Wednesday, April 26, 2006


I don’t know about other families, but, growing up my brother and I kissed our parents first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and at major departures and arrivals during the day. And there would be random kisses. Both parents equally.

So when I was getting to be twelve or thirteen I started to feel a little uncomfortable kissing my dad on the lips three or four or five times a day. (I think my brother must have just stopped doing it.) Finally I screwed up my courage and broached the subject. Of course, it’s all embarrassing for pubertal boys.

I don’t know who or how we came up with the solution, but my dad and I agreed that in circumstances in which we used to kiss on the lips, that instead my dad would pat me on the head. After a while it became know as “taps.”

I would lower my head toward him, definitely a submissive posture, and my dad would tap, sometimes with this fingertips, sometimes with the flat of his hand, the top of my head. Each instance had an unpredictable number of taps or pats, and they would be delivered in unpredictable rhythms.

It was an unspoken joke—that the number and rhythm of the taps was somehow tailored to the meaning of the particular situation. Sometimes two taps, sometimes twelve, sometimes major delays between taps. I knew the session was over and I could lift my head when my dad would say, “Now be a good boy.”

This ritual endured for the rest of my dad’s life.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

P. Wilson: IRAN

Q. Would Jesus drop a nuke?

A. Yes, as many as it takes.

Pudinhand Wilson

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006


What does it mean to love someone?

At the very least, when you love someone:

Your heart goes out to them when they suffer.
You feel genuine joy when they succeed.
You worry about them more than they worry about themselves.

These feelings are easy to see in a parent’s love for a child, less so in a child’s love for a parent. These feelings can be seen in the love between two friends, And those feelings are all that exist in the Greek agape which is fellow-feeling among our species.

These feelings can be more difficult to find in the relationships our culture most strongly associates with the word “love,” sexual love.

Sexual desire isn’t really associated with the three feelings listed. Male sexual desire, (as I experience it), can aim at people never met. The mere sight of someone can initiate measurable sexual response. Then as I draw closer the someone’s posture and movements give clues about potential sexual movements. Then there’s voice, and smell. All entering the calculations of how pleasant a sexual interaction might be with the someone. Both people do it and if no impediments arise mating behavior begins. I hope what I’m talking about is “object cathexis,” meaning the focus of one’s sexual desire on particular individuals. Object cathexis means, “I want to have sex with that person.”

Complicating is “act cathexis.” Act cathexis says, “I want to have sex, period,” or “I want to do this particular sex act.” While object cathexis has produced much high art and low pop songs, dependable old act cathexis, I bet, is responsible for our species’ populousness.

Really great is the mutual confluence of these two aims, when each finds the other highly attractive and each enjoys accommodating the particular things the other likes to do sexually. Then, the two people can have lots of sex fun. They’re a sex fun team. I’m not sure exactly what you call this.

The hours each month during which (hetero) intercourse could result in pregnancy are few. Frequent intercourse over a period of time increases the likelihood of conception. A documentary showed lions fucking every five minutes during the fertile time.

So how does this relate to the other meanings of love? Certainly this sphere of activity is not exempt from the golden rule. We’re supposed to be nice to people, even when we're fucking them.

When two people wish to maintain their sexual love they build a relationship that extends beyond the bedroom. In doing this they develop the kinds of feelings associated with parent/child love and with the love between two friends. I think the parent/child thing is a big part of it.


cathexis noun
cathexes 1. psychol.
A charge of mental energy directed towards a particular idea or object.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006


In my first couple years of Gay softball (men’s slowpitch) I played shortstop. I had enough skills and knowledge to do an adequate job but my main contribution was field generalship. The biggest failing of once-a-week softball players is that they throw the ball around too much.

The classic play is the miss-hit dinker in front of the plate that the catcher (usually the worst fielder) throw wildly past the first baseman. When the right fielder (usually the second worst fielder) finally retrieves the ball the batter-baserunner is on his way to third. The right fielder makes a terrible throw past or over the third baseman, and the batter-baserunner scampers home. Ill advised, inaccurate throws are the bane of a softball defense.

I used my loud voice and extended arms to demand the ball from the outfielders, then turn, show the ball to the ump, and request time-out. The only time I’d make a throw was when there was nothing to lose. The most important thing was to preserve the force at second. Force-outs at second base are the foundation of good softball defense.

In the early days of Gay softball, this was 1980, many teams were formed around some affinity, and terrible players played next to pretty good ones. This particular year Tommy Shirk was trying to put together a powerhouse, and of course he wanted me.

Then, there was word that Art Jackson was recruiting a team to play out of the Pendulum bar, which catered to black guys and those who like black guys. Art was able to recruit a couple of key black players, including a recent major-leaguer, from Tommy’s team and suddenly Art Jackson’s became the “stacked” team. They invited me to play third base. I decided to go to one practice, even though I felt kind of committed to Tommy. Art understood that I was “just coming to a practice.”

I played plenty of third base in my softball career. Twice I was involved in my favorite third-base play, which is rare partly because the catcher is usually the worst fielder on the team. Situation: bases loaded, less than two outs. Third baseman playing even with the bag gets a two or three-hopper, steps on third, then steps back into the field, throws home and yells, “Tag him.”

I hadn’t focused much on Art Jackson. I mostly remember he was short but commanding. I saw him again years later at a memorial gathering for Glenn Burke. Glenn had died of AIDS after a downhill slide into drug addiction. Glenn had played for the Dodgers and the A’s before become the best Gay softball player in the country. He told me that he’d hit the ball out of every park in the major leagues (in batting practice). His career was short, his stats weren’t great, but Glenn will be remembered as the originator of the high-five. Check this page, scroll to the bottom. Glenn started in center field in the world series for the Dodgers—I’m impressed. Glenn had defected from Tommy's team and would play shortstop for Art.

So after Art's first practice we go back to the Pendulum for a drink (or ten). At one point Art gives me raffle tickets to sell for a team fundraiser. By disposition and upbringing I loathe selling raffle tickets. So that was annoying.

A while later Art gestured for me to come join him at the bar. He was sitting on a stool looking away from the bar. When I got close enough to hear him in the noisy room, he said something about me being a good ballplayer and reached around and grabbed my ass with both hands, squeezed hard, and pulled me toward him. I gracefully extracted myself. Ass grabbing in SF gay bars circa 1980 was as shocking as gambling at Rick’s.

At the time I was a dashing 32 year old, in really good shape, and it seems that some people found me attractive. And, I was a highly desirable softball player. I think what turned me so off about this incident was the completely demented idea Art must have had about our power relationship. In almost every way I had the power. And Art didn’t realize it. I wasn’t embarrassed or particularly offended. I guess it was surprise, that Art, who seemed like a smart guy, could be so wrong.

When I called Art to tell him I was sticking with Tommy-Lee’s team there was some discussion of my returning the raffle tickets. I just threw them away. The next time I talked to Tommy he said he’d heard I was playing for Art. “Of course not, “ I said, “I just went to one practice.” Still, Tommy was disappointed about the defections. So, we had the second best team

Art’s team, starring Glenn Burke, was the best Gay softball team, people said, ever assembled. Despite being a little shaky at third (meow), Art’s team had a perfect record including local Gay Softball League play, two out-of-town tournaments, and the Gay World Series. They were the Gay Softball World Champs. They won every single game—except one.

It was a best-of-three post season playoff between Art’s team and Tommy’s team. I was playing shortstop and batting third for Tommy. In the last inning of the second game (Art’s team won the first) we faced elimination, behind by three runs and with two outs. Then yours truly gets up with two runners on base and hits a towering home run to tie the score. Tommy still mentions it, even twenty years later, when I run into him, calls me Clutch. We held on and finally punched across a run after holding Art’s team scoreless in two extra innings. This was truly a glorious moment for our whole team, and for Tommy.

Glenn was so pissed didn’t come out to shake our hands (actually high five). Art actually had a cooler of champagne on hand, but it remained unopened. They had to wait till the next day for the third and decisive game, which they won. They went on to be otherwise undefeated World Champs, but the bloom was off the rose. So, Art, I thought at the time, that’ll teach you to grab my ass.

I’m smiling right now, thinking about it. Earlier today my friend Michael called to say that Art had died. Michael suggested that this story would contribute an additional edge to Art Jackson’s cubist obit.

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Monday, April 10, 2006


It was a USTA (tennis association) team match between my gay team and a team from Golden Gate Park. This, and USTA sponsored tournaments are the most “official” matches players at my level can play. Records are kept. Winning teams go to post season play leading to a national championship. Individuals’ playing-level ratings go up and down based on a computer’s analysis of results.

Early in my doubles match my partner hit a ball that went way past our opponents’ baseline, but, before it landed, it hit one of our opponents. He looked up with a sheepish expression.

“If that hit you, it’s our point,” I declared. He started to ask for me to cut him some slack, but I insisted.

It’s a well known rule. Frequently we see pros, well behind their baseline, jumping or contorting themselves to avoid a ball that’s going long. Afterward, I discussed with one of my teammates who said that given the circumstances (the opponent standing in “out” territory) it might have been good sportsmanship to concede the point.

What I hate about this point of view is that it’s more complicated than simply following the rule. There are enough judgment calls without adding another. And there are enough rules without having to remember a whole bunch of unwritten exceptions.

Or, if there are some aspects of some rules that “everyone” knows are chickenshit, let’s state them so we all know they aren’t in effect.

Getting hit by a ball when you're in out territory rarely happens. It's kind of basic, like not falling for the hidden ball trick. It happened on my court once before. People didn’t know the rule. The only other time I witnessed it was an Open Division men’s singles match. One guy had a weird flat serve that sort of sailed, like a fastball. One of his long serves hit his opponent in the foot. No argument, both knew the rule. Server's point.

Ok. If it’s my six year old niece who’s already crying because the ball hit her, I’m not going to lean over and say, “And by the way, you lose the point.”

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Thursday, April 06, 2006


Do I have cheating on my mind? Or is it just so much in the news?

Hundreds of thousands are demonstrating to reward illegal immigrants. I like the folks who say, “It would cost billions to deport all of them.” Wait. Why don’t we just tell them to leave and get in line behind those who have applied and are waiting for legal immigration? Because they won’t leave. Just the kind of people we want as citizens!

Shame on everyone who talks about “jobs Americans won’t do.” Rather, it’s salaries Americans won’t accept. For the same salary and benefits I’m getting now I’d much prefer cleaning hotel rooms to my current work.

As is becoming increasingly clear, our invasion of Iraq was a war of choice, launched for reasons yet to be revealed. But Bush is portrayed as mistaken! Wait a second. Invading a sovereign country that isn’t threatening your country is a crime against peace. George Bush, and Cheney, and all those fucks are war criminals. The complicity of both (sic) political parties is likewise criminal.

So we have to accept the “facts on the ground.” We have totally destabilized Iraq so we have to stay there. We let millions of illegal immigrants into our country, now we have to legalize them.

So, tell some ghetto kid to play by the rules? Like who? And tell all foreigners thinking about illegal immigration, “From now on we’re going to strictly enforce our immigration laws. And this time we really mean it!”

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Monday, April 03, 2006


On January 14, 1968, Martin Luther King addressed a rally at the gates of Santa Rita, an old Army camp that had become Alameda County’s prison farm. In addition to the usual inmates were 250 or so demonstrators who had blocked doorways at the downtown Oakland, CA, induction center during Christmas week. For a few hours the business of that facility, processing draftees for the horrors of Vietnam, ceased. The penalty for the non-violent civil disobediants, I among them, was 20 days at Santa Rita. For us, tumultuous 1968 began in jail.

We 150 or so male demonstrators were segregated into two contiguous barracks buildings out on the edge of the housing compound. The commies in the group wanted to be in general population so they could proselytize the real inmates. I wonder how I would have fared on the yard. For the prison administration keeping us together was the easiest way to handle this additional burden.

Dr King came to Santa Rita ostensibly to visit Joan Baez, one of the women prisoners. Joan, besides being an avid proponent of non-violence, was a major donor to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She also used some of her money to found the Institute for the Study of Non-violence. For this I salute her. She put some of her money where her mouth was.

The notion that governments must replace violent with non-violent means of settling disputes seems obvious, how that’s going to happen less so. As a political technique it has proved useful. As a matter of law, we are mostly required to live our lives without resort to violence. For most who espouse it, non-violence is a moral position. At the very least, development and promotion of non-violence can’t do too much harm. So Joan did a really good thing, I think, to use her fame in such a way.

A long time mentor to Joan Baez who also knew Dr King quite well was Ghandian scholar Ira Sandperl. Ira was housed in the other men’s dormitory so I saw him only a little. In my building was Roy Kepler who employed Ira in his bookstore and plenty of smart, interesting men--the Who’s Who of Bay Area pacifists and draft resisters along with snot nosed kids like me. The picture below is my only Ira Sandperl Google image result, taken in 1965. Closest to the camera is Ira, then John Lennnon, then Joan Baez, then someone whose identity seems to be in dispute.

Advocates of violence were vying for leadership of the civil rights movement, and many anti-war activists thought of themselves as violent revolutionaries. The non-violent sit-in at the induction center was day one of Stop the Draft Week. The remaining days were for those who wanted to battle the police. So turning out for non-violence directed a message at the world at large, but also at the non-non-violent demonstrators. King was planning a major campaign in DC that summer and he definitely wanted to keep it non-violent.

In his speech, Dr King praised us imprisoned demonstrators. Then, as he was doing those days, he slowly explained why his commitment to justice and non-violence compelled him to oppose our war on Vietnam. Seems logical enough today. He was killed less than three months later. Many think Dr King was assassinated because of his anti-war stance. Some say all five were Vietnam related—two Kennedy’s, King, X, and Wallace. Certainly all were Hoover jobs.

For me the most extraordinary visit we received during our stretch was in the wee hours of Christmas morning. I was awakened in total darkness by a commotion, mostly loud whispers and laughter, things like “How’d you get in?” and, “There’s a special pack of Marlboro’s.” And they were gone.

Some friends of some of my fellow demonstrators had broken into Santa Rita and into our barracks and delivered a bag of goodies: cookies and candy bars, but best of all cigarettes, two cartons. Those days most people smoked, me included, and our group, because of our segregation, were denied tobacco, and had to make do with two or three puffs, two or three times a day of rollyourown that somehow got to us. Marlboros, two cartons! Actually, 19 packs. The 20th pack held what looked like Marlboro’s but were carefully filled with marijuana. Merry Christmas!

All during this time, the US Air Force and Navy were bombing the shit out of Vietnam.

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