Saturday, September 25, 2021

"To those who left us....and who brought us together"

I think the worst part of getting older is the parade of departures from this mortal coil moves ever faster. And now I have to write about yet another one.

I'm writing today to talk about Karl. I'm not going to mention his last name out of respect for his family's privacy. 

Two weeks after Mr. Brilliant died in 2013, I joined a social group for widows and widowers. I didn't want to join a grief group. I felt they were all too churchy and I truly did not want to sit in a room full of crying people. Some would say I should have, that I pushed grief away and that is why it's been squeezing out in manageable doses over eight years. 

I also didn't want to join "singles" groups. I already knew that dating wasn't in the cards for me. It had been horrible in my 20s, and I knew that it was going to be even worse for an overweight woman pushing 60  So when I found a group on Meetup whose mission was to build friendships with people who "get it" in a safe space, but by sharing enjoyable times, it was exactly what I needed. 

We've all known people who are like the mayor of whatever the group is. "The mayor" is always someone whose very presence signals that you are welcome. He's the first one with the smile, the extended hand, the "tell me your story" when someone new comes into the room. Karl was that person.  He wasn't hitting on people, he was all about welcoming. I've realized how important this is, after joining a group here after I moved where the men don't talk with any women they're not interested in fucking, and the women seem to see all new women as interlopers. The group in NJ was nothing like that.

Every Wednesday for two years I had dinner with these people, and Karl was always right there, showing genuine delight at being with everyone, and extending that smile, that hug, that warmth, to the new and the tentative. He had an unfailing instinct for where people's boundaries were and respecting them, while providing just the right amount of comfort. And last year during that long, cold winter, I was able to host Zoom calls for the group and see them all virtually. I am now particularly glad that I had that opportunity. I had no idea that the last Zoom I hosted would be the last time I'd see Karl.

I was at one of these dinners when I got the call that my father had passed away. I'm glad I was.

Karl and I shared an enjoyment of jam bands, especially the New Jersey-based Railroad Earth. I went with him and our friend Stacey to see Hot Tuna in Stroudsburg, PA in 2014, retracing the steps and the restaurant Mr. Brilliant and I had traced  a few years earlier for a different show. Karl and I weren't on the same page politically, and to be honest, I'm glad I never had to have political discussions with him during the Trump years. But upon reflection, he really did test my "You can't support Trump and still be a good person" doctrine.

Karl always closed every "widder dinner" with this toast:  "To those who left us...and who brought us together." Our friend Stacey, who has endured far more than her own share of tragedy already, noted today that he has now joined them. Perhaps he will now bring THEM together in an alternate universe version of the camaraderie those they had left behind shared.

My heart hurts today for Karl's loved ones, for Stacey who was such a close friend, for Carolyn and Carol and Bette and Kurt and Susan and Dan and Lynne and Gordon and Elsa and all the others I haven't met in person and who are new, and who I just can't remember right now, for they are the ones who have to face the empty space at the table every Wednesday. His loss makes grieving just that much more difficult for those who will no longer have his smile to welcome them and show that even in the face of indescribable grief, there is warmth and friendship and hope.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Right Wing Anti Vaccine Death Scorecard Episode 4, or COVID Is Nowhere Near Done With These People Yet

 Today's entry into the death pool is Bob Enyart, Colorado wingnut talk show host and pastor of the Denver Bible Church, who died this week from COVID-19. 

According to the Denver Post, Enyart had refused to be vaccinated because of his concern about abortion, believing the lie that COVID vaccines are made of aborted babies.

The term "Good riddance" certainly applies to Bob Enyart, a man who once read the names of people who died of AIDS while playing Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust."

So let's give this paragon of right-wing hate the proper send-off, shall we?

Honorable mention: Victoria Wolski, known for posting QAnon banners from bridges and demanding that she be treated with Ivermectin while in the hospital.

Honorable mention 2:  Josh.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

And now it's 20 years. Same shit, different angry men

It seems that every year, the annual ratings grab of 9/11 coverage starts earlier. Before we can turn around, it'll be a whole season. Maybe it'll start at the Summer Solstice, but more likely, as with this year, it'll start around Labor Day, which is the unofficial start of fall. Maybe eventually it'll be a shopping season. Who knows? 

A year is really just an arbitrary designation of time passing, though it seems that the "fives" and "zeroes" have special meaning. As I sit here on the sixth of September, 2021, which this year doubles as Labor Day, I've already noted that CNN has rebroadcast the excellent Naudet brothers documentary that was supposed to be about a probationary fireman in New York, but turned out to be a gripping and horrifying documentation of that terrible day. It's also run a discussion with the now-adult school children to whom George W. Bush was reading "My Pet Goat."  One of the premium channels is running Paul Greenglass' film United 93, a movie I could never bring myself to watch. Spike Lee's HBO docuseries NYC Epicenters 9/11 —> 2021½ is in heavy rotation.

Lee is no stranger to controversy, and much has been made of his excision of most, but not all, of the "9/11 Truther" content n the series. My own relationship with 9/11 Trutherism is complicated, especially in the context of the direct line from that particular movement down into the QAnon/deep state/2020 election was rigged/etc. lunacy that has received far too much oxygen and still thrives. 

Let me explain:  I have freely admitted to my belief in what was then known as LIHOP ("let it happen on purpose"). My belief was constructed from the following facts:  1) that a Newsweek article had just hit newsstands and mailboxes detailing the events leading up to the Supreme Court decision that made George W. Bush president; 2) Bush's already-dropping poll numbers; and 3) his aides' clearly known desire for a war with Iraq.