Dear White Conservatives: Stop It With The MLK Lying

  Americans continue to their mind over critical race theory, led by the Reasoned Very Serious Middle, a nest of punditry that seems to believe that being a centrist means occasionally Tweeting “tsk-tsk” about something Trump did while mostly demonstrating a deep hatred of liberals and progressives. Plus, for being the Bastions of Reason, they often demonstrate a tenuous grasp of history. A fine recent example of this is a piece over the weekend by Reasoned Conservative Marc Thiessen of the Washington Post, who raged about critical race theory, again, and did a very common thing that so many white … Continue reading Dear White Conservatives: Stop It With The MLK Lying

How You Can Help

I’ve meant to do this for several days but I’ve never been so tired in my life. Heat exhaustion and grief are a powerful combination. It also took time to find a group that’s doing direct on-the-ground relief in one of the hardest hit areas, Terrebonne Parish. They were recommended to me by several friends with ties to the bayou parishes. A quote from their go fund me page: This go fund me is through the Helio Foundation. It is being run by people who live in Terrebonne Parish. Directors Johnathan Foret & Reagan Creppel have been social workers for … Continue reading How You Can Help

American Hero

Rockets in Huntsville Alabama
Rocket display in Huntsville, AL. Photo by J. Freshour

Earlier this year I wrote about my mother-in-law. Today is the day I will always associate with my father-in-law. Some thoughts on him, adapted from a piece I wrote a dozen years ago.

It’s July 20. Those of us old enough remember it as the day of one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind. We can tell you where we were, who we were with, how we rejoiced. We celebrated Armstrong and Aldrin and Collins. Their voyage to the moon and back is legendary, the stuff of American heroes. Much has been written and spoken about them in the years since. They are the heroes of the the Space Race, the Cold War, and any other capitalize the two words phrase from the era between WWII and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

That’s all well and good, but I’d like to talk about another American. His name was Jim Freshour and he didn’t go to the moon. Instead in the mid 1960’s he got to pack up and move from Sunnyvale California to Huntsville Alabama. The mid 1960’s. Huntsville Alabama. He didn’t go to the moon, he went to a whole new planet. And he took his family along with him.

Those of you my age or older may recall that Huntsville Alabama was dubbed “Rocket City USA” back then. From all over the country came young engineers and scientists to work on the absurd challenge a martyred president had put forth; to put a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth by the end of the decade. And as if it weren’t crazy enough that all these over-educated, underpaid, slide rule gunslingers were plopped down in the middle of the segregated South, they ludicrously were led by a group of former Nazi bomb makers who had just a few years earlier been trying their best to bury London under a blitz of V2 rockets. The whole lot of them were met by a welcome wagon of race baiting, fifteen year olds in the sixth grade, tobacco chewing, George Wallace loving, reddest of redneck natives.

The Cold War meets Jim Crow. What a sight that must have been.

Jim did his job. Every morning he went off to work and every afternoon the ground around Huntsville would shake with the testing of the thunder he had created. Every evening he would come home and play with his children and avoid talking about what he had done at work all day. Like everyone else imported to Huntsville, Jim couldn’t talk about what he did. The constraints of national security made the merest whisper of what was said or done in the buildings behind the fencing on “that side” of town not simply local gossip, but a matter of national security, even treason.

Everyone knew what those rockets with their red glare were really about. Oh getting a man to the moon was the exciting tale to sell the public, but what we were really saying to our vodka swilling competitors across the ocean was “Don’t mess with us. If we can put one of these on the moon we can sure as hell land one in Moscow packed with a multiple kiloton nuclear surprise.”

It’s a beautiful day in Dr. Strangelove’s neighborhood.

Continue reading “American Hero”

Not Everything Sucks

Labor is fighting like labor has always fought:  On June 19, a group of workers plans to picket outside an unlikely location: Union Jacks strip club. It’s the only club out of nearly 30 Portland establishments that won’t agree to demands to ensure fair treatment of black dancers. “Who’s gonna cross a strike line of angry-ass strippers?” says Cat Hollis, a dancer who organized the Portland Stripper Strike. The picket line is a signal that the national movement for racial justice has extended to the quintessentially Portland institution of strip clubs. More than 100 dancers have issued the following demands … Continue reading Not Everything Sucks

Not Everything Sucks: Baking Edition

Ramadan Mubarak:  ARRAF: Well, that, too, is really limited because there are those bans on travel. And some countries have relaxed curfews; some places like Dubai have even opened up shopping malls. But it’s difficult. People are trying to adapt, though. We went through the south of Jordan in the town of Shobak (ph) yesterday on the eve of Ramadan, and that’s where we found this pop-up bakery. UNIDENTIFIED BAKERY EMPLOYEE: (Non-English language spoken). ARRAF: It’s a tiny little place. The guy who’s shouting is actually welcoming people. He’s saying come and get qatayef. That’s this crescent-shaped sweet that’s traditionally … Continue reading Not Everything Sucks: Baking Edition

People Have This

This is great: “I thought, ‘Tyler, you always wanted to feed people. That’s what you wanted to do, so keep doing that,’” he said. “There is good in this world. We will work together to feed people.” So Sailsbery and The Black Sheep staff set up a free breakfast and lunch giveaway for those in need during the coronavirus pandemic. The plan is to give away meals from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 until 9 p.m. every Tuesday through Friday “for as long as we can or until the schools reopen,” according to the restaurant’s website. I just keep thinking about … Continue reading People Have This

Who the Heroes Have Always Been

When this is over, I want a national day of celebration and ticker tape parades down every main street for drs, nurses, hospital staff, grocery store stockers, truckers, teachers, delivery people, and restaurant workers. — Dr. Sarah Parcak (@indyfromspace) March 22, 2020 Last night I was putting Kick through her evening paces — bathing, teeth-brushing, cat-petting, story-reading, delaying, water-getting, more delaying, singing, one-more-hugging — and I heard my neighbors outside yelling Bon Jovi songs into the air. My friends and I text each other constantly: You okay? I’m going out, need anything? Skype, chat, check-ins, bitching about small stuff, who … Continue reading Who the Heroes Have Always Been

Not Everything Sucks

It’s easy to imagine that in places where life is already hard, our current circumstances would make life harder. And they have, and they’ve made people braver, as well:  Before long, word of the project had spread, and about two dozen people came together to help, working 13-hour days to turn the abandoned house into a welcoming checkpoint. “The house was full of 3-4 feet of snow,” said Bekoalok, who has limited mobility and volunteered from home as a coordinator. “They had to shovel the house out, and they put Visqueen on the windows, so that light comes in but … Continue reading Not Everything Sucks

Still We Sing

History is still singing. We hear a lot these days about who even cares about books or movies or comics or celebrities anymore, like the world is on fire, right? How can we possibly make room for art? For beauty, joy, laughter? Well, listen to that, and rethink your despair. It’s so easy to discount that which keeps us alive. Songs and stories don’t feed us; pace Woody but your machine didn’t kill any fascists. It might have prevented some from being made, though, that’s not nothing, and when all you have left is your voice, you sing. People sang … Continue reading Still We Sing

Not Everything Sucks: YOU DID IT!

I gave you a week and you did it in almost a day:  Every year they do a MASSIVE toy drive for the little kids so they can have some holiday presents and they’re well-supplied, but need $500 for gift cards for the 50 or so older kids. Think about how in high school your buds want to go out for a burger, or over to the Starbucks to study, and you don’t have any money to buy anything. Wouldn’t you like to be able to give some kid the ability to feel normal for Christmas? You raised $500 for the … Continue reading Not Everything Sucks: YOU DID IT!

Sunday Catblogging: Our Heroine

Last week I wrote that post about what a bitch Ada was and how she never shuts up about anything ever, so I basically deserve what happened yesterday. It had been raining all day so Kick and Mr. A and I took advantage of being forced indoors to clean out closets and prep the house for an onslaught of holiday visitors and figure out where the mates to all our gloves had gone over the summer. The cats get profoundly, comically offended when we clean, as if us moving things is a personal affront to them and they were very, … Continue reading Sunday Catblogging: Our Heroine

Not Everything Sucks

Leona Lansing and Charlie Skinner are out here fucking shit up:  Jane Fonda was arrested again on Friday for protesting outside the Capitol in an effort to urge U.S. officials to take climate change seriously. This time, however, fellow “Grace and Frankie” actor Sam Waterston joined in on the protest and was also arrested. “Today, the United States Capitol Police arrested 17 individuals for unlawfully demonstrating in the unit block of First Street, SE.,” Eva Malecki, communications director with the Capitol Police, told Variety in a statement. She added that they were charged with crowding, obstructing or incommoding. Tweets of the two actors with their … Continue reading Not Everything Sucks

Not Everything Sucks: Fighting Back Edition

A friend of mine is involved with this group and they’re incredible:  Surrounded by open suitcases, an air mattress, at least one Popeyes bag, and a mishmash of chips and Cheez-It containers, the two-story row house in DC’s Shaw neighborhood could easily be the site of a sleepaway camp reunion. Instead, this week it served as headquarters for Never Again Action, a brand-new movement of young American Jews calling for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be shut down and the closure of immigrant detention centers nationwide. About 15 activists from cities all over the US stayed in the house this … Continue reading Not Everything Sucks: Fighting Back Edition

Not Everything Sucks: Cleveland Rocks

Cleveland Heights to be precise but Ian Hunter didn’t write a song about it. Ted Koppel doesn’t give a toss about the Mott the Hoople head honcho, but he does care about a group of Ohioans who are helping Haitian school teacher, Ansly Damus, in his effort to be granted political asylum. Here’s hoping that Ansly’s Army helps him realize his American dream. The last word goes to Ian Hunter: Continue reading Not Everything Sucks: Cleveland Rocks

Not Everything Sucks: David Gilmour’s Guitars

One of my musical heroes, David Gilmour, is a generous man. He auctioned off many of the guitars that he played during Pink Floyd’s heyday raising over $21 million, which he promptly gave away: A day before the auction, Gilmour revealed that the money from the auction would benefit ClientEarth, which funds environmental lawyers and experts in the fight against climate change. “The global climate crisis is the greatest challenge that humanity will ever face, and we are within a few years of the effects of global warming being irreversible,” he said in a statement. “We need a civilized world that goes … Continue reading Not Everything Sucks: David Gilmour’s Guitars

Our Commenters are AWESOME

Let’s just turn today over to JTO, from my Sunday post, reminding me to get off my ass, shall we?  The hour is running late, that is true, but it is also just as true that it is still early. It is true that this is a frustrating, infuriating fight – but it is the fight that we have always had. It was the fight for the recognition of every working man’s humanity, of every woman’s suffrage and every POC’s equality. And those we fight are never defeated, they simply retreat, regroup and try again – just like we do. … Continue reading Our Commenters are AWESOME

Not Everything Sucks

Deadwood is still with us and so is David Milch, who I’d take a bullet for and laugh about it:  Still, the studio’s faith in Milch never wavered. It just wanted him to focus on more potentially lucrative projects, and persuaded him to create a new series, “John from Cincinnati,” set in a California surfing community, a collaboration with Kem Nunn, a novelist whose books can be found in the surf-noir section. It lasted only one season, a consequence generally attributed to a plot-coherence deficit. In the years that followed, Milch remained fiercely industrious. He created “Luck,” set at the … Continue reading Not Everything Sucks

Not Everything Sucks

This man is out there making gorgeous music, that speaks to how hard and hopeless everything seems, and how you get up and do the damn job anyway. I had the good fortune to meet him at a show last fall, during a torrential downpour, like a 7-year rainstorm. He was playing a show in the upstairs of a small bar on the north side of the city and I got there like an hour early because I’m a huge dork so that gave me plenty of time to try not to look like a huge dork and think of … Continue reading Not Everything Sucks

Not Everything Sucks

Some people are making newspapers for people in prison:  It was the publication of that essay that led to me walking through the office doors of The Marshall Project two months later—having finally won parole—to talk with their staff about my experiences. That conversation led to me joining their team and to the creation of News Inside—a collection of TMP’s award-winning journalism that relates directly to incarcerated lives. In the past month, we began distributing the pilot edition of this print publication to prisons and jails; to date it is circulating in 30 facilities in 19 states. I wanted to … Continue reading Not Everything Sucks

So We Mailed Some LEGOs to Alaska, Guys!

Every time I ask you guys I think this time it’s not gonna make a dent and oh boy did you ever make a dent: #Uglydogs OMG OMG 4 trips to the post office dragging a sled behind to pick up all our goodies. So far we have opened garden supplies, glue sticks, legos, clorox wipes, finger paint paper and more more more! I will post pics by Friday. Thank you to all you wonderful doggies! — Angela Dunton (@MissAngelaAK) March 26, 2019 You’re all just so great. A. Continue reading So We Mailed Some LEGOs to Alaska, Guys!

In Loving and Awed Memory of Tom Butler, First Draft Krewe

You ever get shown up thoroughly by someone twice your age? Tom Butler and his wife June did that to me in 2007 in NOLA. Longtime readers may remember we assembled a bunch of Internet people who’d never met (pictured above) to go to New Orleans to gut a house in the aftermath of Katrina. Tom, second from left up there, absolutely kicked my ass. He and June, beside him as always, hauled out barrow after barrow, bucket after bucket, of filth from this roach-ridden rotting hulk of a flooded home in 90-degree heat and 90 percent humidity, working dawn … Continue reading In Loving and Awed Memory of Tom Butler, First Draft Krewe

LET’S MAIL SOME LEGOS TO ALASKA

I dunno if anybody else is struggling right now but I AM. Holy balls, am I ever.

The world is a dark miserable shitass place and being on Twitter is losing its goddamn charm as all I ever see is people attacking each other over who’s really a Bernie bro and who humped their cat and who has the WORST ideas for revamping local news and who I used to love yesterday who now has to be cancelled because he has revenge or rape or race-war fantasies.

And I do not have a hot take on any of it. I’m just annoyed by everything. Once upon a time I would have enjoyed laughing at Cat Humper Twitter as much as I did David Cameron Dead Pig Humper Twitter, but lately my overarching reaction is just to be really, really tired by everyone’s antics. Which is not productive. Or helpful.

You know what is?

MAILING LEGOS TO ALASKA. 

Continue reading “LET’S MAIL SOME LEGOS TO ALASKA”