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December 25, 2004

On Prejudice

The great trend this past holiday season was for some Christians to take great offense at the phrase “holiday season.” According to these bigots – who seem to number in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions – we all know it’s Christmas and it’s damn well about time the non-Christians came to grips with the fact that the United States of America is a Christian nation, and that’s that.

Before I go any further, let me share with you my number one definition of a bigot. Anybody who tries to ram their religion down any disbeliever’s throat is a bigot, and, invariably, a hypocrite. If you can’t comprehend this simple fact, stop reading now. You’re just not going to get it.

Ask one of these assholes why they feel the USofA is a Christian nation and they’ll tell you our founding fathers were Christians. Of course that’s not true – there were many polytheists, atheists, and non-Christian monotheists involved in that cabal. Many of the top founding fathers were Masons – Washington was inaugurated President in a Mason ceremony – and I know a hell of a lot of Christians who consider Masons to be evil. And if Benjamin Franklin, Tom Paine and Thomas Jefferson were examples of “good Christians,” then I’ve been boogying at the wrong covens.

Okay. Let’s assume for the purpose of conversation that all of our founding fathers were good Christians, in the sense that the phrase is used today. It’s not true, and it’s bigoted to think that way, but let’s go along with this nonsense for a couple of paragraphs. If our founding fathers were good Christians, then they must have been pretty damn fucking stupid. Here’s why.

In order to get our Constitution passed the delegates had to come up with the Bill of Rights which guaranteed that minorities would not be denied the same rights as the majority citizens. Well, except for women, Indians, blacks, Jews, homosexuals, non-property owners, and miscegenationists – but that was a matter of practice and not of law. We’ve paid somewhat more attention to the letter of the law since then, but I digress.

It is the Bill of Rights that made the United States of America unique. It is what makes Americans Americans. It is, in my opinion, the single greatest document ever written – even if it hasn’t been practiced fully, as written.

The very first article in the Bill of Rights is, and I quote: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Damn, that’s eloquent. It’s the greatest, most inspirational sentence ever written in any language, in my humble opinion. And nowhere does it say “but only for Christians.”

So if this is a Christian Nation and it was founded as such and intended to be as such, then our Christian founding fathers must have been pretty fucking stupid.

With all of the tens of millions of people raped, tortured, enslaved and/or slaughtered in the name of the Christian monogod, whomever that may be, please pause to think about it all.

I’ve had the privilege of working at and with quite a number of nice liberal organizations that could never confront their own bigotries. When I was editing at DC Comics, every time I tried to establish a page rate for a black writer or artist I was told that individual wasn’t reliable and I had to fight like the devil to get parity for that person – each and every time. And when I dared to hire a black man as a full editor, three of the editors on staff at the time (two were group editors) told me I shouldn’t hire him because he would have a difficult time working with white staffers and freelancers. My doing so actually ended one friendship that was a nearly decade strong. Go figure.

I spent quite some time working with a youth social service agency where, when I initially interviewed for the job, I was asked what political party I belonged to and how liberal my politics were. The woman who asked me this, the executive director, was also a bigwig in the local Conference of Christians and Jews type organization (Churches and Synagogues; whatever). I once asked her and her associates why they were discriminating against people who weren’t Christians or Jews. They promptly changed their name to be inclusive of Moslems, a rapidly growing population in the area. I responded “What about those people who don’t believe in your god? Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, polytheists, atheists… You know, the people who collectively constitute the majority of people on this planet?”

They looked at me as though I had two heads – and one of them was Hitler’s. They’re nice liberal people; surly, only a madman would criticize them. This woman was actually angry with me because I wouldn’t go see her church group perform Handel’s Messiah. She proved to be quite the back-stabber.

Nice, liberal bigots.

As the Bush Administration continues its fundamentalist holy mission, we’re going to hear a lot more about this Christian nation. Evolution is a theory – you know, like mathematics and nuclear physics. Homosexuals are an abomination. Hey, you know, the bible is cool with slavery! We must teach the monogod in our public schools or, barring that, give public funds to approved religious organizations that – as a matter of law – can discriminate in their hiring practices.

It’s a call to arms. For both sides. Armageddon isn’t going to happen in the middle east, it’s going to happen in Times Square. It’s already happening in our courts.

The number one character trait of religious bigots: if you publicly disagree with them, then they say you are denying them their religious freedom and, therefore, YOU are the bigot. I don’t want my tax dollars spent in promoting your religion, mine, or anybody else's. And the place to start is with taxing the churches. Anything else is illegal.

Io Saturnalia. And stop slaughtering our trees.

I’ll bet you I get at least one death threat from this.

Posted by Mike Gold at 01:10 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

December 19, 2004

On Time …

I’m sure a lot of folks who read this blog have taken note of Time Magazine’s choice for Person of the Year. Some might take exception as to their choice, George W. Bush. Not me. After all, who else can match George’s stats:

• Generally considered to be the most incompetent President since Harding; many put him ahead of both Harding and Grant. Those are the scholars who believe Bush ain’t stupid.

• Clearly the most effective bigot in American history since Father Coughlin.

• Perhaps the greatest mass murderer since Pol Pot. He’s been 250% more effective than Saddam Hussain, and when it comes to the Afghanistan body count, he makes the Taliban look like children. So Americans, beware of sanctimonious invasion. What goes around, comes around.

• No one has united more people against this nation. No one. He's united so many people against us, he really should consider revising his hypocritical stand against abortion.

• He's America’s greatest living liar. Tough noogies, Jon Lovitz.

Who had a greater year – outside of the Boston Red Sox, of course, who should have copped the honor.

Posted by Mike Gold at 02:57 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

December 16, 2004

On Birds ...

As we head towards the Solstice, I thought I'd share a tale about weather. During Chicago's so-called Blizzard of 1979, "L" service had finally been restored and service was sporadic from Evanston, where I was living, to the Lincoln Park neighborhood, where I had a client. I got on a Howard - Jackson Park (now Red Line) train and had no problems going southbound towards Fullerton until we got to the eastern curve going into Sheridan and Irving Park Road. The train stopped right at the curve, awaiting a switching problem at the Clark Street junction to be resolved.

I gazed out the window and saw a bunch of pigeons at the small park at the "L" curve in front of the cemetery wall and remarked how well they survived the subzero weather that followed the snowstorm. I went back to my book and about 20 minutes later the conductor made an announcement saying the train would be back in service in a few minutes. I looked up and out the window and saw those pigeons once again.

Then I realized they hadn't moved in 20 minutes. They were frozen solid, rooted to the spot.

A couple hours later I was back on the "L" headed back towards Evanston and I made a point of getting a window seat that would allow a view of that spot. Yep, the birds were still there. As they were the following day.

Happy winter.

I grew up in the 1950s in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood, at the corner of Sunnyside and Kimball. For me, the Kimball/Lawrence Ravenswood terminal was my own personal set of electric trains and that instilled within me a lifelong love for the "L" system. That neighborhood, of course, has changed considerably in the past half-century -- the Cooper and Cooper greasy spoon is long gone, as is the Terminal movie theater, the Purity Deli, and the notorious traffic cop who would completely lose it whenever somebody made an illegal turn from Kimball to the "L" terminal, which seemed to happen about every 10 minutes. But the line is stronger than ever today, as it nears its 100th birthday. I was there for the 90th birthday celebration, and I hope to be there in 2007. I just might even forgive the CTA® for tearing down that beautiful old Arthur U. Gerber terminal.

A tip of the hat to Glenn Hauman for teaching me html tricks.

Posted by Mike Gold at 03:31 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 13, 2004

On Lieberman…

Folks who have known me for the past, oh, two decades have known I’ve been on a long-term tear over one of my local senators, Joe Lieberman. Some of you have been waiting for this rant. The short version: compared to Joe, FCC Commissioner Michael Powell is Anthony AND Opie.

Lieberman might be the greatest threat to the First Amendment since the McCarthy Era. He’s got his “high moral standards” and he’s quick to shove them down your throat. His favorite tool is to threaten legislation against the creators of intellectual content that he doesn’t like. He’s threatened movie producers, television producers, broadcast outlets (the government controls their licensing), and video game manufacturers. The threat of government censorship is EXACTLY the same as the reality of government censorship, except the latter is unconstitutional. As Michael Powell has shown, taking on the threat of government censorship can be extremely expensive. It’s easier – and far more profitable – to cave in to these zealots.

Like most bookburners, Lieberman says he’s doing this in the name of the children, leaving the clear message that anybody who doesn’t like it is therefore anti-child. These days repression generally hides beneath the call of “saving the children,” like as if the government should do a better job of raising your children than our parents did. The clowns who can’t deliver the mail on time want to tell you how to raise your children.

If you look at his record and his speeches, it is clear that Lieberman is little more than Zell Miller at 33 1/3 RPM. He’s been a first-class Bushite, the Blue parrot on W’s shoulder. Back in 2000 when he was the ill-fated vice presidential candidate, he attracted a lot of support from those Jews who would vote for anybody who will bolster their ethnic pride. Over time, though, many Jews saw the hob-nailed boots underneath Joe’s saintly gown and most failed to support him in number during this year’s presidential run. To be fair, a great many American Jews neither care for nor trust the ultra-orthodox, defining them as zealots or, more recently, fundamentalists. And even the sexually repressed are down on copulating through a hole in the bedsheet.

Over the years I’ve made my feelings known to Joe, through his associates and assistants. I am proud to say that when he crashed one of my social service events (the opening of a childcare center in Stamford; numerous other dignitaries including the sitting Secretary of Education, Rep. Chris Shays and Mayor Dan Malloy were invited and made speeches) he was brought over to me for introduction and speech scheduling. When he took one look at my nametag, he blanched (quite an effort for a man made out of liquid paper). I smiled. He actually sneered. Damn, it was like a high school graduation. I remained polite. He turned away.

I’d like to point out that my comments to not extend to his wife, Hadassah, who I consider to be quite remarkable. She was responsible for one of the most astonishing experiences I’d ever had with a politician.

A couple years ago, Hadassah’s people called my office to arrange for a tour of the very same childcare center I mentioned above. She had heard good things about the program and she wanted to visit. Fine. I automatically think mutually beneficial publicity with photo-ops. But she wanted to come at the end of the day – too late to get on teevee – and she wanted to see the program and not press the flesh. We worked it out; I didn’t notify the media, I didn’t notify the local politicians. Not even the local Democrats, who didn’t know about it because they didn’t show up.

She arrived roughly on time. Leaving her driver in the car, I took Hadassah and her daughter on a private tour of the facility (along with the center’s creator / director, an astonishingly innovative spirit named Emily Firlik). She had no entourage. None whatsoever. Not even protection from a dangerous radical like me, known to confuse her husband with Joseph Goebbels. Hadassah asked specific, insightful questions indicative of a desire to broaden her understanding of the problems of poor parents in getting an education for their children. No political gain for the Liebermans; the only picture that was taken to commemorate the visit was taken by me.

So my problem is with the old man, Senator Joe. The man who is among the top three rumored contenders for the Homeland Security post.

Cynics will say that if Joe’s nominated the Republicans will get to replace a Democratic seat in the Senate with a Republican. That doesn’t matter; whenever he can pull his lips away from W’s butt, Lieberman often votes Red anyway. The Republican governor, a replacement for the former Republican governor who had to resign in disgrace earlier this year, will no doubt select a Red to finish Joe’s term, which ends in January 2007. Big deal. That’s not much time to build a constituency and it’ll just force the Blues to put forward their candidate at the same time.

There’s a bit of ego involved. Connecticut is a solidly Blue state, and given its role in producing the two Presidents Bush, that’s a bit of an embarrassment. The Governor is Red, but as I said she inherited it from her highly disgraced Red predecessor. The other Senator is Chris Dodd, perhaps the most liberal Blue in the Senate. The Reps are split between the Blues and the Reds, but the traditionally popular Red Chris Shays barely held onto his seat this election. Most of the rest of the Connecticut hierarchy is Blue, and the Governor’s chair is up for grabs in 2006. So maybe a Red senator will help.

Still, I think Joe’s nomination is something between less-than-likely and a long-shot. He’s not a Born Again, he’s not quite a NeoCon, and he’s creepy as hell.

But he certainly belongs with Bush’s bible-thumpers and goosesteppers. I hope he gets the job. And I hope Hadassah runs for his seat in 2006.

Posted by Mike Gold at 11:29 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 08, 2004

On The Lessons Of History

What goes around, comes around. And around and around, and it comes out here. A quote from Mario Savio, University of California, Berkeley at the beginning of the Free Speech Movement, in 1964.

"There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part, you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all."

A tip of the hat to Paul Krassner

Posted by Mike Gold at 03:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 06, 2004

On Celebrity

What’s the worst insult a celebrity can suffer?

According to the Associated Press, the Robert Blake trial is scheduled to begin today (Monday December 6th, although it could be postponed). And, according to the Associated Press, the trial “fell out of the spotlight.” In other words, the press doesn’t care because they believe the public doesn’t care. Not about celebrity trials – about Robert Blake.

Jeez, what does it take to get some attention in Hollywood today?

Posted by Mike Gold at 10:08 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 03, 2004

On Little Dot

While meandering through the New York National convention trying to find my table, I came across a copy of an early issue of Harvey Hits – one featuring “Little Dot’s Uncles.” Since I had a great deal of time to think about this title while trying to find someone who might actually know where my table was, I came to a number of conclusions.

First of all, Little Dot has to be the biggest obsessive / compulsive in American popular culture. I understand what drives sports fans and comic book collectors and even Dark Shadows enthusiasts who buy and trade human skulls, but it took me a while to understand – let alone appreciate – Dot’s particular obsession.

Little Dot collects dots. Black dots. Polka dots. Anything perfectly round and flat on any surface whatsoever. Fabric, rare bird eggs, zits on her boyfriend’s ass, whatever. She wears dot-strewn clothes, sleeps under dot-patterned bedspreads, her bedroom drapes are littered with perfectly patterned dots. If she has a hamster, it looks like a tiny Dalmatian. She spends every waking hour tracking down dots, she spends every sleeping moment dreaming about the damn things.

But what, you might ask (since you’ve made it this far), is the cause of this mania? I’ve figured it out.

It’s all those “uncles.” And “aunts.” Every time you looked around, Little Dot’s mom was bringing home a new “uncle.” Not that Old Man Dot complained; upon occasion, an “aunt” would appear at the door, sometimes with an uncle. Over the course of more than 700 Little Dot stories, I dare say Mom and Dad brought home several hundred different “uncles” and “aunts.”

I’m sure Mom and Dad had a swell old time with their so-called family, but damn, that couldn’t have been a healthy environment in which to raise a kid.

Not that Dot was unique in her suburban environs. Her best friend, Little Lotta (and that has got to be an assumed name) was morbidly obese. Richie Rich had more money than Donald Trump after a casino re-fi – his fucking dog was named “Dollar” for crying out loud! And then there was Paranoid Little Audrey. The less said about her, the better.

Little Dot’s uncles and aunts. That was even the name of an ongoing title that ran for 52 giant-sized issues. And here’s the kicker.

In case you doubt my analysis, the Harvey Comics line, which included Dot, Audrey, Lotta and that Rich brat, was distributed by Flynt Distributing. As in Larry Flynt. Hustler Magazine’s Larry Flynt.

Now, I ask you. All those “uncles?”

Posted by Mike Gold at 05:34 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

On Hotel WiFi

A hint for the traveling communicator: if a hotel tells you you will have in-room wireless internet access, get it in writing and put a bet against it.

Of my seven hotel nights this past week and a half, five were in a room that was well outside of their Wi-Fi footprint and one was in a spot with such a weak signal if it were Lipton Tea Arthur Godfrey would have come back from the grave to do his Julius LaRosa all over them.

The best service I had was at my sister's house, and that wasn't wireless.

Posted by Mike Gold at 03:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack