Entries from July 2004 ↓

Grumpy Old Men

Hey you kids, get off my lawn!

Have you ever felt yourself going down a certain path and felt powerless to stop it? I mean figuratively of course. Your life is going in a certain direction and youíre just along for the ride.

Iím turning into the old man on the porch. Bill Cosby without the sunglasses. The guy who wakes up, sucks on a lemon, then goes out to face the day.

Iím in this cycle of work to home to vegetate to sleep to wake to do it all over again. Iíve seen it before, so have you. Hell, Iíve written about it before.

Iím bored by just about everything around me. The sameness of each day. The lack of meaningful friendships or deeper relationships. The often not-so-subtle societal pressures to do and act a certain way just to fit in. The way some people accept that and give up their individuality only to become clones of everyone else.

Iíve been musing about how I am aging out of any community I used to belong to. My wants and needs and interests and desires, hopes and dreams and plans for the future are so much different at 44 going on 45, than when I was 24 going on 25, or even 34 going on 35. Different from those who inhabit the communal spaces I used to visit, so much so I feel a stranger there.

Quality, not quantity, is what I am after now. Purpose. Connection to something greater and more significant than myself or the single activity we are engaging in. Lasting value and respect for what it takes to achieve it. Nothing superficial, temporary, or shallow. Respectful, dignified, inclusive, welcoming.

I got invitations to two birthday parties yesterday. The first, from one of the all-too-many acquaintances I have in this city came in the form of a slick email with jpg attachment, a photo with well-laid-out graphics and a web address. Surely to enhance someoneís portfolio, this invite looked straight out of a promotional package from a top PR firm. The event will be held at a new ďchic hotspotĒ or so it claimed, with a cash bar and hors d’oeuvres. The honoree is a nice enough fellow Iíve met once or twice, but the notice read like a place to see or be seen, less a celebration of oneís birth. Iím not ungrateful for having been thought of, but I cringed at the thought of how uncomfortable and out of place Iíd feel in such ďfamiliarĒ surroundings.

The second announcement was more simple. An email with numerous ccís, many of people I know, and like the sender and birthday boy, have known for close to 25 years. It was a ďsave the dateĒ that even listed the day and date incorrectly, though I knew what he meant. It will undoubtedly be less formal, less showy, less concerned for which designer label is (or isnít) displayed or how many inches hang over oneís belt. If anyone still has hair, it may have some grey in it, but no one will make an issue of age other than to respect it, not run from it.

I can see myself having a good time at this party, acting a fool around people who wonít be aghast if I do. Itís about appreciating the time we have togetherópast, present and futureóand valuing what we really mean to one another.

And thatís what is in such short supply in my life right now. Meaningful, lasting connections to people and activities that are respectful and non-judgmental. That accept people for who they are, not for the image they can project themselves to be.

Absent these, I feel myself drifting towards the front porch, ready to watch the traffic go by.

Can We Just Vote, Already?

They tell me former President Jimmy Carter gave a pretty good speech the other night. I heard Bill Clinton similarly inspired the Democratic faithful in ways only Bill can. But I guess Illinois senatorial candidate Barack Obama really impressed everyone with his energy and spirit and youthful exuberance, so much so, heís being touted as the face of the partyís future. Not bad for the son of a Kenyan father and a white Kansas mother.

John Edwards.jpgVice Presidential nominee John Edwards spoke last night while Presidential candidate John Kerry speaks tonight, the final night of the Democratic convention in Boston, with the expectation that everyone will leave there enthusiastic and revved up for the remaining months of the campaign.

But you know what? I didnít watch a single minute of it.

Maybe there are still folks out there who are undecided and need to watch the evening news and follow convention happenings to find that one last bit of information that will push them over to one side, but thatís not me. I knew who I was voting for the minute I heard Bush had stolen the election in 2000.

It boggles my mind how some people can be undecided still. What planet do they live on? Even if you are of a mind that Bush should get re-electedóalthough I then wonder what lies you have to tell yourself to be so convincedósurely you came to that decision some time ago. But to be undecided after four years of the most morally corrupt administration since Richard Nixon is to have your head up your rectum, clueless as to the ways of the world.

Letís completely ignore the totally unnecessary war in Iraq that has cost tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi lives, resulted in hundreds of American military and civilian deaths, destroyed US relations with our allies across the globe, cost billions of dollars in tax dollars while generating billions in no-bid contracts for defense contractors like Halliburton (Vice President Dick Cheneyís former company, in which he still owns stock and thus personally profits off this war). They never found those ďWMDĒ as the media so euphemistically likes to refer to them, and there was no connection to al-Qaeda, but we invaded anyway. It has been a disaster for us (or is that US) and a boon to Middle Eastern terrorist recruiters.

We could of course focus on the economy. During his first two and a half years in office, Bush decimated the $127 billion surplus left to him by Bill Clintonóthat guy Republicans tried to impeach for screwing an internóand launched the nation towards a projected deficit of $1.9 trillion by 2008. Estimates for 2004 place the budget deficit at $475 billionóa sum which does not include the rapidly accumulating costs of the U.S. military presence in Iraq, which the Defense Department is currently estimating at $5 billion per month. White House budget director Joshua Bolton attributes 23% of the nation’s deficit to the three successive Bush tax cuts.

I could go on and on about how this misguided approach to ďleadershipĒ is bankrupting the country, diverting funds away from necessary domestic programs like education, health care, the arts, aid to seniors and youth, as well as intruding on our civil rights, but most of us who actually pay attention to the world around us already know this. I donít need to watch the convention coverage to pick up this information. Iím not undecided.

And can we talk for a second about how the large corporate controlled media is giving those who do want to watch few options when it comes to convention coverage. The three major networks would rather program reruns of already lousy tv series than to show us something that might actually affect the course of the country. Is this capitalism at its most irresponsibly greediest, or what?

Like the folks in this satirical article from The Onion, Iím all out of anger and rage. I have no more to give. Iíve stopped watching the campaign coverage and cut back my news consumption considerably. Youíll note I havenít posted here very often lately either. I just canít get worked up any more.

In the words of Fannie Lou Hamer, Iím sick and tired of being sick and tired. I want election day to come, so I can vote George Bush the fuck out of office.

Community Calendar

In an effort to make the Datebook a little more service-oriented, I’m inviting people to send me their community announcements. If you have an event you’d like others to know about, send it to Bernie@bernardjtarver.com.

This space will be updated periodically.

July 31

Latinos for America, Democracy for America, and Democracy for NYC announce a Campaign Organizer Training in New York City, on Saturday, July 31, 2004. This one day seminar is an opportunity to learn how to manage a local campaign, increase your skills as a volunteer leader, connect with candidates who need your help, and develop action plans for the 2004 campaign and beyond.

Click here to register for this training, or others around the country through September.

Campaign professionals will lead sessions on key topics in organizer training, media production and management, data mining, constituency outreach and fundraising. These presentations are supported by small group sessions for in-depth work in each of the featured areas.

Thanks to the thousands of donations from national DFA supporters and the hard work of the local host committees, Democracy for America is able to reduce the regular price of these trainings from $150 to $45.

August 1

Other Countries presents “Fire in the Temple”, Sunday, August 1, 2004, a Pre-Pride Erotic Reading and Open Mic at Langston’s Bar and Lounge, 1073 Atlanta Avenue, Brooklyn, NY.

Featured readers include: Adodi Muse: A Gay Negro Ensemble; Samiya Bashir; Blackkat; T’ai Freedom Ford; Steven Fullwood; G. Winston James and Cheryl Boyce Taylor.

Sign-up for Open Mic begins promptly at 3:45 pm. Performances begin at 4:00 pm. There is a $5.00 suggested donation, but no one will be turned away.

August 1

Mr. New Jersey Leather 2004, along with Dragonslair Productions, present “Ain’t Got Sense Enuf to be Shamed” by Adodi Muse: A Gay Negro Ensemble. The event takes place at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, 208 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011. Doors open at 6:30 pm; show starts at 7:00 pm. Tickets are $15.00.

Aug. 3rd

On the Cusp Management announces that Jade Elektra’s Talent show, is moving to the Stonewall Bar & Club, 53 Christopher Street, New York City (in the West Village) starting Tuesday, August 3, 2004. The talent show is open to all performers (drag, singers, dancers, etc). There is a $100 cash prize to winner. Sign up at 10:30 pm; showtime at 11 PM. CD’s only. Note: If you win, you can’t enter the contest for a month. This is to give others a chance.

*Burp*

So a small group of New York area bloggersgot together to lunch with a certain visitor from Atlanta, and while his stay was a brief one (he was the last to arrive and the first to leave) a good time was had by all. It was my first face to face with two of the bunch and having already been impressed by their blogs, I was equally delighted to make their acquaintance.

We dined like the kings and queens we are at a Brazilian restaurant in the Times Square district, Churrascaria Plataforma. I don’t speak Portuguese, but I think loosely translated, that means “feed them until they burst.” The prix fixe menu allowed us to first pick from a very diverse menu at a large salad bar, then once seated, a strolling band of waiters brought a never-ending supply of various meats including top round of beef, flank steak, lamb, pork, salmon, spare ribs, and chicken. They carve it right onto your plate and keep bringing it until you indicate you’ve had enough by turning over a small coaster on the table. It’s so hard to self-regulate when it comes to food. Oh, then they brought dessert.

If you go, bring lots of money. We each took shifts washing and drying dishes and folding the table linen to pay for it all. And check the soccer schedule before you go. We were there when the Brazil versus Argentina match was up on the large screen tv. Those fans sure can make a lot of noise.

UPDATE Note to self: Consider becoming a vegan. My old metabolism does not process red meat like it used to. Twelve hours later I was still a hurtin’ puppy.

Home to Harlem

Harlem Book Fair.gifWho says Black folks don’t read books? They never visited the Harlem Book Fair.

Book sellers, book lovers, authors, publishers, agents, and the just plain curious will all descend on 135th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard this weekend for the 6th annual festival. There will also be a full day of panel discussions on a variety of literary topics.

It’s the largest book fair of its kind and is expected to draw more than 40,000 people. There will be 250 booths, plus storytellers, spoken word poets and opportunities to meet and greet some of your favorite authors. It runs from 12 pm to 7 pm.