is a Mormon, and a donation was made to that church by them on her behalf. It was an innocent and generous gesture with no intention of making a political or moral statement. But the gay community, stirred up by the passing of Proposition 8, has boycotted the restaurant because the Mormon Church was the main proponent of the issue.

I understand the gay community’s anger. I voted against the proposition and was disappointed when it passed. Anybody who believes that the institute of marriage will be ruined if gays are extended that privilege should have their heads examined. And if these dullards are so concerned with preserving marriage, make divorce illegal. I would think that by including homosexuals, the number of marriages increases, and if a membership flourishes, doesn’t that denote success?

But this boycotting of El Coyote disturbs me. It’s definitely a show of post-election anger and misunderstood protest. If you’ve ever been inside El Coyote, it’s obvious that the owners hire a healthy percentage of gay employees.

This is what I believe; the gay community is furious about Proposition 8, and El Coyote has been a victim of their witch-hunt. But they are too late. Why weren’t these major marches and protests done before the election? And if the gay community feels cheated and wants the results overturned in the courts, what happens when a vote goes their way?

Homosexuals have been victimized and ostracized forever. They know unfairness firsthand, and exclusion of basic rights is a relentless shadow. But they must be careful not to repeat the injustices that have been visited upon their community. They are better than their opponents. They must organize sooner the next time against them.

And El Coyote is not one of these opponents. 


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You know, my partner and I were just discussing this not too long ago. The gay community didn’t “organize earlier” because we, like so many other Americans became fat, happy, complacent, self-absorbed, distracted, and/or disconnected … That’s right. I said it.

Why is it that more often than not, we are REactive as opposed to PROactive? Why is it that there is an organized connectivity within our community only AFTER something goes wrong OR in the name of annual tradition (i.e. PRIDE, Black History Month)? If this is the only time you come crawling off your couch and out into the streets to give back to the community, stand for something, speak on something, fight for something, define something, move something; then NEWSFLASH: You are part of the problem, not the solution!

Brooke, good point but I have to say, anyone who has seen the film “Milk” should be ready to organize and continue Harvey Milk’s PROactive activity! Wow, amazing man, loved the film, loved what he stood for.

I’ve heard raves about this movie! I am beginning to wonder whether or not it needs to go on the top 30 list of things I need to do within the first 30 days of my being home!

If I were El Coyote, I would make a public statement to the public letting them know that this was a donation on behalf of the owner’s niece who is Morman. I would would posit that the niece didn’t talk about what these repercussions would be in, in fact, the bill was passed. People tend to do negative things in a selfish way. That said, the restaurant should have understood that there are reprucussions concerning things of this sort.
Now that they are the recipient of all of this negativity, I feel the only way to fight this is to release a public statement condemning their own actions and to give the same amount of money to a gay community service group. While they may seem insane, things like this have proven track records of success.
If the El Coyote doesn’t want to admit that their actions were negative to their gay community and clientele then sadly they will remain in their self-made situation. This matched money will do more for the restaurant than anything else they could possibly do. Actions certainly do speak louder than words.
namaste

As far as I’m concerned, if you put your name on something, even if it’s a tiny little donation, you’d better be prepared to back your position and explain. El Coyote was an easy target – they were here whereas the Mormons and the Knights of Columbus feel more like throwing rocks in the dark.

I think I’d have a public statement and a strong showing in donations to things like the Pride Parade…perhaps a float with their staff waving and throwing out goodies. Errors in judgement can be costly.

RAMBLIN’ JACK

The three musicians I always wanted to meet were Lux Interior of The Cramps, Keith Richards, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. Waylon Jennings was the fourth, but unfortunately, he’s gone.

Until two weeks ago, the closest I ever got to any of them was at a punk rock show in the eighties in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cramps were performing, and at some point during the show, Lux – dressed in black spandex slacks (not pants) and tube-top – stepped to the stage edge and leaned out over the slam-pit. I was in the blender-mix of dancers, and reached up as he floated by and snatched his necklace. I gave it to my sister later at a local bar, and we were surprised to discover that it was a pearl necklace. The beads were individually strung, which meant Mr. Interior had spent some money on it. It’s one of my sister’s prized possessions.

Two weeks ago, I was at Guitar Center with my six-month old son Kyd. We crossed the front room where the electric guitars are displayed and test-driven. I refer to this room as ‘the moat.’ We headed downstairs to the acoustic area, and when the glass doors closed behind us, tranquility.

I strolled and strummed at the Martins and Gibsons mounted on the walls as we browsed. Kyd was amazed and quiet. Then we entered the very back area of the store where the rare and expensive instruments are kept. It was quiet as a cathedral, and a lone salesman was helping two women and an elderly gentleman who was trying his best to look like Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. He had the cowboy hat, the western shirt with pearl snaps, jeans, a leather belt with oversized buckle, and cowboy boots. I thought he was a very close likeness, then was flattened with the realization that it was indeed the singing cowboy himself.

I always understood Jack’s nickname to mean that he traveled much with a real aversion to ever settling down, and that suspicion was confirmed when I saw his daughter’s documentary The Ballad of Ramblin’ Jack. But after I approached him and introduced Kyd and myself, I discovered another meaning for the nickname. Jack talked and told stories and asked questions and rambled for fifteen minutes, and I hated the fact that I was late meeting my wife and had to go.

So Ramblin’ Jack plopped my baby boy onto his cowboy lap like a guitar and let me snap a photo with my cell phone of him and Kyd.

Jack Elliot is old, and he will ramble away from all of us one day. It would be great to meet Keith Richards or Lux Interior next, but its not really necessary anymore.

And please tell me if you’ve ever met your hero or idol.

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Star Jones was every bit the bitch I expected her to be.
In terms of legends/idols/heroes, they seem to be around every corner or at the gym here in New York so you become a little jaded. I look forward to the next one that bowls me over and I’ll be sure to savor it. Glad you got the pic, Kyd will love it accompanying the story you will continue to tell so dont forget to get a print made before it’s gone for one reason or another.
Come to think of it, I do remember running into Larry Mullens Jr. (U2 drummer) at the gym and telling him “I got rid of about 100 CD’s today and I kept all of yours” to which he replied “Right on brother”…friends for life.

well mr. leighton, i actually peed in a urinal beside larry mullens once at u2’s movie premier, but not being a big fan of the band, i didn’t bother to shake his hand or anything.

In 2003, I had an audience with the Dalai Lama. He gave me a huge fresh sunflower and I began to cry. For the whole 20 minutes he laughed and joked of things. He held my hand between both of his. I cried.
I cried for three days.

THIRTEENTH GRADE

A proposal for the enhancement of the Republican Party.

To kick a man when he’s down is supposedly bad sportsmanship, but how else do you insure that he won’t return for revenge? And this makes me think of that great line in The Godfather where Michael says that you keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Now is not the time for Liberals and Democrats to relax.

Sarah Palin is still around. She’s been in Georgia, campaigning for the Republican gubernatorial candidate in that state, but you can bet that her intention is two-fold, with a 2012 presidential run first and foremost. Palin is like that car with the flat tire that goes driving by. She’s past, around the corner, yet we can still hear the flap flap flap. But what to do with her?

The Republicans are in disarray. They’re a mess. The Democrats need to step in and ‘help’ determine the future of The Republican Party.

Liberals control Hollywood. So why doesn’t someone give Palin a talk show and get her out of politics? The Republicans are stranded, and she’s their lifeboat. Snatch it from them and see how long they can tread water. They have nobody in the pipe with her appeal and star power.

The smart Republican move would be to have Palin attend a masters program at Harvard or Tufts during the election interim. Educate Alaska’s governor. Give her the extra oomph she was denied after twelfth grade. It would benefit her, and would be a great story. They could show her in class, at home studying while taking care of her children, or cutting it up with her professors. They need to make those who question her supposed intelligence reconsider.

And just possibly while she travels that path of higher learning, she may find some enlightenment and some compassion.

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Isnt hollywood run by gay liberals? Not likely they would gift her a show, and though I like to think everyone is capable of finding enlightenment, I think you’re being too kind. Is fatherhood softening you Jim?