Kalman Halasz

Kalman Halasz (1915-1972)

Kalman Halasz (1915–1972)

Kalman Halasz would have turned 100 years old this year (2015). He died young on this day in 1972 from pan­cre­atic can­cer. Kalman was the assis­tant direc­tor of the Texas Boys’ Choir when I was a member.

Kalman escaped his native Hun­gary dur­ing the 1956 revolt against Soviet occu­pa­tion. He left Peter (his son), wife, brother, and every­thing he owned or knew.

As his small group of escapees were sneak­ing across the fron­tier into Aus­tria, they were chased by an East Ger­man sol­dier. Kalman knew a zil­lion or so lan­guages, so he tried to explain … to ask them­sol­dier not to shoot … only Kalman was really nervous.

Nicht scheißen,” he screamed. He was star­ing down the bar­rel of a Sviet army rifle and didn’t notice he messed up the vow­els. What he said was “don’t sh*t” instead of “nicht schießen” (“don’t shoot”). Oops. The sol­dier was laugh­ing so hard, Kalman and his friend were able to cross in to Austria.

Kodaly Method

Solfège hand signs

I remem­ber Kalman lead­ing the choir in 4-part solfège (“doe a deer, a female deer”), using hand sig­nals. He coor­di­nated the parts using the posi­tion of his hand. Right hand too care of first and sec­ond sopra­nos. Left hand was for first and sec­ond altos. It was the Kodály Method, which made per­fect sense when you know Kalman and Zoltan Kodály were friends in Hungary.

The man knew every­body in mid-20th cen­tury music. He and I bummed around Europe together in 1966. In Vienna, he spent a delight­ful evening in the apart­ment of György Ligeti, the com­poser. His wife served us ice cream, apol­o­giz­ing the it was Thurs­day (i.e., not Sundae).

György Ligeti (1923-2006)

György Ligeti (1923–2006)

They laughed at how Ligeti was ban­ished from pipe organs in Europe. The com­poser went to record a new piece on a pipe organ in Lübeck (East Ger­many) that J. S. Bach famously played when he was vis­it­ing Dieterich Bux­te­hude in the early 1700s. So Ligeti is at the organ, only it was a kind of neg­a­tive song. Weights held down **all** the keys. The music showed which keys to let up. The man was cer­ti­fi­ably insane. Ligeti and his music blew out the organ. As it turns out organs that old weren’t designed to han­dle every key being pressed at the same time. “Who knew?” he said with a dev­il­ish grin.

That was in Vienna. We also vis­ited Zsuzsanna, his girl­friend dur­ing the yeas he spent in Vienna. We all went to Prater Park, an amuse­ment park. I thought it was bizarre to come all the way to Aus­tria to ride a Tilt-a-Whirl. Then I saw Kalman and Zsuzsanna off in the dis­tance. I was on a ride so they could have some alone time with­out the kid.

In Bayreuth (Bavaria) Kalman and I went to the,Richard Wag­ner fes­ti­val. I think I was being pun­ished because I don’t like opera, and Wag­ner­ian opera is the worst. Kalman went around to the stage door, where he asked for Mr. Böhm. In a few min­utes, an older guy appeared. It was Karl Böhm, the famous con­duc­tor of Wag­ner­ian operas. They were speak­ing in Ger­man (which I under­stand but not at a 90 mile an hour gait).

The opera was Meis­tersinger, a 6-friggin’ hour thing. SIX hours. SIX. It’s so long that they break for SUPPER. Kalman and Böhm took me to a nearby restau­rant where they got me com­pletely blasted on Bavar­ian Beer (Weiß­bier). I was passed out for the entire sec­ond half of the opera (which was a win/win sit­u­a­tion for me).

Kalman Halasz (1915-1972)

Kalman Halasz (1915–1972)
mas­ter organ­ist (Budapest Uni­ver­sity),
assis­tant direc­tory (Texas Boys Choir),

On choir tours, Kalman was pianist. Heaven help you if he caught you singing any note other than the pre­scribed note on stage. He also was the one who fig­ured out room assign­ments, using a hand-drawn chart that enforced an evenly. When I caught him chang­ing his chart in his front row bus seat, Kalman explained that he knew one kid was gay, and the chart was putting him with a really hate­ful prick. He got every­one into rooms with a min­i­mum of teeth gnash­ing. I don’t know what other cri­te­ria he used to over­ride the chart, but I know he qui­etly tried to main­tain har­mony on and off the stage.

Pan­cre­atic can­cer took Kalman away from us way too soon. I still miss him.

Tony Dungy: NBC’s trouble for gay kids

NBC foot­ball pun­ditpun­dit
➤ (n) some­one who has been admit­ted to mem­ber­ship in a schol­arly field
…by BeeDictionary.com
Tony Dungy thinks Michael Sam has been a dis­trac­tion. He isn’t kid­ding about it. Could some­body tell him that’s the same term used when Jackie Robin­son became the first black player in major league base­ball. Michael Sam is gay: get over it.Super Bowl XLVI

If piss­ing on Michael Sam’s parade were his only thing, I could live with it. Dungy is a pub­lic fig­ure, and impres­sion­able LGBT kids lis­ten to his demean­ing chat­ter on TV, but Dungy has a history.

In 2007, he helps fund California’s “prop 8” — the anti-marriage law that tried to undo exist­ing same-sex mar­riages. That was hate­ful. Oh but he didn’t stop with his own pock­et­book. Tony Dungy was a fundraiser for the anti-LGBT campaign.

Does Tony Dungy have the right to hate me because I’m gay? Sure. What he thinks about me is none of my business.

He crosses the line when he talks on pub­lic media (NBC) in a way that hurts gay kids. It’s hard enough to be a gay kid under the best of con­di­tions. When NBC broad­casts demean­ing and caus­ticcaus­tic
➤ (n) any chem­i­cal sub­stance that burns or destroys liv­ing tis­sue
➤ (s) harsh or cor­ro­sive in tone
➤ (s) of a sub­stance, espe­cially a strong acid; capa­ble of destroy­ing or eat­ing away by chem­i­cal action
…by BeeDictionary.com
opin­ions, they should be ashamed.

NBC SportsI per­son­ally turn to a dif­fer­ent chan­nel when his face comes on. Imag­ine what hap­pens when a fam­ily is watch­ing, and daddy jumps in with a few f-words after Dungy has his say. What’s a 14 year old gay boy sup­posed to think?

NBC is broad­cast­ing this year’s Super Bowl.

NBC needs to get their pun­dits to stick to foot­ball or get them off the air.

Tony Dungy: asshole of the year

Asshole of the Year

Ass­hole of the Year

Out­sports has names Tony Dungy as the Ass­hole of the Year. Here’s why.

There are two main rea­sons Tony Dungy is Out­sports’ Ass­hole of the Year.

The first is his very pub­lic homo­pho­bia. While it hap­pened sev­eral years ago, Dungy spent part of his social cap­i­tal in 2007 rais­ing tens of thou­sands of dol­lars to fight against mar­riage equal­ity in Indi­ana, say­ing that if you’re with God you have to be against equal­ity for gay peo­ple. Dungy was at it again this year pub­licly declar­ing that he wouldn’t have wanted Michael Sam on his team.

That leads us to rea­son No. 2. Instead of just own­ing up to his anti-Sam homo­pho­bia, Dungy tried hid­ing behind the “dis­trac­tion” non­sense and Oprah Winfrey’s TV show in claim­ing he didn’t want Sam on his team. What Dungy seems to for­get is the Book of Proverbs’ enu­mer­a­tion of abom­i­na­tions, sev­eral of which Dungy has com­mit­ted by not own­ing up to his truth­ful homo­pho­bia: a lying tongue… a heart that devises wicked plans… a false wit­ness who breathes out lies… and one who sows dis­cord among brothers.

Dungy’s lie was proven when he pub­licly said he would wel­come Ray Rice onto his team. Wife-beater Rice would attract far more ques­tions and media than Sam, yet Dungy would embrace him with open arms just as he did with dog-killer Michael Vick (who inci­den­tally had a real­ity show fol­low­ing him too) when he was released from jail.

Wife-beater and dog-killer? No prob­lem for Dungy. A man who loves other men? No way in hell!

That out­ward homo­pho­bia and clear dis­daindis­dain
➤ (n) lack of respect accom­pa­nied by a feel­ing of intense dis­like
➤ (n) a com­mu­ni­ca­tion that indi­cates lack of respect by patron­iz­ing the recip­i­ent
➤ (v) look down on with dis­dain
➤ (v) reject with con­tempt
…by BeeDictionary.com
for gay peo­ple has led many to openly won­der whether Dungy’s son, who killed him­self in 2005 (may he rest in peace), was gay. It’s the No. 1 ques­tion I get from peo­ple regard­ing Dungy. The lat­est round has brought that all bub­bling back to the sur­face, even though there is no pub­lic evi­dence to that effect (of course, the homo­phobes at Bre­it­bart call the ques­tion­ing of someone’s sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion an “attack”). But you can cer­tainly under­stand — with Dungy’s open, pub­lic attacks on gay peo­ple — why any gay per­son around Dungy, fam­ily, ath­letes or oth­er­wise, would feel uncom­fort­able around the man. His com­ments con­tinue to tell young gay kids they don’t belong in this world and will go to hell after it — and that is the sad­dest part of all. Whether it’s his son or some­one else, Chris­tians like Dungy, who manip­u­late the word of God, drive kids to kill themselves.

It’s shame­ful that NBC con­tin­ues to give this man a plat­form from which he can push LGBT ath­letes and youth deeper into the closet.

Just like most of the big play­off games he was involved with as a coach, Dungy ulti­mately lost the bat­tle to dis­crim­i­nate against an entire class of peo­ple, as Indi­ana has legal­ized same-sex mar­riage and the rest of the coun­try will have it soon.

On the flip side, until now Dungy has been suc­cess­ful in keep­ing Michael Sam out of the NFL (we’ll see if he can get Rice back in). His com­ments have also helped keep other gay NFL play­ers in the closet.

Peo­ple like Dungy are the worst part of sports: her­alded for their “fatherly” posi­tion to some play­ers and given a pass for cre­at­ing a dynamic in sports where gay ath­letes are dri­ven by fear. He need­lessly gives Chris­tians in sport a very bad name, and his des­ig­na­tion of “father fig­ure” in the NFL gives valid­ity to the anti-gay beliefs of others.

When we asked our Twit­ter fol­low­ers who they might nom­i­nate for the award, almost every sin­gle per­son men­tioned Dungy. Yes, he is that big of an ass­hole to the LGBT community.

Dungy was pre­vi­ously nom­i­nated for the award in 2007 when it was just “Jerk of the Year.” We’ve ele­vated the name of the award this year, and deservedly so.

Ass­hole of the Year runner-up: The fact that Dungy beat out Vladimir Putin, an anti-gay dic­ta­tor of a nation with 140 mil­lion peo­ple, should tell you how bad Dungy is for LGBT peo­ple in sports. Yet Putin was put in the runner-up posi­tion because LGBT ath­letes did par­tic­i­pate in the Olympics and won medals, and because much of his dam­age is being done polit­i­cally and socially, not in the sports world. Though his government’s attacks on the Open Games was par­tic­u­larly egregious.

Source: www.outsports.com/2014/12/30/7465205/tony-dungy-gay-homophobia-michael-sam-2014


Here is the text of my e-mail to TCU:

To: Vic­tor Bos­chini, Chancellor

Con­grat­u­la­tions on a first class foot­ball year. You deserved a play­off slot. Alas, you got a bowl invitation.

My whole life has been close to TCU. I grew up on High­view, about a block north of  Amon Carter Sta­dium. I have mem­o­ries of many hours swoop­ing around the sta­dium on skates or bicy­cle. This was long before you put up fences and barriers.

TCU is also the Uni­ver­sity that I attended.

When I was a stu­dent, I got the impres­sion that TCU wanted me to learn how to be a bet­ter per­son. Your uni­ver­sity taught moral­ity, not just facts, and not just hypotheses.I was a stu­dent who hap­pens to be gay, and I always felt safe at TCU. Jim Corder taught me the craft of writ­ing, and I’ve been blessed to have sev­eral dozen books in print. I grum­bled that a uni­ver­sity would force me to take a reli­gion class, but I took it. Many years later, I added to that fresh­man course­work by com­plet­ing a doc­tor­ate pro­gram in reli­gion at a sem­i­narysem­i­nary
➤ (n) a pri­vate place of edu­ca­tion for the young
➤ (n) a the­o­log­i­cal school for train­ing min­is­ters or priests or rab­bis
…by BeeDictionary.com
on the East Coast.

But when you accepted that invi­ta­tion to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, you slapped every les­bian / gay / trans­gen­der per­son who ever went to TCU. You do know you have had gay stu­dents, right?

Chick-fil-A is the most homo­pho­bic com­pany in the coun­try. Feel free to use Google to dou­ble check that. I am per­son­ally dev­as­tated by your choice, and it isn’t like the Hate Bowl was your only choice.

I have instructed my attor­ney to remove the dona­tion to TCU from my Last Will. I won’t give you any money after you showed this aggres­sive dis­re­spect to so many stu­dents (past and present).

Shame on TCU.

Berkleley Riots 2014


MLK Memorial, DC

The ulti­mate mea­sure of a man is not where he stands in moments of com­fort and con­ve­nience, but where he stands at times of chal­lenge and con­tro­versy. [MLK]

I can’t imag­ine what it’s like to live with skin other than my Scan­di­na­vian skin. I used to try when dat­ing or lov­ing an other-than-white guy.

Tony (black) in high school; RIP (AIDS).

His mother wrapped the two of us and drove to Louisiana to see / hear Mar­tin Luther King. I was scared shit­less with bully state troop­ers and their tooth-filled dogs. The calm one was Rev King. To this very day, I can’t imag­ine how he (a) didn’t run from fear and (b) got the crowd to stay firm but non-violent. It was an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence, and I am soooooo glad it was a one-time thing for me.

I’m not strong enough to life in this atmos­phere. If it’s your life, I am seri­ous awe of your strength.

Marty (brown) in col­lege; RIP (motorcycle).

Marty intro­duced me to that bar­rio thingy. It was home, where every­one was fam­ily. Even the fos­ter care kid (rais­ing hand). It was real and raw. There are idiots in the bar­rio… vio­lent idiots.

But if some­body called me “mar***n”, I would send back a quick “ch**ga tu madre.” I know… stu­pid. In my defense, I was mostly hang­ing out with sev­eral crazed bik­ers. The bik­ers thought my scrap­pi­ness and potty-mouth was cute.

Now I see so much pain and anger. The gov­ern­ment in and around Fer­gu­son behaved badly / stu­pidly. If you’re in gov­ern­ment, it doesn’t mat­ter whether you’re right or wrong. It mat­ters that you’ve cre­ated a sit­u­a­tion where some of your own cit­i­zens feel that vio­lence is their only option. The anger will last for years. Small busi­ness own­ers will be pay­ing the fis­cal price. If you can’t do gov­ern­ment with­out caus­ing this feel­ing, you shouldn’t be in gov­ern­ment. Period.

I saw that video of Mike Brown in the bodega. The cam­era showed a bully, pick­ing on a much smaller store worker. If he car­ried that atti­tude to the streets, I can see how a cop might react badly.

Truth: if you’re an above aver­age guy, you will try to be police chief in Chicago or New York. Same for the Dis­trict Attor­ney. Fer­gu­son MO doesn’t get the best peo­ple. Bad logic on my part, because police in the big cities are work­ing badly.

Whether the Fer­gu­son facts are  true, it doesn’t excuse officials.

There were mis­steps every­where. The kid shouldn’t have been a bully and a rob­ber. The cop should have had the smarts and tech­nique to arrest the kid with­out killing him. If you have to shoot, one pop in the knee will bring down most folks.

Mis­souri offi­cials should not have acted like idiots. The grand jury should have indicted the copy, so a crim­i­nal court could have sorted things out. Every­one on all sides of this mess have been idiots (at least to my eyes/ears).

To the cops and judi­cial sys­tem: if y’all for­got to inform the kid’s par­ents of the grand jury deci­sion before the pub­lic unveil­ing, you have screwed up a sim­ple and fun­da­men­tal less of deal­ing with peo­ple. Shame on you. Shame on your kids. Shame on all y’all.

It is still and open wound. The com­mu­nity in Fer­gu­son (and else­where) need clo­sure. Peace­ful clo­sure. If you’re a cop or a dis­trict attor­ney or a judge, you need to be able to bring clo­sure. If you can’t or won’t, you need to find a dif­fer­ent career.

To my broth­ers and sis­ters of color: you will get fur­ther if you approach racial prob­lems like Rev King used. I am about as white as a guy can be. I’m not per­fect. I’m a work-in-progress. Tell me where I’m stu­pid, but offer an alter­na­tive. If I need to work on the white dis­trict attor­neys or white cops, let me know what I need to do. I may not see what you know is obvious.

Every­body will get a bet­ter reac­tion from me (and oth­ers like me) if you take it down a notch. Stop scar­ing me, and tell me what I need to do/think/say/believe/hope.

The quote is by Rev King. It’s part of the MLK memo­r­ial in Wash­ing­ton DC.

NFL vs the Roman Pope vs kids/women

NFLSven Andreas WallinYeah for the NFL. They are doing some­thing about their domes­tic abuse cases.

I have an opin­ion about it (no sur­prise). One good thing this whole mess is that it reminds play­ers that domes­tic vio­lence is a major no-no. Seri­ously. Play­ers now have prece­dence. They see there’s no car­rot and only a big stick in hit­ting peo­ple off the field. Break­ing this behav­ior stan­dard gets a player more than just a yardage penalty.

One thing the NFL has done wrong is allow­ing this to go on far too long. There should have been edu­ca­tion and coun­sel­ing before things got out of hand.



I am a mem­ber of SNAP (Sur­vivors Net­work of those Abused by Priests). Way back when Mass was in Latin, I was abused by priests. Three of them. I have never asked for com­pen­sa­tion, but I made sure those preda­tors were kept away from kids.

pope logoSNAP is mark­ing its 25th anniver­sary. Goody for them.

The Coun­cil of Trent (1500s) could have threat­ened hell­fire to its ini­ti­ates and employ­ees over pedophilia, hebephilia, and ephebophilia. There were damn­ing words for gays, but Rome was silent about abuse.

I think it’s awe­some that SNAP has worked hard for 25 years. They are an out­side group, put together by vic­tims because Rome dug trenches and played games with the lives of their young adherents.

It’s shame­ful that the Vat­i­can has had an awful record of con­trol­ling the preda­tors on their pay­roll. Rome needs to say some Hail Marys for wait­ing until vic­tims started screaming.

Ditto for Amer­i­can foot­ball. Kudos for telling their employ­ees to stop beat­ing up spouses, mates, and kid­dies. I wish they’d done this the instant they detected a prob­lem (and I don’t believe for one sec­ond that the cur­rent cases are the league’s first).

Rebooting the Whole Name Thingy

Sven Andréas Wallin in 2014

Sven Andréas Wallin

I want to say that my name change is done. That’d be rosier than the rose tint of my migraine glasses.

I get every­thing done. No, for real this time. And yet Mother Earth can swing around, giv­ing a robust brown­ish fart-cloud of chal­lenges. Here comes a bushel of com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ment agen­cies who don’t know about the ‘new” me.

Done” is a rel­a­tive term.

If I ever sug­gest another name change, just shoot me.

For any­body who cares, here’s what hap­pened— I was born into The Sys­tem, where they put aban­doned and orphaned tod­dlers. When I was still a young­ster, I was adopted.

My real birth name (fos­ter care name) was Sven. Some­body was mak­ing a funny because Sven means “lit­tle kid.”

It’s been over a decade since my adopted par­ents moved on to another plane. It was just me and the froth of hatred and abuse they sent my way. Seri­ously. The creepy cousins don’t mat­ter to me today. I won’t allow more phys­i­cal or sex­ual abuse.

Sven was my orig­i­nal given name. Fun fact: If you look for “Saint Sven,” you won’t find it in any major reli­gion. Svens are scalawags. The coun­try of Esto­nia too pity on all the Svens up there. Esto­nia has a yearly fes­ti­val called Svens’ Day. If it weren’t for them, I/we would never have a day of my/our own. I wasn’t aware of this defect in so many of our reli­gions when I started the name change process. “We have the answer,” they say. They don’t say what the ques­tion is. If it has any­thing to do with Saint Sven, they are annoy­ingly silent.
Andréas was the name of a Cop­tic (Egypt­ian) priest. If I want to cause trou­ble, it is also the name of a gigan­tic earth­quake fault in California.
My hus­band picked Wallin. The word some­how means “meadow.” The Urban­Dic­tionary has another take: “Used to describe a person/s who are act­ing crazy, reck­less, ridicu­lous, etc” That site says it is also the name of a Swedish rap­per. (oy)


The scary changes turned out to be sim­ple. I feared Social Secu­rity, but I was in and out in ten min­utes. Really. The deed for my house was so ridicu­lously sim­ple that I won­der why steal­ing land hasn’t been more common.

The com­pa­nies that I thought would be a snap became lit­tle green night­mares, rolling around my feet. Amer­i­can Express was horrendous.

apple-logoAPPLE was the weird­est expe­ri­ence ever. I was told that one’s AppleID is per­ma­nent and indeli­ble. “Yeah, we’ll see about that,” I thought. “No way to bend, fold, sta­ple, or muti­latemuti­late
➤ (v) destroy or injure severely
➤ (v) alter so as to make unrec­og­niz­able
➤ (v) destroy or injure severely
…by BeeDictionary.com
my AppleID. Most of those IDs are easy to change. Mine is one of the first IDs issued. It was in their con­vo­lutedcon­vo­luted
➤ (s) rolled lon­gi­tu­di­nally upon itself
➤ (s) highly com­plex or intri­cate and occa­sion­ally devi­ous
…by BeeDictionary.com
ID period. My AppleID is stored in dozens of data­bases, and none of the data­bases works or plays well with each other. Engi­neers in Cuper­tino rightly made the rule: none of those old IDs can be changed. I was able to cre­ate a shiny new AppleID, but I would lose all the apps and music that I’ve bought over the years.

Wow… frig­gin’ wow. I had to get Apple CEO Tim Cook involved. He assigned an Apple exec­u­tive to be my fear­less cham­pion. The exec had to trace the changes around dif­fer­ent depart­ments. Fun to watch, by the way.

Här är jag! Vem är du?

The cou­ple that adopted me did their best. It was a rocky rela­tion­ship: I came down with Hodgkin’s Lym­phoma within a year of my adop­tion. I never heard if they kept the receipt or even if the adop­tion agency (Vol­un­teers of Amer­ica, now Lena Pope Home) would charge a restock­ing fee if they had to take me back. Maybe they had an extended war­ranty on me.

My adopted parental units didn’t pick their families.

Not a “real” rel­a­tive, they chanted in four-part har­mony. No queer could ever be part of “our” fam­ily. Mom seemed embar­rassed about their antics. After she died, I learned that she threat­ened a few if they didn’t sim­mer down and behave.

Except for some sex­ual abuse, I never felt endan­gered. I thought they were being silly. “What are you, 12?” I asked one uncle.

Today I just want the entire group out of my life. Hence, the name change.

It’s all good today. A friend who also came up through the sys­tem says she knew I was a street kid. She say orphans have a mist of scrap­pi­ness that fol­lows them around. She said she can really relax around other street kids because she knows we don’t break (not eas­ily any­ways). She calls it a will­ing­ness to face what­ever life serves with a “Bring It!” attitude.

Janie Saved My Life

Janie Marroquin

Rosita Maria Marroquin

I want to tell you about Janie Mar­ro­quin, the per­son who saved my life and kept me out of jail. She got in my face a few times, alleg­ing that I shouldn’t go to my job absolutely plas­tered on heroin or wacked on psilocybin.

I was a news­caster. Janie thought the sta­tion would have some kind of min­i­mum expec­ta­tions on my abil­ity not to slurslur
➤ (n) (music) a curved line span­ning notes that are to be played legato
➤ (n) a dis­parag­ing remark
➤ (n) a blem­ish made by dirt
➤ (v) play smoothly or legato
➤ (v) speak dis­parag­ingly of; e.g., make a racial slur
➤ (v) utter indis­tinctly
➤ (v) become vague or indis­tinct
…by BeeDictionary.com
words. She insin­u­ated that I couldn’t focus my atten­tion on some­thing as sim­ple as a cof­fee mug, so I prob­a­bly couldn’t parse and report on the Viet­nam War. (This was in the early 1970s).

Today, I under­stand the idea. Being stoned on the radio never worked for me. Maybe I’m a wimp who couldn’t hold my phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. At the time, I decided Janie had become some kind of tool for radio/TV executives.

She’d diag­nose my sit­u­a­tion on Sun­day, not­ing that I’d been wasted for the whole week­end… uncon­scious for lots of hours. Janie would ignore me when my lan­guage got testy… like me say­ing she was more like a drunk moth than a friend.

She called my boss a few times, telling him that I had laryngitis.

She was gen­tle but in my face. When she “threat­ened” me with con­se­quences, Janie never backed down. It turns out that’s vital to work­ing with addicts. You can’t “give in.” The addict will think the per­son is bru­tal or doesn’t understand.

She was brutal. ;)

You are such a tool,” I once said.

Io sé, güera,” she laughed.

Janie finally got through to me in 1980. That was the last time I put booze down my throat and junk under my skin. Not once since then.

Sev­eral years ago, I wrote a book about a news­caster try­ing to get sober. It’s fic­tion, of course.

The book is Com­mit­ment Issues It hasn’t been a huge seller, but I think it is one of my most impor­tant titles. Not the slick­est. Not the fun­ni­est (but I wrote it, so there’s plenty of dark/edgy humor). It let me pass along some real hap­pen­ings about gay peo­ple in AA, shortly after that group was founded. It lets read­ers know how com­pletely sup­port­ive AA co-founder “Bill W” was. I include lots of my own expe­ri­ences and hopes get­ting off chem­i­cals. It’s a lot more auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal than the blurb says.

There’s a char­ac­ter named Janie Mar­ro­quin. Every­one in the book always used her full name. It was “Janie Mar­ro­quin” with no real explanation.

Now… I can give you an expla­na­tion: it was me say­ing Thank you, Janie.

The char­ac­ter isn’t the real life Janie. Seri­ously. I used her full name as a kind of shout-out. I put Janie’s full name into a book that will live in the pro­tected archivesarchives
➤ (n) col­lec­tion of records espe­cially about an insti­tu­tion
…by BeeDictionary.com
of the Library of Con­gress.

Before the book came out, I told her about the char­ac­ter. As I recall, she basi­cally said, “Ch**gou, puto.” she said through her laugh­ter. Her tone was famil­iar: the sing-song stage-whisper she used when she wanted me to know she didn’t use such strong words. “Only you make me talk like that,” she once told me.

She said I was nuts, and the book didn’t stand a chance of stay­ing in the Library of  Congress.

My friend Janie died a year ago. I was able to thank her for slap­ping me around all those years ago.

Today (like so many other days) I pray for her soul: Señor con­ceda su eterno des­canso. Y brille sobre ella la luz eterna.

Messing with Texas: Lambast Nation

Don't Mess With TexasRik and I were dri­ving north of Dal­las recently when I saw two new free­way names. The road we were on has been named the Sam John­son High­way. Ick!

In the early 1990, Sam John­son was the right-wing politi­cian who wanted to round up all gay men to put them in a con­cen­tra­tion camp. He said that’s the only way to pro­tect Tex­ans from HIV/AIDS.

John­son is still in Con­gress. His con­stituents think he’s doing a good job.

We crossed a big new road named after Sam Ray­burn. I pre­sume that road goes through Bon­ham, Rayburn’s home. This man was Speaker of the US House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. We have the phrase “Yel­low Dog Demo­c­rat” thanks to Speaker Ray­burn. Some­body asked him if he’d ever vote for a Repub­li­can, he said he’d sooner vote for an old “yeller dog.”

Sam Rayburn’s road is big­ger and fancierfancier
➤ (n) a per­son hav­ing a strong lik­ing for some­thing
…by BeeDictionary.com
than Sam Johnson’s. I think he’d lIke that. He was a rar­ity: an hon­est politi­cian. His 17 years as Speaker of the House was the longest tenure in US history.

Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn and then-Senator Lyndon Johnson, two advocates for ccivil rights.

Speaker of the House Sam Ray­burn and then-Senator Lyn­don John­son, two advo­cates for ccivil rights.

Sam Ray­burn was hardly lib­eral, but he knew gov­ern­ment needed to watch out for the poor and dis­en­fran­chised. He’s the one cred­ited with light­ing the fires of civil rights with Lyn­don John­son. There were two com­pet­ing fac­tions in the Texas Demo­c­ra­tic party: lib­eral, conservative.

Texas is cur­rently run by the Sam John­son crowd. It wasn’t always that way.

The Lone Star state gave us Speaker Jim Wright, a lib­eral from Fort Worth (my home­town). He’s a friend. It was fun to watch as my GOP-leaning dad winced when Speaker Wright came to our table in a restau­rant just to say Hi to me. Dad would look around to see if any of his GOP bud­dies were watching.

I worked for some Texas politi­cians: Pre­ston Smith (good-old boy Demo­c­rat). And Sissy Far­en­thold, who would have made an awe­some and lib­eral governor.

Sissy Farenthold

Sissy Far­en­thold

Far­en­thold and Wright couldn’t even get started now. That’s mainly because of what Tom DeLay… an evan­gel­i­cal right-wing politi­cian from south­west of Hous­ton. DeLay pushed hard to get Con­gres­sional dis­tricts redrawn to favor other right-wing can­di­dates. Democ­rats and lib­eral Repub­li­cans have been forced to the back of the bus. Tom DeLay was even­tu­ally con­victed of elec­tions fraud, but his ger­ry­man­dered dis­tricts are still in place.

To get elected in DeLay’s Texas, you have to go hard right because today’s dis­tricts are drawn to give hard right can­di­dates the edge. So we get Louie Gohmert.

After sug­gest­ing that the House move to arrest Eric Holder, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) told Wash­ing­ton Watch host Tony Perkins last week that the push for mar­riage equal­ity under­mines biol­ogy and will inevitably lead the “coun­try down the road to the dust­bin of his­tory.” [RightWingWatch.org]


Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX). So many gaffes, so little time.

Rep. Joe Bar­ton (R-TX).
So many gaffes, so lit­tle time.

Joe Bar­ton, a goofy nut­case rep­re­sent­ing a large swath just south of Dal­las, is the one who apol­o­gized to BP when the feds fined them for that big oil spill in the Gulf. He hates wind energy, say­ing a bunch of wind­mills will slow down the world’s winds. His con­stituents are pleased with this guy.

If Texas has any hope for the future, it’s the racial mix. Older white guys are now in the minor­ity. His­pan­ics are in a grow­ing majority.

Until then, I hope to keep,calling out the idiots, mak­ing fun of the nut cases that embar­rass my home state.

So keep fightin’ for free­dom and jus­tice, beloveds, but don’t you for­get to have fun doin’ it. Lord, let your laugh­ter ring forth. Be out­ra­geous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the odd­i­ties that free­dom can pro­duce. [Molly Ivins]