28 June 2008

The Real Conventioneers of Orange County

Greetings from Anaheim. Here 'Behind the Orange Curtain' for the Library Association Annual Convention. The bag given away to all registrants this year is orange (what a surprise, right?) Not just any orange, a bright 'We can see you from a mile away' orange. "You look like a crossing guard," the friend who picked me up from the airport said after I came back from registering at the convention center. Perhaps I've been watching too much Law & Order (or Baltimore's own "The Wire") but the color reminds me more of prison uniforms than anything else....

Beautiful day coming in yesterday, and except for some morning hazyness, a great day today. The relative flatness, wide streets, palm trees, and stips of restaurants, hotels, and motels reminds me of the Other 'OC', Ocean City, Maryland, or Rebhoboth Beach, Delwaware. I keep expecting to be told the ocean is only a few blocks away, while actually it is miles and miles from here (I have zero California geography other than knowing that I'm quite far from the Bay Area and Wine Country, the only other part of California I've ever been to).

Star gazing: The VERY cool Young Adult author Jacqueline Woodson (photo at left), who seems to be appearing at the booths of half the publishers this year; producer turned author Steven J Cannell, looking like a parody of a Hollywood Player with his deep tan and tinted sunglasses as he autographed books; and Kareem Abdul Jabbar, who was also at ALA Midwinter in Philadelphia (amazing to see someone who, sitting down, is almost as tall as most of the women who approach him for autographs). There was a long line for author John "An Abundance of Katherines" Greene, who my friend who is knowledgeable in the subject proclaims is "The Hearttrob of Young Adult Librarians" (who knew?). Lambda Literary Foundation Executive Director (and a heartthrob in his own right) Charles Flowers is here too, he and his partner recent transplants to Los Angles after over a decade in New York City. Sometime over the weekend I'm hoping to catch Mark Savaras, novelist known for his excellent lit-blog The Elegant Variation, and some of the poets around, like Mark Doty and Francisco X Alarcon.

My partner got a kick out of the fact that the not-too-Disneyfied area where I'm staying is a mix of Vietnamese and Mexican (us East Coasters think that's 'odd', and something we don't see outside of the kitchens of Asian restaurants). Other than having truly horrific wireless, the place is fine, and I feel somewhat 'at home' amongst la gente.

And although I tried, I couldn't hide this morning: Leaving for the convention with my then-empty bag stuck obviously not far enough down in my pocket, one of the hotel staff greeted me with, "Hello -- You're here for ALA!" Dang.....Outed by Orange!

Mas, mas tarde........

20 June 2008


Okay everyone, get out your copies of the US Constitution, and a red pen, and draw a line through Amendement 4:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

While I was very pleased with the Supreme Court's recent decision to reinstate Habeus Corpus by allowing the detainees at Guantanamo Bay the right to appear in federal court, * I am extremly displeased at the House for sending President Bush's FISA bill through by a vote of 293-129.

This so called 'compromise' is in fact a capitulation to the President and the major telecomunications companies. It retains the provisions that would, (*retroactively* mind you!) protect telecomm companies from privacy lawsuits for cooperating with the Bush administration's patently illegal and gob-smackingly unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping. I am personally ashamed of both Steny Hoyer (D- MD) and Nancy D'Allesandro Pellosi (D-CA, born in Baltimore) for caving in to the administration. (Ms. Pellosi appears to be trying to get her photo in the dictionary next to the phrase 'flip-flop' when she talks about this issue)

UPDATE:(Future President) Obama has come out with a statement of mixed support: Yes to the idea of FISA, but no to telecom immunity. He says, as President, he'll seek repeal of that provision.

Salon's Glenn Greenwald has covered this extensively today.

Are we that filled with fear? Have the terrorists truly 'won' so badly that we need to give up our freedoms so blithely? What exactly are we trying to protect if such basics as freedom from government intrusion and the ability to seek redress for illegality and wrongs are being tossed aside? What kind of country are we living in -- and what tattered pieces of the Consitution will be left for future generations?

A sad day. Sad, just sad....

* FYI: Check out the independent and increasingly irreplaceable McClatchy newspapers group's 8-month long investigation into the goings-on at Guantanamo Bay. The report shows that the REAL threat to our security is how we've decided who to detain, and how they've been treated once incarcerated ("For some detainees who went home far more militant than when they arrived, Guantanamo became a school for jihad, or Islamic holy war.") For the strong of stomach only.....

13 June 2008

Out of the [Black] Closet

Two recent events in LGBT world have caught my eye because they involve us African-Americans, the often 'forgotten color' in the Rainbow Flag.

First New York Governor David Patterson announced a directive recognizing gay marriage in the state. He did it while revealing that he and his siblings were often watched by a gay couple, "Uncle Stanley and Uncle Ronald."

Then, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (our NEXT Black President?:) announces that his 18 year old daughter is a lesbian, and she'll be joining him at Boston's Pride Parade. "I think when Katherine started to memorize all the episodes of 'The L Word,' there was some hint that maybe she was sending us."

Although in New York reaction has been mixed, Ladies and Gentlemen, all I have to say is: get over it. The future is here.

Being Black and Gay has often been like living in a velvet closet. Growing up, 'everybody knew' (or suspected) someone who was gay or lesbian. We all had 'spinster aunts' living in "Boston Marriages" or single older uncles. Or married uncles with amazing taste in fashion and style (as a story my sister tells about one of my mother's brothers with a penchant for silk dressing gowns with matching slippers attests). Drag Balls in Harlem were legendary all the way back in the '20's, and a number of Blues Women (Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith) were as open as one could be about their preferences for women. One of my heroes, Billy Strayhorn, lived a life just as described by Richard Bruce Nugent, "You just did what you wanted to do. Nobody was in the closet. There wasn't any closet."

No one ever talked about this. You were 'safe' if you kept things to yourself. The idea of being "Out Loud and Proud" was unheard of. Figures deemed too controversial (Bayard Rustin) were threatened with exposure -- by other black people. There was, and remains, a policing of sexual orientation.

Bravo to the younger generations for 'just not having it,' standing up and being out. Bravo especially to Governors Patterson and Patrick for breaking 'the family silence.' I recognized myself and the Other Half in Gov. Patrick's "Uncle Stanley and Uncle Ronald." It was our house that all the younger nieces, nephews and cousins wanted to come to for cookouts (we had the biggest yard and I'd put them to work making their own kebobs to grill). Our nephews come over to play on our computer. And when The Other Half and I couldn't make his family reunion (he wasn't feeling well and didn't go), all the reports we got back were of people asking "Where are they?" "Why didn't they come?" "We miss them!"

Just like family.

06 June 2008

Long Time No Blog....

Sorry for the long hiatus! In addition to general 'busy-ness' we're having some problems with phone/DSL service at home, limiting the amount of on-line time to what I can squeeze in at work. I miss my nightly blog rolling! Oh well...while it may be debatable that 'You can't fight City Hall', it is VERY true that fighting the phone company is pretty much a no-win situation.....

A quick tour 'd horizon of some recent items that have caught my eye:

"'Fist-Bump'-O- Mania" hits the media. And it's called 'Dap' un-down-with-it (white) people! A 'Fist bump'? Plu-eeze....At least the hometown paper got it right!

Two articles (from AP via Yahoo and closer to home, the Baltimore Sun) on how younger people view Obama's rise (Oh! to be 16 again, and be able to say, "If he becomes the president, I can't imagine that there'll be racism...." The Optimism of Youth! )

While I'm pretty sure that my support for Obama, and the increasing-as-the-campain-went-on distaste for Senator Clinton was not related to her being a woman...just as, here in America, "everything is about race" so too many things/everything can be about gender as well. Joan Walsh of Salon and Judith Warner of the NYTimes do their best to keep me honest.

And a quick aside on this: I'm not sure how much of the venom others have directed at Hillary is based on her gender, and how much is based on her being Hillary Clinton, and the eight years she and Bill spent in the White House. I am unclear as to whether or not voting against THIS woman necessarily translates into voting against ANOTHER woman for President. In my own dream world I can concieve of a real "Amazing Race" pitting Elizabeth (Dole) vs Elizabeth (Edwards) for example. I find myself agreeing with the Christian Science Monitor: The "A Woman can't be President" Glass Cieling has been broken, and we are all greatful to 'Hill' for doing it.

In book news:
Although Amazon.com seems to be Kindle-ing along quite well, the brick & mortar Amazon in Minneapolis closes

And has it really been only 10 years since Harry Potter debuted and Random House first stepped onto the World Wide Web? Departing Guardian UK book reviewer Robert McCrum looks back on his term in office and rings some of the changes in BookWorld since 1997.

Finally, RFK remembered

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.