Of course, "Missouri" is a pun on word "misery". Though while attending the Univ. of Missouri at Columbia way back when ('68-'72), I had many good friends, both off campus as well as on. However, Columbia's a liberal pocket in an otherwise mostly-redneck population of 5+ million; especially when it comes to anti-gay attitudes. So, coming from a left-wing queer activist like myself, it's a raucously rib-tickling rasp.
Developing a keen sense of humor in this scary world is not just a fun exercise, it's a life-saver. It lowers blood pressure, lightens a gloomy day, and busts apart grief, gloom, and despair in even the hardest to reach creases and inseams of your soul. Goddess is love. I believe that. And I also believe that the loftiest manifestation of love, is humor. What else but hearty laughter resurrects one from the sickbed so quickly? Certainly, not cloying sympathy.
And that is one very important service provided by political (or "editorial") cartoons. Another is using satire to expose wrong-doing; and why, then, parody is truly a vital facet of free speech. In fact, I was embroiled for a time with the attorneys of Charles Schulz, over my satire of Peanuts...and won! I've dedicated a web page to this issue, as an educational tool for copyright law in the U.S., especially as regards satire and "fair use":
Without satire, a large chunk of free speech would be eliminated. Think about it. And so, we all admit one thing at least: these are very scary times! So Goddess bless our comedians and satirists, who adminster a soothing balm of chuckles, guffaws and hardy-hars over our festering wounds of fear, grief, and hopelessness. I don't know how we could ever walk in public with a smile on our faces, were it not for those wonderful political cartoonists! But it wasn't until my mid-30's, that I acquired a genuine reverence towards these talented tricksters.
It is my old friend Helen, who got me started. Years and years ago--before she moved to Santa Cruz (and that is years ago now, too), say, around 1984, we were chewing the crisco at our local doughnut shop, Castro & 18th. (It has long since been replaced by a boring burrito/juice bar.) Helen, browsing through that day's S.F. Examiner, exclaimed how clever these political cartoonists are: how they capture the character of a person so well, and draw out really great punch lines that are often deeply insightful to boot. From that day on, I eagerly read each day's political cartoons with much enjoyment...and I do to this very day. (Previously, I never paid them much mind.)
Now, most queer cartoonists aren't classified as political, but it is inevitable for a queer cartoonist to tackle the dilemma of being gay in a homophobic world. And that's obviously political. For us sexual minorities, politics is intensely personal, and shapes not just the way we relate to each other, but determines where we can and can't live, where we can and can't congregate or walk, who we can and can't speak to, what we can and can't say, and even how long or short we shall live.
Those are deeply serious matters, deserving of the very best kinds of satire. Thus, queer humor is especially sharp and hilarious, worthy of anyone's time, for the keen insight it gives those on the outside (heteros), about how the world really works. And, of course, for all the great laughs.
Queer political cartoons are not only not an exception to this rule...they are actually the jewel in the crown of gay cartooning.
Well, that's one way to describe Joe Frank's dark-style monologs (humor noir). There's nothing else like it, anywhere on our planet...you'll LYFAO (laff yer friggin' arse off).
And maybe even JO while his studly voice washes over you in wave after wave of orgiastic post-modern testosterone anxiety. I could Amerikan-kiss him all night, between his endearing monologs, and gravelly moans of existential tongue groping. (That's just between you and me, okay? Now, quick, hand me a towel.)
If you're lucky, there'll be a local NPR radio station airing his shows. Otherwise, visit him in cyberspace:
He's hot! (You'll need RealPlayer to listen to his web-side shows. A link to the free version is tucked away in some corner of their download page; so don't be tricked.)
Of all the favorable reviews, I think Spin Magazine tops 'em all:
"...Joe Frank is an invaluable warrior who stands in defense of our fears, our vanities and our forever-eroding sense of ourselves. He transforms the everyday banality of the human comedy into an inspired weirdness that feeds on pathos and irony, and feels a lot like revelation. Sartre would have called it nausea; Frank makes it art."
The other great aspect about Joe Frank, IMO, is his dedication to an "outdated" medium: radio plays. Not only does he keep this tradition alive and kicking: he breathes sexy new life into it.
I strongly recommend you listen regularly to Joe Frank, in order to keep your jollity fuel gauge out of the red.
P.S.: Another twist in the Castle of Spirits' censorship of word "gay" (see 4 blogs back): Their guestbook signing has been temporarily discontinued. Boooooo-ooo-oo!
I was at a loss to come up with a unique website for today's feature. So, all you Bloganon poseurs:
I finally know what it's like to suffer "Blog Fright", and it ain't very pretty, let me tell you! Your mind goes blank, mouth turns dry, and your fingers wither like dead, wet November leaves over that keyboard, "The Great White". And you panic:
"What are all my wonderful fans gonna think, when my very fifth blog does not match the high quality of the previous four?"
And of course, this is all wishful thinking, as not onewebizen has yet to visit my lovely little blog, who has not been coerced into doing so by yours truly. (Thanks, John H.!)
so I know all about "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder", or PTSD. Before Vietnam, it was called "Combat Fatigue", and before even that: "Shell Shock".
In a nutshell (uh-oh, claustrophobia attack!): PTSD can (and usually does) result after suffering extreme trauma. There are some fortunate souls who live PTSD each and every day of their lives. I say "fortunate", for they are actually the Shamans of the New Age, in training. (Such as moi.)
But as I see the horrors of this world unfold, like some elegant CyberVictorian puzzle outta Myst, I've come to realize that we are all being called to shamanhood, with this one caveat:
"Many are called, but few are chosen".
To which I like to add:
"So step right up for your lederhosen." ':twisted:'
No, seriously, folks. No one seems to be able to avoid the tremendous stress due to such frightening times that have befallen this planet. It will therefore behoove every poor soul on this wobbly globe of miscreants, to undersand the signs of PTSD, and how to heal oneself and others of this quasi-Divine Malady:
Why divine? Because some who pass through this virtually lifelong (say, 30-40 yrs.) ordeal come out as Shaman Caretakers of this planet...each specializing in a particular, noble cause. In my case, that's sexual minority civil rights.
You know, whenever I edit a blog (and I do, at least several times for each and every blog, being the anal retentive perfectionist that I am), this little beggar pops up:
Now, I know the money ain't no big deal, being just $1.99/mo. But I do know this gives tBlog access to a link into my bank account, to automatically collect my monthly dram of flesh. Now, that just doesn't sit quite right with me; the security question is obvious.
Pardon me, while I peek out the window as I do each and every 15 minutes (was down to 7 mins. for a few hours, that's orange alert), to see what the outside world is up to, and if the percentage of citizens curious to wonder what goes on behind my window, has increased more than a trivial amount since last time I peeked...and last time they walked by. (Homophobia is truly a frightening reality!)
P.S.: Hot Tip For Nam Vets:
Whenever a situation begins to make you perceive reality as hopeless. or more than you or anyone can bear, start speaking these words--over and over again--out loud, hollering for maximal impact (never mind you're standing at the base of the Twin Towers Monument not-yet-built, and can't remember how you got there):
Post traumatic stress disorder: Oh, there goes my heart, and Oooops, Aorta!
You'll find that a dramatic display of your best friend will make the operation a smooth performance...one to write homo about, if you get my drift.
Well, that wasn't much of an escape from my gay activism, was it? (See above.) Just shows ya, when it comes to homophobia--if you're out as well as gay--you can't afford to be off your guard for even a nanosecond.
Now that we're boycotting Castle of Spirits, we need to find another late-night oasis, where we can curl up with a good tale or two. And Laura's site fills the bill:
She's a young, beautiful woman, this Laura, who writes these delicious, voyeuristic ongoing true life sagas with her bosses, co-workers, neighbors, street bums, best friends, and yes, even current boyfriends.
I first read of her site in Netsurfer Digest back in 2001 (when it was all free, like everything else back then in cyberspace). Logging upon Laura's site for the first time, my ears perked up when I thought I saw a link called "Tempting Escapades".
I was disappointed to realize a little while into the second escapade, that these were sordid accounts of mingling among Manhattan's bottom dwelling army of temporary secretaries and office clerks. I had misread the link title; what it really says, is: "Temping Escapades".
Ahhh, but I was not disappointed very long, as Laura's saucy take on life in NYC for the single (and slightly kinky) girl, with requisite entourage of gay friends (a real plus in this queer's book), shows us how much things have changed--yet still remain the same--since the days of Ann Sothern, Gale Storm...and yes, even Mary.
I thought Castle of Spirits would like to know of my favorable review...and discovered their guestbook. In filling out the form, I included my home page location: gay-bible.org. After pressing "done", the resulting new comment appeared, revealing that Castle of Spirits censors all words "gay".
Infuriated that I couldn't back up at this point, and edit my comment by spelling "gay" as "ghay", to pass through the filter...I post another comment:
As you see, I also spelled "gay" with spaces in between, which also tricks their censorbots. In fact, it is most likely almost all these censor programs have the word "gay" (and "lesbian" and "homosexual") banned by default.
This means that all these innumerable services that include automated censorship, will ban any mention of "gay", even when the owner is gay-friendly. S/he's just much too preoccupied with other stuff, to realize you need to opt out of anti-gay censorship.
So how about that? Even if you're against censoring queers, most nanny software will do it for you any way, by default. And how many "caring" heteros who run their own guestbooks/blogs/websites /forums remain wilfully uninterested in de-demonizing "gay", though pretend otherwise?
I still live in the same apartment building my friend John H. lived in for many, many years (here in The Castro).
I call it "Hotel California North"...you can check in, but you can't check out. (At least I can't!) Built in 1904, it seems haunted by the ghosts of many past residencies. Talk about your "Castle of Spirits" (see above)! :D You can also tour my apartment inside (actually, it's just a room: no kitchen, bathroom down the hall).
John has since moved to Philadelphia (his home town) to tend his aging mother, and severely disabled sister. But before he departed, I got him hooked on using the PC for his unique sketches. One thing led to another, and within a few years, he now has his own website chock full of hilarious, bizarre, elegant and semi-risque animations:
Hey, I just gave birth to a blog! It's the most amazing feeling. Better latte than never, eh?
I intend to use my "ZekeBlog" as a restful, pleasant diversion from the more serious matters of gay rights, to which my website, "Final Testament", is dedicated. Instead, you'll find links to favorite, fun sites that may or may not have anything to do with queer liberation.
This is by far the absolutest bestest juiceolistic site for true ghost tales. I'm awed and delighted at all the great storytelling that haunting experiences bring out in the average Joe or Jane.
But how come none of the ghosts recorded, are ever gay? Are they in the closet there, too? Jeez! :evil: I'll save that topic for another blog. (Meanwhile, you're invited to give your opinion why there are no gay ghosts--Casper excepted--via the comment link below.)
So whip up a mug of hot cocoa late at night when you can't get to sleep, and curl up by this vast collection of spooky events. And, if you have another moment, I invite you to read my own ghost story.