aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Frist refused roll call & where was Saxby?
WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) refused repeated requests for a roll call vote that would have put senators on the record on a resolution apologizing for past failures to pass anti-lynching laws, officials involved in the negotiations said Tuesday.
And there was disagreement Tuesday over whether Saxby Chambliss, one of Georgia’s two Republican senators, had supported the measure when it was approved Monday night...Chambliss’ name was added to the list of co-sponsors after the resolution was adopted, according to the Congressional Record. But his office said he had signed onto the bill as a co-sponsor before Monday’s vote.
Bill First, the Republican leader of the United States Senate, vetoed having a roll call vote on a resolution apologizing to victims of lynchings. He tried to hide the resolution in the middle of the night so no one would no about it.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
PPP defeated again
The Georgia Board of Education overwhelmingly rejected a measure today from state School Superintendent Kathy Cox that proposed requiring school districts to provide parents with a list of extracurricular clubs available to students, giving parents the option to withhold their children from particular clubs.
The board voted 10-3 against the proposal, which critics argued was an attack on gay-straight student alliances on a handful of Georgia’s high school campuses, most of them in metro Atlanta.
Keep up the good work Georgia Equality.
Lynching apology not unanimous
The last time I wrote about Lynching it was reported the Senate would pass a resolution of apology in March.
So they can hide the 12 or so Senators who apparently think it’s bad politics back home to sign onto a resolution that apologizes for not passing anti-lynching legislation sooner. Apparently, southern Senators fillibustered efforts to pass such legislation for years.
I don’t care if they’re Democrats or Republicans, I want to know who isn’t supporting this legislation. We have a right to know, and to know why anybody in either party would permit the basically-secret vote to take place this evening in order to his who these bigots really are.
Crooks and Liars is shocked to find lynching was allowed until 1968:
...from History Matters In the following testimony to a House subcommittee, four Southern Congressmen discussed their reasons for opposing what they deemed federal interference in state judicial responsibilities and defend segregation and the “peaceful relations now existing between white man and Negro” in the South. Congressman Charles E. Bennett (Florida) also offered his historical explanation for lynching. read the full transcript.
I have very complicated, nuanced and still developing opinions on race and the South; they’re not what might be expected and will come out here over time. But I must note the creepy irony that the day of the apology was also the day that an otherwise educated white person used the term “nigger” to my face. For the third time since I moved here I am profoundly unsettled and disturbed.
UPDATE: John’s got an explanation and a list.
UPDATE: AJC says it was Frist who refused the roll call…
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Last Thursday the phone rang at 4 pm.
The caller said “John?”
I said, “Who’s calling”
She said - “This is Denise Parker (or some such) of the Republican Party.”
Stunned silence on my part, as I am a registered Democrat.
Then she said in a delighted voice “Isn’t it a wonderful time to be a Republican?”
“Not around here!” I answered. “You couldn’’t have found anyone more anti-Republican than I am if you had tried!”
“Oooooh...I’m SORRY...” she sighed and hung up.
Do you believe it?
Where did she get my name?
Do they just think everyone around here is a Republican?
And that cupie doll voice, “a won-der-ful time.”
Monday, June 06, 2005
I was passing on inside after speaking to Fred when he said he read my piece in the paper last week… “Your take on liberals is all wrong. People who think the way I do don’t want to run people’s lives. We just think a country as great as this one can be should be able to help the less fortunate. There are people running around for whom this country has been extra good. There are people who have way more than they need to meet all their needs. All we are asking is that these well off people take a little consideration for the people who don’t have it so good.
“That’s what people who think like me believe government should do for its citizens. Government should step in and do the things people can’t do for themselves. You tell me what is so terrible about that.”
I told Fred I could see his side of the issue. We talked for a while longer and Fred told the joke about the farmer who was working in his field when the preacher came by and commented he and God had certainly done a fine job with that field. The farmer had worked hard clearing the field and resented the preacher’s comments. He said, “Well, you should have seen this field when God had it all to himself!”
Before Fred left he invited me to come by and see his new set of hound dogs and I said I would try to get over real soon. People who call themselves liberal are not bad folks, they just look at things a bit differently from conservatives.
Friday, June 03, 2005
When I was a kid you had to get a permission slip to play sports. Here in Georgia the “Parent’s Permission to Participate Bill” specifically promises to exempt sports. So what kind of activity will you need your parent’s permission for? Participation in extracurricular activities and clubs in schools.
“This would be devastating to the kids that want to participate in gay-straight alliances at their schools, especially the kids who aren’t out yet and would have to come out to their parents in order to get permission to join,” said Chuck Bowen, executive director of the statewide gay rights group Georgia Equality.
The State Department of Education will consider a new regulation next Wednesday which would require parental permission before a student could participate in school extracurricular activities.
This regulation is as a result of one proposed a few months ago which was defeated in spite of the support of Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Education who is a former Republican House Member and supporter of the conservative Christian Coalition.
Should this measure be adopted by the school board, it is likely that similar efforts will be pushed in other states with the support of the conservative right.
S. B. 149 and H. B. 661 are bills that would require schools to notify parents or guardians of all clubs and activities on school grounds and would require parental permission for students to join or participate in any of them.
These bills have been heavily lobbied against by the homosexual community as they continue to form “Gay-Straight Alliance” clubs in pubic schools around the state without any notification being sent to parents about these clubs. In 2001 there were two such clubs in schools in Georgia—today there are 33 such clubs in schools in Georgia.
This issue just won’t go away. It was defeated last time around. Last time around was less than 2 months ago.
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Donkeys may not be kept in bathtubs
That’s a dumb law in Georgia from dumblaws.com.
Not as many, or as dumb, as I expected.
Via Bill in Portland Maine at Kos.
Monday, May 30, 2005
Friday, May 13, 2005
More on Target v Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart is starting to lose its edge over more upscale rival Target, if recent stock trends are any indication...Since moving to Northern Virginia, which has the worst Wal-Mart stores I’ve seen in years, I’ve avoided Wal-Mart and shopped at Target whenever possible. While its prices are slightly higher, its better customer service, convenience, and pleasant atmosphere are worth the trade-off.
Still, Target is not going to surpass Wal-Mart anytime soon. Target stores are not nearly as ubiquitous. Wal-Mart has pursued a business strategy of putting Super Center stores even in smallish communities, such as Jacksonville, Alabama, where my parents live. Indeed, there are three Super Centers within 25 miles of their house.
Wal-Mart built its business up from small rural communities (and started out southern). We’ve got one Super Center and another being built 15 miles up the road here in a sparsely populated rural area.
I expect Wal-Mart’s past its prime and like GM will die a slow death of its own weight. But as I’ve said before the culture of Wal-Mart is totally entrenched here and Target won’t be coming here anytime soon.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Home prices here are inflated. Forty miles from the nearest Interstate with six prisons and a state hospital in decline, the town’s not exactly booming. But in the towns all around us and in Macon, housing costs considerably less.
A friend who’s leaving to take a job at another university just sold his house--quickly--and he got a good price. It sold to students. Or more precisely, the parents of students. When the last university president left, her house, next to friends of ours, was bought by parents, for students. The university president’s house.
Today All Things Considered looked at merit-based scholarships:
Georgia was the first state to offer college scholarships based on student performance, and so far 13 states have adopted them. Now some are asking whether the programs are helping the people they were expected to help.
One consequence of this merit-based scholarship is that needs-based giving, which before HOPE was at 90%, has fallen to 70%. (Students are fine with that. Said one, “You know, we made the same grades they did, so we deserve it. That’s how I look at it.")
HOPE pays for tuition, fees and books. So it’s not surprising to find that the state has cut funding and tuition has gone up, a trend that’s expected to continue, shifting the cost of middle class education to the more regressive lottery-based funding, even as policy makers worry it can’t carry the load. All this for a program we don’t need: 90% of students would have gone to college even without the scholarship.
I read about HOPE in the early 90s when it was proposed, and generally favored it. Today I’m left wondering if HOPE’s a virtue.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
NY Loves Target
Crain’s New York Business yesterday, Wal-Mart makes an easy Target:
New Yorkers have responded to Target and Wal-Mart in starkly different ways.
Target has opened five stores here over the past eight years--in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx--with virtually no protest. New Yorkers are flocking to the stores. Wal-Mart, which has 5,000 locations worldwide but none in the city, was chased away from Queens last winter by a fierce political and public relations campaign. It remains a lightning rod as it continues to seek an entree here.
Uh, here’s the difference: Target isn’t being sued for a) sexual discrimination, b)not paying workers, c)locking workers in at night.
Target is non-union, but pays their workers better, treats them better and provides a better shopping experience. Sure, they give to the GOP and they aren’t unionized, BUT, they don’t take glee in it...Wal-Mart and Target approach the same issues in VERY different ways.
Here they prefer Wal-Mart’s approach. Wal-Mart is the clear favorite; there is a Wal-Mart culture. It’s very hard to live here and not shop at Wal-Mart. And it’s because of the sensibility and style. Wal-Mart has no pretension, shoppers here like the Wal-Mart shopping experience with its emphasis on nothing but price. There is little awareness of how Wal-Mart works or that Wal-Mart flouts the USA first issues that are held in such high regard here.
As to Target, there’s one in Macon. Target won’t be coming here anytime soon.
Monday, May 09, 2005
There’s a smoking ban in Georgia
Gov. Sonny Perdue signed a bill Monday to ban smoking in most public places in Georgia, ending a guessing game that had gone on for weeks.
The law will allow smokers to light up in only a few places, including bars and restaurants that do not admit people under 18; designated hotel and motel rooms; and workplace smoking areas that have an independent air handling system. Violators face fines of $100 to $500.
The Republican governor had said for weeks that he had misgivings about the bill, believing that government should not become “the end-all and be-all nanny for all people.”
His decision came just one day short of the deadline for him to sign or veto bills passed during the most recent session of the Legislature.
Hooray! I was wrong.
Sunday, May 01, 2005
Ralph & The Red and Black
Ralph Reed, a former Georgia state Republican Party chairman and candidate for lieutenant governor in a primary race that’s gettting a little rough (and still a Microsoft consultant) has a “checkered” past at The Red & Black, the student paper at the University of Georgia. From Outside the Tent:
According to an article that appeared in the October 1996 issue of Esquire (summarized here), Ralphie wrote an article for the newspaper entitled “Gandhi: The Ninny of the Twentieth Century.” (One might wonder why Ralphie might have chosen some more obvious candidates for this title other than Gandhi, but I digress.)
An alert student at the University noticed that Ralphie’s column bore more than a passing resemblance to “The Gandhi Nobody Knows” by Richard Grenier published in the March 1983 edition of Commentary. (One wonders what devout Christian Ralphie was doing reading a publication of the American Jewish Committee, but I digress again.) According to a letter written by the student “every assertion, every quote, and several seemingly original Reed phrases may be found directly or in slightly modified form” in the Grenier article.
Ralph was fired from the paper shortly thereafter. Ralph’s response at the time (according to an article from Time Magazine quoted here) was to say that the letter exposing him constituted “the most shocking, profane form of personal attack I can imagine.”
Saturday, April 30, 2005
Hope for the documentary
News that Judy Woodruff is leaving CNN ("to teach, write and work on long-form documentaries") following, as it does, Ted Koppel’s announced departure from ABC ("There are some very interesting prospects out there...") makes me optimistic that there will be some good documentary happening, hopefully on PBS or a broadcast network rather than pay TV.
I started out in documentary and still have a fondness for the form. Yesterday a student came in asking about doing a documentary this summer about some of the black midwives in Georgia in the 1950s who are still living. My ears pricked up. As it happens my teacher, mentor and friend George Stoney made a 1952 film, All My Babies: A Midwife’s Own Story:
...widely regarded as a landmark film, “remarkable in its time for its respect for African Americans… visual version of a training manual for black midwives...[that] includes an actual birth,” All My Babies follows a remarkable midwife, Mary Coley (Miss Mary), through three deliveries in a series of reenactments shot on location in rural Georgia.
The film was made for Georgia’s Department of Public Health to train the midwives:
Stoney was dealing with subject matter that challenged racial taboos...Stoney was to assure the white community that there was no sabotage intended of the white South, and no intention of even suggesting that an unhappy relationship existed between whites and blacks, not in any way promoting a change in black-white relationships. The film, the sponsors felt, should manifest interest in the health of blacks and how it might be improved within the South’s traditional way of life.
All My Babies represented several advanced views. It challenged the idea that a hospital was the only appropriate place for childbirth. Its consideration of birth as a natural process rather than a “trauma” was quite unusual at that time. And its psychological approach, which stressed, for example, the importance of paying attention to other children in the family, was quite new. According to Stoney, one of the best things that All My Babies accomplished was to show doctors in the South that working with midwives offered unique and rich clinical experience. “A lot of younger doctors began to take those assignments”
I called George for a copy of his tape and will be working with the student, who had his first project debut last night in our school’s first film festival. He’s got talent and has demonstrated commitment. I’m excited at the prospect.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Armstrong lets protÃƒÂ©gÃƒÂ© win
From the NYTimes, an hour ago:
Lance Armstrong, the greatest individual bike racer America has produced, was a team player on Sunday as he ended his domestic racing career.
Armstrong, who announced last week that he would retire this summer after attempting a seventh consecutive Tour de France victory, was content to help ensure that a Discovery Channel teammate, Tom Danielson, wound up the winner of the Tour de Georgia.
Our own Tour de Georgia has become “the most important stage race in America:”
Thousands of spectators lined a six-kilometer loop on the streets of Alpharetta, hoping for a glimpse of Armstrong and wishing that he would make one last charge to the front of the pack. But Armstrong, the defending champion, sat back and let his protÃƒÂ©gÃƒÂ© win what has become the most important stage race in America.
For the second year in a row, Armstrong chose the Tour de Georgia as a prelude to the Tour de France. His presence attracted almost all of the leading American riders, including Bobby Julich, Levi Leipheimer and Floyd Landis, who left Armstong’s team last year for the Phonak team.
See also my post Enhanced Lance?
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Armstrong finished a disappointing ninth in Thursday’s time trial at the Tour de Georgia, nearly two minutes behind the winner in a go-all-out style of cycling he usually dominates.
See also my post Enhanced Lance?
He’s the best-selling comedy recording artist of all time. Who knew?
Jeff Foxworthy’s Web site highlights two noteworthy bits of trivia about the Atlanta-based comedian: His wit has been compared to that of Mark Twain, and he is the best-selling comedy recording artist of all time. The first point is debatable-there aren’t many one-liners about mudflaps in Pudd’nhead Wilson. But Foxworthy’s astounding album sales are undeniable. His 1993 debut You Might Be a Redneck IfÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ went multiplatinum, and the release of last year’s Have Your Loved Ones Spayed or Neutered pushed his total album sales above 15 million. His greatest-hits disc is currently No. 3 on the comedy charts. Not bad for a performer whose eponymous sitcom flopped in 1997.
Monday, April 11, 2005
As a (white) child growing up in the Deep South in the 1950s and 1960s, I looked forward in history class to the tale of the Appomattox surrender, because it marked the end of the interminable period of time we spent studying--or more accurately, saturating ourselves in--the War Between the States each year. Indeed, such was the extent of our wallowing in the Confederacy that we rarely made it past World War I in American history.
Far beyond elementary school, in the broader southern white culture I grew up in, there was an odd exultancy about Appomattox that had nothing to do with vicarious relief at the end of that brutal war. No, we drank in the details of Lee’s peerless dress and manner at the moment of surrender, and were encouraged to think of the shabby Grant’s generosity in victory as little more than the acknowledgement of a superior being--and a superior, if Lost, Cause. A Cause, moreover, that was about everything other than the ownership of human beings--about states’ rights, about agrarian resistance to capitalism, about cultured Cavaliers defending civilization against philistine Puritans, about Honor, about Duty.
I was raised not far from Gettysburg, with a very different take on the “Civil War.” I live now in what was the Confederate capital of Georgia. The local trolley tour guides explain to visitors that the “War Between the States” (the “war of northern aggression” as Doug’s grandmother knew it) was not about slavery. I am learning the truth of Southern Heritage.
Friday, April 01, 2005
Smoking ban in Georgia
Believe it or not, this is what passes for haute cuisine in our town:
The most accurate way to describe the food at Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill is “well-slathered.” Nearly every dish comes drenched in sauce, usually either a deep-red ketchup derivative or a ranch dressing variant. Applebee’s trademark Riblets, for example, are bathed in enough tangy BBQ sauce to make a diner forget that he’s chowing on extraneous pig parts.
Applebee’s cuisine is considered so-so even by chain-restaurant standards. In the latest customer survey by the trade magazine Restaurants and Institutions, Applebee’s food scored below that of Chili’s, O’Charley’s, and the Cheesecake Factory, though it did top the deep-fried grub at T.G.I. Friday’s, Bennigan’s, and Hooters. But despite its middling food, Applebee’s is by far the largest casual-dining chain in the United States, with annual sales of around $3.6 billion-over $1 billion more than Chili’s, its closest competitor.
Started in Atlanta by 2 brothers in 1980, and spread by targeting “underserved areas-primarily exurban and rural strip malls” (yeah, that’s us) there’s probably one coming to your town:
America’s appetite for cheap, filling sit-down meals surprised even Applebee’s. Franchises have opened at a rate of more than 100 per year, and...the latest projection is for Applebee’s to top out at 3,000 restaurants, about 1,300 more than it has today.
Monday, March 28, 2005
Stop the itch
Zanfel is very expensive, it’s true ($38/oz). But it’s worth every penny to anyone suffering with a poison ivy (or oak) rash. Within 30 seconds of treatment, the itching stops. Really. It’s the only product I know of that chemically binds the urishol which is causing the problem.
Saturday, March 26, 2005
I’m happy to watch the show, but don’t look for me at the festival.
UPDATE: The party has been postponed. They’re recording the program for a party at another time.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Not Just Soaking Up Rhetoric - Sponge Bob Revisited
A colleague of Joe’s and mine is a Southern Baptist. Today, he called the Sponge Bob controversy ridiculous. “He makes us look stupid,” he said. “Who?” I asked.
“Dobson,” said our friend, ”makes Christians look stupid.”
Hope against smoke
Georgia moved one step closer to a statewide smoking ban Tuesday when the House approved a bill to prohibit smoking in most enclosed public places that allow minors.
After more than three hours of passionate debate, lawmakers voted 118-52 to approve a weaker version of Senate Bill 90. The Senate now must review the amended version, which allows smoking in bars and restaurants that do not serve customers younger than 18 or employ anyone younger than 18.
“I can’t believe this bill passed,” said June Deen, head of the Georgia Alliance for Tobacco Prevention, a coalition of 300 groups that have fought for the measure for several years.
If it does finally pass, it will be broadly popular.
Monday, March 21, 2005
Seems we are weary of war images, NPR reports, and evidence for that is everywhere. In 2003 I protested the Iraq war in Portland (Oregon), surrounded by the outraged.
Last night Joe and I attended a local war vigil in which Christian community leaders offered prayers for the soldiers (living, wounded, dead) and for the U.S. leadership, and we were surrounded by the complicit.