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Of Politically Incorrect Grocery Stores & Pink Elephants

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 2:58 am - August 17, 2009.
Filed under: LA Stories,Synchronicity

Some days turn out better than expected, even when you were already expecting a very good time.

And such was my experience at the GayPatriot BBQ this Sunday at reader Leah’s Valley home.  Not only did we have a good turnout of readers, but several straight bloggers joined us as well, including Roger Simon and his wife Sheryl Longin (who discovered the real Deep Throat of Watergate),  Joe of Valley of the Shadow and Wesley of In My Copious Free Time.

I knew it was destined to be a great party before I even got there.  Defying the liberal boycott, I went to Whole Foods to buy cheese and olives.  When I asked the adorable man at the cheese counter if they had Humboldt Fog (quite possibly my favorite cheese), he replied that they did–for he had just cut  up a wheel and put out the wedges he had wrapped.  And then, on my way out, passing the pastry counter, I saw on an adjacent display carousel, boxes of cookies marked, “Pinky the Elephant.”  How perfect for a BBQ for blog of gay people sympathetic with the GOP.

At at the BBQ, a good time was had by all.  The food was delicious, especially the chicken and a homemade cheesecake.  And it was so nice to have a conversation without having to defend ourselves against charges of self-hatred.  And the topic varied widely from considerations of Anthony Perkins to discussions on the prospects of the health care overhaul passing and Ma’am Boxer winning reelection.  At its peak, we may have had 25 people, with guests ranging in age from 20 to 65.

We stayed well into the night; I didn’t realize it was long past 10 when I left.

Palin: Helping Hollywood Republicans “Out”?

On Friday after returning from St. Paul, a friend and I went out to dinner at our favorite Ethiopian restaurant.  As we were finishing up, I heard a loud male voice proclaim how John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin had made him proud to be a Republican — “for the first time in three years.”

What struck me was not just the synchronicity of hearing a Republican gushing about our party’s ticket on the day I returned from seeing them nominated, but that he would proclaim his enthusiasm in such a loud voice in a public space in the heart of liberal LA, within a few miles of Hollywood.

Normally, when we Republicans discuss politics in Hollywood, we do so in a hushed tones, fearful that some left-leaning player might hear us and thus “black list” us.

This enthusiastic Republican wouldn’t be the only one to gush about Sarah.  Earlier today, while doing my cardio at my gym in the heart of Hollywood, I heard two women discuss Palin in normal tones of voice.  Delighted to hear such support of my party’s vice-presidential nominee in a place where I am often needled for my conservative views, I chimed in, noting that “I was there” for the speech.

One of the women observed that many of their (her and her husband’s) Hollywood friends who had been “in the closet” (her expression not mine) about their Republican views were openly expressing their support of the ticket now that John McCain had chosen Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Like Tammy Bruce, they don’t agree with her on abortion, but are impressed with her persona and accomplishments.  And with John McCain for tapping such a strong woman.

Of course, two conversations do not a trend make, but hearing Republicans in Hollywood so openly discuss our party’s candidates is not something you encounter every day.  Especially when they’re speaking in a normal tone of voice — or louder.

UPDATE (John, Average Gay Joe): The Weekly Standard has an interesting column on Hollywood celebrities supporting the McCain campaign. Check it out to learn more about the “Friends of Abe, an informal group of entertainment-industry conservatives”.

The Real Meaning of Gay Marriage

When I drove cross country last fall, I often turned off my CD player so as to better let my thoughts wander. A number of ideas came to me, some of which I have addressed on this blog. One of the first notions which which popped into my head, somewhere in Arizona or New Mexico on the first day of the journey, was to wonder if my ambivalence on gay marriage was related to how many gay advocates approached the issue.

As I read David Blankenhorn’s book this past week, his description of some of these advocates reminded me of my own encounters. They saw marriage as just a relationship between two people, nothing more than a “right.” They scorned monogamy and delighted in the institution’s decline.

Few saw the conversation on gay marriage as part of a means to strengthen the institution. Indeed, some expressly sought to weaken it.

I found it difficult to take seriously advocates whose understanding of marriage as a right defined by the Supreme Court’s landmark 1967 decision Loving v. Virginia, banning “miscegenation” laws, as if the concept originated in jurisprudence and its social and ritual aspects irrelevant.

That all changed when I started reading Jonathan Rauch’s Gay Marriage: Why It is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, particularly the chapter, “What Marriage is For” (which I have praised numerous times on this blog). He got at the meaning of this institution.

As fate would have it, at the same time I was reading the book, Jonathan was in LA. I went to hear him speak at A Different Light bookstore where he offered two anecdotes which showed that like Blankenhorn, he understood the debate on gay marriage involved the issue of marriage itself.

First, he mentioned a straight couple who came up to him after his talk and thanked him for reminding them what marriage was all about it; his words thus served to strengthen their marital bond. Then, he mentioned how when he presents the very same issues to gay activists, many who had a similar positive reaction, while his words caused others to question their own support for gay marriage. If marriage involves retreating from sexual liberation, they didn’t want it.

Given what that institution entails and some of the mores of our community, a real conversation on marriage is likely to trouble many gay people who favor a more libertine approach to sexuality.

If we really want gay marriage, we need to address that attitude.

(more…)

How to Suddenly Feel Rich(er)

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 4:54 am - December 17, 2007.
Filed under: Friendship,Synchronicity

Last week, after I had deposited a check and paid some bills, I tallied my recent payments and found that I was a little behind for the month. Well, I figured I’ll just be a little more careful for the balance of the year. I wasn’t in that much of a hole. But, as I looked at that final sum, I wondered how I could have fallen short when I had just put some money in the bank, not much, but enough to more than cover that apparent deficit.

I didn’t think much of it for a while, but then decided to check my math. It turns out that instead of adding the total amount of those checks ($216), I had subtracted them. Then, I redid my calculations, adding where I should have subtracted and came out $432 ahead of my previous total.

Probably because I had accepted (albeit briefly) the lesser amount, I suddenly felt richer. I wouldn’t have to scrimp on the holiday gifts I had yet to buy for friends and family members. That evening, I went out that night to Barnes & Noble — and with a coupon in hand where I saw something that I knew one of my closest friends would like, but cost a good deal more than I had intended to spend. Well, feeling flush, I got it for her.

And I’m still ahead of where I had feared I might be financially just a few hours previously.

It’s kind of weird to think that had I not made the mistake I might not have bought the gift I did for my friend even though I could have afforded it. It’s just that bracing myself for a smaller balance had made me realize how much money I really did have.

Maybe there was some other force at work that day. Whatever it is, I’m grateful for the error and will soon find out if my friend is as well.

On familiar faces, Marcel Proust and Hollywood

Have you ever had one of those moments when you see someone you just know you’ve met before yet you couldn’t put a name to the face?

I had such an experience tonight when out to dinner with two friends. At the restaurant, I saw this guy I was certain I had met when I was in DC. it seemed my friend Pete (not his real name) had introduced us. Then, I thought maybe we had met at a Jewish group, and he knew Pete.

But, I wasn’t sure.

It reminded me of the time, shortly after I moved to LA when I was walking through Beverly Hills and saw another familiar face. I was all but certain this guy and I had gone to law school together. Just as I was about to say, “I haven’t seen you since law school,” I realized that this guy wasn’t a classmate. He was Christian Slater whom I’d first seen in a flick right before I set off for law school.

It struck me that in LA, sometimes when someone looks familiar, it could just be someone we had seen in a movie, on TV (even in a commercial).

I didn’t say anything to this guy for fear of embarrassing myself, in case he was an actor. (Now that I think about it he did kind of look like that guy in the Verizon commercials.)

I ponder yet again the way our memory works. And remember Marcel Proust. When the narrator of In Search of Lost Time dips a madeleine (a pastry) into his cup of tea, he recalled doing the same thing as a child. That act released a flood of memories which became that great novel. This guy’s image today didn’t unleash a flood of memories, but it did trouble me that I couldn’t remember where I had met him (or seen him).

Sometimes when I do see a familiar face which I can’t place, I find that when I learn the guy’s (or gal’s) name, it’s like Proust dipping the madeleine into the tea. While it doesn’t bring back my entire childhood to me, the name usually helps me remember how I’d met the person to whom it belongs. And a few things about him as well.

Since I didn’t get a name tonight, I thought I’d do a post. It is an intriguing thing our memory, why we remember certain things at certain times. How learning a name a name can help us remember all we know about a person. And how one simple act can lead to one of the greatest modern novels.

- B. Daniel Blatt (GayPatriotWest@aol.com)

Coincidence or Synchronicity & the Meaning of Life

A few days ago, the employer of a close friend asked him to buy a digital camera. Instead of asking the firm to reimburse him for the camera, thus making it the company’s property, my friend decided to pay for it himself so he might keep it, observing that it would allow him to capture images of his friends and family. For, he noted, he found his greatest happiness in time spent with others.

And he came to this wisdom despite his refusal to read Silas Marner, one of George Eliot‘s great novels. The power of human relationships is one of Eliot’s great themes.

At the same time as my friend offered his pearl of wisdom, I’ve been reading Anthony Kronman’s Education’s End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life. (I learned about this book one day while perusing Instapundit.) As I began to read it, I learned that Mr. Kronman is a graduate of American’s finest liberal arts college. No wonder he can offer such important insights.

I expect to have more to say about Kronman’s book as a later date, particularly about what the abandonment of the study of the meaning of life means for gay people. So far, I have really enjoyed the first third of the book. The author, the former dean of Yale Law School, provides a good background on the conversation about life’s meaning and the history of colleges and university curricula in America. He may be a little repetitive at times, but that repetition does not detract from the book’s strengths.

It stuck me as interesting synchronicity that the same weekend my friend would offer his insight on the moments of true happiness that I’m reading a book about the meaning of life. It seems to me that it is in large part through the human relationships we establish that we discover life’s meaning. Perhaps that reading has put me in a philosophic mood these past few days, hence the slow blogging.

I do hope to blog a little more for the balance of the week, as I have a few followup posts in mind on the controversy I excited in speculating about the MSM’s Disinterest in the Anti-Conservative Attitude of some gays, a piece wondering about the President’s screwups, a few ideas about men and (gay) marriage and some thoughts on the upcoming release of a movie supposedly inspired by the most important literary work in a European vernacular language between the fall of Rome and the publication of The Divine Comedy.

Oh, and in line with my thoughts on the misundertanding and loathing that some on the left, particularly the gay left, express toward conservatives, I should note that the friend whose comment inspired this post is a Democrat who has never voted for a Republican in his life. He may rib me for my politics, but it doesn’t diminish the quality of our friendship. Indeed, in some ways, our political differences strengthen that friendship.

Report from the Road–Back in Charlottesville

Whereas yesterday I had a driver’s high, today I experienced whatever is its opposite. I started flipping out somewhere in eastern Tennessee. When you’re pushing hard to make it cross country in three days, you don’t have time to appreciate the beauty of the land. You don’t have time to relax.

When I crossed into Virginia late Tuesday afternoon, early evening, I realized how beautiful in this state where once I lived. And the leaves were just beginning to turn. Alas, that it became dark as I headed north on I-81. That made the driving even more challenging. Not just that. I had forgotten the extent to which trucks use that route. I had to concentrate as much on driving as if I were driving through LA.

And then I understood how draining driving can be. I had thought I would arrive refreshed “back east” as we Angelenos call this part of the country. Well, I made it here and am now staying with my friend Rick Sincere, but am a little zoned.

Rick and I did have a great evening, going to dinner on the Corner, the shopping district near the main grounds of the University of Virginia where I completed my legal education (actually the law school was not on main grounds, alas, alas).

We visited the lawn, the center of the University designed by Mr. Jefferson (Thomas, that is) himself. Chatted briefly with Al Clark, the Room Seven Resident, a member of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society of which I was a member when in law school.

i delighted in the statue of Homer on the lawn, smiling as I considered my own odyssey and the epics i was listening to as i headed east.

It was interesting seeing how much the University had changed since I was here. And how the names and locations of various buildings and local establishments, some no longer in business, came to mind as I walked around. Places that I had not even considered since I was last in town.

Earlier today as I drove, I was listening to The Odyssey, hearing Odysseus recount the ‘odyssey” part of his journey (only about one-third of the epic) when he takes his long journey home from the Trojan War, with numerous adventures.

On my journey, I could not afford to have such adventures as I had to haul a** so I could make it east in time to see my friends. Well, while I am delighted to be here at Rick’s, I regret that I really didn’t get to enjoy the drive today–as beautiful as the country was.

The long and the short of is if you’re going to drive cross country, don’t try to do three days in a row where you need to make 850 miles a day. While you may get a driver’s high on the second day, you start wigging out on the third. At least I won’t need to drive any more that 5 hours/day for the next 8 days. And only on three of those days will I be driving two hours or more.

When last I left Odysseus, he had arrived home in Ithaca, not knowing where he was, but greeted by the goddess Athena. I can understand the disorientation, but lack the divine welcome.

UPDATE: Rick has a post acknowledging my visit. Check it it. And while you’re there, check out his blog which is a source of information on matters libertarian, musical, electoral and central Virginian.

Peggy on the President’s Problems

A number of readers have noticed that I haven’t blogged all this week. I apologize for my silence, but this has been a kind of introspective week for me where I have not really been motivated to write. Perhaps, it’s that I need to complete the first draft of a “concept paper” for my dissertation. And I’ve been thinking about that, though delayed in the execution.

Given that that dissertation focuses on the role the goddess Athena plays in men’s lives, it is remarkably serendipitous that my Athena, the columnist Peggy Noonan, has a great piece on the president today. Not only does she get at some of the failings of this President Bush, but she also shows some insight into his father’s mistakes. That generally decent man “won in 1988 by saying he would govern as Reagan had,” but, as Peggy so wisely notes, “did not understand he’d been elected to Reagan’s third term.

Like his father, the current President Bush seems to place greater stock in personal loyalty than principle. Peggy understands that “personal loyalty is not a good enough reason to put anyone in charge of anything, that the way it works in politics is a friend becomes a loyalist becomes a hack, and actually at this point in history we don’t need hacks.

As Peggy embodies many of the qualities of Athena, including wisdom, she recognizes that “the great shortcoming of this White House” is its absence of that noble quality. It’s too bad the incumbent Republican president doesn’t have this voice of wisdom to guide him during these difficult times.

If President is to make something of his last 19 months in his office, he needs to follow the lead of the Greek heroes — and pay heed to the wisdom of Athena. For when those heroes took her advice, they defeated their adversaries and accomplished their goals. My Athena has today offered some words of wisdom for the president — and an honest critique of his Administration.

The president has, in the past, from time to time, shown a capacity to respond to well-meaning criticism. Let us hope he can do so yet again. For once again, an Athena helps show the way, offering guidance to a man, capable of accomplishment, but who has lost sight of the path and who needs some direction.

For a sampling of this Athena’s wisdom, just read the whole thing!

Meaningful Coincidence or just my Imagination?

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 11:04 pm - February 22, 2007.
Filed under: LA Stories,Synchronicity

I always seem to be in a strange mood when I return from my intense three-day class session for my graduate program in Mythological Studies. I can’t always focus on things. I’ll make a list of things I need to do on the day I get back and only get to a handful.

Today was no different. Even though I woke before the alarm, I didn’t get much done in the morning. I called a friend to see if he wanted to do lunch. He thought it was a good idea because we might not otherwise be able to get together this weekend. I drove over to his place and we walked to a restaurant (how very un-LA of us) but it was closed. So, we went to a neighboring establishment. Soon after we sat down, the president of the local chapter of Log Cabin walked in.

Later, I got an e-mail from an old friend who had seen my picture in The Advocate.*

Later still, when I was on the phone with the elder PatriotBrotherWest (a doctor), I mentioned a dermatologist friend, a doctor with the same (first) name as my brother. It seemed he had heard me speak my name for I heard the beep of call-waiting; he was calling.

Perhaps, I read too much into things. But, I do wonder about these synchronicities, coincidences that appear to be meaningful. I tend to see them as signs that the universe is working — and I’m in the right place. Or maybe it’s just my imagination.

*And the friend with whom I had lunch had had that very magazine on his coffee table.