Cancel This

Women who claimed abuse or even bullying used to be seen as fragile, suspect, or asking for it.

Men who even claimed they were bullied were seen as weak, pathetic, not one of the boys and, well let’s just say it, GAY.

And in some neighborhoods, dinner tables, and as we now know, New York State governor’s offices, this is still true.

This time… maybe try to do something?

But we’ll get to NY’s 63-year-old Andrew Cuomo’s “flirting” within the confines of his lair with a young female aide who is a sexual abuse survivor (Note: Meaning asking about her dating and sex life while confessing he was lonely) in a moment.

Not so long ago, the right to speak out and be heard about any of the above subjects, and others, was viewed as one positive way our society had evolved into a more inclusive and just era.   A more perfect union, to quote our Founding Fathers.

Not close to perfect but not bad for a society that was founded on slavery and didn’t even allow women to vote until less than 100 years ago.

Forget about what it did to the gays and still hasn’t done for non-whites.

Doing my best Pete Campbell here

Yet here we are, backing into 2021, and finding ourselves in still yet another age.

One in which continuing to speak out on any of the above subjects has been officially slapped with this new and relentlessly un-clever phrase – CANCEL CULTURE.

This is a term founded on a proposition that it will stop us dead in our tracks and prevent us from achieving anything close to what our forefathers envisioned for us nearly 300 years later.

You, the accusers, want to tell us, nee order us, how to behave and if we don’t adhere to your strict set of politically correct guidelines, you want to EXTERMINATE US!

Cue the audience heads exploding!

In other words, you claimers, you complainers, are no better than Nazis.  In fact, YOU are the Nazis of freedom of speech and behavior.  Not us.

You want to tell us how to speak, what to do and even what to eat.

Well, I guess it’s no accident the Trumps plowed down Michelle Obama’s White House vegetable garden as soon as they could. 

Just as it’s not a coincidence House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy posted a video of himself this weekend reading Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham.

Oh the places you’ll go!

Never mind that it was Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the late author’s own family company, that decided to pull six of the least popular of his hundreds of books for racial stereotyping the good doctor himself recognized during his life.

Rep. McCarthy had a cancel culture point to make and gosh, darn it, he was gonna make it even if he had to read from one of the books that WASN’T cancelled.

In essence, it’s that anyone who complains about racism, sexism, homophobia or anything of the like in the public sphere wants to rub out American life as they’ve always known it. 

BYEEEEEE

They want to cancel American history, cancel American freedom and soon cancel the very definition of the American Way.

Well, if it means we cease to evolve as a country and stay mired in racism, sexism, homophobia and the way things have always been done then um, yeah, Kevin, sounds good to me.

As Nike, one of our great American corporations you love to brag about to the world (Note: Their embrace of Colin Kaepernick, not withstanding) tells us, JUST DO IT!

This works too

I’ve been writing this blog for 10 years and here is what someone named Neil Brown wrote in the comments section just this past week:

Mmm, another LGBTXYZ “person” who thinks they have anything good to add. Sorry, kid, but you don’t…

Interestingly enough, this comment was not directed at any particular subject I had written on.  Instead it was posted in the About section where, among other things, I define myself as an opinionist, screenwriter, writing teacher and… gay man living in L.A.

Imagine if I had listed the gay part, first?

Live images from Neil’s house

By the way, if you’re looking for Neil’s contribution you won’t find it because I blocked him.  I’m all for discourse, especially with those who strongly disagree with what I have to say, but it occurred to me a few years ago it’s not worth what precious time we have here arguing with morons.

Yet Neil does have the distinction of reminding me for the umpteenth time of what I’ve known practically my entire life.

As a gay person there is nastiness, marginalization, hatred and if one is really targeted, violence around every corner.

You’re throwing softballs here!

This is not even close to being the worst thing I’ve been called over the decades.  It’s just the latest minor example in a slew of major comments and actions I’ve been experiencing about my, mmm, “personage” since I was about 10 years old (Note: That I know of).  Certainly, it wouldn’t even make it on a list ofthings others in the LGBTQ community have experienced in their lifetimes.

Yet if the mere notion of a gay person speaking on anything is enough to so ruffle Neil’s feathers that he is motivated to sit down and actually vent his ire on a blog that he rarely, if ever, reads, what happens when one of those persons says something within shouting range, or does something that could potentially affect or alter he and his brethren’s way of doing things?

You see where this is going.  Or has gone.

Me, everyday?

Gov. Cuomo is not as bad as Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby. 

There’s no proof that Woody Allen committed the crime of abusing his then 7-year-old daughter, even though she says so.  And even though he is now married to her stepsister, who he met when she was a teenager and bedded when she was barely the legal age of consent and was writer-director-star of a quite famous box-office hit, Manhattan, centering on a forty something writer who has a very intense love relationship with a not yet legal 17-year-old girl, back in 1979.  What does that prove? 

That Mr. Allen was just past the age of his fictional doppelganger when he had sex with his stepdaughter and was accused of abusing his daughter?

So?????

(Note: Read about the normalization of that movie romance from a very good female writer here)

Does not pass the smell test

Andrew Cuomo never touched that young female aide in his office and the photo that captured him touching the face of a different female NY state employee at a wedding who said she didn’t want to be touched and didn’t welcome his accompanying question of, May I kiss you, doesn’t mean HE did anything wrong.

Though certainly, it’s not very strong evidence that he did anything right, either.

Which brings us back to the subject of what is wrong and what is right, what is legal vs. illegal and how we act on, speak about and rectify our beliefs about these issues. 

Well, I’m no judge and was only once a member of a jury (Note: Where we ruled an insurance company had to pay this poor family they had turned their back on millions of dollars.  So don’t get me started). 

How I see myself on a jury

But it seems to me that even if we adopted the cancel culture mindset the pink slip cuts both ways.  If you’re engaging in status quo behavior others object to and you feel right to air your grievances against them, you can’t cancel those others from speaking out on what they think.

That wouldn’t be fair, that wouldn’t be just and it certainly threatens us with an entirely new cultural definition – one of the imperfect union. (Note:  No, this is not directed at Woody and Soon-Yi unless YOU choose to SAY it is).

I don’t pretend to know the way forward.  But what I am sure about is that any time your only essential retort back at criticism is you’re being too sensitive, I didn’t realize or that’s the way it’s always been you’re on shaky ground. 

And will wind up cancelling yourself before too long.

Paul Simon – 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

Check out the Chair’s newest project, Pod From a Chair , now available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify!

Climbing That Hill

After a fantastic week of Joe, Kamala and Amanda Gorman, a 22 year-old young woman who made me love poetry once again for the first time since my early twenties, it started to happen.

I began falling into the…

ABYSS.

to the sunken place I go

Strange the way it creeps up on you.  And even stranger how, once you get to be a certain age and have had enough therapy, you know how to begin to creep out.

What brought me careening down there after this cataclysmic week of exciting firsts?

  • L.A. house arrest to avoid a virus
  • Vaccine searching fatigue
  • Zoom communication (meetings, teaching, and even socializing)
  • Screen watching fatigue (what was once fun and decadent now feels dronish and labored no matter how much YOU liked it and swear I MUST see it).
  • Fascism and other tales percolating from the dark side of nowhere
The true spirit of this week #onlyBerniememeIwillshare

Of course, this is merely a partial list.  Feel free to add on and subtract for yourself as you see fit.

I was sort of embarrassed to write this because of the privilege I enjoy.  White, employed (Note: Well, for now, nothing is permanent), happily married, friends, house, food, shelter and pasta guilt-free more nights than I can count because, more than anything else, THAT’S allowed these days).

Still, living through these times feels like dancing on the head of a pin too often than not.  At any point you can slip and impale yourself.  Perhaps not too badly but just enough that a small puncture slowly turns into a crack, and then a wound, which gets larger and larger and then suddenly emerges as a…gaping hole

Nothing to see here… totally normal day

And, you know, that can’t be good.  Imagine what awaits you when you’re fully sucked down inside.

Um, no….THAT’S not what I mean.

Seriously.

Living in Los Angeles, California has had so many benefits but the most recent downside is navigating at the epicenter of U.S. Covid-19.  We’re averaging well over 10,000 new cases daily and more than one million overall. 

Our home state of California has over 3.4. million cases thus far, the most of any state in the country.  When you consider there are just shy of 25 million people infected in the entire U.S. that means we account for almost 20% of cases.

We’re #1! We’re #1! #uhoh

And yet, we have far less vaccines available than other states. A friend in Florida told me it was easy peasy to register for your shot.  Yet the first day you could register in L.A. county, the site crashed, appointments were cancelled and many of us (Note: ME) spent hours trying to book vaccinations at sketchy clinics that wanted ALL your insurance info online and STILL didn’t manage to offer a definite spot for both shots.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think the Trump administration had it in for California and gave Florida a larger part of our vaccines just cause HE lives there.

But I’m not a conspiracy theorist.

Yet.

Searches Etsy for fashionable tin foil hats

Nevertheless, it did give me a lesson on how others might have begun to succumb. 

This, of course, was countered by watching a kind and decent man being sworn into the presidency pledging that his first priority would be fixing the CoVid mess by listening to SCIENCE and not poll numbers.

But what was even more encouraging has been his appointment of seemingly EVERY top expert in EVERY field of government to do that and much more AND to, in turn, save the Republic.

(Note: It also didn’t hurt that not ONE of them was related to him by either blood OR marriage).

Like magic… BUT REAL!

Call me crazy (and many have) but I found this to be oddly encouraging.  That and watching the unmuzzled Dr. Anthony Fauci spreading honesty on TV once again, particularly about all things CoVid.  He even got down in the weeds and reassured crazies like me that there is NO real difference between the Pfizer and Moderna shot and that the only reason he took the Moderna one was that it happened to be the one available the day he had his vaccination at the National Institute of Health.  But that he would have done either.

Speaking of straight shooters, AND decency, tell your Fox News viewing relatives there is neither to be found there.  Sean Hannity this week had a banner onscreen headline categorizing Joe Biden’s first week as president  “DISASTROUS.”  Not sure if this was due to the one million shots for the first 100 day pledge, which was already being met after several days in office, or the US reentering both the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organization.

My charitable way of saying “you are a moron”

Still, they did surface with two compelling Biden scandals.  Our new president has the temerity to wear a Rolex watch AND owns and exercises on a Peleton bike.

Oh, the no golden toilet of it all!  Oh, the shame!!

The President EXERCISES?!

Sure, I’m being snide but I’ve found that’s one way to brighten up my world and get by.  The other is to take in the fact that after four years DECENCY might actually be back in vogue. 

How do I know? 

Well, when Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff was walking down Constitution Avenue with his wife, VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS OF CALIFORNIA, he made international news just for briefly stopping and doubling back where they had previously been in order to retrieve the earring that had just fallen out of her ear.

So shocking was this act of valor in these days, I heard one journalist this week actually say on air, where do you make copies of a guy like that?

Get yourself a man that would wear your name on a t-shirt! #weloveDougie

Yes, that’s how starved we’ve been and how low the decency bar is.  Which means imagining how high we might get back to during the next four years is indeed something to live on for and celebrate no matter how long it takes to get us all immunized so we can return to hugging (and more) in person again.

Though if all that doesn’t do it for you, reveling in the words and images of our young poet laureate on Inauguration Day was a real, um…shot in the arm for my psyche, not to mention a reliable booster on each awful day since.  And that was even AFTER listening to Gaga sing the National Anthem with a giant Dove on her chest.

It was the gold mic choreography that really got me

I mean, if Amanda Gormans exist in the world – a young person with that much talent, grace and theatrical style – who also overcame a speech impediment – to live perform a POEM(!) she wrote for the ages to the world on Inauguration Day –  how bad are things, really? 

Especially when it leaves us with this life lesson:

..We will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one

We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,

We will rise from the windswept northeast

Where our forefathers first realized revolution

We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,

We will rise from the sunbaked south

We will rebuild, reconcile and recover

and every known nook of our nation and

every corner called our country,

our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,

battered and beautiful

When day comes we step out of the shade,

aflame and unafraid

The new dawn blooms as we free it

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it

If only we’re brave enough to be it

Lady Gaga – “The Star Spangled Banner”

Check out the Chair’s newest project, Pod From a Chair , now available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify!