Saturday, June 28, 2008

Murder and Mayhem

It is the eve of a big day which I am more looking forward to than I have for many years ... more on that later. The big day is Gay Day, as I still prefer to call it. It is particularly big this year because of the signal victory we have had on the right to marry. The mood tomorrow will be unrestrained joy.

I cannot help but brood, though, that we may be like the German Jews of 1920. We count our gains even as our enemies gather and darkly plot, and even as they vainly preen and prepare for the day when their implacable and ancient hatred for us can be put to dark mendacious use. I said to RB today that the horrifying notion that there may be open water at the North Pole today portends disaster for gay men. He needed some convincing ... perhaps you do too. I will try.

But before that, I proffer that I am just meaning here only to catch up a little on the meanderings of my mind over the last little bit. I have been thinking a lot about the Prussian and German states, and I have something to say, but I keep retreating from the nuanced view that I have been angling to adopt to precisely the view that I had in my decidedly more doctrinaire 20s. We shall see how that turns out ... suffice here to note that it has kept me from writing.

In the meanwhile there has been a startling coincidence of omens in this city that thinks itself above all that. It inspires a dread ... not a panic or a dismay ... dismay is so the affect of those who retreat before history and affect their iPods and disdain in the place of knowledge and implication. You have to look, you have to see what stands in front of you, you have to draw the conclusions and understand that we are not immune from the history that has proven itself again and again and once again.

I went to Berkeley yesterday. Actually, the border of Berkeley and Oakland, on Alcatraz Avenue, for those of you who have some intimate knowledge of the peculiarities of that neck of the woods. I went to the home of a good friend of mine who works for me annually for a few months in catalog production time at MRU, where I labor for my sustenance. Perhaps on the occasion of another trip I will describe how American the so-called East Bay feels to a San Francisco boy who ventures beyond the 'friscan bounds only via train to his labors at MRU. What I noted was that I could not see Oakland from the Bay Bridge and on my return I could not see San Francisco. This fog not the celebrations of fog on kitty kat feet of Carl Sandburg fame, but the fog born of smoke from a thousand fires burning north and south and east of here. They would be burning west of here too if it were not endless ocean.

My throat burned, and the sun sat vague and shrouded. If it were not real, it would be a National Geographic special on some projected disaster of the far future or purported of the ancient past.

But it is real. Just as the North Pole is melting, California is burning. And our leaders and denoters fulminate about oil speculators.

Meanwhile, as I drove in the urban noise and clutter of Oakland, I was trying to apply my new policy of undercutting my easy anger at the idiocy of others ... as in viewing bad driving as humorous rather than a threat worthy of response. Why? Because I have been deeply affected, and frightened, by some Salvadoran gang member who slaughtered three innocent men apparently because of traffic anger but more likely because of mistaken identity. Read the story ... the sorrow is staggering. This kind of violence in the context of the cynical Scalia-court decision on handguns sends chills through anyone not infected with the ideology of self and scorn that is at the root of the American dilemma ... how do we make freedom without empowering the baseness of greed.

This is not Detroit ... this is not Philadelphia. This is San Francisco, liberal heartland, and some 40-something driving home from a BBQ is shot dead with his two near adult sons because he looks Hispanic ... get it ... some Salvadoran asshole offed this guy as a gangland duty.

The planet is burning and murder is crowding in.

But my little life has a burst in store. I bought a new camera ... a Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ50K ... and I am going to shoot cute boys at Gay Day tomorrow. You know, shoot, not shoot ... shoot, man, don't shoot.

That is modern life for the awake. We know we are screwed. We want to have our fun anyway. How do you do that without compromising your ethics? All those monster vehicle drivers, all those cell-phone assholes, all the guzzling CEOs and their wannabe henchmen, all the jackasses who litter the planet with their thoughtless garbage, and the gangsters big and small who kill and intimidate and strut around all proud and self-esteeming ... they do not contemplate ethics. They take what they want and they damn the future.

We are the damned. We are the ones who will choke on their smoke, and who will embody their bullets. We are the Jews of German 1920 who thought things were getting better.

So that is what Gay Day makes me fear. Even so I will take my new camera and try to make of my pessimism a day of bright photography. Perhaps the sun will break through the smoke of a thousand fires. Perhaps no bullets will fly. Perhaps one more day will pass before the North Pole melts. Perhaps.


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