Yesterday a local Vancouver paper asked a question on its Facebook page: “Do you think more could be done to combat homophobia?”
In the ensuing comments, a White Pride freak — who I’m really fucking wanting to identify by name here but don’t feel like dealing with the legal hassle as a little blogger girl — put some very, very hateful anti-gay comments.
I wouldn’t call his statements “homophobia” because it was too hate-fuelled to be a mere ambivalence toward gays. White Pride Freak would rather live in a world where they didn’t exist, and it sounded like “by any means necessary”.
The aftermath of WPF’s comments were pretty routine — a few people like me distancing themselves from the “white” part of his comments that smears us by inclusion — and a lot of people laughing it off with “This guy can’t be real” reactions.
The fencepost upon which gay man Matthew Shepard was beaten & left to die.
YES, he can be real. YES, he can be dangerous. YES, he can be in the house next door.
Someone commented to me that it didn’t seem possible a dude like that could live north of Raleigh or west of Calgary.
YES. It’s not only possible, but it’s real.
We’ve had gay-bashing incidents of late here in uber-liberal Vancouver — by other minorities!
Hey, let’s keep the wagon wheel of hate rolling.
By saying these guys can’t be real, we’re avoiding truth. We’re ducking the reality that hatred fuels much of what goes on in our world — whether it’s women’s centres being bombed, Middle Eastern women being stoned for adultery, gays being bashed for holding hands on the street, or prejudices rising everywhere daily, never mind national strife like Palestine-v-Israel, or Iran spouting rhetoric.
Hatred’s out there, man. Don’t think otherwise.
The Georgia Straight’s Facebook moderator decided it prudent to delete the offensive comments on this particular thread. I disagree. My reply comment:
I’m sort of disappointed that [skinhead motherfucker]’s homophobic, hate-filled rants were deleted.
By a) responding with “haw-haw, he can’t be real” and b) knee-jerk “how dare you” replies, then deleting his words, we’re pulling the wool over allour eyes.
We say “HEY, THERE’S A REAL PROBLEM OUT THERE” about hatred or racism, but then we sanitize the web so no feelings get hurt.
Let’s hurt some feelings! Let’s see these bastards for who they are! Let their names be known! Let their evidence stay up so we can point and say THAT IS NOT RIGHT, LET’S FIGHT THAT, LET’S PROVE HIM WRONG.
Sure, a bunch of people got all bent outta shape reading that kind of hate speech — but the mentality of “Well, if it’d been worded more politely, it’d be okay and we could ‘dialogue’ ” is just ridiculous!
IT’S HATE. Let’s see it for what it is.
Let the world see that it’s still out there, regardless of our pretty little fast-food metrosexual ever-so-aesthetic iPoddy 21st century.
Then let’s fight back and end that hate where it lives. END it, not delete it.
From Wikipedia's "lynching" page. The lynching of Laura Nelson in Okemah, Oklahoma in 1911; she had tried to protect her son, who was lynched together with her.
Deleting the thread has all the brilliance of when a Canadian bookstore chain decided it would never, ever stock nor order Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
Right, because ignoring the book the first time worked out so well for us.
KNOW THY ENEMY.
If we want to overcome hatred, racism, homophobia, elitism, all of it, then we need to know exactly what their thoughts are so we can break those down.
This is the internet — the home of anonymity, the tool of free speech, the widest platform for idea-expressing ever invented.
But every motherfucking site has a moderator who goes and deletes the hate, hiding the nasty fuckers that we need exposed.
Deep down inside, we all know cruel people are out there, and we know they’re cowards who hide real, real good.
Thus it’s become easier when we hide them too, and go on with our lovely little domesticated modern lives. God forbid our routines get injected with realism.
These people are real.
They live where you are.
They’re more marginalized and angrier than ever.
And we’re giving them a pass by letting them say what they say, then deleting it. So, then they run back to their little web microcosms and fester with their continuing hate spiel, palling with their little hatin’ buddies, all the while leaving us blissfully ignorant that hate-filled fucks like them are more prevalent than we’d like to think.
Stop protecting us, website moderators.
Our ignorance will not inspire their change. We need all the good peoples in on this fight.
On November 16th, 1959, Truman Capote read a New York Times article with only 300 words that would change his life, and American literature, forever. The article began:
A wealthy wheat farmer, his wife and their two young children were found shot to death today in their home. They had been killed by shotgun blasts at close range after being bound and gagged. The father, 48-year-old Herbert W. Clutter, was found in the basement with his son, Kenyon, 15. His wife Bonnie, 45, and a daughter, Nancy, 16, were in their beds. There were no signs of a struggle and nothing had been stolen.
It’s ironic that it’s on American Independence Day that I’m watching Capote, the film of how the book Capote would write transpired.
An early cover from Penguin's release of In Cold Blood.
I’m starting to realize what an important movie it is in my collection, from a million different perspectives, almost all of them to do with writing and what it means to me or what I feel it says about writing.
And in that realization, I found myself at a loss for a brief moment there, “pause” frozen on my screen, pondering what effect Truman Capote’s original book, In Cold Blood, must’ve had on the mindset of America.
The murders themselves, of course, resonated with the country then, but I wonder who, other than Capote, realized what it meant in the adolescence of his country. These days, it would seem he was ahead of the pack in those observations.
In the five decades since the Clutter Killings, one could say we’ve witnessed the death of the American Dream. With a look across the cultural landscape, one can’t ignore the economic strife America’s battling, the crime that has redefined the geography of the land, and the loss of the Here-vs-There that once existed — the “safe”-country-versus-the-“bad”-city mentality.
Where is the America that existed before it all? Gone, like any culture any other place in the world — a victim of modernity and technology?
The book examines the complex psychological relationship between two parolees, who together commit a mass murder, an act they were not capable of individually. Capote’s book also explores the lives of the victims and the effect of the crime on the community where they lived. In Cold Blood is regarded by critics as a pioneering work of the true crime genre.
It’s safe to say that In Cold Blood was one of the first mass killings in which the rest of the country had to say, “My god, if it could happen to them, it could happen to us.”
With that came fear, a fear that’s forever stained the fabric of America.
Anyone who’s paid attention to USA’s politics since 2001 knows just how destructive it can be to adapt to life under a regime of fear.
Well, by 1960, America had inklings of what “fear” was. It was the time of McCarthy and the Cold War, and a decade-plus of post-Holocaust reality that, out there, Evil existed.
And now, with the handiwork of killers Dick Hickock and Perry Smith, the fear lived at home, too.
Capote’s true-crime masterwork is a book widely accepted to be a jumping-off point for what fine literature was able to do to real-life on the pages.* In it, a real and tangible look was given into the headspace of these killers — one of whom had very much the same sort of horrible childhood of abandonment and abuse as Capote, offering this brilliant author the opportunity to internally juxtapose the life he’d been able to create for himself despite his tragic beginnings, versus the horror Smith wreaked upon others as a result of his own.
And that, friends, is often what brilliant writing is — the seeking of truth in everything, and the ability to own it within yourself. The inability to do the latter in a lasting way, however, can be devastating to a writer, and Capote’s decline should be a warning to all writers.
Reading In Cold Blood was a defining point in my life as a writer/reader. True life’s tragedies could be rendered in beautiful language that conveyed so much more than just photographic evidence of its horrors.
I doubt it was Capote’s work alone that stirred a new consciousness of the possibility of Evil Within amongst Americans — much of society was headed in that direction at the time, powered by media and politicans.
But Capote did what I love that good writers can do: Through a seemingly miniscule event, he correctly understood the quickening pulse of his country, and that this event — a seemingly small rural tragedy, buried a few pages into the newspaper on his morning read — was something that spoke of a world to come, of changes that loomed in his country’s previously untouchable heartland.
As much as this film makes me want to be a writer, it terrifies me — the price it suggests one would pay for being great seems far too high.
Capote, I feel, was destroyed by his subject (and himself).
A young Truman Capote by Irving Penn.
With his book’s success bound to his subject’s journey to the electric chair, and his need to understand the parallels in their lives, Truman Capote slipped into depression and guilt. He almost certainly was traumatized by the reality that he knew Smith’s execution was necessary for his book to be the brilliance it could be.
Deep down inside, I’m sure Capote realized having Smith living would contradict the “truths” the writer would write in the book, that it might be dangerous to his masterwork’s longevity. No one wants to think like that, but I guarantee you the thought would occur to any intelligent writer. What if…
Today, speculation does exist that Capote fictionalized entire passages of what was boasted to be true in every word. Evidence of the fictionalizing has been hard to come by.
Having that “what if” of execution work out in your favour — guaranteeing the “truthfulness” of what would be your masterwork — standing there to bear witness as the noose snaps the neck of the man who is all that’s wedged between you and literary immortality, that must induce some pretty horrific guilt-laden realities for a writer.
In the end, it took him 4 years to write the book, and 18 years to drink himself to death before his 60th birthday in 1984.
The book came out in ’65, and Capote became somewhat a mockery of himself within the next seven years. He would never again write anything considered “great” and, by 1978, was comfortably threatening suicide on national television, the punchline of many a joke.
I believe, ultimately, that his willingness to go as far as he could to write about those murders and to draw parallels between his life and the life of Perry Smith is what drove him into his alcoholic haze that choked the greatness from him.
Writing is a dangerous business.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
The choices we make of holes to dig and skeletons to reveal, they define who we writers are in that moment and who we’ll become down the line. Writers must accept that these words they trifle with hold powers they maybe don’t expect, and the journeys taken to weave words can burrow deep into a writer.
Some opened doors will never be closed.
Capote couldn’t close his, so he drank to numb the opened doors away.
One could say he should have truly dived into the abandonment he felt as a child — that he was only comfortable peeling away the truths about others but terrified what doing so might reveal of him.
After all, he was an openly gay Southern man when being gay still meant being “one of them”. He was an outsider, born poor, spent a lonely childhood never belonging anywhere, and found his solace in writing.
When he stopped pushing envelopes and didn’t publish anything of significance beyond In Cold Blood, I would suspect he lost that solace and instead felt as though he had betrayed some part of who he was.
Not having been true in life and now not on the page, I’m certain Capote probably felt like a fraud and found himself seeing life through the eyes of Perry Smith, believing he could never really belong where he socially was perceived to be.
In my lowly opinion, the greatest, most tragic men in “big” American literature in the last 100 years were Hemingway, Capote, and Hunter S. Thompson.**
Each searched for an ideal, a life they felt obliged to enjoy or a dream they held about Their America and what the modern world could be. Each never found what they sought. Each engineered his own demise.
Ironically, though, Capote did achieve what he sought — the execution of a man he fell in love with after identifying with everything that made Smith the monster America believed him to be, a monster Capote possibly wondered if he himself had inside — and it gave him the book he dreamed he could write, solidified his placed as a master of American English literature, and it is, one could argue, that achievement (and guilt for it) which destroyed him.
Writing is a dangerous business.
*Some would argue too that Capote’s take on the killings romanticized and even justified the murders from a sociological point of view, and that the “literary” non-fiction approach may have led to the erosion of facts and journalistic irresponsibility. These aren’t entirely wrong, nor right.
**Without getting into a lengthy debate with hugely relevant but lesser-knowns like David Foster Wallace & John Kennedy Toole. Just of the “big scene” American writers.
One of my guiltiest pleasures is my addiction to the CBS series The Mentalist. I’ve had a girlie crush on Simon Baker for 20 years, and there’s something about a smart, cynical, fun-loving, light-hearted genius crimesolver that taps into my childhood passion for Encyclopedia Brown and the Hardy Boys. (We’ll get you yet, Bugs Meany.)
And you thought you knew me.
Somewhere deep in the caverns of my dust-ridden closet sits a box of past-life mementos that may, in fact, hold the “Police Kid” ID cards and badges my brother and I made when we were 7 & 9, in an effort to keep the order in our very boring white little verge-of-’80s suburban ‘hood.
Ahh, me in my seven-year-old lisp: “Thtop, sthpeeding car!”
If I was a detective, I’d totally be a chill, happy, funny brainiac like Patrick Jane, not a coke-addled-and-moody one like Sherlock Holmes.
So, this morning I found myself wrapped in thought as my TiVoed episode closed out. Backstory? Baker’s character “Jane” turned to crime-solving after his wife and daughter were killed. This week is the first time they’ve opened the possibility of him moving on after his wife, when he finally feels the nebulous sparks of chemistry for a mysterious smart chick involved in the crime-solving.
Oh, how dramatic! That’d make an excellent TV show, huh? I know, it’s cliché. But I can’t be smart all the time, dude.
Naturally, the episode got me thinking about the idea of “moving on” in general.
Me, I’ve had me a little of that this month. In fact, my entire last 6 weeks has been nothing but movin’ on.
I’m never going to be able to make you or anyone understand how 2006 affected me, and on so many levels. God knows I’ll try.
To go from just being some chick trying to figure shit out to being a loudly lauded new sex-blogging voice and getting so much attention was the most surreal thing ever. And I was not my own woman. I was not strong enough to have the sense of self one needs when people start latching onto you for guru-like input into their lives.
It was fucking weird. I can’t possibly tell you. I’m totally fucked up, and you’re turning to me for insight? Yo, WTF?
Walking away when the shit got weird was the only thing I could do. The landscape of my life was more explosive than a wartime minefield. A girl makes her choices, a girl keeps on keepin’ on. That’s what to do when the going gets weird.
When the beginnings of success come so easily to you the first time, though, there SHOULD be this little seed of confidence that grows deep down inside. I did that. Me. I worked. I got results. Me.
I had the confidence but I also knew my life was a fucking mess.
When they tell you life doesn’t give second chances, they’re right. It doesn’t. We create them.
Sooner or later, I knew I’d have to take that second chance. But I had to have my shit together and feel comfortable with life before I got there… because, well, third chances? Good luck with that, chump. This ain’t baseball, there’s no three strikes.
Moral of that story? Don’t fuck up again, bub.
So, I spent the last year just treading water and enjoying a delightfully boring life after I finally got on a somewhat even keel again.
Then I lost my job.
And it made me happy. Worried, but happy.
And I figured, “Hey, well, if ever there was a time to get in the game…”
But getting in the game would require one major thing:
Finally owning that this meek little Mom-approved chick — raised uberCatholic, with Dad & family following on the wide web — had to come out and be public with sex-blogging identity, and use my real name. And, worse, my face. And, like, speak publicly. And stuff.
Moving on, for me, means swallowing whatever I once defined as “pride” and coming up with a whole new brand of it. For me, it means shutting up that meekness and stop my apologies for being blunt, honest, and irrepressible.
It’s all about putting my money where my mouth has long been.
It’s been a really tough and soul-searching move. Scary as all get-out, man.
Oh, I’ve been terrified. It’s the “real, whole life” version of jumping off that zip-line or standing in front of 150 people and saying, “Yeah, so, I’m a sex blogger and, like, I kinda nailed writing one of the best oral sex guides you’ll read online… and…”
But I did it. And I did the zip-line. And the speaking.
However hard it’s been… I’m real goddamned glad.
Open, honest, in-your-face living is easier once you get the hang of it. It means fewer apologies, more shared grins, and it instantly repels all the twats and asshats you used to secretly wish would fuck off.
Moving on from anything is hard.
The fear of the unknown and the infinite chance to fuck up is what daunts us all before taking on new phases, projects, or relationships in our life.
By moving on, we’re officially closing the door on that past, accepting it’s done, and embracing the future.
“The devil you know,” though, right?
Whatever the hurts and failings and stupidities of the past, at least you know it and know you’ve faced/survived it. The future? Whew. Do ya got that in ya, punk? Well, do ya?
I remember my great friend Jon writing to say he was getting married, the big question got popped, she said yes, and, dagnabbit, they was gonna wed. I wrote him back, “Geez, Jon… that’s awfully optimistic of you.”
Because it is.
Moving on, stepping forward, it’s all about optimism. Or at least the dream of it. The hope of possibility. It’s what we all want, right? The unscripted to get written with a side of awesomesauce?
But it needs that proverbial leap of faith, the big chance, the trip into the great unknown.
Maybe, just maybe, you’ll fail.
At least you’ll keep yourself warm with the smug satisfaction of being the one with the guts to make the play in the first place, while the pussies who won’t make that leap sit on the sidelines and jealously watch.
It’s been a rough week or two in the CyberGalaxy. At one end of the connectivity cosmos, a fraud in the Emerald City, Jason Fortuny, who duped the Craigslist sex-starved masses into sending to him graphic and revealing personal emails that were then splayed accross the world wide web for mockery and exposing.
Then, at the seeming other end of the sticky web, Lonelygirl15, who similarly duped the masses, but this time into believing a series of well-developed and elaborate hoaxes revolving around her as the poor disenfranchised trapped little daughter of overly religious parents.
And tonight we’ve heard the news that an avid blogger mother has apparently committed suicide while her child has been snatched from his crib. Missing, dead, who knows. Her blog reveals disturbing and dark imagery in her writing.
All in all, it’s been a rough few days for the blogworld. There are repercussions out there in the real world for what we do in this one. It sometimes seems a rude awakening to some bloggers, but it is what it is. I’ve had my last employer sending me emails about postings I’ve been doing. We discussed my perception of their firm. It’s been interesting getting that delayed reaction.
I plan to tackle these above topics in a single post over the next few days, but just to lay the groundwork, there’s the outline up there. If you have any opinions about the strangeness of these three varied examples of cybersecrets go boom, please do share.
THE MOTHER WHO HAS COMMITTED SUICIDE as a result of a grilling by Nancy Grace on her scandalous Headline News show, after her toddler being snatched (but some suspect she had a hand in it, given the nature of her blogging) is 21-year-old Melinda Duckett.
The whole 9/11 thing is feeling weird. Reminds me of when five years had passed since my mother’s death. Has it really been so long? Boy, was that all it was? Five years?
Grief gets weird when you live with it for a long time and then — poof — it just vanishes, like. Guilt can come on, then. “I should be more depressed. Shouldn’t I?”
I’m watching some of the retrospective stuff. I think it’s important to remember it all, but I just don’t want to face any marathons. I forget sometimes, though, how fucked up it must have been to live in NY in those early days.
I’ve been thinking about that day. The weather today was very similar to the weather then — clear, sunny, warm, with just a hint of fall on the light wind. I remember the silence that morning. I never found out until I got to work — I never saw the news or anything that morning. I was enjoying coffee, sitting barefoot in my deck captain’s chairs, curling my toes around the metal railing.
I remember walking into the office, my closed captioning office, and the radio was turned on for the first time (and last time) ever. All the employees had no headphones on and were numbly editing files that probably needed no more editing. I knew something huge had happened.
“What?” I asked.
“Someone’s flown planes into the two World Trade Centre towers. Thousands of people are dead. They think it was terrorists. And someone hit the Pentagon, too.”
And like that I knew life on the continent had changed. No longer were we untouchable. Quite the opposite.
I didn’t think I could lose any more innocence after that day, but I was evidently wrong. I grow more jaded and disenfranchised with every passing year.
For a time, 9/11 made us all better people. We found the commonality. We had community. We had a cause. And something happened. A chasm. Conflict. Chaos.
Strange how quick that tide turned. Sad, too. Sigh.
Tthe following lofty tome struck me as I was unable to get back to sleep with sunlight spilling through my cotton blinds. It rambles a bit, but indulge me. When I started this, the sky was filled with azure blue, birds singing, soaring, and the gorgeous sunlight I’ve been longing for. It’s an hour later, now, and merely a band of sunny light remains, splitting the now-gloomy onslaught of non-descript grey and charcoal clouds spreading out towards the east.
It’s a sunny morning, a rare thing here on Canada’s West Coast in this, the doldrums of winter. A news report out of Seattle yesterday commented that it was the 22nd consecutive day with rain, and though the morning has gotten off to a beautiful start, I expect that here in Vancouver, the pattern of wetness will continue by day’s end, if the weathermen have their shit right.
Weather’s something we don’t often look far into. Rain is rain, sun is sun, and you’re lucky when it’s the latter, right?
But there’s so much more to it. It shapes us, who we are, how we act. If one was to look at population densities, for example, here on Canada’s West Coast, we’re not nearly as populated as Eastern Canada. BC has a fraction of Ontario’s population. What, then, explains our absolutely disproportionate number of serial killers?
Vancouver’s one of the most beautiful places in the world in the summer, and in the winter, one of the dreariest. This past month hasn’t been an exception. The depression that spreads through this city is insane at this time of year, and makes one think of all the strangeness that unfolds at times.
This morning, I’ve been lying there, having been conscious of the sun’s upping for the last 45 minutes, thinking. Thinking at first about public sex, and how spring evokes for me that want to get outdoors and be active, but also the passion that comes with warm, fragrant spring nights and dewy grass with flowers on the cusp of blossoming. Despite those thoughts, I found myself remembering one Vancouver winter night years ago when a lover and I threw down my trenchcoat and had mad sex atop it on the muddy river banks of the Fraser, under a soaring giant oak tree, as torrential rains fell without relent. Yes, indeed, a true west coast girl.
But then I began thinking how my mood of late has struggled to stay up, as it always does in the dreary darkness of this season, and how connected our psychologies are to light, warmth, and weather. And I thought of how sex is one of the few activities one can really enjoy at this time of year, if they’re not into snowboarding or the like.
And I thought of those who haven’t the option of just acquiring a lover the good old-fashioned way, those who need to purchase sex. And how the continued need to do so must evoke some sort of anger or bitterness in the purchaser. To tell the truth, prostitution has been on my mind a lot thanks to a fascinating novel I’m reading about a 43”-high dwarf living in Ireland’s County Cork, a beautiful book with titillating language and brilliant observations, that will probably fuel at least a couple postings on this lowly rag of debauchery.
But I thought most about that absolute bastard, Robert Pickton, Vancouver’s notorious Pig Farm Serial Killer who’s presently facing charges, with a ban on the press, for the murders of 27 women since the ‘80s, though some suggest the fucker’s responsible for the deaths of up to 60 local prostitutes – all disadvantaged women from Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, forced by life’s circumstances to work in the sex trade.
Pickton apparently lured these disenfranchised sex-trade workers to his home out in Surrey with the promise of drugs and cash, then brutally killed them after what are said to be lurid parties on his isolated pig farm, and fed them to his pigs. The recovery operation for DNA evidence on his sprawling farm and its troughs was one of the largest archaeological digs in Canadian history.
If you look at this part of the world, the beauty, the nature, the geography, it speaks mostly to being God’s country. Some years, the weather’s reprehensible, though, and you wonder what it does to people with less stability than someone like myself. I recall the year I spent living in the Yukon, where though the days were short in the winter, the sun would emerge daily and fill the air with the brightest, cleanest, most mesmerizing light I have ever seen. There, I’d met a lady who’d lived in Vancouver all her life and she said to me, “I just couldn’t fucking handle the winters anymore. The year I moved here, it was 45 days straight of rain. I felt like crying every morning by the end of all that, and nothing I could do would change my mood. I’ve never been so hopeless, so desolate…” She moved there, and had never felt that way again. I noticed that I had no depression that winter, a first for me in my life, and the only time I’ve escaped winter sadness since.
It’s no coincidence that off the British Columbian coast is one of the top 10 sailing destinations in the world in the summer… but the region was clearly discovered in the winter, since its name speaks volumes: Desolation Sound.
Pickton’s not the only legendary killer from this region, and not the only one to prey on sex trade workers. There’s the Green River Killer who worked not only in Washington, but occasionally here in Vancouver. A classmate of mine in elementary school, his sister was killed by the GRK. Robert Clifford Olson, another Vancouver man, killed 11 boys that they found, but he wanted authorities to believe there might’ve been dozens more, though he refused to cooperate on his alleged conquests.
The murders are disproportionate to the populations, and to the violence found here on the whole. We don’t get a lot of gun violence or random killings, with an average of 30 murders per year, with most of those being gang- and drug-related, but when it comes to serial killers, we’ve written the book. And nothing, for the life of me, can explain it away, except for the dark, dreary, depressing weather we get from October through to April.
So… though I should be sleeping a little longer, the notion of missing what may well be the only sunny morning for another week or two, and the first in more than three weeks, well, that’s just unforgiveable. My coffee’s brewing, and all my blinds are up, to soak in the little natural light I’ll see in the days to come.
I’ve touched slightly on the local sex trade in this posting, and it’s more just setting the scene for what will be a bit of a focus at some point in the next couple weeks. We prefer to think of the sex trade as escorts with standards and high-price call-girls, but here in Vancouver, with dozens of lowbrow prostitutes disappearing off our streets, dying horrific deaths, being fed to ravenous pigs, or other debauched means of disposal, I assure you… we’ve seen it all in a more dreary light. And my little wheels have certainly been turning. It’s another reason I felt I wanted to write on promiscuity last week, since all these things combine in a strange circle of life.