Pic of the Day


Sage Advice

If you’ve lived in the South, then chances are that at some point, you’ve eaten at a Waffle House. More than likely, especially if you were in college, it was after 2 am and you were not sober. It’s sort of a tradition. Waffle Houses are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I don’t think they ever close u less there is a natural disaster that blows it away, but those little brick buildings are pretty sturdy. Of course the guy above is not in a Waffle House, but I saw a tweet from a guy in Alabama, Matt Mitchell, whose a pretty funny guy that said:

Matt is always funny, and he’s pretty spot on most of the time. He works with It’s a Southern Thing doing some do their comedy videos. I think most Waffle Houses have seen it all, and they just keep on keeping on. It’s sage advice. 😂


Pic of the Day


Work Surprise

I decided last week to take some vacation days for a long weekend (Friday, Monday, and Tuesday). At least, that was the plan. I’m also going to be off today for a dental appointment. It’s an early morning appointment, so I’m taking the whole day. I rarely go back to work when I have an afternoon dental appointment, so for morning ones, I take the whole day. I do this because usually when I have dental work done, it gives me a bad headache. So, I was supposed to be off from Friday through Wednesday, but as I said, things didn’t quite work out as planned.

Monday night, just before 10:00 pm, I received an email from a professor who wanted to confirm details for a tour I was supposed to give the next night (Tuesday) at 6:30 pm. I had completely forgotten about it and did not have it on my calendar, so I looked back at the email thread. The professor had emailed back in early May about giving a tour for about sixty students who’d be at the university for a special program. I had agreed to do the tour and had asked him to firm up some details, which he never responded to. I can only assume I’d planned to put it on my calendar once he’d confirmed things. A lot was going on during the first week or so of May, and I completely forgot about the whole exchange. So, it was a bit of a surprise when he finally emailed me back Monday night.

I ended up going to the museum last night to give these tours. I gave three tours from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm. My tours usually take more than the 25-30 minutes I was given for each tour last night, but I got everything in and the students (most of them anyway) actually seemed interested. They were a nice group of kids, and everything went fine. Some even asked some good questions, and they were all very polite.

I have to say though, public speaking of any kind whether tours, presentations, or teaching has always taken its toll on me. I love doing it, but I think because I’m a shy and quiet person that when I have to be loud and outgoing, it’s really exhausting. Still, I love what I do. While I wish I had not needed to go to the museum in the evening to give tours on my day off, it all turned out fine.


Pic of the Day

Vintage AMG (Athletic Model Guild) photographed by Bob Mizer


Two Poems by Jameson Fitzpatrick

A Poem for Pulse
By Jameson Fitzpatrick

Last night, I went to a gay bar
with a man I love a little.
After dinner, we had a drink.
We sat in the far-back of the big backyard
and he asked, What will we do when this place closes?
I don’t think it’s going anywhere any time soon, I said,
though the crowd was slow for a Saturday,
and he said—Yes, but one day. Where will we go?
He walked me the half-block home
and kissed me goodnight on my stoop—
properly: not too quick, close enough
our stomachs pressed together
in a second sort of kiss.
I live next to a bar that’s not a gay bar
—we just call those bars, I guess—
and because it is popular
and because I live on a busy street,
there are always people who aren’t queer people
on the sidewalk on weekend nights.
Just people, I guess.
They were there last night.
As I kissed this man I was aware of them watching
and of myself wondering whether or not they were just.
But I didn’t let myself feel scared, I kissed him
exactly as I wanted to, as I would have without an audience,
because I decided many years ago to refuse this fear—
an act of resistance. I left
the idea of hate out on the stoop and went inside,
to sleep, early and drunk and happy.
While I slept, a man went to a gay club
with two guns and killed forty-nine people.
Today in an interview, his father said he had been disturbed
recently by the sight of two men kissing.
What a strange power to be cursed with:
for the proof of men’s desire to move men to violence.
What’s a single kiss? I’ve had kisses
no one has ever known about, so many
kisses without consequence—
but there is a place you can’t outrun,
whoever you are.
There will be a time when.
It might be a bullet, suddenly.
The sound of it. Many.
One man, two guns, fifty dead—
Two men kissing. Last night
I can’t get away from, imagining it, them,
the people there to dance and laugh and drink,
who didn’t believe they’d die, who couldn’t have.
How else can you have a good time?
How else can you live?
There must have been two men kissing
for the first time last night, and for the last,
and two women, too, and two people who were neither.
Brown people, which cannot be a coincidence in this country
which is a racist country, which is gun country.
Today I’m thinking of the Bernie Boston photograph
Flower Power, of the Vietnam protestor placing carnations
in the rifles of the National Guard,
and wishing for a gesture as queer and simple.
The protester in the photo was gay, you know,
he went by Hibiscus and died of AIDS,
which I am also thinking about today because
(the government’s response to) AIDS was a hate crime.
Now we have a president who names us,
the big and imperfectly lettered us, and here we are
getting kissed on stoops, getting married some of us,
some of us getting killed.
We must love one another whether or not we die.
Love can’t block a bullet
but neither can it be shot down,
and love is, for the most part, what makes us—
in Orlando and in Brooklyn and in Kabul.
We will be everywhere, always;
there’s nowhere else for us, or you, to go.
Anywhere you run in this world, love will be there to greet you.
Around any corner, there might be two men. Kissing.

________________

I Woke Up
By Jameson Fitzpatrick

and it was political.
I made coffee and the coffee was political.
I took a shower and the water was.
I walked down the street in short shorts and a Bob Mizer tank top
and they were political, the walking and the shorts and the beefcake
silkscreen of the man posing in a G-string. I forgot my sunglasses
and later, on the train, that was political,
when I studied every handsome man in the car.
Who I thought was handsome was political.
I went to work at the university and everything was
very obviously political, the department and the institution.
All the cigarettes I smoked between classes were political,
where I threw them when I was through.
I was blond and it was political.
So was the difference between “blond” and “blonde.”
I had long hair and it was political. I shaved my head and it was.
That I didn’t know how to grieve when another person was killed in America
was political, and it was political when America killed another person,
who they were and what color and gender and who I am in relation.
I couldn’t think about it for too long without feeling a helplessness
like childhood. I was a child and it was political, being a boy
who was bad at it. I couldn’t catch and so the ball became political.
My mother read to me almost every night
and the conditions that enabled her to do so were political.
That my father’s money was new was political, that it was proving something.
Someone called me faggot and it was political.
I called myself a faggot and it was political.
How difficult my life felt relative to how difficult it was
was political. I thought I could become a writer
and it was political that I could imagine it.
I thought I was not a political poet and still
my imagination was political.
It had been, this whole time I was asleep.

About the Poet

Jameson Fitzpatrick is the author of Pricks in the Tapestry (Birds, LLC, 2020), and the chapbooks Mr. & (Indolent Books, 2018) and Morrisroe: Erasures (89plus/LUMA Publications, 2014). Fitzpatrick teaches at New York University.


Pic of the Day


Gumbo Ya-Ya

I’ve been craving gumbo for several days now, and since I did not have a headache yesterday, I decided I’d make a pot of gumbo. To make an authentic gumbo, it takes time. I miss New Orleans, a city I used to go to regularly when I was in graduate school because it was nearby, about an hour and a half away. I’ve heard that the only thing more New Orleans than a dented pot of gumbo simmering on the back burner is arguing about the right way to make it. Most places, especially seafood restaurants along the gulf coast, make a pretty tasty gumbo.

Gumbo has a heritage claiming both French, Native American (Choctaw), and West African roots. If you’re not familiar with it, gumbo is a thick stew served over rice and made with a roux (a mixture of butter and flour) and a wide variety of ingredients such as celery, peppers, okra, onions, sausage, chicken and/or seafood. With so many options, everyone seems to have perfected their own treasured recipes, which leads to impassioned debate on which one is best. Even so, gumbo does more to bring us together than divide us, as queen of Creole cuisine Chef Leah Chase said, “There’ve been a lot of problems solved in that dining room over a bowl of gumbo.” 

The late famed chef Paul Prudhomme created “Gumbo Ya-Ya,” the recipe I chose to make. Making Chef Paul’s “Gumbo Ya-Ya” completely from scratch took much of my day yesterday. I love to cook and try out new recipes. Sometimes I really enjoy making complicated and time-consuming recipes. I started by roasting a chicken to be used in the gumbo. Then, I began to prepare the rest of my ingredients by dicing the peppers, celery, and onions and slicing the andouille sausage. Once the roasted chicken had cooled, I deboned it. Some gumbo chefs don’t debone the chicken or remove the shell from the seafood used. I prefer for it to be ready to eat when done and not have to work separating bones or shells from my gumbo.

Once all the ingredients were prepared, I began making the roux. A good roux takes a long time. It must be stirred constantly for 30-45 minutes. Mine took the full 45 minutes to get the “color of dark mahogany.” I started out with a moderately low heat, but ended up turning the heat up to medium to get the desired color. If you make this recipe, let me give you a few tips and make a few suggestions. 

  • First, the roux is going to begin to smell nutty and eventually smell a bit like burned coffee, but don’t despair. It should smell that way to give the gumbo a dark, rich flavor. 
  • Second, I would use unsalted chicken stock to be able to control how much salt you want to use as the gumbo cooks. 
  • Third, I halved this recipe. I did not need six quarts of gumbo. 
  • Finally, suggest adding a pound of small or medium peeled and deveined shrimp at the end. You can either add cooked shrimp, or if you want to add the most flavor, add the raw shrimp and let them cook in the gumbo. They won’t take long to cook. If you want to forgo the chicken and use crab instead, then I’d suggest adding okra and making a seafood gumbo. I did not go this route because it seems impossible to get fresh okra in Vermont.

So here’s the recipe for “Gumbo Ya-Ya” and a picture of my finished product.

GUMBO YA-YA 

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter 
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 red bell peppers, in medium dice
  • 2 celery stalks, in medium dice
  • 1 medium onion, in medium dice
  • 1 ¼ gallon (20 cups) chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 lb. andouille sausage, cut into ¼ inch-thick slices
  • 3 ½ lb. chicken, roasted and boned
  • hot sauce to taste
  • boiled rice as accompaniment

Instructions:

  1. In a 12-quart stockpot melt butter over moderately low heat.
  2. Gradually add a third of the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, and cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Add a third more flour and stir constantly, 30 seconds. Add remaining third of flour and stir constantly, 30 seconds. Continue to cook roux, stirring constantly, until it is the color of dark mahogany, about 30 to 45 minutes.
  3. Add bell peppers and stir constantly 30 seconds. Add onions and celery and stir constantly 30 seconds. Add the stock to roux, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.
  4. Add all remaining ingredients except chicken, rice, and hot sauce and bring to boil. Simmer gumbo, uncovered, 45 minutes, skimming off any fat and stirring occasionally.
  5. Add chicken and simmer 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning with hot sauce. Serve over rice.
  6. This recipe yields about 6 quarts, but gumbo freezes well and can be thawed without losing flavor.

Pic of the Day


Sunday Double Feature: Politics and Pride

What Would Jesus Do?

He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.

—John 8:7

Religion fanaticism fueled by hatred and hatred fueled by ignorance is destroying the United States. Fascist politicians are using hatred, just as they did in the 1920s and 1930s to further their power-hungry ambitions. All across the world, there are politicians who are either fighting against democracy or strengthening their existing authoritarian rule. Conservatives, whether Republican, Fascist, Nazi, etc., have used religious fanaticism to take away the rights of people. Religion was used to justify slavery, subjugate women, kill or imprison LGBTQ+ individuals, and any number of horrible inhumane actions.

For those who claim they are Christian and vote and support hatred-fueled religious fanaticism, they do not follow the teachings of Jesus. Jesus taught love, hope, charity, mercy, and acceptance. In John 4:3–39, Jesus was headed to Galilee from Judea. This was early in His ministry. He stopped to rest and refresh Himself at a well in Samaria during one of His journeys. A woman came to the well to draw water, and the Savior engaged her in conversation. She was astonished that He would speak with her, “for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” But He overlooked the traditions that devalued her in others’ eyes. He taught her about the living water of the gospel, and He testified to her, “I who speak to you am [the Messiah].” 

Jesus did not teach hatred and discrimination like many modern Christians. Instead, he taught acceptance. There are two remarkable stories showing how Jesus cared for all types of people. The religious fanatics of his time called the Pharisees were offended because in their view God loved only the righteous who kept the law as they interpreted them. They, therefore, distanced themselves from so-called ‘unclean’ sinners in their delusions of self-righteousness. But Jesus was often eating and drinking with those the Pharisees deemed disreputable sinners. He met people where they were and healed them. He protected those who committed adultery and prostitutes. Jesus proclaimed that both law-keepers and law-breakers are sinners in need of forgiveness. In John 8:7, Jesus told the Pharisees who wanted to stone a woman to death for committing adultery, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” In Matthew 7:1-3, Jesus warned, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?”

A day of reckoning will come for those who use the name of God to further their hatred and claim that they do so in Jesus’s name. We can start by going to the polls in November and voting out the hypocrites and modern-day Pharisees. We need to vote in such great numbers that we make the elections of 1932 a minor Democratic victory. For anyone who is not familiar with the 1932 elections, Democratic New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Republican incumbent president Herbert Hoover in a landslide, with Hoover winning only six Northeastern states. In addition to Hoover’s defeat, the Republicans also suffered crushing defeats in both congressional chambers: they lost 101 seats in the House of Representatives, with the Democrats expanding their House majority to a supermajority (a gain of 97 seats), and also lost twelve seats in the Senate, giving Democrats a total of 58  out of 96 seats in the Senate (Alaska and Hawaii were not yet states). The other Senator, Henrik Shipstead of Minnesota, was a member of the Farmer-Labor Party before switching back to being a Republican in 1940. (He’d been a Republican prior to 1923.) This landslide election was the last time that an incumbent president lost re-election and his party lost control of both chambers of Congress in a single term until 2020. 

If we don’t keep a majority in the House and gain at least 2 seats in the Senate (to counteract Manchin and Sinema) and do away with the filibuster, hate has won. Furthermore, we must expand the Supreme Court and institute ethics reforms in the federal government including SCOTUS. If you live in a state with a Republican majority, work as hard as you can to change that. We have to have election reforms and protections. We need stronger and sensible gun laws. We need meaningful reforms to healthcare and student loans. Most importantly we must preserve equality in the United States. We can no longer allow religious fanatics to have sway in this country. Republicans have pushed for overturning Roe v. Wade, and now they’ve done it. This will only empower conservatives and religious fanatics to push forward with taking away marriage equality, access to birth control, the right to privacy, and due process. In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the justices “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell” — referring to three cases having to do with Americans’ fundamental privacy, due process, and equal protection rights. Anyone who did not see this coming with the overturning or Roe was incredibly naïve. I beg of you not only to vote but encourage all those who are sympathetic to equality to also vote. If someone needs a ride to the polls, give it to them. If someone is not registered to vote, get them registered.

I don’t think that the majority of people who claim to be Christian would follow Jesus if the Second Coming happened today. They set aside all of their values and beliefs to elect Donald Trump. They sold their souls to make sure that Roe was overturned. Now, we must come out fighting (peacefully, of course). Vote! Vote! Vote! Let’s take back our country and make it a country in which we can be proud to live.

Prayer for Pride 🙏🏻🏳️‍🌈

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore, do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”1

—Matthew 6:5-8

I love Pride because it shows the diversity of our communities. Different skin colors, different body types, different genders (and even more gender expressions!) From promiscuous to monogamous married couples, from kinky to vanilla, and everything in between. The LGBTQ+ community is varied and beautiful, and that’s what makes us such a fabulous community.

Recently, I received an email form Queer Theology which shared a wonderful prayer for Pride. I have adapted it a little to fit my situation better, and I encourage you to do the same. (My edits with notes are in parentheses.) So, I give you a Prayer for Pride:

There was a time when I prayed asking you to help me become straight. Thank you for ignoring that prayer. Or rather, for answering it differently than I expected: 

“I will help you become more fully you.” 

Thank you for the gift of queerness, for the liberation it has sparked in my own life (and in the lives of my family2).

Thank you for this body and for the courage to explore all the ways I can use it to make myself and others feel good, connected, healed, whole. (And let’s not forget sexy and desired.3)

Though my journey here has not been easy, I am grateful for it. Let the shame I felt with my body, with my desires, with my love, with myself, be a reminder to do everything I can to not contribute to another’s shame but to instead support them in their own self-love and self- determination.

I pray for those still living with shame, help them to shake it off; and embolden me to work to create a world which breeds pride, not shame. 

I pray for those who, knowingly and unknowingly, fed my own shame. May they have everything they need in their lives and if they seek forgiveness, help them to know that they are forgiven. 

And I pray for those in the in-between spaces–myself included, if I’m honest–give us strength to continue the journey, to lean into the tender places, to do the work, and to celebrate the victories. 

Thank you for the victories. Though the Kingdom of Heaven is still not fully realized on earth, let us be glad in all the ways in which it is alive and present, here, and now. 

In Christ’s name we pray, 

Amen.

________________

Notes: 

1. One of my greatest pet peeves is when people make a huge deal about praying in public. My sister’s in-laws always insisted on holding hands and praying when at a restaurant. And often, when people pray in church, they drone on and on. A simple prayer is always best, and in my opinion, it is much better to pray alone and in private. Prayer should be between you and God. It need not be with anyone else.

2. I hope that it has made positive changes in your family. Mine is still a work in progress.

3. This one I leave up to you.

I had planned on only posting the “Prayer for Pride” but with the SCOTUS news on Friday, I wanted to say more.