Well, that was my magic for the week.
I spent today -- the occassion of my first missed Mermaid Parade in five years -- at a retreat in the park. Eve spent most of today catching daddy long-legs of all sizes and letting them run about her hands and arms; some of the other little girls there shared in her fascination but not her adventurousness in letting them touch her. At one point she made a sign saying "DO NOT DISTURB!" with a picture of a distressed daddy long-legs on it, to put on a stump where many were living, because people kept doing things around it.

Afterward she and Grace went into the public pool, and my magic moment happened; as I stood by the edge, I noticed a movement in a drain at my feet, and pulled out a dark blue dragonfly that was being sucked against the grate by a shallow but ceaseless flow of water.

It moved feebly but purposefully on my hand for a few minutes, cleaning its eyes and adjusting its position, but as I took it to dry in the sun, it began to slow down. As a few people gathered to see it, it slowly stopped moving completely, its legs curled up awkwardly beneath it.

It seemed strange that it would survive only to die *after* mostly drying out. Maybe it was the chlorine in its system, I figured. I said to the onlookers, "Well. I've seen bugs survive worse," and I decided to hang onto it. It sat there in my hand, stirred occasionally by the wind but otherwise, as I looked back and forth from the girls in the pool, it seemed if anything more dead every time I glanced at it.

After about five minutes of this, I saw a twitch of its right foreleg. That was good enough to make me wait awhile longer. But after another five, I was about to give up; when I moved my hand again, though, it was holding on with both front legs. After a few more minutes, the right middle leg was clearly moving, and then two of the remaining three; the left hind leg seemed to be stuck in a bent position. I pried gently it open with a tiny juice-box straw, and then it moved it mostly into position under itself, and it was standing on its own.

I could see a droplet of something moving in its mouthparts, and I wondered whether it was trying to pump out water, but it didn't end up vomiting anything on my hand, so I guess not. Over another five minutes or so, it bent its legs so as to stand almost on its head -- maybe to drain water downward to the mouth, or maybe to dray out its spiracles in the wind, or something else. I don't know, but it kept that position pretty much thereafter.

Ten minutes later, the pool had closed and we were sitting at a picnic table, watching the tiny, motionless, beautiful alien in my hand. Grace named it Tara, which I insisted on at least spelling "Ptera". At about that oddly appropriate point, it began to vibrate its wings, maybe 4mm up and down, in little regular two-or three-second bursts. Like revving a tiny engine; I could feel the buzz through my hand; the girls put their fingertips gently beneath the tips of the buzzing wings to feel it themselves.

It did this for about three minutes. Then without adjustment or an ado, it shot straight up into the air, and was gone.

So. I can't complain much about today.

"WTF, Rape Culture BS?" laid out real simple
I didn't write the following; it's from one Michael Fehle, a Facebook friend-of-a-friend, commenting on the George Will's recent words about rape (or, as George would presumably have it: words about "rape"). But it was so beautiful and reflective of my own thoughts that I wanted more people to see it.


What kills me about the comments on the original article is the poster that says "Sometimes women change their minds about sex." The poster is right, of course - sometimes they decide that they want to have sex after all. So...it's ok to have sex with them while they're making their minds up, even though they said "no"? Is it only rape if you cum before she's changed her mind? What if she cums (as unlikely as that might be in a non-consensual scenario)? Is that "proof" that she was enjoying herself, and therefore it can't be rape? What if she said "yes" last week, or yesterday, or this morning - is that implied consent, given that you didn't cum and therefore the sex that you're having is actually a continuation of the consensual sex, not a separate act?

"Peter Sutcliffe, you stand accused of raping and murdering 13 women. Do you have anything to say in your defence?"
"Your honour, it was my firm belief that they would change their minds after I started raping them, that they would decide that they wanted to have sex with me after all."
"Oh, right you are, then - case dismissed."

Seriously, folks, what sort of fuckwittery is this? She said "no". Like she said "no" to another helping of dessert - at that point did you start force-feeding her cheesecake on the grounds that she might "change her mind"?

I'm baffled, really I am. I mean, I get that rape isn't generally about sex, it's about power and control. But seriously? Maybe I don't get it - maybe there's a thrill to having sex with someone who really doesn't want to. Maybe it's part of this PickUpArtist shit that has been so much in the news lately (frankly, guys, if you need someone's help to get laid then you probably need more help than they're going to give you).

Whatever - she said no. No, I don't care how drunk she is, how hot she is, how much you think she's into you, how much kudos you think you're going to get from your friends - if she's hammered you put her in a cab, you take her home, you make sure she gets through the door, and then you leave. Yes, maybe it will cost you a few bucks in cab fare. But guess what - you get to go home knowing that you did the Right Thing. And you get to wake up tomorrow without the police hammering on your door with a warrant for assault. Get the cabbie's number, too, just to be on the safe side - sometimes people do make mistakes, helps to have someone to back up your version of events if that happens.

Sorry for the rant, but this shit really pisses me off

I’d recently stopped being married. She was the first woman I’d dated since then – a bizarrely amazing first date, we both agreed – and it had quickly not worked out. She was very type A. I was very type B. And of course I was emotionally a wreck (even more than I was a couple of years later, when I was still… far from a catch). I hadn’t fallen in love with her, but I had inappropriately saddled her with enormous emotional significance as all the insecurities I’d thought resolved since I’d gotten married had begun to unsuppress.

I’d gotten over those once I realized what I’d done. We’d stayed friends. She was wonderful. And beautiful. And brilliant. And kind. And vivacious – more so than anyone I’d met until then.

She was also, in retrospect, self-centered, self-loathing, emotionally masochistic and a drama queen. None of these lessened the qualities above, though they would eventually take their toll on them – especially the last. I wasn’t in love, but I loved her. (I still do, though my hope for her eventual happiness has waned over the years.)

She’d introduced me to The Birthday Massacre, and as with so many things at the time, we both loved them. We'd been to one of their concerts before, in slightly better times between us. This time, we ran into one another a few blocks before the theater.

We were almost certainly the oldest people there (she 30, I 36), except maybe that one guy in the Spiderman tee shirt. Most of them were teenagers, maybe a little older. Well, it was an all-ages show, I guess that’s what you get.

But we held an advantage; we were able to buy alcohol. And we discovered that there were tables with seats, but there was a $30 minimum, and we knew we were going to knock back at least 5 each by the end of the night, so we got ourselves a table.

We laughed at the first band because their sound sucked; I discovered it genuinely sounded better with my fingers in my ears, filtering out the extraneous noise.

The second band was better. Creature Feature. I still like them, in small doses.

Then TBM came out. They were the main event. They went through their last two albums. We sang along with most of them. When Redstars came on, I noticed she was crying through it (I don’t know exactly what memory that triggered for her, but I have ideas). I gave her a cocktail napkin that she used to dry her eyes.

(I still have that black napkin. The tears of a Bodhisattva, however flawed, struck me as a thing worth holding onto.)
It was a good night. And then the concert was over, and then it was a goodnight.

We walked to the subway together. I don’t remember what I said that triggered this, but she stopped me just outside the subway. She stepped over to me, and said, “Just so you don’t wonder.” And took hold of my coat, and pulled me in, and kissed me, slowly, one last time.

Of course, this rendered the subsequent wait for our train slightly anticlimactic. But that’s okay.

When I got home, I went to Aaron’s. I told him the story. He nodded, said, “Oh.”

He paused.

“So you wouldn’t wonder what?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “But I figured asking would’ve ruined the moment.”

And I still don’t know.

Time winds and rewinds and plays out, blindly repeating while still drawing always nearer its end. More precisely: my time, my end. Then comes a moment where the record skips, and in a desperate instant one looks frantically for an escape from the groove, before the needle lands in it again.

It's time to switch things up. 

I'm going to try an experiment. To write, here, floridly, even purpley, and yet unironically. To write with neither the belief that this inefficient use of words represents eloquence, nor with that self-effacing nod-and-wink that in fact renders self-effacement null; which lays all guilt upon the words themselves, and sends them forward as scapegoat, that I might walk free.

No. I'm going to play this straight, explore the words and the language as a virgin clumsily paws at his first partner. And it's been so long since I really have so delved into it that I might as well be a virgin groom. (And that's if I ever have; perhaps I'm a virgin still, whose fantasies are so vivid that what I remember as coitus was really just masturbation.) 

Already I feel the rote phrases starting to close in, jumping to the fore of my mind; the verbal tics that characterise my writing and speech to the point of caricature. "In fact," "Indeed," "To be honest," "To be fair," and others like them, cushioning my statements to mitigate any sin of certainty in my part. And (to be fair), those cushions are not irrational meekness, for I know that I have oten been guilty of... unwarranted arrogance.

So we'll see how this goes. A little a day, if can manage it. We'll see how the words flow, and if the silt ever clears unfiltered.

My Final Original Cyn
"Life gives these and also takes them away and the great difficulty is to say Yes to life.”
- James Baldwyn

Original Cyn is over.

For over six years, it said Yes to life, in letters the height of a worn bar and a steel pole, in one of the most gloriously divey bars in Brooklyn. For the last three and a half of those years, it was my privilege to be there, to learn to do the same.

I'm not the first to compare OC with going to church, but I suspect that he meant it less literally than I do. In it, I found community. Music. Ritual. The passing of the collection plate. Since the introduction of the Body Shot, there was a Eucharist. And, when Apathy Angel gogoed, visions of God*.  

There I met people more amazing than I'd imagined ever knowing --  the insanely brilliant, and the brilliantly insane; lovely bodies, lovely hearts, lovely minds (and usually combinations thereof). Notably Miss Mary Cyn, who started the show (and for whom it was named, and of whom it was an extension). Joe the Shark, who produced it with her for most of the past five years. Nelson Lugo. Schaffer the Darklord. Bea B Heart. Peter Aguero. Juliet Jeske. Bombazeen Bean. I could go on listing names for an hour and still come back the next day with a list of those I'd somehow forgotten. Some of these have honored me with their friendship, while the rest at least politely tolerated me (and I'm grateful for either consideration).

Since Miss Cyn has a goldfish memory for how significantly she touches the lives of those around her, she likely doesn't believe how much her show meant, or to how many. For once, she and I stand in disagreement**. What she created was a bizarre gathering place where the mostly normal and the mostly not could come stand united*** as Cynners beneath a banner of art and sex and booze and irony and the evidence before us that there's more to life than the way we spend most of it.

(About a month and a half ago, the thought struck me that OC was a lot like the Island of Misfit Toys. Though I was secure in this, I still had it confirmed at the very next show, when I overheard Ms. Cyn opine to another patron, "Are you kidding? This is the Bar of Misfit Toys!")

The announcement that it was all ending was well timed -- right after the penultimate show, so it didn't cast a pall over that, while giving as much time as possible for people to free themselves up for the finale. I'm sure I'm not the only one who felt it as a blow. Certainly not to judge by the crowd at the last show.

If you weren't there, the details are irrelevant. It was everything OC had ever been, many times over. Multiple hosts, favorite acts, every person there hungry for every second they could get until the final bow. Then The End of the World played and the afterparty began, with more dancers lining up for their turn on the pole than I'd ever seen. And then, hours later, there were hugs, and tears, and it was done.

None of the tears were mine, though; I have no business mourning. For three and half years, OC was exactly what I needed it to be, and more. 

Michael Stipe notwithstanding, the sun rose on a new day, to set into a night changed only by the absence of one tiny, bright star. My privilege now is to be one of those who can look at the place where it no longer shines, and know its name. I have my CBGB's now: my experience of a magic spark that will never be quite duplicated.  I've become a regular at Joe Shark's carny/burly Sharkbite Sideshow, and Dottie Dynamo's Bare Necessitease Burlesque has something of the bright and hungry, seat-of-the-pants energy that Miss Cyn describes in the early days of OC. Both are amazing, but neither will ever be OC (nor are they trying, nor should they). 

It only now occurs to me that the story of the misfit toys didn't really begin until it was time for them to leave the island. For years, OC was a reef in the open sea, a safe and stable place where colorful things could gather and feed off of one another's scraps in a weird ecosystem of friendship, kinship and creativity. Where they could grow into... whatever they wanted and could, but maybe couldn't without a place to call home. The thing about the reef is, not everything that lives there stays there. Some -- the big fish, usually -- are passing just through. Others start there, but have to hit the ocean to grow up, and make something of their own.

Had it not been for Original Cyn, I wouldn't be all I am now. And while what I am now might not be very impressive, it's a damn sight better than what I was before -- at least I have an I, now. I gained a name (and I'm still not sure how much of that blame I can claim for myself). I gained art to appreciate, and art to create. I gained friends, and people to admire, and ambitions to follow. 

And I gained an understanding of saying Yes to life. Enough to know that it often means saying your goodbyes with a smile.

* Or *dess, as you prefer.

** Twice if you count Sucker Punch, but I'm still open to persuasion on that one.

*** Because there was never enough seating.

Old Guys with Beards.
Just because.

Evil. Plain and simple.
Please watch this:

And read this:

'Muslims & Buddhists: Get Out!' Says Preacher Applauded by Santorum

Okay, so here's my new analogy for the current political climate.
It's like you've got a ridiculously huge country that was formerly linked by a few major roads, lots of local streets and, in many places, dirt roads. Individuals had a hard time getting places by car, and so were dependent on train lines (how good or bad a job the trains actually did serving this need is not, for this discussion, material).

Then said country decided to build a big highway system. It cost a ton, but it connected the country and enabled both commercial and private transit on an unprecedented scale. Commerce boomed, industry boomed, personal freedom of travel boomed. As with anything, there were bad effects mixed with good -- certain shipping industries suffered, populations and land values shifted, some communities were disrupted (becasue they were in the way, or because people left for newly accessible locations), carbon emmissions were increased (though it was still not the major cause of such) and a lot of people now  needed cars because they lived in communities accessible only by the highways. But for those interested in freedom of transportation, it was on balance pretty much win. 

[Aside: This actually happened!]

Fast-forward fifty years. Someone notices that the highway system near him, due to the way it was engineered, takes a tortuous route to get to his favored shopping center. Hell, he thinks, if I could just drive straight there instead of having to stay on the paved roads, it would take only half the time. He begins railing to anyone who'll listen that the highways are an infringement on his constitutional freedom to travel, that we should all just have ATVs and make our ruggedly individual way where we want to go -- and we could all afford them, too, if we weren't paying for this bloated highway system.

A lot of do people listen, because who hasn't fantasized, sitting in traffic, about cutting across the divider and going wherever the hell you want?

Over the next 30 years, the growing anti-highway movement manages to continually restrict funding for the highways. The highways start to fall apart, which the anti-highway movement points to as further evidence of the failure of the highways -- why, they say, we can keep our local streets in better repair than this! (And to those whose local streets are in even worse repair, they say that this is because of all the money being wasted on the highways.)

When the highways are at last reduced to decrepit, hard-to-use eyesores rotting across the country, and people are free to tear up the countriside in private tanks that cost a fortune in rapidly-dwindling gasoline, they are pointed to one last time as the great failure of cenrtalized transportation management. 

Whattaya think?

Looking for a Droid App: An Allegory
OP: "Hey, I just got the new Teleportrix X3, and I love it, but I notice there's a minimum range of 20 miles. I want to use it to get some milk from the supermarket a mile away. I used to do that with my old Teleportrix Mundane all the time, why did they put in a minimum? Is there a workaround/way to change the setting?"

Commenter #1: "Well, the X3 it has a minimum range, but it has unlimited maximum range. Easily worth the trade-off, IMO! :)"

OP: "Yes, it's a great feature, but I still need to get to the supermarket a mile away. Why did they put in a minimum range? I don't see what the one has to do with the other."

Commenter #2: "But with the unlimited range, you can go to Wisconsin for your milk!"

OP: "I really just want to go to my local supermarket."

C#1: "Why are you afraid of teleporting long distances? Maybe you'd feel better teleporting in a tin foil hat! :P"

OP: "I'm not afraid of teleporting long distances. I love the unlimited range feature. But I'd also like to be able to teleport to my local supermarket. Isn't there any way to change the setting?"

C#2: "This post makes no sense. Why would you buy an X3 when all you want to do is teleport a mile away?"

OP: "I don't just want to teleport a mile away. I teleport to my job on the other coast three times a week, and I visit my family in Toronto several times a month. Plus, sometimes I like to go ot the Grand Canyon for a few hours. But I'd also like to go to my local supermarket. I honestly don't understand why they took my ability to do so away. It makes no sense."

C#2: "Well I seriously doubt anyone put a gun to your head and made you buy the X3. The minimum range was right there in the end-user agreement. It's ridiculous to expect Teleportrix to put in every trivial feature ever user anywhere asks for."

C#1: "What's your problem with Wisconsin? They have enough troubles right now."

OP: "No one put a gun to my head. And I like the X3. I like the unlimited range, and the attractive case. But I'm not asking them to include a feature, I'm asking why they took away a function that had always been there. In fact, I'm not even asking that, I'm just looking for a way to go to the supermarket."

Commenter #3: "Why don't you just use your old Mundane for your supermarket and the X3 for everything else?"

OP: "Thanks, but I have limited space in my apartment, and would rather just have one teleporter that can take me where I want to go. Especially since I see no reason the minimum range was ever added in the first place!!"

C#3: "Well you don't have to bite my head off. Lot of luck finding help with that attitude!"

C#1: "Yeah, why are you even on an X3 forum if you hate the X3 so much? Fucking troll."

 She doesn’t think she’s beautiful,
except on the very best of days
when a threesome of accomplishment,
compliment and endorphins
gives her courage to look into the mirror without filters.
She’ll admit to sexy, grudgingly,
if bolstered by makeup and corsets
and other accessories.
But anyone can be sexy, she reasons madly,
and sets the stage for the jest that's to come.

It’s not much of a stage; just a box
about yae tall by wide by deep,
but she gains it, and confidence follows
though she doesn't admit why
(what the box is and she’s become).
But then the goddess plays her joke,
and slides around her,
visible to all but the one she rides;
the priestess gogos on,
blind to the divine radiance
that blinds in turn all who watch
and worship at her tiny altar.

Across the room dance the elegant dolls
against whom she measures
and finds herself wanting,
regardless of the hungry eyes
that turn from them to her
to sate themselves on her porcelain curves.
From behind her eyes, the goddess winks,
and we share the tragic comedy of this madness:
that she knows what effect she has
when she dances, when she breathes,
when she leans
to place her perfect, painted mouth
by an ear to speak over the music.
She knows full well what that does,
and takes some pleasure,
but feels she’s played a clever trick.
(A trick of delight.)
They don’t know what she really is,
she tells herself
(and the irony stuns small birds for miles).

When the night's done, she steps down,
the goddess withdraws
(just enough that we can look away),
and she goes back to her image of herself.
She checks her mail, and messages, and posts,
and finds among them this.
She dares suspect this paean is to her
but takes refuge in silly modesty
until she reads one more line
and sees what the clever boy did there;
then she admits, and smiles.
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