Monthly Archives: May 2014

A True Story..

A huge and ridiculous debate irrupted on twitter today. The topic was ‘hate speech’. “Red Steeze”, a writer and an editor for a publication called “The Wilderness”, and an individual not known for sugar coating things said this:
“Calling me cis is violence against me.”

I can’t really describe what’s going on, other than it seems to be taking something to an extreme, for the sake of being extreme. Here’s a link. Red Steeze also said this, which somewhat validates my assertion.

The whole debate prompted a discussion between myself and a few of my own friends. We all grew up in a place that had very liberal views on hate speech. As my friend Chris put it, “I was taught all the hateful discriminatory “fag/nigger” shit growing up too, some from my own family! So, I had [my fair share of] cognitive dissonance when I began to realize it was all grossly generalized bullshit.” That’s the kind of place I’m talking about- “down south” as they say. Reading that from him made quite an impression and immediately recalled a memory involving Chris and another friend, John-a memory and an experience centered around this very debate.

It was one night in 2002 at a party in someone’s basement. I hadn’t seen John or Chris in a while, so I immediately walked up to say hello. Some pleasantries were exchanged, as well as some intoxicant, as one tends to do at parties in basements. Chris complimented me on my jacket we all inquired about our academic endeavors. John began explaining some minor collegiate inconvenience, and as an empathetic gesture I replied, “That’s gay..” That’s when the room stopped. John’s eyes went to the floor and Chris stared intensely in my direction. “Oh..” Chris said, “could you explain to me what you mean by ‘gay’?” in a rather annoyed tone. “Um…that sucks?” I replied not really aware of what was going on or what I had done to upset Chris. “What do you mean? How can something like an inanimate object be gay? Does a chair have intercourse with a chair,” Chris scoffed, “of the same sex?” Chris said looking around the room. By now our conversation had garnered attention from the room.

Being young, I naturally dealt with the humiliation through anger. I took a deep angry breath and started to say, “You know what I–“, but that was all I could get out, before John calmly interjected with “I’m gay Grant.” It was something I was not expecting to hear. I was forced, on the spot, to grapple with all the emotions of finding out someone close to you was born “differently” than you thought. Also, it was clear I had just stuck my foot in my mouth. So, I humbly mumbled “My bad John.” Being a party where people were inebriated, there was plenty of mockery to go around, but John would have none of it.

“It’s cool, don’t worry about it.” He just laughed it off.

He, the offended, made sure all individuals judging my momentary humiliation, ceased immediately. I suppose he could see the wheels turning in my head.

“Was he gay in school?”
“What did that mean now?”

He had seen people in this situation before and seemed prepared. He allowed no one to point out or take pleasure in my vulnerable moment. He provided a wide path to walk my thoughtless statement back upon and gave me infinite latitude when explaining myself. Basically, he stopped a social form of bullying.

He said “You’re not awful, you just didn’t know.” He even gave me an amazing compliment on my ability to wrap my head around things quickly, to understand, and my ability to see an honest perspective and not judge it. It was touching.

It was a surreal moment. Out of all the hurt and belittling suffered by the gay community, here’s my friend John, walking me through something. Making sure belittlement wasn’t projected on to me. He had no spite or animosity. In fact, he seemed more than happy to explain “some things” as far as how to conduct one’s self around gay people, and other things like, why the community as a whole is so protective of it’s own. We later went to Steak-N-Shake that night and shared his experience that I knew of, being his classmate, but didn’t fully understand. I’ve repeated this story a few times and it had positive effects on people, so his kindness rippled.

I also, didn’t fully understand Chris’s reaction to the whole thing, at the time. It wasn’t until this recent debate about ‘hate speech’ on social media was ignited, that I did. Chris and I spoke about that night recently, via messaging, in it Chris said, “I wasn’t looking for approval of the group, I didn’t need social approval of my then excessive personal conviction. That was a subconscious persuasion tactic most likely, but not group approval. Or, so it seemed from my perspective. See, two different perspectives. Also, I was taught all the hateful discriminatory ‘fag/nigger’ shit growing up too, some from my own family! So, I had [my fair share of] cognitive dissonance when I began to realize it was all grossly generalized bullshit. My lashing out at you was really lashing out at myself for being angry with myself for going along with the bigot bullshit for so long due to my environment. I was projecting as the psychoanalysts call it.” He was being protective, we had grown up in a place where John could have been seriously harassed, or even worse, had people know his sexual preference. Chris knew in high school, I didn’t. That’s where our perspectives differed.

My point with this is, if you’re going to label something hate speech, you should probably be able to explain why you think it’s hateful. Also, when you do choose to have this discussion, don’t have it on twitter, not if you actually want to grow from the experience.

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Benevolent Sexism: Do You Engage In It?

This whole post was brought about by a letter from a fella named Rob Fee, a write/comedian on the west coast. He wrote this, The Letter, and it was good. You should probably take a look at it as well. In it, he says, “Sure, there are males that experience this, but that doesn’t somehow negate the fact that all women do as well.”, which I found to be an honest observation. He sums it up well with, “Let’s stop trying to convince everyone that there isn’t a problem and start listening so we can figure out a solution.” Those are wise words. The words were measured and in an attempt to be helpful in the discussion. The man makes a living off of using words. I feel his perspective on the overall use of words in our society, is an informed one. He has perspective on this topic.

This whole discussion really did make me think. To be honest, it made my thoughts race. Having all girls, I want to do right by them. I wanna “give it my best shot” so to speak. But the whole debate seems so confusing and overwhelming.

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Benevolent Sexism
In looking into this debate, my friend Lora, pointed out some studies and ideas being discussed in her academic sociology circles. That is to say, she studies this very layered topic and had some advice on where to start to grasp the notion of inequality among women in our country. She wasn’t proselytizing. She was being a caring friend, happy to share her knowledge with a dad who is really trying to sort through the hoopla. One study she sent me on the effects of over exposure to graphic pornography by heterosexual males, was titled “Pornography and the Sexist Attitudes Among Heterosexuals” mentioned “Benevolent Sexism”, a phrase I had never heard before. When I went to research it more, I found this article The Article. In it, it defines Benevolent Sexism as the following: “‘Benevolent sexism’ is the belief that women deserve to be protected and cherished by men, with the implicit understanding that these are perks in exchange for men’s general dominance.” To be frank, that makes me a little sick, that somehow that thinking could be inadvertently “programmed” into my girls psyche.

It makes me wanna buy them a fire arm as soon as they’re legally able to own one–but I know that’s a bit reactionary. Like Mr. Fee said, “start listening so we can figure out a solution.” I don’t know where to start, but I’m all ears on suggestions.

My girls are worth that effort, on my part, to present the truth to them, as best I see it. I owe them that much.

Meet Me At Musial

It’s Yankees vs. Cardinals at Busch Stadium this Memorial Day. I got paid the highest compliment one can receive while being a Cardinal fan. I was given a seat, (two actually, but the second seat is a different story) by a friend, in the bleachers. I received the coveted ticket because my friend’s son had better things to do at a theme park. I won’t speculate, but I will say my friend’s son is at a certain age where he’s probably noticing girls. It’s really the only logical explanation for such a choice. I haven’t seen or heard about “her”, but she must be something special for thIs particular kid to miss such an important game. The kid lives baseball…all the time. So, to hear he was relieved to find out that I was taking his seat was quite an honor.

He was relieved that an authentic Cardinal fan was taking his seat. Like my eyes, my speculation, on the events at the game, can some how alter them. Then, it hit me. The trick baseball plays on the American male psyche. The return to some sort boyhood bemusement. The leisurely observation, with the casual pauses for conversation. The opportunity to cuss and discuss topics, from the weather to world events. Baseball was designed for the socializing of it’s spectators. We don’t call it gossip, but it’s gossip–except when discussing the game. There, the player is strictly judged on their performance. The “gossip” isn’t mean spirited, it’s just the nature of baseball culture. Stats are kept for the game, but the “gossip” comes when you’re “judging” a player’s performance. The system of keeping a record of the game is well established. It’s complete. It’s orderly. It’s well kept. The gossip is in the conversations, the sidebars around the hitting cages or the in depth analysis of “the bull pin” committee. Yes, it hit me–baseball brings us back our boyhood. It sends us back to the time in life where we believed our hopes and wishes could somehow effect the outcome of the game played at the highest level. Where superstitions actually matter. It’s a nice feeling. It’s a nice mindset to find yourself in on a holiday.

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To my friend’s son, I will represent your seat well. Thanks for thinking of me and paying me such a high baseball compliment.

Oh…the title? It’s what Cardinal fans say when we meet someone at the stadium. Because no matter if you’ve never been there before, if you walk long enough around the stadium. You will see a statue of Stan Musial. You can’t get lost.

Private Chattering: A ramble that applies to a select few…

That St. Peter’s burn hurts, Chris. It cuts me deep. Obviously you made a friendly “bro” burn. (Friendly insider talk.)

In other news, Bill Maher does have a right to be an asshole. He’s stayed in character for 30 fuckin years in “the business”. Always the same sanctimonious son of bitch–but always a comedian. That’s the thing about “staying in character”, I think you have to have some in first place, to maintain it.

That mother fucker took the Catholics on, and live to tell the tale. Not a lot of people can say the same.

That’s an over all contentious point in the “American Church”, that is to say with people who identify in some form with Christianity–be it MORMONS (Ryan) or Protestantism with it’s many sects and divides.

Contentious point: Free speech. Who gets it? Who ensures it? Who VERIFIES it as actual speech, on behave of a religion? (Churches are a lot like corporations, a lot like corporations. They have rights too.)

Those conflicts can be exploited by whom an why? Simple questions? Complicated answers asked by me–Grant. To A few friends, they know I love them, dearly.

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(Phot via, Mrs Hizer. Edited from original format. )

This photo is what/who Maher seems to her trying to protect, in his attack on the tenements of faith who harm small children–they did by the way . It’s a fact. Maher addressed that on his platform, even putting in his own funds. That deserves respect, and most definitely the curtsey of hearing him out. 30 years in the business, does that–it gives you credibility.

Ozark Feel Harmonic: Joe Purdy

Here’s my review of a new album by a musician, Joe Purdy, from the Ozark’s, who gave the world a free listen. You’ve probably heard his music before, although you may not know it. His work has been on network television shows and national marketing campaigns.

I’m a fan of the new album; it is quality. You can also listen here at Joe Purdy’s website. I was listening to the new album Eagle Rock Fire in the kitchen. My wife walks in, hears the part from the track “Living in LA” where Purdy sings “Let’s see how he talks about punk rock with his jaw wired shut”, and says to me “Why is Joe Purdy so good?” His work is appreciated in our house. The fact that I can geek out and listen to his music undisturbed should tell you all you need to know. It’s considered a treat. Life’s all about the little things.

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(Photo via Joe Purdy.)

I discovered Purdy in 2008. It was a serious “gotcha” moment between a friend and myself. I made a comment about a Kia commercial and how catchy the tune was. My friend Matt, said he had never seen it. So, I hummed the tune and he knew it. Of course, I was skeptical–prompting my friend to pull out his, at the time, new iPhone and play me the song. It was the same song, so I had to hear my friend out. He told me all about this singer-song writer from the Ozark’s. Being that it was 2008, my friend “burned” me a copy of “You Can Tell Georgia”. It’s still one of my favorite albums to listen to. So, to Matt, thank you. You’re a good friend.

Joe–I don’t know you. I’ve seen you twice in concert. You had a very nice, sharp performance at one show and seemed “road weary” at another, but delivered nonetheless. However, you let your music be heard to those who want to listen. That speaks well for the Ozarks as a whole. Kudos to you, my man. The new album, is the goods. “Eagle Rock Fire” is the same quality music from Purdy that many have come to expect, in the true “American Troubadour” fashion. That is to say, he tells one hell of a story and frames one hell of a narrative. How can I make such a declaration? Well, I too am from the Ozark’s. I was raised on Johnny Cash before hipsters made him “en vogue”. It wasn’t an option. Waylon and Willie, Merle Haggard, and Chris LeDoux–these were steady cassettes played at social gatherings in my youth on stereos I didn’t have control over. Basically, I know my “country” jams when I hear ’em. Purdy proves his writing abilities deserves note among other great American singer-song writers, with chorus lines like, “I hope you and my old dog ain’t mad at me anymore”

Also, I mildly bitched to him on Twitter about a less than stellar performance I attended and he doesn’t care. That’s instant “street cred”. For Purdy…that’s “troubadour 101”. My friend who introduced me to Purdy was such a fan, he paid for both of us to go see Purdy at ‘Off Broadway’, in St. Louis. It was such a great show. So good in fact, that my wife decided to celebrate our anniversary the next time he came through town by going to his show again. The second show, he looked beat–“rode hard and put up wet”–is the way the old timers would put it. Needless to say, my wife wasn’t impressed. She gets it though, he’s in character. Purdy may not have been at his sharpest at the second show, but he was real–as advertised.

When I heard “Take advice from me my friend, Don’t fall in love with a mannequin” from the track ‘Ba Girl’, I figured this guy probably has a good perspective on things. As one guy who survived the Ozark’s, examining the art of an artist from the Ozark’s, I can say with certainty, this is Down Home. The texture of the album is authentic. It comes through as organic and original. He’s not faking the down home feel. To be honest, the whole song seems to be Purdy perhaps addressing an industry, “We’ll keep on stealing cowboy songs and feeling free.” I’d love to hear about the inspiration behind that line.

Eagle Rock Fire revived my appreciation for the steel guitar-the place it has in the American social fabric; the images, the sounds, the texture it refers our minds to. It’s an authentic feel of an America we all know just isn’t coming back. Purdy sticks to his basics, tells great stories, and even incorporates the Southwestern-style guitar “pickin”. And yes–there is a harmonica, which I always thought he has used tastefully.

You should give this album a listen. When Purdy comes to a city near you, you should go see him. I know I intend to see him in concert again when he swings through the gateway city in June. Although, don’t let me push you…as Joe Purdy puts it in track number nine, “Take me or leave me, I don’t care which…” You gotta at least respect the honesty.