World AIDS Day 2015


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“Stop AIDS” by Keith Haring 1989

“Stop AIDS” by Keith Haring 1989

Today is the 26th anniversary of the first World AIDS Day. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people worldwide between 1981 and 2007. Nearly 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the U.S. and one in five of those are unaware of their infections. Knowing is everything, make an HIV test part of your routine physical.

It is not a gay disease, it is not an African disease, it is not a junkie disease, it is not a disease that is given to people who behave badly or have unacceptable lifestyles, and it is not God’s punishment. It does not discriminate, it just kills. Some of the most influential people in my life are HIV positive, or I should say most of the most influential people in my life are HIV positive.

“Silence = Death” by Keith Haring 1989

Silence = Death” by Keith Haring 1989

I have been donating my time, money, and my gently-used items to Lifelong AIDS Alliance in Seattle for years. Lifelong Aids Alliance does great work for people living with HIV and other chronic illnesses. There are similar services in every community across the world, find one near you and see what type of donations (canned goods, clothing, time, money) they take and give to them the next time.  Here is a link to their donation page: $54 – Provides one week of fresh meals and groceries for a person living with HIV/AIDS or other chronic illnesses.

Today, riders in Seattle can support World AIDS Day by selecting the (RED) option in the Uber app to donate $5 to the cause. In addition, the  Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has generously pledged to match all donations made by our riders.  Read more HERE.

I am who I am today because of the amazingly talented, fiercely devoted, and ridiculously hilarious guys that have influenced me to be creatively fearless, to love unapologetically, and to be true to what is important to me. Every birthday candle I blow out, every coin I throw into a fountain, every time I am required to make a wish, I wish for their health and a cure to be found.

"Every Ten Minutes" is an audiotape in which the sound of a bell tolls once every 10 minutes, representing the (1991) statistic in which every 10 minutes someone dies of AIDS

“Every Ten Minutes” is an audiotape in which the sound of a bell tolls once every 10 minutes, representing the (1991) statistic in which every 10 minutes someone dies of AIDS

I, along with the world, miss Anthony Perkins, Pedro Zamora, Freddie Mercury, Alvin Ailey, Rudolf Nureyev, Halston, Keith Haring, Herb Ritts, Isaac Asimov, Randy Shilts, Dorian Corey, Leigh Bowery, Robert Mapplethorpe, and many more.

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Happy 180th Birthday Samuel Langhorne Clemens “Mark Twain”


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Today is the 180th birthday of the man that once wrote “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” andIt’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” and hundreds of other witty and insightful and perfect things that resonate as true today as they did over one hundred years ago when they were first penned.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

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: Mark Twain
BIRTH DATE: November 30, 1835
DEATH DATE: April 21, 1910
PLACE OF BIRTH: Florida, Missouri
PLACE OF DEATH: Redding, Connecticut

BEST KNOWN FOR: An adventurer and wily intellectual, Mark Twain wrote the classic American novels ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer‘ and ‘Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.’

Writing grand tales about Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and the mighty Mississippi River, Mark Twain explored the American soul with wit, buoyancy, and a sharp eye for truth. He became nothing less than a national treasure.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name, Mark Twain, was born on November 30, 1835, in the tiny village of Florida, Missouri, the sixth child of John and Jane Clemens. When he was 4 years old, his family moved to nearby Hannibal, a bustling town of 1,000 people.

John Clemens worked as a storekeeper, lawyer, judge and land speculator, dreaming of wealth but never achieving it, sometimes finding it hard to feed his family. He was an unsmiling fellow; according to one legend, young Sam never saw him laugh. His mother, by contrast, was a fun-loving, tenderhearted homemaker who whiled away many a winter’s night for her family by telling stories. She became head of the household in 1847 when John died unexpectedly. The Clemens family “now became almost destitute,” wrote biographer Everett Emerson, and was forced into years of economic struggle—a fact that would shape the career of Mark Twain.

Sam Clemens lived in Hannibal from age 4 to age 17. The town, situated on the Mississippi River, was in many ways a splendid place to grow up. Steamboats arrived there three times a day, tooting their whistles; circuses, minstrel shows and revivalists paid visits; a decent library was available; and tradesmen such as blacksmiths and tanners practiced their entertaining crafts for all to see. However, violence was commonplace, and young Sam witnessed much death: When he was 9 years old, he saw a local man murder a cattle rancher, and at 10 he watched a slave die after a white overseer struck him with a piece of iron.

Hannibal inspired several of Mark Twain’s fictional locales, including “St. Petersburg” in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. These imaginary river towns are complex places: sunlit and exuberant on the one hand, but also vipers’ nests of cruelty, poverty, drunkenness, loneliness and life-crushing boredom—all parts of Sam Clemens’s boyhood experience.

Sam kept up his schooling until he was about 12 years old, when—with his father dead and the family needing a source of income—he found employment as an apprentice printer at the Hannibal Courier, which paid him with a meager ration of food. In 1851, at 15, he got a job as a printer and occasional writer and editor at the Hannibal Western Union, a little newspaper owned by his brother, Orion.

Then, in 1857, 21-year-old Clemens fulfilled a dream: He began learning the art of piloting a steamboat on the Mississippi. A licensed pilot by 1859, he soon found regular employment plying the shoals and channels of the great river. He loved his career—it was exciting, well-paying and high-status, roughly akin to flying a jetliner today. However, his service was cut short in 1861 by the outbreak of the Civil War, which halted most civilian traffic on the river.

As the war began, the people of Missouri angrily split between support for the Union and the Confederacy. Clemens opted for the latter, joining the Confederate Army in June 1861 but serving for only a couple of weeks until his volunteer unit disbanded.

Where, he wondered then, would he find his future? What venue would bring him both excitement and cash? His answer: the great American West.

In July 1861, Twain climbed on board a stagecoach and headed for Nevada and California, where he would live for the next five years. At first, he prospected for silver and gold, convinced that he would become the savior of his struggling family and the sharpest-dressed man in Virginia City and San Francisco. But nothing panned out, and by the middle of 1862, he was flat broke and in need of a regular job.

Clemens knew his way around a newspaper office, so that September, he went to work as a reporter for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. He churned out news stories, editorials and sketches, and along the way adopted the pen name Mark Twain—steamboat slang for 12 feet of water.

Twain became one of the best-known storytellers in the West. He honed a distinctive narrative style—friendly, funny, irreverent, often satirical and always eager to deflate the pretentious. He got a big break in 1865, when one of his tales about life in a mining camp, “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” was printed in newspapers and magazines around the country (the story later appeared under various titles). His next step up the ladder of success came in 1867, when he took a five-month sea cruise in the Mediterranean, writing humorously about the sights for American newspapers with an eye toward getting a book out of the trip. And so it came to pass that in 1869 The Innocents Abroad was published, and it became a bestseller.

At 34, this handsome, red-haired, affable, canny, egocentric and ambitious journalist and traveler had become one of the most popular and famous writers in America.

However, Mark Twain worried about being a Westerner. In those years, the country’s cultural life was dictated by an Eastern establishment centered in New York and Boston—a straight-laced, Victorian, moneyed group that cowed Twain. “An indisputable and almost overwhelming sense of inferiority bounced around his psyche,” wrote scholar Hamlin Hill, noting that these feelings were competing with his aggressiveness and vanity. Twain’s fervent wish was to get rich, support his mother, rise socially and receive what he called “the respectful regard of a high Eastern civilization.”

In February 1870, he improved his social status by marrying 24-year-old Olivia (Livy) Langdon, the daughter of a rich New York coal merchant. Writing to a friend shortly after his wedding, Twain could not believe his good luck: “I have … the only sweetheart I have ever loved … she is the best girl, and the sweetest, and gentlest, and the daintiest, and she is the most perfect gem of womankind.” Livy, like many people during that time, took pride in her pious, high-minded, genteel approach to life. Twain hoped that she would “reform” him, a mere humorist, from his rustic ways. The couple settled in Buffalo and later had four children.

Thankfully, Mark Twain’s glorious “low-minded” Western voice broke through on occasion. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published in 1876, and soon thereafter he began writing a sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Writing this work, commented biographer Everett Emerson, freed Twain temporarily from the “inhibitions of the culture he had chosen to embrace.”

“All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn,” Ernest Hemingway wrote in 1935, giving short shrift to Herman Melville and others but making an interesting point. Hemingway’s comment refers specifically to the colloquial language of Twain’s masterpiece, as for perhaps the first time in America, the vivid, raw, not-so-respectable voice of the common folk was used to create great literature.

Huck Finn required years to conceptualize and write, and Twain often put it aside. In the meantime, he pursued respectability with the 1881 publication of The Prince and the Pauper, a charming novel endorsed with enthusiasm by his genteel family and friends. In 1883 he put out Life on the Mississippi, an interesting but safe travel book. When Huck Finn finally was published in 1884, Livy Clemens gave it a chilly reception.

After that, business and writing were of equal value to Mark Twain as he set about his cardinal task of earning a lot of money. In 1885, he triumphed as a book publisher by issuing the bestselling memoirs of former President Ulysses S. Grant, who had just died. He lavished many hours on this and other business ventures, and was certain that his efforts would be rewarded with enormous wealth, but he never achieved the success he expected. His publishing house eventually went bankrupt.

Twain’s financial failings, reminiscent in some ways of his father’s, had serious consequences for his state of mind. They contributed powerfully to a growing pessimism in him, a deep-down feeling that human existence is a cosmic joke perpetrated by a chuckling God. Another cause of his angst, perhaps, was his unconscious anger at himself for not giving undivided attention to his deepest creative instincts, which centered on his Missouri boyhood.

In 1889, Twain published A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, a science-fiction/historical novel about ancient England. His next major work, in 1894, was The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, a somber novel that some observers described as “bitter.” He also wrote short stories, essays and several other books, including a study of Joan of Arc. Some of these later works have enduring merit, and his unfinished work The Chronicle of Young Satan has fervent admirers today.

Mark Twain’s last 15 years were filled with public honors, including degrees from Oxford and Yale. Probably the most famous American of the late 19th century, he was much photographed and applauded wherever he went. Indeed, he was one of the most prominent celebrities in the world, traveling widely overseas, including a successful ’round-the-world lecture tour in 1895-’96, undertaken to pay off his debts.

But while those years were gilded with awards, they also brought him much anguish. Early in their marriage, he and Livy had lost their toddler son, Langdon, to diphtheria; in 1896, his favorite daughter, Susy, died at the age of 24 of spinal meningitis. The loss broke his heart, and adding to his grief, he was out of the country when it happened. His youngest daughter, Jean, was diagnosed with severe epilepsy. In 1909, when she was 29 years old, Jean died of a heart attack. For many years, Twain’s relationship with middle daughter Clara was distant and full of quarrels.

In June 1904, while Twain traveled, Livy died after a long illness. “The full nature of his feelings toward her is puzzling,” wrote scholar R. Kent Rasmussen. “If he treasured Livy’s comradeship as much as he often said, why did he spend so much time away from her?” But absent or not, throughout 34 years of marriage, Twain had indeed loved his wife. “Wheresoever she was, there was Eden,” he wrote in tribute to her.

Twain became somewhat bitter in his later years, even while projecting an amiable persona to his public. In private he demonstrated a stunning insensitivity to friends and loved ones. “Much of the last decade of his life, he lived in hell,” wrote Hamlin Hill. He wrote a fair amount but was unable to finish most of his projects. His memory faltered. He had volcanic rages and nasty bouts of paranoia, and he experienced many periods of depressed indolence, which he tried to assuage by smoking cigars, reading in bed and playing endless hours of billiards and cards.

Samuel Clemens died on April 21, 1910, at the age of 74, at his country home in Redding, Connecticut. He was buried in Elmira, New York.

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Happy 80th Birthday Diane Ladd


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Today is the 80th Birthday of the amazing actress Diane Ladd.  Wiki and IMDB say her birth year is 1935 and says it’s 1942.  It doesn’t matter.  She has has a long career full of amazing work, but if you only see one film, see “Wild at Heart.”  You will want to see everything she has ever done.

NAME: Diane Ladd
OCCUPATION: Film Actress
BIRTH DATE: November 29, 1935/1942
EDUCATION: Louisiana State University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Laurel, Mississippi
ORIGINALLY: Rose Diane Ladnier

BEST KNOWN FOR: Diane Lane is a Golden Globe–winning actress of films and TV and the mother of actress Laura Dern.

Diane Ladd  is an American actress, film director, producer and published author. She has appeared in over 120 roles, on television, and in miniseries and feature films, including Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974), Wild at Heart (1990), Rambling Rose (1991), Ghosts of Mississippi, Primary Colors, 28 Days (2000), and American Cowslip (2008). Twice divorced and currently married, Ladd is the mother of actress Laura Dern by ex-husband actor Bruce Dern.

Ladd was born Rose Diane Ladner in Meridian, Mississippi in 1932, the only child of Mary Bernadette (née Anderson; August 15, 1912 – May 23, 2002), a housewife and actress, and Preston Paul Ladner (August 14, 1906 – April 1982), a poulterer. Ladd is a second cousin of playwright Tennessee Williams and is also related to poet Sidney Lanier.  Ladd was raised in the Roman Catholic faith of her mother.

Ladd was formerly married to actor and one-time co-star Bruce Dern from 1960–1969; the couple had two children, Diane Elizabeth Dern and actress Laura Elizabeth Dern. Diane died at 18 months from head injuries caused by falling into a swimming pool.  Ladd and Laura Dern co-starred in the films Wild at Heart and Rambling Rose.  They also appeared together in Inland Empire, another film by David Lynch.  They most recently have co-starred on the HBO series Enlightened. Ladd is now married to Robert Charles Hunter.

In 1971, Ladd joined the cast of the CBS soap opera, The Secret Storm.  She was the second actress to play the role of Kitty Styles on the long-running daytime serial.  She later had a supporting role in Roman Polanski’s 1974 film Chinatown, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role as Flo in the film Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.  That film inspired the TV series Alice, in which Flo was portrayed by Polly Holliday.  When Holliday left the TV series, Ladd succeeded her as waitress Isabelle “Belle” Dupree.  In 1993, Ladd appeared in the episode “Guess Who’s Coming to Chow?” of the CBS comedy/western series Harts of the West in the role of the mother of co-star Harley Jane Kozak. The 15-episode program, set on a dude ranch in Nevada starred Beau Bridges and Lloyd Bridges.

In 2004, Ladd played psychic Mrs. Druse in the television miniseries of Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital. In April 2006, Ladd released her first book entitled: Spiraling Through The School Of Life: A Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Discovery. In 2007, she co-starred in the Lifetime Television film Montana Sky.

In addition to her Academy Award nomination for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, she was also nominated (again in the Best Actress in a Supporting Role category) for both Wild at Heart and Rambling Rose, both of which she starred alongside her daughter Laura Dern.  Dern received a nomination for Best Actress for Rambling Rose. The dual mother and daughter nominations for Ladd and Dern in Rambling Rose marked the first time in Academy Award history that such an event had occurred.  They were also nominated for dual Golden Globe Awards in the same year.

Ladd has worked in the theatre as well. She made her Broadway debut in the play Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights in 1968. In 1976 she starred in the play, A Texas Trilogy: Lu Ann Hampton Laverty Oberlander, for which she received a Drama Desk Award nomination.

Rosemary’s Baby – Required Viewing


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Mia Farrow and Ruth Gordon.  Enough said.  You thought your neighbors were annoying?  They did not promise your unborn child to some sort of dark underlord, did they?  I would put up with a lot to live in the Dakota, but probably not that.  Just watch it.


Rosemary’s Baby is a 1968 American psychological horror film written and directed by Roman Polanski, based on the bestselling 1967 novel Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin. The cast includes Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Ralph Bellamy, Maurice Evans, Sidney Blackmer and Charles Grodin. It was produced by William Castle.

Farrow plays a pregnant woman who fears that her husband may have made a pact with their eccentric neighbors, believing he may have promised them the child to be used as a human sacrifice in their occult rituals in exchange for success in his acting career.

The film was an enormous commercial success, earning over $33 million in the US on a modest budget of $3.2 million. It was met with near universal acclaim from film critics and earned numerous nominations and awards. The American Film Institute ranked the film 9th in their 100 Years…100 Thrills list. The official tagline of the film is “Pray for Rosemary’s Baby.”

‘Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish: A Novel’ by David Rakoff


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I wish I could buy everyone David Rakoff‘s  latest (and sadly last) book:  Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish:  A Novel.  Those of you familiar with David Rakoff’s writing know that for the most of his career, he has been a memoirist similar to David Sedaris.  This last (and last) book is a departure, a novel  in rhyming couplets written while he was dying of cancer.  I bought the audiobook of it, read by the author (edited by Ira Glass) and completed 13 days before his death, I wanted to hear it how he wanted it to be heard.  I walked all over Manhattan on Christmas Day 2013, alone, listening to his words in his voice.  It is achingly beautiful.  I am buying the physical book today.  I am not the only one that thinks so, I have collected exerts of his book reviews here (attributions below).  They read more like love letters than reviews and rightly so.

Rakoff’s accessible and unpretentious style is at times reminiscent of the quicksilver Algonquin dazzle of Dorothy Parker or Ogden Nash, along with the greater emotional reach of Frank O’Hara.  The verse also formalizes the novel’s events, lending them a Homeric aspect — if only Homer had been chattier and had described a hippie-ish fellow as “Clad in the uniform he’d worn since Ohio: / Birkenstocks, drawstring pants (think Putumayo).”

The book is a heartfelt, charmingly profound American epic.  At a breezy 113 pages, it charts pretty much the entire 20th century, through a series of interlocking lives.  Early on, we meet Margaret, a redheaded, brutally poor preteen who leaves school to work in a Chicago slaughterhouse.  When the male employees jeer at her, she retreats, in her thoughts, “To a place close yet distant, both here and not here; / Present, but untouched by doubt or by fear.”

Margaret has a vicious stepfather: “Frank said that one time, in Wichita, Kansas, / He’d killed a man who had addressed him as Francis.”  What follows is vivid and ugly, but the scope of the storytelling remains fresh and optimistic.

The book leaps to Burbank, California, where a family barely gets by in the wake of the Depression:  “The yard a brown painting of motionless calm / The packed, ochre dirt and the lone, scraggly palm.”  There we meet Clifford, a boy who lives to draw:  “Above all, the thing that had captured his heart, / And opened his world: reproductions of art.”

Clifford is also inspired by radio broadcasts of a show called “Rex Bond, Inveterate Explorer,” and he develops a crush, imagining “He’d find Rex bound up in some old, empty warehouse / And carry him home (in the dream it was their house.)”  His sexual awakening occurs as he faints, after he’s asked to sketch a nude male model; he experiences “A vaguely elating but frightening bubble, / He felt buoyant and free and yet somehow in trouble.”

Clifford develops a touching and tumultuous relationship with his shy, awkward cousin, Helen, and the narrative shoots forward another decade or two, as the adult Helen works as a secretary in Manhattan.  She suffers the indignities of an affair and office gossip, until, at a Christmas party, “Helen just stands there, observing it all, / Sipping her gimlet against the far wall.”

Rakoff is adept at portraying the challenges and loneliness of his female characters, along with the swagger and arrogance of their husbands and bosses.  We revisit Clifford, now grown and living in a beloved San Francisco, where he draws underground comics.  When his work is attacked by conservatives for its gay subject matter, Clifford responds:  “I know it won’t sway you the smallest scintilla / To point out the sex is quite firmly vanilla.”

Time hurtles forward, to the 1970s and ’80s, where a love triangle blossoms, centering on Susan, a spoiled, Lacroix-clad denizen of the art world, who attends openings where “the waiters were done up like Jean Genet felons.”  Susan is pursued by the best friends Josh and Nathan, and a wedding occurs at Posner’s, a Long Island catering hall with “Venetian pa­lazzo floors pounded by horas / Cut-velvet drapes framing chopped-liver Torahs.”

Susan had never donned quite so bourgeois
A garment as Thursday night’s Christian Lacroix.
In college—just five years gone—she’d have abhorred it
But now, being honest, she fucking adored it.

As lives are ruined, or at least deformed, through deceit and ambition, other calamities erupt, including the scourge of AIDS.  As some characters sicken, others remain aloft, astride their high-powered fortunes, in homes with  “Framed scenes of hunts on a hunter-green wall / A pillow: ‘Nouveau riche beats no riche at all.’ ”

Rakoff artfully depicts shifting social impulses, as Susan changes her name to Sloan and then Shulamit.  As the century draws to a close, characters practice all the verbs in the book’s title.  Ultimately, some wonderfully surprising connections between the most disparate people are revealed.  The book ends with an especially lovely revelation that’s both ruefully comic and crushingly sad.


This video clip is advertising the release of the book.  It feels more like a tribute, with a reading of one of it’s passages by Ira Glass, Red Green, Dave Hill, Jackie Hoffman, Jodi Lennon, Linden MacIntyre, Bruce McCall, Stuart McLean, Rick Mercer, Jon Scieszka, George Stroumboulopoulos and Calvin Trillin:


Cupcakes – Creativity’s Antagonist


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“Is there anything more blandly sweet, less evocative of this great city, and more goyish than any other baked good with the possible exception of Eucharist wafers than a cupcake?” – David RakoffHalf Empty



Barbara Bush – Humanity’s Antagonist


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As if her fetid marsupium slash responsible for puking out a generation of unscrupulous GOP puppets isn’t enough reason to despise her, she also opens her mouth and speaks.  Her arrogance and hatred for the people her family has represented for decades is disgusting.

No one expects much from First Ladies, especially the Republican ones.  Read a couple books at an elementary school while it is filmed by the evening news, have a lunch for women in media, choose a cause (“Just Say No!”), but what I think is reasonable to expect is that they not be evil.

The late David Rakoff wrote it best.  Today is his birthday, please read it and follow his suggestion to commit it to memory and never forget.

“For most of my life, I would have automatically said that I would opt for conscientious objector status, and in general, I still would. But the spirit of the question is would I ever, and there are instances where I might. If immediate intervention would have circumvented the genocide in Rwanda or stopped the Janjaweed in Darfur, would I choose pacifism? Of course not. Scott Simon, the reporter for National Public Radio and a committed lifelong Quaker, has written that it took looking into mass graves in former Yugoslavia to convince him that force is sometimes the only option to deter our species’ murderous impulses.

While we’re on the subject of the horrors of war, and humanity’s most poisonous and least charitable attributes, let me not forget to mention Barbara Bush (that would be former First Lady and presidential mother as opposed to W’s liquor-swilling, Girl Gone Wild, human ashtray of a daughter. I’m sorry, that’s not fair. I’ve no idea if she smokes.) When the administration censored images of the flag-draped coffins of the young men and women being killed in Iraq – purportedly to respect “the privacy of the families” and not to minimize and cover up the true nature and consequences of the war – the family matriarch expressed her support for what was ultimately her son’s decision by saying on Good Morning America on March 18, 2003, “Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? I mean it’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?”

Mrs. Bush is not getting any younger. When she eventually ceases to walk among us we will undoubtedly see photographs of her flag-draped coffin. Whatever obituaries that run will admiringly mention those wizened, dynastic loins of hers and praise her staunch refusal to color her hair or glamorize her image. But will they remember this particular statement of hers, this “Let them eat cake” for the twenty-first century? Unlikely, since it received far too little play and definitely insufficient outrage when she said it. So let us promise herewith to never forget her callous disregard for other parents’ children while her own son was sending them to make the ultimate sacrifice, while asking of the rest of us little more than to promise to go shopping. Commit the quote to memory and say it whenever her name comes up. Remind others how she lacked even the bare minimum of human integrity, the most basic requirement of decency that says if you support a war, you should be willing, if not to join those nineteen-year-olds yourself, then at least, at the very least, to acknowledge that said war was actually going on. Stupid fucking cow.”
David Rakoff, Don’t Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems

If only she stopped there, but she didn’t.

“What I’m hearing which is sort of scary is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (chuckle) – this is working very well for them.” –Former First Lady Barbara Bush, on the hurricane evacuees at the Astrodome in Houston, Sept. 5, 2005.

New Orleans residents housed in various post-Katrina evacuations camps lost their loved ones, homes, jobs, pets and possessions.  Their city sustained a tremendous amount of damage that is still not completely repaired.  That they had cots to sleep on inside a gigantic sports arena isn’t what most of them would consider a situation that is “working very well for them.”

Stupid Fucking Cow, indeed Mr. Rakoff.

Karl Lagerfeld – Humanity’s Antagonist


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History has shown us that you can be a genius and a monster at the same time.  We have examples of the various perversions and mutations of the genius, but I am guessing that genius or not, the monster part is actually more rooted in insecurities.  A genius should be confident in his abilities and talents.  An evil genius may have come by the “genius” title accidentally and his insecurities of being “found out” have caused him to become a notorious asshole.  When you are a monster, no one bothers to get close enough to find out that you are really just an insecure man guarding the secret that he is merely average.  But David Rakoff (as always) says it best.

“All of the designers I have met up to this point have been very nice, although upon being introduced to Karl Lagerfeld, he looks me up and down and dismisses me with the not super-kind, “What can you write that hasn’t been written already?”

He’s absolutely right, I have no idea. I can but try. The only thing I can come up with right now is that Lagerfeld’s powdered white ponytail has dusted the shoulders of his suit with what looks like dandruff but isn’t.  Not having undergone his alarming weight loss yet, seated on a tiny velvet chair, with his large doughy rump dominating the miniature piece of furniture like a loose, flabby, ass-flavored muffin over-risen from its pan, he resembles a Daumier caricature of some corpulent, overfed, inhumane oligarch drawn sitting on a commode, stuffing his greedy throat with the corpses of dead children, while from his other end he shits out huge, malodorous piles of tainted money. How’s that for new and groundbreaking, Mr. L.?”
David Rakoff, Don’t Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems

Happy 51st Birthday David Rakoff


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Today is David Rakoff‘s 51st birthday.  He is quite possibly the wittiest writer we have seen this century.  The 2oth century had Dorothy Parker and the 21st had David Rakoff.  He has also had the great fortune of being an excellent orator of his own works, reading a David Rakoff book is a treasure, but listening to him read it brings color and light and darkness (oh the amazingly beautiful darkness) to the words in the ways he intended.  His death is an enormous loss for the world.  Please do yourself a favor and read (or listen to) something that he has written, I guarantee you will become a veracious fan.

I have re-posted several of my favorite David Rakoff posts today.

David Rakoff 1

Name:  David Benjamin Rakoff
Born:  November 27, 1964
BirthplaceMontreal, Quebec, Canada
Died:  August 9, 2012 (aged 47)
Location at time of death:  Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States
Occupation:  Essayist, journalist, actor
Nationality:  Canadian-American

David Rakoff was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the youngest of three children. His brother, the comedian Simon Rakoff, is four years older than David and their sister Ruth Rakoff, author of the cancer memoir When My World Was Very Small, is the middle child.   Rakoff has said that he and his siblings were close as children.[4][6] Rakoff’s mother, Gina Shochat-Rakoff, is a doctor who has practised psychotherapy and his father, Vivian Rakoff, is a psychiatrist.  Rakoff has written that almost every generation of his family fled from one place to another.  Rakoff’s grandparents, who were Jewish, fled Latvia and Lithuania at the turn of the 20th century and settled in South Africa.  The Rakoff family left South Africa in 1961 for political reasons, moving to Montreal for seven years. In 1967, when he was three, Rakoff’s family moved to Toronto.  As an adult, he said that he identified as Jewish.

“I will stipulate to having both French sea salt and a big bottle of extra virgin in my kitchen. And while the presence of both might go some small distance in pigeonholing me demographically, neither one of them makes me a good person. They are mute and useless indicators of the content of my character.”
― David Rakoff, Don’t Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems

Rakoff attended high school at the Forest Hill Collegiate Institute, graduating in 1982. In the same year he moved to New York City to attend Columbia University, where he majored in East Asian Studies and studied dance.  Rakoff spent his third year of college at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and graduated in 1986. Rakoff worked in Japan as a translator with a fine arts publisher. His work was interrupted after four months when, at 22, he became ill with Hodgkin’s disease, a form of lymphatic cancer which he has referred to as “a touch of cancer”. He returned to Toronto for eighteen months of treatment, including chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

“Being a stranger was like being dead,
and brought to mind how, in a book he had read
that most folks misunderstood one common state:
The flip side of love is indifference, not hate.”
― David Rakoff, Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish

From 1982, Rakoff lived in the United States (minus his four-month stay in Japan in 1986), first as a student, then as a resident alien. In the early 1990s he was issued a green card, a subject about which he wrote in one of his early newspaper articles.[8] After living in the United States for twenty-one years, Rakoff was motivated by a desire to participate in the political process and applied for U.S. citizenship. Rakoff chronicled the experience of becoming an American citizen in an essay published in Don’t Get Too Comfortable. He became a U.S. citizen in 2003, while at the same time retaining his Canadian citizenship.

Rakoff was a prolific freelance writer and a regular contributor to Conde Nast Traveler, GQ, Outside Magazine and The New York Times Magazine. His writing also appeared in Business 2.0, Details, Harper’s Bazaar, Nerve, New York Magazine, Salon, Seed, Slate, Spin, The New York Observer, Vogue, Wired and other publications. He wrote on a wide and eclectic range of topics.

Rakoff published three bestselling collections of essays, which include his own illustrations. Both Fraud (Doubleday 2001) and Don’t Get Too Comfortable (Doubleday 2005) were awarded a Lambda literary award (which recognises excellence among LGBT writers who use their work to explore LGBT lives), both times in the “Humor” category. Half-Empty (2010) won the 2011 Thurber Prize for American Humor.

In 2010, while writing the book Half Empty, Rakoff was diagnosed with a malignant tumor, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and later developed a post-radiation sarcoma behind his left collarbone and began chemotherapy.  He died in Manhattan on August 9, 2012.


Strangers with Candy (17-Jun-2006)
Capote (2-Sep-2005) · Ben Baron

Author of books:
Fraud: Essays (2001, essays)
Don’t Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities Of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never-ending Quest For Artisanal Olive Oil, And Other First World Problems (2005, essays)
Half Empty (2010, essays)
Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish (2013 novel)
The Uncollected David Rakoff: Including the Entire Text of Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish (2015 essays)

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Happy 93rd Birthday Charles Schulz


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Today is the 93rd birthday of the Charlie Brown illustrator Charles Shulz.  The world is a better place because Charles was in it and still feels that loss that Charles has left.

charles schulz1NameCharles Schulz
Occupation:  Writer, Illustrator
Birth Date:  November 26, 1922
Death Date:  February 12, 2000
Place of BirthMinneapolis, Minnesota
Place of DeathSanta Rosa, California

BEST KNOWN FOR:  Charles Schulz was the creator and cartoonist behind Peanuts, a globally popular comic strip that expanded into TV, books and other merchandise.

Cartoonist and creator of the Peanuts comic strip Charles Schulz was born on November 26, 1922, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Schulz developed an interest in comics early on. As a teenager, he learned the art of cartooning from a correspondence course.

After serving in World War II, Schulz worked as an art instructor and created his first comic strip, Li’l Folks, which was published in a local newspaper. He sold the comic strip to United Feature Syndicate in 1950, and the company retitled it Peanuts.

Peanuts became one of the world’s most successful strips, and has been adapted for television and stage. Schulz based the Charlie Brown character on himself and the inspiration for Snoopy came from a childhood pet.
Illness and Death

peanuts charactersIn December 1999, Schulz retired from cartooning, citing health problems. His final daily Peanuts newspaper strip appeared on January 3, 2000, and his Sunday Peanuts strip ran on February 7, 2000. A few days later, on February 12, Schulz died at his home in Santa Rosa, California, from colon cancer.

After his death, Schulz received several honors, including the Congressional Gold Medal from the U.S. Congress in 2001.


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