Archive for January, 2016
Back in 1997 I founded Ellavon: An Ezine of Basic Culture in large measure so that I could work with artists and writers I admired. I got to know Kristi Coulter by reading and responding to her posts on the old Usenet newsgroups, in particular alt.music.alternative and alt.music.alternative.female. Her prose was surpassingly graceful and witty. Indeed, Kristi was and remains one of the best pure writers I have ever read. I was thrilled when she agreed to write for Ellavon.
While I can say that I published her, I cannot say that I edited her; I never found a word – honestly, not a single one – I would change. (Such an experience is as unnerving as it is happy for an editor. It has happened to me only one other time, with Paul Edwards, editor of the Encyclopedia of Philosophy and author of the magisterial refutation of reincarnation that you can find in Not Necessarily the New Age.)
Kristi has finally launched her own website, KristiCoulter.com, which has links to her Ellavon work and to more recent writing, including her blog, “Off-Dry: Sober Girl, Loopy World,” her two recent “Open Letters to People I Have Strong Feelings About” (“Dear Santa” is pure and poignant genius), and to her various “Enthusiasms.”
This morning I came upon an article quoting a right-wing American radio host who questioned whether a hate-crime against a gay person has ever in fact happened, even once. (I’m not providing the link.) When will this crap go away?
An apropos basil.CA re-post (with minor edits):
20 July 04: I’ve been physically beaten up twice as an adult. Each time my attacker believed I was gay. In Mountain View, California a number of years ago I was at a club with a female companion who looked particularly boyish that day in an old gray sweatshirt. A muscled guy told us to leave; I asked him why, and he became incensed: He threw me across the room – I landed on a table, which broke to pieces. Then he leapt on top of me, and started punching. (My shoulder was dislocated.) The bouncer pulled the man off, then ordered my friend and I out of the club: The entire place jeered us on our way out.
It was bewildering, or it was until my friend said, “They think I’m a man.”
Late last Saturday night I was walking home to the West End from a friend’s place downtown when a car skidded to a stop right behind me. A man leapt out of the backseat and kicked me in the face. On the ground I curled up into a ball and covered my head, which he continued to kick until a group of women came around the corner a few moments later. “Why are you doing this to me?” I asked him. “You’re a faggot,” he said.
Generally I very much like Vancouver cops, but I must say that I was disappointed by the officer who showed up after one of the women called 911. “Are you sure you didn’t upset him in some way? Did you cross against the light, or give him the finger?”
1 August 04: Thanks for your emails. I’m fine – the bruises are pretty much all gone. At any rate, it was not too terrible of an event, more depressing than scary. (I found out that I am not afraid of physical violence – sweet to learn that from the episode.) The attack wasn’t even the most important thing that happened to me that day, or that hour, in fact. I was coming home from visiting my friend Violet – the Princess of Pigeon Park. She had scolded me for talking to somebody I wasn’t supposed to (much of our conversation typically concerns how to behave properly in her neighborhood). I told her, “I am so, so stupid.”
“No, you are not.”
She had a bouquet of flowers — this is a woman who buys herself flowers – and she gave me one.
“I love you, Bob.” She had never told me that before. I was elated.
“I love you, Violet.”
It occurred to me only after I got home that (a) walking back to my neighborhood holding a long-stemmed flower might have made me a good target, and (b) after all the bloody commotion, I had forgotten to find my precious flower and bring it home (damn). Violet looks as tough and beautiful as ever, but her voice is only a whisper these days. You can be sure I would not have been attacked had Violet been with me.
Since these posts were published, I’ve been assaulted twice. The motive was money, not hate.
It has been a few years since I’ve seen Violet. I don’t know where she is. I pray she is okay.
It never occurred to me, by the way, to protest to the crowd in the bar or to the second attacker that I was not gay. Which makes these memories happy, in a weird way. I know, though, that I was lucky not to have been badly injured or killed.
In a few days basil.CA enters its fifteenth year. I’m very pleased. Here’s a post from its first year:
I’m pushing middle age, and only this morning did it dawn on me that the words “perturb” and “turbulence” must share an etymological root. Yet somehow I am allowed to send emails to friends and colleagues and even my clients unsupervised. (For those few who haven’t been clued in yet: Both words derive from the Latin turba, meaning confusion and such.) I am looking for a way to redeem myself and think that nothing less than coining and popularizing a new word will do. This is our new word: PERTURBULENT, as in, “Your mother needs to switch to ginger ale, because she’s becoming pretty … perturbulent.” The word turns into a nifty noun, too: “Perturbulence is your mother’s middle name.” – 19 May ’02
The neologism never caught on, alas, though basil.CA has, among an esteemed elite. Thank you, dear readers.
While putting together “Not Necessarily the New Age,” back in the late 1980s, I was able to indulge my long-time interest in American “fringe” micro-cultures and corresponded with zealous believers of all types, political and religious and scientific (pseudo- and otherwise). I also listened to a lot of out-there radio programs that you don’t get up here in Canada. I liked listening to them even if I didn’t sometimes like what I was hearing. They made for “interesting company.” I was even a fan of Rush Limbaugh early on, when his stirring stemwinders could pick me up no matter what they were about. (His rhetorical skills coarsened once Bill Clinton got elected, and I find Limbaugh unlistenable today.)
My favourite conspiracy theorist was Dave Emory, whose radio program “One Step Beyond” would mesmerize and baffle me to equal degrees as it wove together the Third Reich, Watergate, JFK’s assassination, bin Laden’s alleged connection with the Bush family, and the double-murder trial of OJ Simpson into a single tapestry of … what, I am not sure … that went on and on. Although I travel in different circles these days, in terms of whom I read and what I listen to on the radio, to me it feels strangely great that a fellow like Emory, who regaled me back in the day, is still around.
… listening to the Paul Westerberg / Juliana collaboration released today: “Wild Stab.” They call themselves the “I Don’t Cares,” oh but they do.
Westerberg sounds great and Hatfield does, too; their ragged harmonies are sweet and living – reminding me a bit of Julie and Buddy Miller‘s – their voices belong together. What beautiful music. *sighs*
Vanyaland, “the Boston-based online music magazine, alternative radio station, and lifestyle brand,” posted an interview with Westerberg conducted by Peter Wolf. Westerberg describes the genesis of the record and what working with Hatfield was like. There are also a number of extended riffs on many other topics, of course.
Katie Couric, now Global Anchor at Yahoo! News, posted a beautiful story and video called “Buffalo’s big comeback” last Friday. The video I found especially moving. Every scene stirred me: Here was my first soul-home.
I adore this city. I met best friends here. My son was born here. I learned my craft here. I had one or two beers here, and some tequila shots. I fell in love here. I worked at Mighty Taco here. I wrote here. My soul will always be in Buffalo.
It is the only place I could possibly go if I ever left the Terminal City.