A family member recently Facebooked a Fake news story about the 700 Club’s smarmy Pat Robertson. In it Pat was accused of disparaging a sleveless dress worn by Michelle Obama while heaping praise on a semi nude pic of Melania Trump. Didn’t happen!
I thought I might have referred to a similar story in a previous blog post although it might have been a reply to an email. There was a story about Trump’s wife starting her career in America as an escort. If I mentioned it on my blog a cursory search doesn’t seem to have revealed the allegation.
Melania was born in the old Yugoslavia of my youth. After I moved to Northeastern Minnesota I became aware of the various slavic peoples of that nation who settled in the Iron Mining regions. When, after Rudy Perpich’s term as Governor, Yugoslavia broke up the first area to secede was Slovenia the most prosperous part of the nation. The Range had is share of Slovenes.
I regard our new first Lady as an interesting, if nontraditional, addition to the roll-call of First Ladies. She came here to take advantage of the beauty industry and she married a rich man I’ve never respected. The latter point is irrelevant to this discussion although not to my blogging in general.
Because my Father inculcated a love of Geography in me early on I was aware of “Trieste” the major city of Slovenia which has been contested between the Italians and Slavs for a very long time. Before I set out for Duluth forty years ago one of my Mother’s best friends and a business partners was a woman whose Mother was an Italian woman born in the City. In fact, Daria’s Mother never learned English and spoke Italian in her inner city Italian neighborhood for the rest of her life.
Daria was not a supermodel and she wasn’t “Slovenian.” She was a wonderful person and, like Melania, I would never blame her for anything her husband might have done.
But Melania is on a ride she never planned for. After reading the Snope’s correction I got curious about the much talked about photo shoot in GQ. I wondered if the January 2000 Issue with Melania on the cover had raised in value since November. I checked Ebay out. No Kidding! I’ll bet they only get more expensive as the Trump year’s continue.
One of the most engaging articles in the Sunday paper was written by an intern for the Duluth Budgeteer, Ryley Graham. It was about her appreciation for books written by today’s crop of American female comedians. Her story began with a bunch of rednecky old men who saw Ms. Graham reading Amy Schumer’s recent best seller “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo.” . They let Ryley know they approved because Schumer was very funny and joked a lot about sex. That they were a bunch of red neck’s made no difference. Ms. Graham appreciated such books for a different reason. They are full of useful information. For instance, Schumer’s book has been controversial and contains anecdotes that none of the geezers probably ever heard about. Schumer’s candidly describes waking up to find her boyfriend stealing her virginity without asking permission. The memoir leaves it up to the reader to decide whether this was an act of rape or not.
I wrote about Schumer once before on the blog and the topic led me to use an all too common four letter word that I only use sparingly here. (A quick check suggests that this is only the 30th time that the word shit has made it into my blog either on its own or in compounds like “bullshit.”) That’s out of 17,598 posts or once every 586 posts. I’m not particularly prissy but after inflicting my fifth grade potty mouth on Topeka, Kansas, my Dad advised me not to waste perfectly good swear words through overuse. He said that if I wanted to catch people’s attention I needed to use them sparingly. Hell, (to use a word I’m less fussy with appearances in over 200 posts), young people today don’t think twice about using these words. I hear them shouted out by partying college students many a spring and summer night when my windows are open for the fresh air.
It’s a three letter word that had parents panicked during my junior high years “sex” as in sex education. Half of the parents were afraid these classes would give kids ideas. The other half were afraid that if we didn’t inflict the class on their children their children would inflict a lot of embarassing questions on them. A number of male comics have made hay with this subject through the years but female comics have been slower to follow suit. I’m not sure if this is because women want to appear demure or if they thought the “ick” factor would drive away the male half of their audience. But Ryley’s old farts haven’t been deterred. Yes, even the Chainsaw Massacre of subjects female business can catch a guy’s attention more successfully than the self submitted porno videos that litter the Internet.
Yesterday I finished reading American Rose to Claudia. Its a biography of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. I found it in a thrift shop this summer and to my delight it dished about a lot of historical characters I’ve been reading about lately as well as vaudeville, and burlesque. It makes clear that Gypsy mythologized her life while giving new meaning to the term “stage mothers.” Her Mother was a lesbian/psychopath/serial murderer. Trust me, none of that got into Gypsy’s self created mythology. Gypsy and her sister survived one helluva childhood.
Gypsy was a product of those bad old days before sex education classes. You know, the Era of brothels, madams, back alley abortionists and casting room couches. I doubt that the departure of Roger Aisles will put an end to that Era and God knows, today a pernicious new sex trafficking epidemic to taken root. Thank goodness the idea of “fallen women” is being put to rest by women like Schumer. She might even kill off “slut” or force us to find an equivalent term for men that doesn’t leave us jealous or in awe of them. Talk about bragging rights Casanova claimed to have gotten his own daughter into bed.
I was in junior high when Sex Ed classes relieved my parents from the responsibility of embarassing me but just in case my folks had no objection to my seeing the movie Gypsy should sex ed fall short. Heck, my Aunt and Uncle were sophisticates and when they were visiting Duluth they took in the Saratoga as many young couples did in the Mad Men Era. Myth or not I suppose seeing the movie was every bit as edifying as anything I learned in Sex ed. It wasn’t graphic; and it was a myth; but it also gave my parent’s way of giving me a preview of coming attractions. Today Amy Schumer fits that bill.
Gypsy was famous for giving her audiences as little sex as possible and performing a parody of strip tease with a wink and faux blushes.
I prefer the candid conversation prompted by today’s young comics who don’t wink and who leave all the blushing up to me.
What promised to begin as a good snow sculpting season hasn’t really materialized. We got a bit of snow before Thanksgiving but not enough. Besides that it was speckled with the leaves I didn’t get a chance to rake up first. I made a clay pilgrim and turkey as a model to speed up sculpting but no more snow arrived until Turkey day had come and gone.
I get occasional suggestions for what to sculpt which I only rarely decide to follow through on. Last Spring’s Wicked Witch of the West was such an example. Recently I got an email urging me to take on the School Board with some sort of parody or satire. I did that for several years running but I don’t have the heart to do that now. I quote Twain all the time but I also know that no one runs for the school board to do injury to children or schools. At the moment I’m looking for a holiday miracle to back away from a year’s worth of mayhem. Maybe I could pray for some decent snow while I’m at it.
A couple days ago I thought I’d like to emphasize a miracle in my snow sculpting. The problem was I couldn’t think of something miraculous to sculpt that would convey that message. I typed in “miracle” in my Google search to see what sort of images I could come up with. Of all the images that popped up only one seemed to me to be really miraculous but it didn’t lend itself to any good analogy with our School District or School Board. It was an image of an adult’s hands cupping an infant’s feet. I decided to Google that particular image and dozens of others popped up.
I printed out the best of the hands and feet images and scraped up the minuscule new snow that fell earlier in the week piling it around what was meant to be my Pilgrim and Turkey. This morning Claudia walked by the picture and couldn’t tell what the heck it was although it was sitting by a small pile of clay. The clay was the sure sign that I intended to sculpt the picture. Claudia, who doesn’t read my blog, had no idea what such an image was meant to convey. Later this morning when I began to mold hands and feet out of the clay she told me she wasn’t sure the image was such a good idea. She worried people wouldn’t be able to tell what it was. She even said it looked vaguely sexual which reminded me of Georgia Okeeffe’s paintings which were infamous for that quality.
This is what I had in mind:
I’ve got two good days of sculpting weather ahead of me and a small pile of snow. Anyone with any suggestions on some hopeful looking image please send me your ideas at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This takes 63 minutes to watch in full. This is why all 50 states will likely soon accept gay marriage. Its the argument that evangelicals will succumb to and that will roll on through all other “conservative” Christian churches.
The attitude under girding this sermon could be applied to some of the Duluth School District’s dysfunction.
Prepare yourself for a little TMI. Not up on your acronyms? TMI = “too much information.” And to start this post at 2AM here’s a little for you in preparation for the next post that can’t let me get back to sleep at 2AM this morning.
I vividly recall my visit to the Mankato State Health Center for a syphilis shot. The Doctor there was the mother of a friend of mine from high school. That would have been about 1971. I say syphilis but frankly I’m not sure what she treated me for. Maybe it was that other disease Gonorrhea. The later was no big deal then but it is today as an incurable strain seems to be busy infecting the careless.
I found out that I had been exposed to one or the other by my first lover, a much older woman. She was hugely embarrassed to tell me this but she did and I was nothing if not incredibly sympathetic with her and I took the information with aplomb assuring her that it was no big deal. I’ll still confessed to being chagrinned to realize that the Doctor about to give me a shot in my tush was the mother of a friend. There are a few things all of us really don’t want the mother’s of our friends to know about us.
Perhaps the reason I could be so chivilrous had to do with my attitude about secrecy and a movie I had seen back in junior high school. I say movie but I could be wrong. It might have been a television production but I rather think it was a 1950’s black and white movie. Just now I tried to google it but was unsuccessful. I found the startling (for 1940) movie Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet. I may have seen this but its not the movie I was looking for. Then there is 1997 made for TV movie I’d not heard of about the infamous study of black Mississippi men who were never told they had syphilis so that they could be studied until they died of the disease. There are also a couple movies about Gonorrhea.
Here’s what I recall about the movie I had watched back in about seventh grade, although I might have seen it in grade school. A doctor was trying to prevent the spread of the disease, S or G, but it wasn’t easy. To do this he had to get victims to tell him who they had had sex with. This was necessary to find them and treat them. Funny, but the folks in the movie didn’t want to cooperate even though the result of non cooperation was possibly fatal to unnamed sex partners. Not surprisingly I took the doctor’s point of view which is what the makers of the movie had in mind for their audience. Consequently I was inclined to take my lover’s revelation quite evenly.
VEDANTAM: That’s right. It’s the idea that information can sometimes be scary. And in those cases, people can sometimes avoid that kind of information. I did a story a couple of weeks ago that looked at college students who didn’t want to find out that they had sexually transmitted diseases for example.
The issue in the story was about the surprising finding that women who knew someone who got breast cancer were less likely to have mammograms than those who did not have such acquaintances. I think my biggest problem on the school board is Information Aversion. I have a majority of the school board who don’t want to know how we got from some truly great educational opportunities for our children to piss poor after spending half a billion (or six hundred million) on brand spanking new buildings. How great is this aversion? Cripes, they’d rather frame the most rigorous investigator on the Board of bullshit accusations in order to remove him than peek under the Chairman’s carpet.
We’ve got syphilis, folks, and we need to get a shot for it. We better be prepared to pull our trousers down to get it just like I had to forty-five years ago.
Before sneaking back to the room I decided, on a whim, to see if the Reader Weekly had acknowledged the receipt of my column. Nope. So, as a precaution I checked out my email “sent” file to make sure it had been sent. Nope. So I checked the “drafts” folder. There it was sans attachments (pictures that the publisher requested I include). Dammit!
Its not safe to take things for granted. I put it all together and pushed “send” last Friday. I do have trouble with my internet connections every so often. Maybe they went glitchy last Friday without bothering to tell me that they couldn’t send my email.
Its too early to say “whew!” I’ll be checking my cell phone for emails today from the Reader to see what they say……if anything.
I also checked the Duluth News Tribune to see if there was anything intersting happening in Duluth……..Didn’t look like it although their story on Wisconsin’s protected pedophile priests was depressingly interesting. Andrew Sullivan had already covered it a couple days ago when he beat up Cardinal Dolan who hid the Church’s money from potential plaintiffs. That was prudent if not penitential of him. What was it that Jesus said? Something about suffer the little children. The Catholic Church seems to have a long tradition of this.
I haven’t written anything on the blog for ten days. Its not for want of subject matter. The depredations of Boston certainly call for comment but the last post is all I feel compelled to say on the subject. There’s been another story that has caused me deep reflection and its about a much more common crime. Its the news of a young girl named Audrie Pott who committed suicide after several friends raped her when she got drunk. I should add the perfunctory adjective “allegedly.” The details that have been in the news are still being sorted out but they remind me of people I know and have known. Continue reading →
Until I read this Star Trib story about the Duluth that is no longer your grandparent’s Duluth (I’m a grandparent!) I had never read that former candidate for the Congressional Seat held by Chip Cravaack was gay. This story mentions it as though everyone knew it. Not me. I only heard it rumored by a local DFL operative who explained to me that because of it this candidate would never get elected.
In the near future, in that better world I anticipate our gravitating toward, it should be unnecessary to announce your sexual predilections when you run for office. We’re not there yet. If Obama only had a 5% loss of voters due to his being black if you were to compare that to oppositon based on sexual preference I’d guess that in Northern Minnesota that figure would be closer to 10 to 20%. If I’m right that would be enough to guarantee a loss for any DFL challenger to Chip Cravaack.
Just because life isn’t fair doesn’t excuse a candidate from failing to disclose possible impediments to his getting votes. Who can forget Senator Thomas Eagleton failing to tell George McGovern that he had undergone electroshock before being selected as a VP candidate by McGovern? That may account for the worst drubbing any democrat has endured in a presidential election.
If this candidate was still in the closet so that the Strib couldn’t mention it as though it was no big deal that would be different. But he semi-outed himself. I guess all his buddies and the political insiders knew but not the delegates at the DFL caucuses and conventions. Had they decided to endorse him even though they knew he had to bear the cross of being gay that would have been different, laudable even. Instead he allowed the delegates to remain uninformed with a potential bombshell to be detonated by the GOP after the primary. In a year when all Democrats are aching to take back the Congress he did them a major disservice.
This story was a bit of a revelation to me. I did recall that the woman above as a much older women, famous for being ugly, got a face lift. Its obvious she didn’t need one when she was younger.
Playboy’s editors thought it would be funny, she said, and what better way to get a laugh than by sending out seductive centerfold photos of a hilariously tacky, impressively unsexy woman? It seemed like a foolproof plan. There was, however, one problem: Diller, who had long obscured her figure with the trademark ill-fitting lame’ dresses she often wore onstage, turned out to have a shapely, sexy physique–and a pretty face, too, under all her clownish makeup. To everyone’s bewilderment (except maybe Phyllis Diller’s), Phyllis Diller was a bombshell.
I put up a lawnsign a few weeks ago urging voters to vote no on the proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage. I mention this only to give some context to the following comments.
The Trib has done a good job outing Rep. Gauthier who was caught by police just after a hurried act of intimacy at a highway rest stop with another fellow. Tawdry, embarrassing and human.
I’ve never had a very positive feeling about Rep. Gauthier. It wasn’t because he was rumored to be gay but had more to do with his personality. Despite that I can’t help feeling a little pity for him. At 56 he came around long after gay liberation which has been a great improvement over the bad old closeted days. He may be one of the last gay Americans to suffer the indignity of such a public outing.
He’s unmarried. The act was consensual. Also, as the DNT points out with some apparent irritation, no laws have been broken. Its too late for the DFL to field another candidate and I know nothing about the Republican challenger except that before this he had zero chance of being elected.
I long for the day that voters can vote against a guy like Gauthier in good conscience because he fiddled around with a kid and not because he was fiddling around with a boy.
Gates believes that by focusing on the lives of women and children, and by making it clear that the agenda is neither coercive population control nor abortion, the controversy over international family-planning programs can be defused. Right now, she points out, 100,000 women annually die in childbirth after unintended pregnancies. Six hundred thousand babies born to women who didn’t want to be pregnant die in the first month of life. “She is somebody who really sees this as a public-health necessity,” says Melanne Verveer, the United States ambassador at large for global women’s issues. “I think she believes, and I hope she is right, that people of different political persuasions can come together on this issue.”
Whatever gaps exist, he insists, stem from women’s decision to prioritize child-rearing over their careers. “Take a hypothetical husband and wife who are both lawyers,” he says. “But the husband is working 50 or 60 hours a week, going all out, making 200 grand a year. The woman takes time off, raises kids, is not go go go. Now they’re 50 years old. The husband is making 200 grand a year, the woman is making 40 grand a year. It wasn’t discrimination. There was a different sense of urgency in each person.”
Michael Brodkorb was a rising star in GOP politics. He was as I recall a hotshot in the UMD College Republicans when I was still a nominal Republican. Like a lot of them he drunk pretty deeply of the self righteousness that attends political ascendancy.
Recently he was canned for having an affair, something I hinted at without any confirmation. Now its out. He was intimately involved with his female boss. In the world according to GOP its bad to threaten another person’s family. Its doubly bad to threaten your own. Brodkorb has done both.
I find it ironic that after having done this he is clinging to a very liberal claim of rights – the one having to do with sexual equality. Only heretical Republicans like me ever believed in the Equal Rights Amendment. There was always the fear that if it was passed women would find themselves in combat or that children could be torn from their mother’s breast during the dissolution of a marriage.
Yet because some female staffers have reputedly nookied with their powerful male legislators and survived to tell the tale (if they are really talking about it) with their jobs Mr. Brodkorb is planning to file a sexual discrimination suit. Well fair enough. Its the philosophically liberal way to proceed. However, I can’t help but think this is more about revenge and payback than civil rights.
Until Brodkorb lost his job he was quite willing to be just one more paramour of a powerful legislator if a male paramour. Now that he’s been fired he wants all the females in a similar situation to be called out just as he was. Of course, the hypocritical male legislators who have enjoyed non marital conjugality might quail at being exposed. I think that is rather the point. No idealism here. Certainly there is no liberal idealism from the true conservative Brodkorb. He mostly wants to show that his former bosses included people as hypocritical as he was. Either that or he’s hoping to blackmail them into giving him a big settlement for his embarrassment. If he gets it It will just prove that Mike had lots of company in the hypocrisy department.
If you are a Republican watching from the sidelines you have to hope that Mike Brodkorb mostly has Democratic dalliances to expose. Good luck with that.
The official source for all the blather of the eccentric Harry Welty – Duluth School Board member, off and on, since 1995. He does his best to live up to Mark Twain's assessment: "First God created the idiot. That was for practice. Then he invented the School Board."