aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, April 14, 2008
An ode to elevators
The New Yorker has a major piece on elevators this week. Of all the things in the city to miss, I miss them:
In New York City, home to fifty-eight thousand elevators, there are eleven billion elevator trips a year-thirty million every day-and yet hardly more than two dozen passengers get banged up enough to seek medical attention. The Otis Elevator Company, the world’s oldest and biggest elevator manufacturer, claims that its products carry the equivalent of the world’s population every five days. As the world urbanizes-every year, in developing countries, sixty million people move into cities-the numbers will go up, and up and down.
Two things make tall buildings possible: the steel frame and the safety elevator. The elevator, underrated and overlooked, is to the city what paper is to reading and gunpowder is to war. Without the elevator, there would be no verticality, no density, and, without these, none of the urban advantages of energy efficiency, economic productivity, and cultural ferment. The population of the earth would ooze out over its surface, like an oil slick, and we would spend even more time stuck in traffic or on trains, traversing a vast carapace of concrete. And the elevator is energy-efficient-the counterweight does a great deal of the work, and the new systems these days regenerate electricity. The elevator is a hybrid, by design.
Did I say I miss ‘em? Elevators, we learn, are bo-ring!
Riding elevators, even when you are supposed to be paying attention, for the purpose of writing about them, is a pretty banal enterprise. So it was hard to focus on the matter at hand-not to just ride, expressionless and empty-brained, per usual, noting nothing, except that on the Captivate screen the word of the day was “sitzmark.” Otis has conducted research to find out whether people might better enjoy their time in elevators if it were more of an experience-if it would somehow help to emphasize that they’re in an elevator, hurtling up and down a shaft. Otis found, to little surprise, that people would rather be distracted from that fact. Even elevator music, designed to put passengers at ease, is now so closely associated with elevators that it is no longer widely used.
Georgia Supreme Court denies Troy Davis appeal
The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday again rejected a death row inmate’s request for a new trial, even though several witnesses who testified against the condemned man have recanted.
Troy Davis was convicted of gunning down a Savannah police officer in 1989.
In March, the state’s top court denied Davis a new trial by a 4-3 vote. On Monday, the justices rejected Davis’ appeal for them to reconsider that decision. The vote was again 4-3.
Writing for the majority, Justice Harold Melton said the new evidence was not enough to force a new trial. The court cannot disregard the jury’s original verdict, he wrote. [...]
Davis’ lawyers say several witnesses have recanted or contradicted their testimony that they saw Davis shoot 27-year-old Mark MacPhail or heard him confess to the shooting.
Three people who did not testify at trial have said in affidavits that another man confessed to killing the officer after Davis was convicted.
For more on the case visit TroyAnthonyDavis.org.
Burning Down the House
A friend here told me that the way to kill fire ants was to poor gasoline on them, light a match, and be done with it. He says that the chemicals we use to kill fire ants are bad for the environment and don’t work.
What do I know?
So yesterday I’m doing yard work. I take my can of gasoline, poor it on the ant hill, strike a match, toss it, and whoosh!
Now I have to tell you it has been many, many years since I put a match to gasoline. Somehow I was honestly thinking that the gasoline was going to soak into the ground and it wasn’t even going to light. Like I was going to have a problem lighting it.
Well, it lit alright. And I jumped right out of my skin! There was fire and there was smoke and I am just lucky I wasn’t fricasseed right along with those ants!
With the ants dead, I mowed the lawn and came on inside.
A couple hours later my nephew came home. And I do mean A COUPLE OF HOURS LATER. Maybe three? He comes in and I’m sitting here comfortably on the couch with the dogs working on the computer and my nephew says to me, “Uncle Joey, is the yard supposed to be on fire?”
THE YARD IS ON FIRE???
Now I have to tell you that we’re lucky there’s still a water shortage here in Georgia. It’s because of that water shortage that we have garbage cans full of collected water all over the yard.
We ran and collected those cans and dumped buckets and pales and we hosed and we got lucky. And I’m going back to Amdro I don’t care what anybody tells me!
Georgian recalls rooming with Michelle Obama at Princeton
Catherine Donnelly shopped at Kmart, settled into her dorm room and soaked up the Gothic stone buildings where, over the next four years, she would grow into her own woman.
But her first day at Princeton held a surprise, too. And Donnelly knew it would mean confronting the past.
The reason: One of her roommates was black.
“I told them we weren’t used to living with black people - Catherine is from the South,” Brown said. “They probably thought I was crazy.”
Today both Donnelly, an Atlanta attorney, and Brown, a retired schoolteacher living in the North Carolina mountains, look back at that time with regret. Like many Americans, they’ve built new perceptions of race on top of a foundation cracked by prejudices past - and present. Yet they rarely speak of the subject.
Barack Obama’s run for president changed that. When the Democratic senator from Illinois invited more dialogue on race last month, Donnelly and Brown, both lifetime Republicans, were ready.
But their willingness to talk isn’t a response to the candidate born to a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya. It’s more about Obama’s wife, Michelle.
She’s that roommate from a quarter century ago.
READ ON. To entice you further I’ll add these two lines… “[Donnelly] came out that first semester, chopped off her hair and partied with other lesbians on campus. Soon she, too, learned what it feels like to be part of the ‘other’ group, to be seen as a student second.”
Sexual tales from my old Pennsatucky home
I was raised in Central PA. Ran away at 17. Remember that my nephew, who is gay, lives here now with Doug and me. Ironic that he had to leave the liberal Northeast and flee to the Old South to find loving support and family acceptance. My brother is, er, oh, never mind…
I’m going on about this because I just read about the Republican commissioner of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, who had been accused of rape. By a man!
He denied it.
TPM Muckracker picks up the story from there:
On March 31st, police, investigating the allegation of rape by the 20-year old Marshall McCurdy, obtained a warrant to search Barclay’s home. They didn’t find evidence of rape. But they did find videotapes of hundreds of sexual encounters with men that Barclay had filmed on high-tech surveillance cameras. The cameras were hidden inside AM/FM radios, motion detectors and intercom speaker systems, among other places. There was also one at his business office.
None of the subjects were aware they were being filmed and no permission had been obtained, Barclay admitted. According to a second warrant issued on April 9th, Barclay also admitted to hiring prostitutes on a weekly basis from the now-defunct website harrisburgfratboys.com.
On April 10th, the rape charges were dropped. One of the videos found during the search showed Barclay and McCurdy engaging in apparently consensual sex.[...]
Sadly, his vindication was his undoing. Barclay was forced to resign.
And legally, Barclay’s not quite out of the woods yet-- he’s still facing possible charges for privacy violations and promoting prostitution. McCurdy, however, has been charged with making false reports to law enforcement authorities and unsworn falsifications to authorities. He’s up for a possible 3-year prison stint and $7,500 in fines.
Ah, just as I remember home.
Robin Morgan on “Goodbye to All That” 1 & 2
Ariel Levy talks with Robin Morgan about her “screed against sexism.” I’m an admirer of both. But then, I’m of the generation of lefties that would be.
With the first one, it took about six months for it to leach out across the country. With the Internet, it’s six minutes.” Morgan posted “Goodbye to All That (#2),” an essay about the misogyny directed at Hillary Clinton-Hillary nutcrackers, the “South Park” episode in which terrorists plant a bomb in Clinton’s vagina-on the Women’s Media Center Web site, on February 2nd, and since then it has been picked up by thousands of blogs, translated into six languages, reprinted in newspapers around the world, and, most famously, mass-forwarded by Chelsea Clinton. “For a while, I was getting eight hundred e-mails a day,” she said. She estimated that one out of every fifty is negative. “I was braced for much more opprobrium.”
After the piece in Rat, Morgan got death threats. “Because they said I was divisive-I was hurting the revolution,” she said. “There were even threats against my kid!” Her son, Blake Morgan, a musician, is now thirty-eight. His father, the poet Kenneth Pitchford, was an original member of the Gay Liberation Front and Morgan’s husband for twenty years. She was “Alice in Bloomsbury” then, living and swinging with Pitchford in a duplex over the Kiehl’s store on Third Avenue (the rent started at a hundred and fifty dollars a month), attending leftist literary parties with Susan Sontag, Allen Ginsberg, and Leonard Bernstein.
Famous people were nothing new to Morgan, who starred with Dick Van Patten on the television show “Mama” for seven years and, starting when she was four, had her own half-hour weekly radio program, “The Little Robin Morgan Show,” on WOR in the nineteen-forties. As she put it in her memoir, “Saturday’s Child” (2001), “It’s a rare little girl who gets to play with a doll of herself.” The Stork Club even named a drink for her: 7Up, grenadine, cherries, and a pineapple chunk. Once she joined the women’s movement, Morgan militantly opposed references to her child stardom. When she appeared on the “Tonight Show” in 1969 and Johnny Carson played clips from “Mama,” she walked off the stage.
These days, she is more concerned about offending people. “I always fall into the trap of thinking if I’d written it better, surely, surely they would have understood,” she said, referring to the young women who were upset by “Goodbye (#2).” ("Morgan’s essay is incredibly condescending,” one blogger wrote. “It completely fails to recognize that there are a variety of valid reasons younger women might decide to support Obama.") Morgan put a log on the fire with her good arm. “They think I’m telling them what to do, but they are investing me with an authority I never had. Why is that? Do you know why that is?”