Ralph Northam’s Remarkable Two-Day Skid: From Abortion Voice of Reason to Racist, Lying Idiot

“Look, it was more than bad enough that Northam had to apologize for the existence of racist medical school yearbook photos. The Trump era is opening up a whole new world of fantastically ignorant possibility. Henceforth I feel compelled to add a new question to the list of those posed to doctors treating me for any serious condition. How long have you been in practice? What’s your success record? And also, have you ever donned a KKK robe?

Then the nation awoke this morning to find Northam attempting a death defying and foolhardy backpedal so ill-advised, reading stories about it in order to inform this column was a physically painful exercise. In short, the governor’s new defense amounts to this: it can’t be me in those racist yearbook photos. I was too busy practicing my Michael Jackson blackface. Rather than absolving Northam, this shaky on the best day alibi only raises more questions about Virginia’s Chief Executive and his judgment. From the governor’s own statement:

‘My belief that I did not wear that costume or attend that party stems in part from my clear memory of other mistakes that I made in the same period of my life…That same year, I did participate in a dance contest in San Antonio in which I darkened my face as part of a Michael Jackson costume.’

Then – and I swear, you can’t make this stuff up – Northam actually mentioned that he’d spoken to his black friend ‘Seth’ about his mistakes and learned why his actions were so hurtful. Seth, if you’re listening, this is not your emotional labor to bear. The guy has an M.D. attached to his name. He should be able to figure out that Michael Jackson cosplay is not for him. On his fall from the tree of respectability, humanity and common sense, Ralph Northam hit every single white stereotype branch.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

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Al-Anon, Theater, Michael Jackson & Trivia (December 20, 2013)

The experiences and diversions of which I availed myself this week, in an attempt to put back together the pieces of my shattered heart and move on with my life, were nothing if not diverse. As is the case with the dissolution of any toxic relationship, receding from crisis mode offers the benefit of perspective. I am slowly becoming aware of how many opportunities I declined or avoided in a futile effort to manage my partner’s temptations, to lavish him with enough attention and support to keep his thoughts and inclinations far from wasting time in a bottle. That these exertions of attempted control over an appetite and force larger than myself were destined to fail, now seems pitifully obvious. So much lost opportunity and energy.

Obviously, there’s nothing I can do to change the past, to rewrite history in order to let go when I should have. But I don’t have to keep making the same mistakes. I don’t have to remain in the fetal position lambasting myself for my time as “that girl,” the one who fell into the logical fallacy trap of believing that loving enough could foment change in one who made his choices years before our first encounter. And since I rarely do anything at half-throttle, I launched myself head first at every novel occasion.

Monday: The first of many Al-Anon meetings. As an atheist, I found myself more than a little uncomfortable with the recitation of the Serenity Prayer which opens and closes each meeting, as well as the frequent mentions of God or a “higher power.” But another friend of mine working the program gave me some great advice that I will endeavor to apply. Frame the “higher power” idea as the energy of the universe, your sponsor, or your own inner strength – whatever speaks to you. I can also see I’ll struggle with the forgiveness elements of the curriculum for the forseeable future, as well as the explicit instructions that what you place at the top of your priority pyramid should not be another person (obviously) or even the distracting intoxicants of work (dammit!). Somehow, some way, I’ll have to learn to put my own emotional and physical well-being there – a notion antithetical to my essence. I suppose that’s why I need to be in these meetings. I’m committed to change and that is never easy.

Tuesday: Back in my comfort zone taking in a production of Nina Raine’s Tribes at the legendary Steppenwolf Theatre. The play grapples with questions of communication and inclusiveness. Do we need spoken words to convey layered meaning or can we navigate the enormous depth and range of human emotion with visual symbols alone? What does it mean to be within or without a personal communication system, and what effect does that inclusion or exclusion have on one’s self-image?

This gets me thinking about my ex’s daughter and granddaughter. The friendships will be maintained but the terms of our relationships have changed and over time, shared experiences and inside jokes will accumulate without me. I will become more of an outsider, a “Somebody That I Used to Know.” This awareness fills me with bottomless sadness, but I don’t push it away. I take it in.

Wednesday: Major gear shift to attend the holiday party of my employer for the first time. Decent conversation, good food and drink and OH SHIT IS THAT A MICHAEL JACKSON IMPERSONATOR!? I jump on the seat of the nearest booth, so I can witness every crotch grab and moonwalk over the heads of my colleagues and everything else disappears. I don’t care that I am singing at the top of my lungs along with someone who only approximates the King of Pop, or that the wait staff gives me strange looks when I bend down from my perch for a wine refill. I am lost in the moment. Right now, right here, I am joy.

Later Wednesday Evening: As the great Ernest Hemingway would have observed, I am a little “tight” when I meet two of my best galpals for an Illinois Woman’s Press Association strategy session followed by a round of bar trivia. Fortunately I am 35 and appear to have learned a lesson or two about pacing. I switch to water, sip the half-price wine slowly and intermittently take mental steps back to appreciate the fact that I am out and about using my brain alongside two women I love, respect and admire. A broken, competitive and abusive relationship with my mother controlled my interactions with the other members of my sex for many years, and time was I could count close female confidantes on one hand with a couple fingers left over. No more.

These musings inspire me. I am capable of learning through a combination of self-awareness and frustration. Maybe that is my “higher power.”

This Minute in Pop Culture…. (June 29, 2010)

pop culture

I don’t know about you guys, but my brain hurts, not in the “I’ve been concentrating too hard and now I need an aspirin” way. It’s more like, “OUR SOCIAL FABRIC AND THE WORLD ECONOMY ARE DISINTEGRATING BEFORE MY EYES! AH! EVERYTHING SUCKS BUT THE WORLD CUP! WE’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO ‘WIN’ IN AFGHANISTAN! THE GULF IS TOAST! MAYDAY! HELP!”

Yeah it’s kind of like that. I know that awareness and consideration are part of my job as a responsible American citizen. If I attempt to bury my head beneath clouds of sunshine and rainbows, in the first place I will find no such place exists for my weary noggin’. But in the second, I understand that avoidance of circumstances never, ever leads to resolution. I am but one small person in this terribly troubled global community, but I am committed to doing whatever I can, whatever form that takes, even if my only available weapon is the pen, to move our human race forward and out of this persistent downward spiral.

That said, there’s nothing illegal about taking a break from absorbing the constant assault of bad news (Russian spy cells are active in American again!?) and indulging in a bit of escapism. My drug of choice for dulling my overstimulated senses is the popular gossip website run by mini-media mogul Perez Hilton, though one could easily substitute E! media, Entertainment Tonight, TMZ or a host of other pop culture news outlets.

After spending half my lunch hour furiously clicking the buttons of my Blackberry, trying to drink in as much nonsense in 30 minutes as my limited vision could stand, I spent the next few moments challenging myself (using the word “challenge” very loosely) to come up with stream of conscious impressions of my information gathering. Ah but that we could always live in the comparatively simple world of entertainment reports! My thoughts went something like this, and in EXACTLY this order. After all, I must remain faithful to the parameters of this exercise:

– So Mel Gibson’s left his wife of 28 years, the mother of seven of his children for a plastic-faced baby tramp, and now she’s stirring up ugly allegations of abuse and non-payment of child support? Perhaps conservative Catholic types ought to broaden their studies to include the Eastern philosophy of karma.

– WHY am I still reading about Heidi and Spencer? No seriously, someone tell me why. I have never watched an episode of The Hills in my life. And yet I am somehow dying to find out if their “divorce” is a sham or not. These two have the oddest, most predatory love story I’ve ever seen play out publicly. It’s like Star 80 for 2010. Except Heidi is no Dorothy Stratton.

– Poor misguided Jessica Simpson. Turning to Eastern medicine traditions will never bring Nick Lachey back. You know it ain’t Tony Romo your bed and career are regretting.

– Lindsay Lohan – Linda Lovelace, SCRAM bracelets, a new Lohan reality show and father Michael is engaged to a 25 year-old who also once dated Jon Gosselin. Not sure who the current poster family for white trash America is since the Hogans slunk off into ignominy, but I think we have a clear front runner.

– I hate the new season of So You Think You Can Dance. Eliminating Mary Murphy from the judges table was the dumbest decision ever, and I don’t accept a clearly-trying-to-be-less-of-a-bitch Mia Michaels as a substitute. I want back on the Hot Tamale Train!

– I still miss Lost as much as I did six weeks ago. When will I get through the withdrawal?

– Most welcome comeback of the last decade: multi-talented and super hot Neil Patrick Harris. Christmas with Harold and Kumar? Hell frickin’ yeah!

– I can’t believe Michael Jackson has been dead a year. I still can’t believe he died at all. People with that much talent always seem immortal.

– So stoked for the next season of Weeds. Zack Morris is going to get some good loving and herb from Ruth Jamison. My little 80s and 90s heart goes pitter patter at the prospect.

– I still don’t care about any of the following and vow that I never will:Harry Potter, Twilight and True Blood. Do we still need fantasies and monsters anymore? The world is frightening enough. Although I do find Emma Watson adorable. R-Patz? Over it! However Taylor Lautner is more than welcome to do other films where he doffs his shirt and I will consider attending. Meow.

– Tom Cruise is a fabulous actor, but I think consumers are telling him they’d like him to disappear for awhile. Think Jeff Bridges. He dropped off our pop culture radar for a time and came back with an Oscar. You don’t have a Golden Guy, do you Tom? Food for thought.

– Midway through the year and my favorite celebrity of 2010 remains Brett Michaels. I am as shocked by this as anyone. Dude is just so disarming.

See the answers are easy at this low brow level! I feel invigorated, don’t you? We now return to our regularly scheduled program of gloom, already in progress…

January 18, 2010

no-sign

I, lover of all things sensational/Hollywood/trashy, even have my limits. It seems like the same ol‘ sh!t keeps getting recycled throughout the entertainment shows, blogs and websites and I JUST CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!

Following is the list of items I never wish to hear about ever again:

 

    • Tiger Woods not being able to keep his thing in his pants

 

    • The whereabouts of Tiger Woods

 

    • the whole NBC/Conan/Jay Leno mess

 

    • Anything pertaining to Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag including but not limited to music “careers” plastic surgery, marriage, babies, and being “hot”.

 

    • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

 

    • Jennifer Aniston’s lack of marital status

 

    • John Mayer and his many conquests

 

    • Any member of the Cyrus family acting age-inappropriate (including Billy Ray and Tish)

 

  • All things related to the Jackson family or Michael Jackson’s estate

Am I leaving any out? Let me know. Enough is enough already!

The 2009 Celebrity Death Parade Continues (December 22, 2009)

brittany-murphy-newjpg2

  • Steve McNair*
  • Michael Jackson*
  • Ed McMahon
  • Billy Mays*
  • Farrah Fawcett
  • David Carradine
  • Dom Deluise
  • Bea Arthur
  • Jack Kemp
  • Marilyn Chambers*
  • Natasha Richardson*
  • Jett Travolta*
  • Jade Goody*
  • Karl Malden
  • Oscar Mayer
  • Robert McNamara
  • Chuck Daly
  • John Hughes*
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver
  • Walter Cronkite
  • Don Hewitt
  • Les Paul
  • Ted Kennedy
  • Adam “DJ AM” Goldstein*
  • Patrick Swayze
  • Brittany Murphy* (pictured above)

* Denotes calendar age of 50 or less at time of death

I think we all know by now what I think of 2009 – i.e. a veritable suckfest with limited bright spots. But among other negatives for which this year will be forever remembered, it has also been the year of death. On a personal level, as you know, I endured the loss of a best friend, Jesika, as well as Snuggy, a beloved pet.

Celebrity deaths typically capture the national imagination, for however brief a time, due to the impact these cultural figures have had on most, if not all of us, at some point or another. Well-known people are lost to us every year, only to be repackaged and paraded through the Academy’s “In Memoriam” montage annually at the Oscar telecast. However, two very unusual circumstances make this year’s “death” list more atypical than most.

In the first place, the volume of timeless icons who passed away is more than noteworthy. From 70s pinup girl and Charlie’s Angel Farrah Fawcett, to King of Pop Michael Jackson, to trusted newsman Walter Cronkite, it was impossible to go through this year as a member of Generation X without feeling the loss of some piece of your childhood.

Perhaps most disturbing though is the overwhelming number of folks who died in the prime of their lives, usually the result of drug abuse. For arbitrary convention’s sake, I have chosen age 50 as the barometer. Not too many years ago, 50 years seemed rather ancient to me, but as life goes, the older I get (and the more immature I remain) half a century doesn’t appear as geezerly as it once did.

The latest and hopefully the last of these shocking celebrity passings, is actress Brittany Murphy who perished from “natural causes” at the age of 32. For now I will sidestep my opinion that 32 year olds do not go about dropping dead without a rather unnatural reason (longterm cocaine abuse?), and focus on the cultural void left behind.

Murphy’s career had slowed in recent years, but for those of my generation, her turns, especially in Clueless, but also 8 Mile and Girl Interrupted (for which the case could be made that she stole the show from Angelina) will never be forgotten.

The high death rate of both public and private figures has naturally had me contemplating my own mortality throughout the year. Do I like the legacy I am leaving behind? If my life ended tomorrow, would I be satisfied with the body of work, love and living I left behind? Reassuringly, I find that answer, for the most part, to be a resounding “yes.” I hope I have many years of troublemaking left in this body, but 2009 has trained me not to count on it. It’s cliche, but I plan to make every moment of 2010, and hereafter, count.

Conversations with Kevin – Part #1 (July 3, 2009)

It’s sort of comforting in advance to know that Kevin has written such a heartwarming post about our first “business lunch,” it is not worth my while to try to top – emotionally speaking. The one thing I will say is that I thought I was the only one who secretly viewed our monthly meeting as a lifeline to our shared suffering, and our bond with Jesika.

That is however, not to say, that when we met at Kuma’s Corner on Wednesday at noon, the mood was at all somber or stuck in our recent grief. As a matter of fact, it would be tough to stay serious at a place like this. This was a find of Kevin’s, and to know my friend, the last place you would expect him to seek out is a heavy metal burger joint.

I arrived about ten minutes early, and before noon already, the place was hopping. I took two seats at the bar, and a good look around, while I waited for Kevin. The metal music was deafening – before lunch. More than that, I could tell it was, as my friend Pete might say, “real metal.” In other words, I had never heard any of the tunes before. Kuma’s Corner is unabashedly not radio friendly. They have a list of “rules” posted at the front of the restaurant that, at first glance, don’t seem very customer-friendly either: We Will Not Change the Music, We Will Not Put on the Game, We Do not Do Take-out Orders if the Patio is open. They do things their way, not your way – how rock and roll!

I do wish the list of rules had also included, We Do Not Keep Working Locks on Our Rest Room Doors. Perhaps this would have spared me the indignity of being exposed on the pot by a middle-aged lady, who took her sweet time about closing back up after discovering her error. It is a good thing Boop no longer has much pride left after a lifetime of humiliating herself.

But I digress – the longer I know Kevin, the more I realize that no matter how diverging our perspectives and viewpoints, we really enjoy talking to each other. We covered a variety of topics duing the course of our get together: naturally a bit about how much we miss Jesika, and what she might make of our current situations in life. But we also talked about the recent death of Michael Jackson, and what role his comfort level with his own blackness played in his downfall. I don’t think it is all crazy to remark that Mike obviously had issues with his appearance – strong enough that he was willing to disfigure himself through multiple plastic surgeries. So there you go, a small white woman and a huge African American man discussing what it meant to Michael Jackson to be black. Why not?

We parted on the unusually cool afternoon with a hug in the rain: me on my way to a meeting with a fellow freelance writer, Kevin, his head full with several missions confronting him (career development, finding a new apartment). We kept things loose on this first lunch. Next go around, I am to pick the place. How do I outdo a heavy metal burger joint? Any suggestions?

BufBloPoFo 09 DayTwo (March 15, 2009)

If you had the power to put together the most perfect, end-of-the-universe, nothing-better-was-ever-made repast, using whatever ingredients you want, and with whomever you’d like as your co-diners, what would you want? Tell me about one little bit, or all fourteen courses. Tell me about venue, about background music, about which box of wine goes best with which flavor of ramen noodles.

I have invited two temporarily resurrected men, Tim Russert and Jesus, to my place for dinner. Joining the three of us will be one person who remains of this world, Madonna. I have offerred to prepare a zesty vegetable lasagna from scratch. I have chosen a veggie meal because Jesus and Madonna are both Jews, and I do not keep a kosher kitchen. I understood from Tim Russert’s waistline while alive that he is not a picky eater. I set three plates at the bar in my kitchen, and pour three glasses of red wine. Madonna only sips gingerly at hers, requesting a bottle of Kabbalah water alongside her plate. Tim Russert and Jesus start sucking it down. We all know Jesus was a pretty fun wedding guest. Tim Russert came from a blue collar Irish background. ‘Nough said. I keep a plate for myself on the side. I will eat (and drink later). I do not want to be distracted or compromised whatsoever as we begin our discussion.

Wine has reddened the cheeks of Tim Russert and so he introduces a lively debate on the current economic crisis. Russert heatedly lays the blame at the feet of George W. Bush, though he does admit that the U.S. had been a little too lax about a lot of things in the last twenty years. Jesus is of the opinion that he sort of likes Obama’s Robin Hood approach to his most recent budget plan. However, realizing he may have said too much, Jesus grows a little sheepish. The son of God ought not to appear to pick sides, he says, so can we all keep what he said under our hats? It’s not exactly a lie, and thus we wouldn’t really be breaking any commandments. I tell Jesus to relax and poor him another glass. Madonna, who charges $200 or more to see one of her shows, apparently doesn’t realize there is a recession at all. Nevetheless, Jesus is always one to find a silver lining, and though he encourages the Material Girl to get to know some of the “little people,” he nonetheless commends Madge on the adoption of the formerly impoverished David Banda.

As we move toward the dessert course, a homemade banana bread pudding (in this fantasy, I have miraculously learned how to cook. Perhaps the divine intervention of Jesus?), the discussion moves to the subject of children. Jesus, just like Michael Jackson a couple millenniums later, obviously loves them (However, He pointedly resents the Gloved One’s use of “Jesus Juice” to calm them down – J endorses no such product), but immediately lets us know not to believe everything we read. The Da Vinci Code is just a work of fiction and there were no Jesus Juniors. I can barely mask my disappointment. Tim Russert, by now a little intoxicated, grows misty eyed at the thought of his now adult son Luke. I show him a clip of Luke working on behalf of NBC news during the McCain/Obama debates and he is done for. Madonna has three children from three different fathers (fine, the last one was adopted). Jesus knows it’s 2009 and doesn’t want to come off as a prude, so he stays quiet during Madonna’s confessional.

Tim Russert can barely stand by the time we finish our meal. Jesus tells us the coolest thing about being the Son of God is his immunity to basically, well, everything. He hoists Tim up on his shoulder so they can begin the walk back to heaven. Surprisingly, it’s not that far. Madonna has a chopper on top of my roof and will fly off with her boy toy, 22 year-old Jesus Luz. She realizes the irony of sleeping with a pretty young thing that bears the name of the Chosen One, and accepts that as further proof that her bed hopping is indeed all part of God’s plan.