The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lower Ninth Ward, Part 4, Levees

To read the previous installment in the series, Lower Ninth Ward, Part 3, Industrial Canal, click here.

There is nothing natural about “natural disasters.” In most cases. A tornado attracts little attention after the fact if it does not damage structures made by humans or cause human injuries or death. The recent California earthquake was only reported as it related to the effects on humans and our structures.

A hurricane churning across the Gulf of Mexico is affecting ocean life and the ecology of the sea, but do we really hear about it? One exception, we did learn of the affect that hurricane Katrina had on hummingbirds and other birds. In fact, here is a map showing the important bird areas (IBA) affected by the storm, from Birder's World Magazine.

1) Lake Pontchartrain Causeway2) Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge3) Bienville National Forest4) Breton National Wildlife Refuge5) Gulf Islands National Seashore6) Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge7) Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge8) De Soto National Forest9) Gulf Coast Least Tern colony 10) Lower Pascagoula River preserves11) Dauphin Island 12) Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge13) Dry Tortugas National Park14) Everglades National Park

But I digress.

My point is, the effect on nature by a hurricane like Katrina is enormous, but the effects on man are more reportable.

Furthermore, the flooding of New Orleans, the suffering endured by hundreds of thousands, was not an act of God, as some would say, but an act of man, if for no other reason that man built the city and the levees, and did not build them in such a way as to withstand the force of nature.

I mean, a lot of water produces a lot of pressure, due to the natural law of gravity, and this pressure exerted a force greater than the resistance of the wall or levee that man created.

As explained by Heidi Cullen on Forecast Earth (The Weather Channel) the other day, a levee failure can occur in one of two ways. One is overtopping, where the waters rise higher than the levee and it overflows. This did not happen in New Orleans. The other is saturation where the soil that makes up the levee absorbs so much water that it becomes weakened, too weak to withstand the pressure of the water and a path is forced through or under the levee and water can begin to “boil” up from the ground on the other side. The levee can actually rupture and collapse, allowing a flood of water to destroy what lies in its path.

In 2006 the Army Corp of Engineers, the group responsible for the levees, declared that the levees were restored to pre-Katrina levels. OK, but does that make anyone feel good?

The Corp has admitted to fundamental engineering mistakes, explained here.

Now we are supposed to feel comfortable about placing the safety of New Orleans in the hands of the Army Corp of Engineers?

Books have been written, The Storm, by Ivor van Heerden, is one that lays out why the levees failed, what was known beforehand, and how the levees could be restored and wetlands protected in ways that would provide for Category 5 hurricane protection. Van Heerden is the co-founder and deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center and director of the Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes. is demanding a third party investigation of the failure of the levees in New Orleans which they call the 8/29 Investigation, for this reason (from their web site).
  • The official levee investigation, the Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force (IPET) was managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the same agency responsible for the flood protection's performance - a clear conflict of interest.
  • Two significant non-governmental levee analysis teams, the Independent Levee Investigation Team and Team- Louisiana have yielded results that conflict with the IPET in five (5) of seven (7) of the major levee failure mechanisms including the Industrial Canal breach.
  • An ethics panel led by retired Congressman Sherwood Boehlert R-NY is underway to examine allegations that the American Society of Civil Engineers covered up engineering mistakes, downplayed the need to alter building standards, and used investigations including the one after Katrina to protect engineers and government agencies from lawsuits. As reported in the Associated Press, the panel was expected to issue a report by April, but has delayed the report until September 5, 2008.

    Here a Lower Ninth Ward resident shows her replacement home, the devestated area around and expresses her hope for the 8/29 investigation.

Bessemer Opinions says support this effort. It is not just about the future of New Orleans, there are levees throughout the country that need to be evaluated and/or strengthened.

In my next segment, I will venture out of the Lower Ninth Ward and into the swamp. Read part 5 here.

Troy King's Response

First, this. And it leads to Troy King.

My response to a comment yesterday about the death penalty ended with:

The whole system seeds to be revamped.

Today we see why.

Without a doubt the stay of execution by the Alabama Supreme Court of Thomas D. Arthur is a welcome step toward determining if the man on death row is really guilty of the crime he was about to be put to death for.

Troy King assistant Clay Crenshaw said yesterday that the state can't find the rape kit that contains the evidence (DNA) necessary for the tests. "Astounding," Arthur's attorney said.

The Muscle Shoals Police Department says they don't have it. The Colbert county district attorney office says they don't have it. The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences says they don't have it.

Is that not evidence that the system is flawed?

Call me a cynic, but knowing Troy King's love of putting people to death it would not surprise me to learn that his office (or one of his overpaid staff members) had seen to it that the evidence was destroyed.

This is a picture of the "indispensable" and over paid King assistant J. W. Godwin with the Attorney General, a picture that suddenly disappeared from Godwin's facebook page this week.

Dale Jackson of WVNN interviewed Troy King live this morning and asked him about the "rumors" about him and J. W. Troy King refused to comment on the issue. Dale says the possible sex scandal is a news story. He says the no comment is a "very damaging" statement. "I don't discuss rumors," King said. A long pause, a very long long pause, before " I have lots of things to do, but one of them is not discussing rumors." Never mind the syntax of the answer (is not doing something really something to do?)

Here is audio of parts of the interview, provided by Loretta.

Dale admits he does not believe the accusations, but that answers are necessary to defuse the rumor. Not answering, not denying, makes King look guilty. Callers agreed.

Again, the story is not King's sexual orientation, it is his hypocrisy and the perks that is the story.

Because of this interview, which I am sure was listened to by many members of the main steam media, the issue is on the table for the Birmingham News, the Montgomery Advertiser or any other MSM agency sitting on the story to go with it. It's time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jewish TV Network and Ari Gold

Who knew?
(In my best Jewish voice).

Who knew there was Jewish TV Network?

I mean, I was watching New Jewish Cuisine last night because they offer good recipes, and to get them I was directed to the web site for the show. But it took me to the Jewish TV Network site.

There are all kinds of videos (of TV shows, I guess) about food, healthy sex, gay pride in Jerusalem, news from Israel, Young @ Heart, interfaith marriage, Mark Knopfler and more. Search and find.

They don’t provide a way for me to embed their video, but here is the one titled Pride and Prejudice about gay pride in Jerusalem. Seeing two drag queens singing Abba’s “Waterloo” is worth it.

And they have at least one video by Ari Gold…no, not the HBO “Entourage” guy from Queens, but the hot one, from the Bronx.

This video, Love Will Take Over, is featured on the site.

How far into that video before he sets off your gaydar?

From the Ari Gold website:

As an artist and activist Ari has remained at the forefront of the fight for human rights. His song "Home" can be heard on the Human Rights Campaign's benefit album Love Rocks along with music by Melissa Etheridge, Christina Aguilera, Dolly Parton, and Carole King. He contributed "Bashert (Meant To Be)" to the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) benefit CD Marry Me, released in an effort to secure the rights of same sex couples. Ari has also worked with charitable organizations to help LGBT youth, and for AIDS research and awareness.

Ari we appreciate your work for human rights. And we appreciate this earlier video for Wave Of You.



The IOC has reversed itself and said that Iraq athletes could participate in the 2008 Olympics.

IOC: 'We look forward to seeing the Iraqi flag in Beijing'

IOC Reversal As it should be.


Massachusetts will reverse itself and allow gays from out of state to marry. Estimates are that it will boost the economy by $111 million, create 330 jobs and generate $5 million in taxes and fees over three years. 21,000 couple from New York State alone are expected to marry in Mass. Governor Deval Patrick says he will sign the measure, allowing the unions.

Mass. Marriage As it should be.


And one reversal that should be.

Bobby Ray Gilbert has confessed to the murder that Thomas Arthur is scheduled to be executed for on Thursday. Arthur has claimed innocence all along, and the wife of the victim didn't change her story to implicate Arthur until it gave her a chance to be released from prison early (she was first convicted of the crime).

Gilbert is a convicted murderer serving life without parole, so there is the credibility problem. But still, with the doubt created, and the fact that there is DNA evidence from a rape kit that could be used to prove guilt or innocence of either man is reason enough to delay this execution.

Inmate Story

Birmingham News Opinion

As it should be. But will someone step up and do the right thing? Troy King? Bob Riley?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lower Ninth Ward, Part 3, Industrial Canal Area

To read the previous installment in the series , Lower Ninth Ward, Part 2, Holy Cross, click here.

I don't know the Lower Ninth and the boundaries of all the neighborhoods that well, so I am just calling the area north of St. Claude the canal area, because it is getting closer to the breach.

In this area, musicians Harry Connick Jr and Branford Marsalis concieved a village that would house musicians, (but realized that they couldn't rightly exclude others). Habitat for Humanity took on the project and together they have completed or started on at least 72 homes. Learn more about Musicians Village.

The area will also include duplexes for elders. Here is an early artists drawing of the development, from the web site.

Here are some of the homes that have been built.

The people of the area seem really pleased that Habitat is contributing to rebuilding their community. They speak very highly of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter's involvement and support. Carter's Gulf coast Project is helping to rebuild all along the hurricane damaged coast. Thank you President Carter.

Nearby is Fats Domino's house.

If you remember, there was concern about Fats, and he was later rescued out of his house.

The sign out front is for Tipitina's Foundation, helping to rebuild the neighborhood. The real mission for the foundation is to preserve and support the music industry in Louisiana.

Out of the Lower Ninth, though, is Tipitinas Uptown which, if you have never been to, well, you have missed out on some good music.

If you are living in one of these homes near the canal, this is what protects you. A wall of dirt with a concrete fence on it. Well, there's more to it than that.

From the canal side, imagine this filled with water, and the force with which the water would hit your home in the case of a breach. When it happened, it carried the wall of dirt that makes up the levee with it.

The homes being built look substantial, and the ones being restored have weathered many years and several hurricanes, including Betsy in 1965. The levees along the Industrial Canal failed, homes in the Lower Ninth Ward were flooded up to their eaves, residents drowned in their attics. Sound familiar? Here is Betsy's track:

And here is Katrina's track in 2005.

And here is a picture of the flooding in the Lower Ninth Ward in 1965 after Betsy.

So, lessons were not learned after Betsy.

Here is a memorial to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, located near the areas pictured.

The warnings were out there. Now, are the levees being restored as they should be? My next installment in this series will examine the rebuilding of the levees. Read Part 4, Levees, here.

Lower Ninth Ward, Part 2, Holy Cross

To read the previous segment, Lower Ninth Ward Part 1, click here.

Holy Cross

The Holy Cross neighborhood is named after a Catholic Boys School which was heavily damaged by Katrina and is being relocated.

Fortunately others stepped in when it appeared that adequate help was not forthcoming from the government. Some with lots of resources gave money, some without money gave labor, and some unable to labor gave support and prayers. Recover is ongoing throughout the city, but most attention by the media is given to the Lower Ninth Ward because of the disparities that were made apparent after the storms.

Brad Pitt has partnered with Global Green to bring sustainable recovery to the area, and the first Holy Cross Project house has been completed.

From the web site: The Holy Cross neighborhood project, based on a winning design by Matthew Berman and Andrew Kotchen of Workshop/APD, was selected from among 125 concepts submitted through the “Sustainable Design for New Orleans” competition. The home, whose solar panels will generate enough electricity to power the home, will be LEED Platinum certified. It is being built with all green products and energy efficient systems that will save residents money, reduce exposure to toxic chemicals and lower climate pollution.

The Holy Cross Project seeks to create “a green model or showcase for development and rebuilding for New Orleans and green affordable housing in the US”. Home Depot is a major sponsor of the project.

The project includes five single-family homes, an 18 multi-unit apartment complex and a community center/Sustainable Design and Climate Action Institute.

“It’s very exciting to see our vision of a healthier, greener New Orleans coming to fruition,” said Matt Petersen, president of Global Green USA. “This project was never about just one home or one project. This model sustainable village is about showing what is possible here in New Orleans and throughout the country to protect all of our coastal cities threatened by global warming—by working together to build a better, more energy-efficient and healthier world."

Other homes in the Holy Cross District are being restored as well, as these pictures of shotgun homes reveal.

Check out the detail in the trim on the house.

This house is being painted in traditional creole colors.

However, in front, as is the case with many homes, debris from the storm or from restoration is still piled up.
Oh, the house is level, the photographer was not.

These homeowners apparently love wine, and in true New Orleans style, have found a way to recycle their bottles.

I have been to New Orleans many times. Many, many. Yet I had never seen or heard of the Steamboat houses which are also in the Holy Cross District. They were damaged, of course, but sitting near the banks of the Mississippi afforded them some degree of protection. Odd as it sounds, the land near the Mississippi is higher than other areas, so flooding was not as bad. All of the flooding came from the canal, not the Mississippi.

These two homes were built in the early 1900's by a riverboat captain, thus their name.

When you go to New Orleans, take the time to see these charming homes on Egania Street in the Lower Ninth. You will not be disappointed.

The Holy Cross District is just as historical and interesting architecturally as any part of the city. In part 3 of the series, I will move closer to the Industrial Canal and look at restoration in that area.

To read the next installment, Lower Ninth Ward, Part 3, Industrial Canal, click here.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Troy King and Staff

Left in Alabama reported yesterday that Channel 13 in Birmingham aired a video of Troy King's response to a question about his recent foibles, to which he replied "No comment."

But the interest in King and his staff has generated an article in today's Birmingham News about the salaries and perks of his aides, and one of the staff members the article focuses on is 24-year-old John W. Godwin, the former homecoming King of Troy.

Godwin started working in the attorneys general office as an unpaid intern last summer, when he was a senior at Troy University. Shortly after arriv­ing in Kings office, Godwin was put on the payroll at $10 an hour. Over the next nine months, Godwin rapidly ascended the ladder. In July 2007, King ap­pointed him as a special ad­ministrative assistant earning $39,456 a year. He completed his degree in broadcast jour­nalism in December, and on March 27 was named to his current title of executive assis­tant, a job paying $57,504 annually, according to state records. "J.W. is an exceptional young man who is the chief aide to the attorney general and who is almost indispens able in terms of the many functions he carries out in this office," Bence said. Bence said Godwins duties include policy research and constituent relations, and he serves as a liaison between the attorney general and the staff. Godwin travels with King as part of his duties, such as ac­companying him to this years National Association of Attorneys General Conference.

Interesting. In addition, a friend posted on an earlier comment on this blog that Troy King and J.W. are still exercising together at the Montgomery Central YMCA.

If I were interested in defusing a rumor, I sure wouldn't go to the GAYMCA, I mean, YMCA with my suspected love interest. But that's just me.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Jason Mraz

Enjoy some good music this weekend by Jason Mraz. Whether singing solo as in "I'm Yours" or in duet in "Lucky," his light and breezy tunes are relaxing. After listening, scroll on down to Part 1 of my New Orleans series.

I'm Yours


Now if you have time do one or two things. Go to youtube and search "jason mraz lucky" and watch some of the covers people have submitted. And/or go to Jason's blog and read his bio, and journal. Somewhere on there he acknowledges his support for Barack Obama, I am told. Every vote counts.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Lower Ninth Ward, Part 1

I am going to post a series on New Orleans beginning with this one about the Lower Ninth Ward.

Everyone has seen pictures and video of The Lower Ninth Ward and the devastation in that area following Hurricane Katrina. We visited the area just a few months after the storm and saw first hand the damage and the beginnings of recovery. These pictures were taken in May 2006.
At that time, there were very few people in the Lower Ninth Ward working on their homes, or clearing debris.

The mood throughout New Orleans seemed somber, and while many business owners and residents felt that the city would recover, they did not seem too sure about the path they would take to get there.

We have been back a couple of times since, and the most recent trip was just this month. I was attending the 145th American Veterinary Medical Association annual convention, which brought over 7000 people to the city. (As an aside, New Orleans is back to hosting large conventions, and the National Conference of State Legislature’s annual summit was getting underway as ours was ending. They were expecting 8000 or more in association with that conference. Both conferences were happening at the same time on our final day, and the Convention Center still seemed to have room for more.)

Our Keynote speaker was CBS and NPR journalist Cokie Roberts, who is a native of New Orleans, and she probably spoke for most residents by acknowledging that, “Three years ago, when the storm hit, it was a failure of government at every level.

(She also joked “We bury people above ground in New Orleans because it is quicker to get them to the polls that way.”)

I was not a blogger in 2005 but I have commented since on the colossal failures of the Bush administration in the aftermath 0f (as well as the preparation for) Katrina.

Close to “ground zero” of the levee failure along the Industrial Canal that flooded the Lower Ninth were homes, but all that is left now is grassy lots, as the rush of water swept the homes away. This was a neighborhood in August 2005, but in 2008 it looks like this.

Houses were washed off of their foundations, this house landed between trees.

In part 2 of this series I will highlight recovery efforts in the Holy Cross area of the Lower Ninth Ward.

Red Rock Burns

Update: A neighbor told me the fire occured last week. We were out of town, and missed it. Also mentioned a drug raid on Berkley Avenue.

The Red Rock Convenience Store at the corner of Arlington Avenue and 19th Street has burned. A neighbor told me the fire occurred Wednesday and that it is under investigation.

Those who live close by are wondering if the illicit activity in the parking lot will continue, or will it just move to another corner.

If I come across more information I will update.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Update on Bessemer Offerings

In addition to Publix being open, Target is open as well, so I dropped a few bucks in each store.

Here is a list of businesses at Colonial Promenade Tannehill. Some do not have signs yet, so the list is incomplete. Some may be open that I did not notice.

McAlisters Deli, HJ Cleaners, Supercuts, Model Nails, Rio Tan, Bedzzz Express, Bama Team Fever, GNC (Open), Blue Bumble Bee, Educators Credit Union, Camo Corner.

Publix (Open), Game Stop, Verizon, Rainbow, Ross Dress for Less, The Shoe Dept (Open), Kay Jewelers (Open), Bath and Body Works, Maurices (Open...or real close).

Target (Open), Hibbett Sporting Goods, C J Banks, Christopher Banks, Rue 21 (Open), Millenium Physical Therapy, Habeneros (Open).

Toll House Cookies, East Palace, Armed Forces, J C Penney, Premiere Cinema(Open).

In addition there are several outparcels being developed, one of which will be Burger King. Nearby, Zaxby's has opened.

Bessemer Offerings

The trip to The Big Easy was part business, part educational and part fun. Expect to read about the recovery in the Lower Ninth Ward and other areas soon.

What a feeling to return home from a trip and see the parking lot of the new Publix full, and to learn that the store has opened. These pictures from Bessemer photographer Larry Gay were taken just a few days before the opening.

You can see more of Larry's pictures of Colonial Promenade Tannehill here.

Publix, which offers this sustainability statement on its website, brings to Bessemer more healthy food choices than we are accustomed to and their free Green Wise magazine has suggestions and recipes that promote the health of our planet as well as our personal health.

Welcome to Bessemer, Publix.

And welcome also to Premiere Cinemas, which opened with "The Dark Knight" a week ago. This cinema is the first in the world built to be totally digital, and Bessemer will soon host executives from the cinema business from around the world who are interested in the technology and its application here, according to The Western Tribune.

My column this week in The Western Tribune reflected on the theater opening and business opportunity in Bessemer. Here it is:

It was the dark of night when "The Dark Knight" ushered in a new era of entertainment for Bessemer and nearby communities last week. Premiere 14 Cinemas opened at Colonial Promenade Tannehill just before midnight Thursday and word is the facility is top notch.

Having been out of town during the opening weekend I will wait to see the newest Batman movie as well as Mama Mia until the crowds die down a bit.
But this facility has been anticipated for years, as theater proposals have come and gone in Bessemer and other western communities, only to be dropped for various reasons. However now the opening of the theater is the harbinger of many openings over next week or so as retail giants Target and Publix and numerous other stores open their doors for business.

Revenue to the city from these stores may not be what some would think because of the millions of dollars in incentives our city paid to land the development, but there are other benefits to the community that we should consider.

Hundreds, if not thousands of full and part time positions will be staffed as these businesses open, providing jobs for teens and others, who will benefit by being able to work close to home, saving money on gas as well as time for travel.

A variety of stores that we are not accustomed to will provide shopping opportunity close to home as well.

In addition we can feel good about our city for landing such a development which will bring people from other communities to shop, eat and spend in Bessemer.

But while we explore the new stores and enjoy the new restaurants and theaters, let’s not forget the downtown business district which is undergoing a renaissance of sort as well. Many buildings are undergoing restoration and among the new businesses will be an art gallery and studio. When the new courthouse opens hundreds of additional workers will be employed, and there will be a market for shops and cafes nearby to serve them along with the current restaurants in the vicinity.

The city of Bessemer and business people alike have an opportunity downtown to re-create a district that while different from the past, will be just as thriving.

Let’s hope a chef or two and potential shop owners realize this and make our downtown shopping district just as successful as the Tannehill development is expected to be.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Just in from New Orleans

We spent the past few days in New Orleans and I will resume posting in the next day or so.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bring the Games to Birmingham

Birmingham mayor Larry Langford wants to bring the Olympics to the Magic City.

Enough has been said about that on the other blogs, but I have an idea.

Let’s bring the Gay Games to Birmingham.

Built upon the principles of Participation, Inclusion and Personal Best™, for more than 25 years the Gay Games have empowered tens of thousands of LGBT artists and athletes through fellowship and friendly competition.

From the first Gay Games in San Francisco in 1982, the ’86 games in San Fran, Vancouver 1990, New York 1994, Amsterdam 1998, Sydney 2002, Chicago 2006, and coming up in Cologne in 2010. How about Birmingham, 2014 or 2018?

Just as the mayor said, and more, “If we don’t believe in this product that we’re selling called {an inclusive} Birmingham, we have no business expecting any one else to believe in us."

It would be a money maker. Remember Show me the money - Gays ?

  • Gay men and lesbians go out more, buy more, have more disposable income and are extremely loyal consumers
  • Gay and lesbian consumers purchase from companies/brands that advertise in gay media, deliver product messages in gay-specific advertising, support gay and lesbian community causes and are good to their own gay and lesbian employees
  • 60 percent took a foreign trip in the last three years
  • 59 percent buy themselves whatever they want

That is money to spend, Birmingham!

Each Gay Games since 1994 has drawn over 12,000 athletes, which compares to the Olympics.
Add to that tens of thousands of spectators and you have a world class event.

How about it, Mayor? And I will volunteer to be on the committee!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Frying an Egg...and our New Poet Laureate

Bessemer Opinions is taking on a new role, well, actually just going in a new direction for a day.


I was invited to write for Frying an Egg where we are challenged periodically to write a 100 word story or poem using a particular phrase. "Frying an egg" is named after the phrase associated with the first challenge, "She was just frying an egg when she expired."

My story using that sentence is:

At daylight she arose and put the coffee on. She sat the cream on the table, and would wait. One cup was all that she would allow; caffeine had ceased to be her friend. A bowl of grape nuts, and her day would begin. Since her husband had passed, this was her morning.


Today would be different. After three years of grief, she would start over. Her dress had been ironed; today would be sunny side up. She poured herself a glass of juice. The toast was in the oven.

She was just frying an egg when she expired.

Ther next phrase was "There's a lot to be said for cold meat", and here is my story (which is in no way biographical):

A bruised jaw and a black eye was not what mom expected. And a raw filet was not what I expected to be slapped on my face, after the backside of her hand slapped my bottom. “There’s a lot to be said for cold meat,” she said, adding “the rest of the family will have theirs on the table tonight, “Warm, grilled.”

I felt like cold meat while my father was pounding me in the stairway. He called me a faggot. “Filthy faggot.”

That was 6 years ago. I am a faggot. A good faggot. Father is dead. Cold meat.

And the most recent phrase is "That would look lovely on your living room wall." Here is that story:

I wasn’t even sure the painting was hanging right side up, but in spite of that, the colors were marvelous. Sophie snickered at me just for lingering. “That would look lovely on your living room wall,” she whispered, sarcastically.

I had already been chastised for suggesting a flea market as a source for décor, and Sophie’s reluctance to touch anything lest she dirty her white gloves gave me a slight tickle.

I glanced at the piece again. “She’s right,” I thought. Devilishly, I slipped a twenty to the clerk, and silently mouthed, “I’ll be back.”

Anything to irk big sister.

If you are interested in posting stories or poetry let me know and I will put you in touch with Alison. Visit Frying an Egg and read the stories...some are posted in the comments, so read those as well. And join, or short of that, post a 100 word story or poem as a comment.

Speaking of poetry, we have a new poet laureate in the United States, Kay Ryan.

The other shoe

Oh if it were
only the other
shoe hanging
in space before
joining its mate.
If the undropped
didn't congregate
with the undropped.
But nothing can
stop the mid-air
collusion of the
unpaired above us
acquiring density
and weight. We
feel it accumulate.

"Poets rehabilitate clichés," Ryan said in an interview with The Christian Science Monitor. The article continues:
Some do, perhaps, but many wouldn't dare to enter such familiar territory. Ryan, however, adds depth and so many surprises that the silliest clichés become fertile ground. "The other shoe," from 2003, is a classic example.

Frying an Egg authors rehabilitate cliches as well, and I think I can speak for the group in saying we would welcome Kay Ryan to join us.

This being an election year, and Barack Obama's mantra being "Hope", her poem by that name is worth noting.


What's the use
of something
as unstable
and diffuse as hope -
the almost-twin
of making-do,
the isotope
of going on:
what isn't in
the envelope
just before
it isn't:
the always tabled
righting of the present.

Ryan lives in Fairfax, California with her longtime partner Carol Adair.

Her poetry has been compared to the poetry of Emily Dickinson:

Love is anterior to life

Love is anterior to life,
Posterior to death,
Initial of creation, and
The exponent of breath.


Not in vain

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Watch this video of Kay Ryan reading some of her recent poetry and see what you think.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Al Reynolds...Then What Are You???


(Scroll on down for the Bessemer Lawsuits)

Yuckie enough for me to share it with you.

Al Reynolds just gives me the creeps, and this video of him telling how important he is, is really strange. Especially when we were really expecting the "coming out" video with glitter and fairy dust.

Al Reynolds on his Youtube video.


I come from a mixed backgound racially. And in the south we're called light skinned. And also in the south you know the light skinned individuals get treated a little bit differently. And also in the south the light skinned dudes are considered "pretty boys."

I am not a homosexual. But the thing is, it’s really weird to me

Oh? But you can use the words "dude" and "pretty boy" in describing yourself? That's pretty gay!

and it’s kind of upsetting to me that that’s where people would go as it relates to my sexuality. Because this has affected my professional life. This has affected my personal life. And if anyone knew the damage that it has caused me, they would understand why I’m very aggressive about this. But it’s okay because I’m learning from this whole experience. And hopefully I’ll grow from it. But I can tell you probably why…

Al, we don't care. You were an embarrasment when you were queer.

Look at me. I take very care(sic) in my clothes. I dress nice. I’m from the South. We used to dress up to go to church. My mother had six kids. We used to have to line up before we left the house to go to church. It was very important that we were dressed nice. That our shoes were clean, that our hair was combed, that our teeth were brushed.

Wow, I just had this conversation with someone a day or so ago.

That we presented ourselves as a Reynolds, because that’s what we were. And I kind of transport that into my adult life. So when you see me out, I’m gonna be immaculate. I’m gonna be clean. I’m gonna dress nice. I’m gonna look good. You know some people, they call that kind of soft. Okay. I’ve been called soft before and that’s okay. Some people, as of late, call that metrosexual. I can live with it. Cause it’s not gonna stop.

( And to my special friends: don't worry)

Every time I go to an event, I’m gonna look my best. My mother used to tell me that you look cleaner than the board of health, and I used to say to her ‘ all right:that means my job is done. That means I got the okay to leave.’

See we’ve got to separate the gossip from the facts and that’s why I’m doing this interview. I worked ten years on Wall Street.

As if there aren't gobs of gays on Wall Street.

I managed multi-millionaire accounts for ten years. I did that before I met Star, so for anyone to try to like, you know, discredit my credibility and integrity, it’s one of the reasons why I’m talking. You know? I teach kids at a university on a university level. I have a doctorate degree that I’m working on. This is all things that, you know, it trumps the gossip because it’s the truth, and nothing trumps it better than the truth.”

Larry Craig (I am not gay), Al Reynolds (I am not a homosexual). And you know who's denial we are waiting to hear.

Lawsuits in Bessemer...Current and Future

Future lawsuit number 1.

The Bessemer City Council has taken a page from the Robert Mugabe playbook by passing a measure to extend their terms of office by a year. (Mugabe, of course, finds ways to extend his dictatorship of Zimbabwe without elections).

On a 4-3 vote, the council voted to have the mayoral election in 2010, on schedule, and delay the city council elections until 2011, thus giving themselves an extra year in office.

Put another way, I voted, and you voted, for candidates to serve a four year term, and they just passed a measure that ignores the premise of the election in 2006 and allows them to serve for 5 years.

Jesse Matthews, Louise Alexander, Earl Cochran and Dorothy Davidson voted for the measure. Sarah Belcher, Jimmy Stephens and Albert Soles voted against it.

The mayor called the proposal "ridiculous."

Council member(s) want to run for mayor without giving up their council seat.

This proposal was drawn up by Greg Harris, the attorney for the council (for those who are not familiar, the city council is so dysfunctional that they hired their own attorney, a terrific waste of money for a city that does not have money to spare).

While Bessemer opinions believes that staggering the elections is a good idea, I do not believe it can be done in this manner. Maybe they could shorten the mayor's term by one year, and we could vote for mayor in 2009.

But really it seems a resolution would have to be passed which would change the length of term of officials elected in a future election, not those currently serving.

Bessemer Opinions expects a lawsuit to be filed.

Future lawsuit number 2.

At the same meeting the council voted to accept applications for a replacement for former municipal judge Jackie McDougal, the long time city judge who retired because of illness. The council will interview candidates on July 29 and will vote on August 5. Applications are due by Tuesday.

However, Robert Gordon reports in the Birmingham News that Mayor Ed May has appointed Bessemer attorney David Hobdy to replace McDougal. May acknowledges that the action would normally be a council responsibility, but says state law allows him to make the appointment because of McDougal's disability.

Lawsuit. Unless Hobdy applies through the council and is approved.

Current lawsuit. From Robert Gordon of The Birmingham News

Willie Petty, Bessemer resident and political activist, has filed a lawsuit against the city , Jordan Frazier and Daimler-Chrysler over the $2 million gift the city gave to former Jordan Frazier auto dealership ( the dealership is now named Bessemer Chrysler Jeep Dodge). In May of 2007 the council passed a resolution giving Frazier the money in part because other "dealerships got financial incentives to move to the Academy Drive area and Jordan Frazier did not."

The lawsuit claims that Frazier and Chrysler presented documents indicating the money would be used to create new jobs and expand the dealership.

Jon Terry, attorney representing Petty, says "It appears the Chrysler has taken over the dealership. It looks like the money was used to pay off old debt."

The lawsuit does not seek recovery of the money. It seeks to void the agreement, and if successful, it would be up to the city to recover the money.

Many Bessemer residents will be pleased to see this lawsuit as they were not in favor of the gift to begin with.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Troy Day 6...and a Mormon Ex-communication

Troy King had a planned press conference for Monday afternoon, to respond to an article that was expected in The Birmingham News on Sunday. No article, no press conference. Just the information on Doc's Political Parlor. Now there is a lot of back and forth on the comments over there, but having thought about this during the day before reading the comments, here are my thoughts about all the hypothetical.

1. If all the accusations are false. Then denying the accusation at the press conference makes perfect sense, and most anyone would have done that.

2. If part A (marital splits) is true, but part B (troiking - the new term for “boinking” on the downlow) is false. Then denying the accusation is even more important because part A is going to be revealed anyway, and lingering rumors of part B would persist.

3. If part A is false and part B is true (for instance, if the troiked party is the one talking, and TK was not “caught”), then he is trying to convince the spouse nothing happened and so he might remain silent.

4. If part A is true and part B is true, then by remaining silent, he can only be fueling the fire, because it will not die.

If # 4 is the case, and he gets by with it (for a while), one of several things can happen:
1. He has learned a lesson, and will be troiking no more. But that rarely happens.

2. He continues troiking on the downlow and gets caught again. Most likely.

I will continue to follow the story.

Remember this story? Men on a Mission?

Now the man who fashioned the calendar has been excommunicated from the Mormon Church for his role. 365 News .

By the way, all you have to do is go to the calendar web site from the link above, and you can link to the myspace page of each of the models. You can check out their pages and their friends, you can decide.

Episcopals at Lambeth

Anglicans, including American Episcopals are gathering in Canterbury for the Lambeth Conference which begins in a couple of days.

In this photo and caption from Episcopal News Service, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, joins Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in procession before the 10:30 a.m. Eucharist at Salisbury Cathedral July 13.

They are at Salisbury's Cathedral Church of St. Mary , consecrated in 1258, which boasts the world's tallest medieval spire, in the southern English county of Wiltshire. Wow, a 750 year old church.

Jefferts Schori, in an interview with Episcopal News Service, said earlier about the conference:

ENS: What message do you plan to bring to the Lambeth Conference?

KJS: That the mission of God is far larger than anything we disagree about.

She may have been thinking that when she said last week that she would explain the actions of the American Church, specifically, regarding Gene Robinson, the gay Bishop from New Hampshire.

In another interview last week, she said,"Some people think that you can read the Bible without understanding the original context and simply take literally what you read. We will interpret - and it's an important part of faithful living. To assume there is only one way of reading is hubris."

Anyone who reads this blog will realize that I share the Presiding Bishop's feelings precisely. And, I am not even Episcopal! But I have followed the denomination and its bold moves to be inclusive closely.

Robinson was not invited to the conference, and he is OK with that. But he is in town, attending and speaking at events nearby. At St. Mary's Church, Putney, ( another St. Mary's) he preached yesterday in the face of protesters:

Listed in the church bulletin as a "quiet and reflective" service, it was noisier than usual, with a couple of dozen journalists, television camera operators and a packed church in attendance. Two demonstrators were also present, one carrying a placard outside the church and handing out leaflets saying the Bible prohibits homosexuality and one attempting in the church to shout down Robinson as he began his sermon.

Shouting "Repent! Repent!" the demonstrator was eventually drowned out by the congregation, which rose and sang -- with organ accompaniment -- the hymn "Thine be the glory, risen, conquering son." He was escorted out by ushers.

"Pray for that man," resumed Robinson, his voice shaking slightly. "Fear is a terrible thing. How sad that the Anglican Communion would threaten to tear itself apart over two men or two women who choose to make a Christian family together."

Noting that several times in the New Testament, the words "be not afraid" and "fear not" appear, Robinson said "the Anglican Communion is going to be fine. Will it change? Probably. Is it going to be easy? Probably not."

Here is a link to The Gene Pool the entire sermon, which is much more than the protest that you will witness. h/t to JaninSanFran for this.

Google led me to an article about a rugby player titled Robinson on the edge and I believe that description fits Gene Robinson both literally and figuratively. Not invited to the conference, but invited to and attending and preaching at events surrounding the venue, "Robinson on the edge" represents gays who have been on the edge for all of history.

Some would push the gays over the edge, others would reach out and pull them into the fold.

Read this, from the 365 widget to the left, and see how Robinson may be on the edge, but his reach will be inside the conference in a big way.

It will be interesting to follow the Conference, but like both Jefferts Schori and Robinson, I don't expect any the debate to end at Lambeth.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Troy King Day 4

No word from Troy King. Seems strange that he would not make a public statement to deny the rumors, as homophobic as he has proven himself to be. "How could people be saying he is gay, and yet you say he is homophobic," you ask.

Troy King wrote homophobic articles while a student at the University of Alabama. He has made homophobic statements while attorney general.

I found some of his statements Here:

As a law student at the University of Alabama, King wrote frequent editorials for The Crimson White in condemnation of gays, affirmative action and abortion. In his editorials for the student newspaper, King called homosexuality the ‘downfall of society’ and said AIDS could be cleansed from America if “this nation’s current purveyors of perversion would refrain from committing sodomy.”

King also slammed the idea that gays and lesbians could provide loving, normal families for children, saying: “I often hear the argument that homosexuals who live together create a loving, caring family environment, perhaps an environment which is even superior to that which can be provided by a heterosexual couple. In this day of rampant decadence, many homosexuals would misled society into believe that three men, an armadillo and a house plant create a functional family.”

It is because of blatantly homophobic and untrue statements like those that I have no respect for the man.

Often men whose true desires are for other men, yet for a multitude of reasons feel they must hide those desires, put on the appearance of being virulently anti-gay as a front.

Then there is this: UGA Study .

I have referenced this study before, but basically what is says is that in some men those who go out of their way to exhibit anti-homosexual views are indeed suppressing their own sexuality. The study tells how the authors came to the conclusion, and it makes sense.

Some men who are deeply closeted practice risky behaviors, and some even have a desire to "get caught."

So, we have the attorney general, who formerly was John McCain's Alabama campaign chair, but now no longer has that position, at least the reference to such has been removed from the McCain web site, according to Fishbowl America. What does that mean? Is King's world shrinking?

Why have no Republicans of note said anything about this? *(I don't consider former lieutenant governors who pee in jugs to be of note, although I heard that Windom said King would not resign).

We are "Inquiring minds" and we want to know.

Here is what a commenter on Thomason Tracts says:

To be honest, I’ve been saying Troy was a closet homosexual for years. But that’s a far cry from being caught by his wife with his young aide.
I’ve always kinda thought Troy was in denial. In a perfect world, where he didn’t grow up hating himself for being gay, he’d be a balanced, open individual. But as it is, he’s a little troll.

By the way, his gayness is based solely on my personal gaydar which hasn’t been calibrated lately.

There are others on numerous other blogs whose gaydar has been set off by King, dating back to his college days and up to the present.

We will continue to follow the story.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Is King Going Down?

Link to July 12 2008 Post

What's that they used to sing on Hee Haw?

I'm not one to go around spreading rumors,
Really we're just not the gossipin' kind,
You'll never hear one of us repeatin' gossip
So you better be sure and listen close, the first time.

Not the the real Hee Haw girls, but close:

So listen up.

Hundreds of people visitied this site yesterday looking for information about Troy King and his impending (?) resignation. I will have a lot to say about him, if the news I heard is true, but until then, it won't be repeated on this blog. can read it here, at Pam's House Blend and follow the links to learn more.

But if, and I stress if, it is true, and Troy King had a one on one with the King of Troy (Homecoming King), is it not life imitating art? Sort of? King and King? I mean, remember this?

King and King is a children's book about a prince whose mother insist he marry, and even though he tells her that he never really cared about princesses, she parades princess after princess before him, but he falls for the brother of one, another prince, and they become King and King. My kind of Fairy Tale.

Meanwhile, is Troy King going down? Oh bad choice of words. But will he resign. He's on the downlow right now, oops, bad choice again, but no where to be seen. He really needs to address the issue. Come on MSM, do your job.

The Montgomery Advertiser and the Mobile Press Register have the story. Will they publish?

Speaking of publishing, what about this story. A gay man in Michigan is suing two Bible publishers because Biblical references have made him an outcast from his family and have contributed to physical discomfort, "demoralization, chaos and bewilderment."

The lawsuits also blames the publishers for causing "me or anyone who is a homosexual to endure verbal abuse, discrimination, episodes of hate, and physical violence ... including murder."

Asking for $60 million from one publisher and $10 million from the other.

Sounds like this should be a class action lawsuit if you ask me.

Stories of interest to the Gay community usually appear first on 365 Gay and now from Bessemer Opinions you can read these headlines and link directly to the stories from the widget over to the left. Come to Bessemer Opinions, read what is of interest locally, then click to the news of interest to us all.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Dancing Diplomacy

Not exactly, but at least he's having fun.

But before that, congratulations to Lucy Bonds, owner of Lucy's Coffee and Tea on University Blvd., and Randy Adamy, owner of O'Henry's in Homewood, for outlasting Starbucks which had opened shops next door to Lucy's and around the corner from O'Henry's. While I will admit to grabbing a Starbucks on occasion, I really prefer coffee from independent shops and they definitely have more atmosphere.

If we could only get a nice coffee shop in Downtown Bessemer now. How many people have told me the same thing? Many. Randy? I can put you in touch with the right people.

The two Starbucks locations are among the 600 across the nation that are closing, due in part to gas prices approaching the cost of a cup of coffee.

Matt Harding is a bad dancer by his own admission. But he dances everywhere, as this video from 2006 shows.

Then he did it again, this time changing things up a bit, especially in Gurgaon, India. And the music is better.

If more people had his attitude the world would be a better place.

Here is his web site if you want to find out more about the guy. Where the hell is Matt .

Crepe Myrtles

Crepe Myrtles are blooming now. The lightest pink and white ones are not blooming yet, and I will feature them later, but the reds and dark pinks are beautiful.

This is a really nice shade, sort of lavender, one of my favorites.

Up close, the flowers are really frilly looking. These afternoon showers almost every day y(and for which I am thankful) take their toll on these flowers, as the deck and ground becomes covered in pink or red or purple.

I have no idea how old this one is, it must be 40 feet tall.

These are along the street.

This crepe myrtle near the street has been struggling for about three years. I thought it had died two years ago, but she is still trying.

This one can barely be seen as the entire tree is covered in ivy, but still it puts on a show, as this picture taken from below shows.

What Has Bush Done For Us

One of the persistant right wing trolls ended a comment on Thomas Gave Birth ... with:

"Bush has saved us in so many ways."

I laughed all night long. Although what Bush has done to this country is not funny. But that someone thinks he has "saved" us is.

Here are some of the ways Bush has saved us.



Climate Change

From CNN

Jason Burnett, former EPA official, says Dick Cheney (aka Bush) pushed for major deletions in congressional testimony on the public health consequences of climate change, fearing the presentation by a leading health official might make it harder to avoid regulating greenhouse gases. Follow the CNN link for the rest of the story.

The Economy

Need I continue? Let me know how you think Bush has saved us. Or not. I will post your suggestions.

I still have faith that we can survive until Obama takes office, but much more of Bush and we are goners. And for those few who do not see that John McCain is Bush 3, he certainly is using the same tactics of (trying to) controlling who can attend his Town Hall meetings. Here McCain's people order the removal and threat of arrest of a 61 year old librarian with a McCain=Bush sign at an event in Denver a couple of days ago.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bessemer Academy

Here in Bessemer, for those who do not read the sports page, is an assertion that Mark Freeman, the former football coach at Bessemer Academy, was fired not because of financial matters but rather due to racial problems. Former players said white parents were upset because Freeman recruited too many black players and gave them too much playing time. As reported in The Birmingham News .

Brandon Heavens, a player who is transferring to Jess Lanier and who is committed to Auburn, also said his family was concerned about racial attitudes among some people, presumably authorities, at the school.

Harris Gaston, a former player who is committed to Auburn said he thinks it was about the black players that Freeman was bringing to the school.

Tavon Arrington, a player who is transferring to Hueytown said he believes that racial considerations played a role in the decision (along with money).

Julie Kelley, headmaster at the school, said race is not an issue at the school.

But Julie Kelley is not the school board, and they are the ones that answer to parents.

From what I know Bessemer Academy is a fine school and provides a quality education for students without regard to race. Former students speak highly of the school and instructors.

But let's not forget that Bessemer Academy was founded in 1970. Without question, race played a role in the decision of those involved in creating the school. In 1970, schools and parents in Alabama were reacting to busing of students and integration. I remember it well, because I was a student at Berry High School and students were being bused in from the Shannon area. And parents of Berry kids who lived in Vestavia started a whole new school system. Regardless of what anyone says, race played a role in the creation of that school system, Bessemer Academy and all the other private schools that sprung up around then.

I have no reason to believe that race still plays a role in Bessemer Academy's mission.

But it is entirely possible that some "old attitudes" could still be present among certain parents, who, when disappointed about their son's lack of PT, fall back on blaming blaming black players. If so, they forget that the goal is to win games. As a team. If these parents were, say, big donors to the program or such, the board certainly might yield to their pressure to get rid of Freeman.

This is crazy, though, because a move that decreases the chances of a media grabbing successful season (because the program is not likely to be as successful) does nothing to increase their kids chances of getting noticed by college recruiters. Let's see, what did mom used to say, "Cutting off your nose to spite your face?"

At any rate, Freeman got screwed. The players got screwed. The reputation of Bessemer Acedemy takes a hit. The football program takes a hit. Let's hope the kids, the students, learn from this.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Pass the Watermelon, please

The painting is by Boris Kustodiev, titled The Merchant's Wife. Painted in 1918. Oil on canvas. The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. It has nothing to do with this post, except for the watermelon.
It all begins to make sense, though.

A show on CNBC about big companies featured Wal-Mart, and one segment was about international Wal-Mart and China in particular. Among other things I learned that in the store they were featuring in Beijing they sell 14 tons of watermelons every day.

On the same weekend we learned from CNN that watermelon rind has the same effect as Viagra.

Is it any wonder that there are billions of Chinese?

Now, do you think Tom, T-Action, Burton, aka watermelon boy, doing the Watermelon Crawl is pumped up, so to speak, by the effects of Watermelon ...or do you think alcohol is involved? Why else would you drag yourself across the floor like a snake in a watermelon patch? Oh well, he's having a good time, no doubt. Crawl on, Tom.