Saturday, November 13, 2010

Framing The Magnolia

I have this seemingly weird thing that I do that actually makes perfect sense when you think about it. When ever I get a bunch of frames for prints and drawings I leave them in the car until I'm ready for them. If I don't do that, one of two things will happen: they will either be appropriated and filled with photos or reproductions of the works of French Impressionists because I insist on breaking my family's heart by being a printmaker or they'll get broken in a way that will be maddening and sometimes will even lead to a good story. The latter is an inevitability even when the former is avoided.
"I've set a new record," I told Kevin over the phone.
"You broke it going into the gallery?" he guessed.

"That's for next time. I got the frame painted and lacquered, the mats -yes, this is a two-layered jobbie- cut, painted and covered with textured paper, I picked out the perfect print from the run, got my title card ready, got everything lined up and then the glass slipped out of my hands."

"And this was not a sixteen by twenty rectangle that you could replace with glass from a thrift store frame."

"Of course not. This was a sixteen by sixteen square. Luckily I did find a replacement. I'll just use the open frame for a painting."

"Good thinking. So did it lead to the inevitable awkward encounter of some sort?"

"No. Well, yes. Indirectly." I said.
"And it was in the books section," he said.
"It's not always the books section," I countered.

"It's always the books section. Isn't that where you met the homophobic God-guy?" Kevin asked.

"Well, yeah, but..."

"Then there was guy who wanted you to tell his daughter that girls do not read books about bugs."

"That was at Davis-Kidd."

"The man who kept mistaking you for someone he dated when he was at Lipscomb"

"Barnes and Noble."

"The woman who insisted that you tried to convert her to evolutionism at Western Kentucky?"

"Thrift store book shelf. I'll give you that one." I said

"The guy who yelled at you when he saw you didn't take his suggestion and get the Glenn Beck book?"

"You make it sound like I go there to argue"

"No, I'm not, "he said, "It's just that you're a loon magnet. So what happened this time?"

"There was this nice lady and were talking about cookbooks and then I had kind of moved on and out of the blue she asked me about 'Gone With The Wind'..."

It was at this point in the conversation that Kevin probably regretted getting through art school without ever having picked up a drug habit.

"What did you say?" He asked.

"She's not from here. I tried to laugh it off and say that being a writer and native Southerner means that I've been Williamsed and Faulknered and Weltyed to death. She persisted and asked me if I read the sequel."

"Oh, lord..."

"I babbled a bit and then finally said, 'Look, if you want to know the truth'..."

Kevin sighed. "Sweetie, if she wanted to know the truth, she would not be reading Margaret Mitchell."

"Good point. So I said, 'If you want to know the truth, I'm glad we lost the Civil War. She looked stunned for a moment and then aghast. 'Why?" she asked. I tried to be circumspect. I really did. She has told me how much she loved the South and how nobody better say a bad thing about it and all that. So I said, 'It was really a pretty immoral place back then."

"What did she say?"

"She seemed very surprised to hear that. Maybe it was the source, I don't know. Then she asked me how it was immoral. My mouth dropped open. I told her I needed to get going and that I hoped she enjoyed Bittman and Prudhomme and to look for Emeril's Louisiana books. Then I left, feeling a little mad at myself for wimping out and not saying what I think we both knew."

"Jas..."

"I know. I suck. My pictures look nice, though."

Some of you are probably confused as to why I have such a visceral reaction to "Gone With The Wind". Here's the thing: It's one of those works that people love when they really don't want to think about what the Southern US means or is or can be. "Gone With The Wind" is the archetypical Big Lie that things were really great for everyone down here, that all people of European descent lived in great big mansions and whiled away their days at fox hunts and cotillions whole a other group of people were only too willing to devote every fiber of their being to creating this utopia. Any school child will tell you that's a big steaming pile.

Here's the truth: Many of those "lost family mansions" were actually just big, nice farmhouses with a few shacks in back or sometimes a crude minature of the larger house where the people who were kept as slaves were expected to live. The people who lived in those big Greek revival mansions may have let a few of their sons play soldier at first, but when the cruel reality of war finally hit them, they often paid off the children of poor whites to go fight in their places. And no, the Africans who were brought over were not happy to be anyone's slaves. Would you be happy to be a slave? Why am I even having to type this in 2010 AD? Finally, I am frankly very happy to be an American. I am not about to abdicate my citizenship just to make people who put wealth above human rights feel better about what they're doing so they can stay rich. So why in the world would I, a native of a state whose official nickname points to the desire to sacrifice and protect what we see as our role as Americans want to use a brief period of seditious nonsense as the primary cultural touchstone to explain who and what I am?

I don't. My South can be found in the way my family and I talk. It can be found the stories we tell and the art and music we make. My South is historically the hotbed and laboratory where the entire country's ills are hammered out on the hearts and minds and bodies of those who weren't not given the luxury of the thin veneer of civility to be sheltered from the unjustices or to hide their biases. My South is also a place of healing the past. The grace and forgiveness I see here, sometimes on a daily basis, still amazes me and confirms the presence of the divine that can be seen in every person. My South is Christian and Jewish and Muslim and Atheist and Sikh and Hindu and Wiccan and Buddhist and Santeria and a thousand other ways people try to touch heaven. My South canbe found in the cities that are beginning to regroup after a decade of fiduciary and natural disasters. It's about pitching in and not giving up and not forgetting the people who are still there after the reporters and their camera crews have gone away. My South is green and getting greener as we realize that Grandma and Michael Pollan have a point. My South is summer tomatoes and people forming CSAs and other independent ways to fuel our bodies. My South is loving the established sports traditions and yet embracing the new ones as people come here to create lives for themselves and their families. My South is my home as nowhere else could be in the here and now. That's my South.

I hope that anyone who still buys into the old lies will see there is so much more to what is here and who we are. Y'all come by sometime; y'hear?

copyright 2010 Jas Faulkner                 

Friday, October 15, 2010

So this concussion thing...

Original post deleted.

It's gotten weird.  I'm turning pro.

Stay tuned.

I love these guys...




And I probably imbibe less that they ever did.  In fact, I don't imbibe at all.  No chemical assistance is needed because mijos, I can do weird all by myself.  Bless Russell and Rice for being inspirationally good and God bless Hunter S.Thompson for creating a precedent for the page having room enough for everyone who wants to find their destinies on it.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Ark Isn't Full Yet (Another Sermon...Oh joy.)

author's note: All of us have our personal "roads not taken".  While some members of my family would argue that my passing up law school was the epic untaken path, the truth is, I wanted to be a minister for a long time.  The circumstances were never right and I realized a few years ago that sometimes you just need to wait and see what happens because you'll ultimately end up where you're supposed to be. I am not sure I have ever or will ever find my true north. At any rate, the journey is pretty interesting.   

I'm writing all of this to explain that every now and then I think about what I would say if I actually became an ordained priest.  It's sort of kind of in Episcopalese, and I know that sometimes freaks other Protestants out.  It's okay.  We don't bite.  If someone says, "Peace unto you" all you have to say is "Hey, you too!" and it's good.  Okay?

So here we go.

Peace unto you.

(Yeah, this is where you say it back.  It's okay.  I got it.)

Welcome to the ark.  It's pretty comfortable here, isn't it?  Have you ever noticed that at times it seems a little echo-y?  Maybe a tad incomplete?  Are we missing something?  Are we missing someone?  Have we done everything we're supposed to do to make sure we're all safe as houses?

Let's take a look at God's instructions to Noah  the first time around:

That would be Genesis 7:1-3 for those of you following along at home:

1 The LORD then said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2 Take with you seven [a] of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth.

Sounds like a pretty specific set of instructions, doesn't it?  And here is what Noah did.  You'll find it at Genesis 7:5:

5 And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him.

You'll notice that as specific as God was with his directions, he did not  add a bunch of conditions and clauses and exceptions.  He just said, "Take 'em all." and Noah said, "Okey dokey!" and went on a Mutual of Omaha wildlife roundup and all of God's creatures were represented in the ark as the rain came down.  Every one of God's creatures.  No exceptions.

Noah, had something that many of us are missing right now.  He had the insight to know that if we are truly created in God's image, it is not our place to question the wisdom of the diversity of his creation.  Noah had no right then and we have no right now; and this leads me to a very important question.

As Christians, we have it made.  We are the dominant cultural presence in this country. We enjoy freedom and security, in fact, we take them for granted and don't realize that there are people who cannot enjoy the same safety we feel in this ark we've built.  I don't understand it.  There's plenty of room for everybody to have an equal share of goodness, of happiness.  Allowing people to live and love and worship (or not) as they see fit does not, by even the tiniest measure, diminish what we have. In fact, I can only see how being inclusive and loving and compassionate would have the opposite effect.  So, please explain to me why we are slamming the door in the face of so many and leaving them in harm's way?  Do we really know better than God?  Are we really so wise as to try to correct the God who made these people who are perfect and beautiful just the way they are because we disagree with their very existence? 

Are you smarter than God?

I'm not.  Hey, I've seen "Bruce Almighty" and will tell you right now, that's one job I don't want.  You shouldn't want it, either.

As Christians, we're really lucky because we don't have to wander creation to find the perfect badger to please God.   He really doesn't ask much of us beyond that initial acceptance.  Well, wait there's that one tiny thing that he mentioned in passing:

John 15:12  This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

Love everyone without condition or limit.  That's all.  Yeah.  I know.  At times it can be easier said than done.  But people do it everyday without realizing they're doing it.  Sometimes it goes by the more common name of parenting.  Whether its your own child or the child you have been given charge of by circumstance or simply the professional or spiritual (or sometimes both) oath you've taken as a teacher, you do this.  Sometimes it is the conviction we have to be each other's keeper.  The important thing about it isn't what we see as a result, it is the knowledge the recipient has that they are loved and cared for, no matter what.  There is an emotional "there" that they can go to for safety.

I have to stop and confess something right here.  This post is borne of sorrow and outrage.  Five children dead in three weeks is not just a tragedy, it's a crisis.  All of them the target of hatred.  People using your faith and mine to socially liminalize children. All of them bullied, humiliated, being told over and over that they were so far less than they were.  Who are we to say that any of these beautiful kids are not exactly as God intended them to be?  What gives us that right?  If you're not outraged by this, you're not paying attention. 

We should feel sorrow about the pain that Tyler Clementi and Seth Walsh and Raymond Chase and the other children felt.  No matter how much love they got, there was enough destructive stupidity and hate that it obscured all of the good long enough to make them lose hope.  They did not feel parented and protected and loved.  Where was their seat on the ark?   But the loss is far greater than their potential as artists or professionals.  They are lost to those who loved them as siblings,sons, friends.  There is someone who was meant to know these people as the loves of their lives and now they never will.  In a system choked with children who go unfostered and unadopted, there will be children who might not have had to spend their days shunted from one place to the next: parentless, homeless.  Any one of these young men might have turned out to be a great dad.  But now we'll never know.

 Decades ago, (I'm feeling really old now) I helped people who were born without the needle and thread gene create quilt panels.  Those of you who know anything about the 1980s' can guess what those quilts were for. The common saying at the time was that the prejudice against ten percent of the population now had a body count.  I hoped that we would never see that sort of thing manifest itself, ever again.  And here we are. 

You may not think this is your burden.  You may not think that the responsibility lies on anyone but the children who reached a place so dark that they saw no other alternative.  I've got news for you. We, and I mean we as Christians, are going to take some heat for this.  And we should.  Until we live out the promise that was made to us and we made in turn to the world -to love each other, without exceptions, without limits- we are horribly remiss.  We have no qualms about asking people of other faiths to be accountable for what their brothers and sisters do in their name.  Guess what?  It's our turn.  We have allowed people to terrorize others, to terrorize children.  Think about it.  We are letting people terrorize children.   As Christians we need to speak up and show without a shadow of a doubt that we will not tolerate hate.  We should not remain silent in the face of bullying, especially when we have the strength of cultural majority and social acceptance on our side. Do something.  Anything less and we are no better than the pitiable monsters who hit the "on" button of  that webcam.   Please, speak up.  Do something. 

I'll end this with two sites that you should visit and share with everyone you know:

The It Gets Better Project at Youtube 
and
The SPLC's Tolerance.org site. 

Thanks for hearing or reading me out.  I hope you'll take this message to heart.

Peace be with you and those whose hearts are hurting this Sunday.




copyright 2010 Jas Faulkner

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Boyfriends Come and Go But There's No Substitute For A Good Dog

A few years ago, someone I dated for a short time made a blog post/website/net thingie called "Never Date O'Neill's Mom" (and then my Best Gay Boyfriend explained to him that Southern Women really aren't the meanest creatures in Tennessee and he would be happy to show him what IS the meanest thing drawing breath in Nashville, but that's another story for another day.)

O'Neill, for those of you who may be new to me and this blog, was a Bearded Collie/OE Sheepdog mix who shared my life for 12 years.  Here he is:

He was my id and my best friend.  He was at my side through various professional and personal disasters.  What happened was that among other things, I found out that the ex knew O'Neill had been picked as the pet of the month by the local hockey team and unfortunately this was posted on their website on April 29th of 2009, the same day that he died. I don't know if it was the fact that the season had ended or if someone had dropped the dime that they were featuring a dead dog on their website, but it was taken down soon after.  I am also not entirely sure if he originally never told me because I was busy dealing with the details of losing my dog.  I do know that his two favorite topics of conversation were 1.) I liked O'Neill better than him and 2.)  Hockey is a brutal, stupid sport played by people who are lacking frontal lobes and enjoyed by people operating with brain stems.  He was right.  I did like O'Neill better than him.  I am glad that I always prioritized Dawg Boy ahead of that clown. 

Not every woman shares my priorities.  Take New York actress, Ashley Yeater.  She left her ten-pound Yorkie, Emmit, with her ex-marine boyfriend, Joseph Graves, while she toured Florida with a road company of "A Chorus Line".  While the dog was in his care, he kicked and hit the dog with a belt with sufficient force that he broke Emmit's ribs and caused enough internal damage that one of the Yorkie's eyes had to be removed. That is pretty bad, but it gets worse. Graves let this small dog suffer for two days before he finally took him to the vet.

Most of us would be pretty disturbed to think that someone we love would brutalize a smaller creature whose ability to defend themselves would be minimal at best. Most of us would see this as a big red flag and maybe, at the very least, take some time to think this through.  Okay, to be honest here, if I had been in Yeater's shoes, we would both be doing time because I would have grabbed a hockey stick (not my David Legwand Vapor, one of my practice sticks) and belabored him to the point that he looked worse than poor Emmit.

Lucky for Graves, but not poor Emmit, Ashley Yeater is nothing like me.  In fact, she chose to stand by her man and sent Emmit to live with her parents in Virginia. If Yeater is willing to throw over common sense and stay with this person, knowing what he is capable of, maybe Emmit is better off somewhere else. Maybe Ashley deserves this guy.  Now that I think about it, yes, she does. Ashley and Joseph, ya'll are a match made in Hell.  Now please slither back there.

Ashley?  Not only am I an animal lover and a sports fan, I'm a playwright. If you ever see anything with my name attached to it, do us both a favor and give it a pass.  It would really annoy me to have to tell you to leave the theatre, but I will do just that if I see your resume and head shot ever cross a table at an audition for anything I write.

Oh, and for what it's worth, hockey and dogs are still a part of my life. The ex, however, is history.  I hope Ms Yeater figures out before it's too late that boyfriends come and go, but there's no replacement for the great devotion of a good dog and the knowledge that your city's team has a captain who can burn a hole in the opposing side's net.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tootoo and Arnott (the female hamster hockey pundits) Want YOU To Support Youth Incorporated Inline Hockey!

 Tootoo:  Hi, Tootoo here and this is my associate, Arnott.  Say hi, Arny!

Arnott:  Hi!

Tootoo: Wanna rub elbows with other hockey fans in Nashville?  Want to sit in on a broadcast of SlapShot Radio?  Today we want to tell you about a couple of really great opportunities to meet and greet with the people who tweet about hockey!

Arnott:  They're parakeets?

Tootoo:  No!  Uh.  Hmm... That would  mean Paul McCann is a parakeet.  How does he type?

Arnott:  Birds have those little toes and all...

Tootoo:  Yeah.       So.       Uh, what were we talking about?

Arnott: Paul McCann is a parakeet.

Tootoo: Yes.  No.  Wait a minute...  Paul McCann is spreading the word about the June 7th Tweetup at the Tin Roof  AND on the 2nd, SlapShot Radio is hosting a fundraiser for a very worthy cause.

Arnott: So Paul McCann is not a parakeet?

Tootoo: Let's work on that assumption for now. ANYwhoo...  Paul wants everyone to know that SlapShot Radio is doing a live remote and Stanley Cup watch party at the Vandy/Midtown Pie in the Sky Pizza on Wednesday June 2nd from 5pm - 9:30pm to raise awareness and money for Youth Incorporated's Inline Hockey program.  Their rink in Bellevue was destroyed by the flooding. We will be having a silent auction and donations that will go directly to the rebuild effort.  Rebuilding a rink is an expensive proposition, especially for a non-profit like Youth Inc.  Their inline hockey program really drives up participation in youth ice hockey in middle Tennessee and continues to make new fans for the NHL and most especially, the Predators.

Arnott:  There will be pizza?

Tootoo:  I guess so.

Arnott:  I'd like pepperoni, muenster, and raisins on mine.  Hand tossed crust.

Tootoo:  You're so weird.

Arnott:  I love you, man

.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I Enjoy Being (My Version Of) A Girl

My BGBF (Best Gay BoyFriend), Kevin, has this thing he loves to do.  You remember that scene in "Fever Pitch" where prim but sweet Lindsay (Drew Barrymore) gets her first look at BoSox-addled Ben's (Jimmy Fallon) closet and finds hanger after hanger containing Red Sox fan gear?  Well, Kevin loves to go to my closet and slide the hangers over, saying "Predators...Predators...Red Wings...Predators...Sentaors...Predators...Fah-LAMES!...Predators...Predators...Predators...Ooh, look, I'm Drew!

It was funny the first time he did it.  Now?  It's a little predictable but still cute.  The last time he did it, I made the mistake of asking him if he was trying to make a point.

"Noo-ooo-ooo...yes," he said. "I think...How should I put this?  You're not Canadian.  You seem to share my taste in boys and yet...something's wrong."

"What?" I snapped.

"Trust me on this.  I think I need to help, erm, I need to teach you how to be girly."

"Excuse me?  I...I...I do not need to be taught how to be...girly!"

Kevin flipped open his netbook, tapped furiously at the keyboard for a second and turned the screen toward me. 

"Watch this, " he said.



"What's her problem?"  I asked.

"Do you see- What would you change?" he asked.

"Well."

"Yes?"

"For starters, the French Maid outfit is totally wrong.  I would have dressed as Gonchar or maybe Malkin. No.  That would make it too angry, it needs to be a team mate.  Scotty Hartnell.  We have the same hair."

Kevin collapsed into his chair.

"I give up," he sighed.

He looked so dejected.  I felt really bad and decided to make an effort to cheer him up.

"Dude. Guess what?  I went to an estate sale!"

Kevin brightened. "Really?  What did you find?"

"Let me show you!" I ran into my office and came back with my newest great find.

"One of David Legwand's old sticks!  He shoots left!"

Poor Kevin.  I tried.


copyright 2010 Jas Faulkner

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Contentment

According to Karina, shop-fu is a gift. She says that she has it, insists that I have it, and is pretty sure Beautiful Alice was somehow passed by when it was being granted.

"How do you know?" I asked.

"Ask her to go to Goodwill and see how she reacts."

"Oh, HECK no," I said. "It makes her ragey.  She can never find anything there and when we check out  she insists that she never saw the whatever it is that I've decided to buy that she loves.  Just. No."

Karina shook her head, "That girl has no shop-fu."

It was the divine force of shop-fu that told Karina to buy her family a tetherball last Christmas.   When she brought it home, her husband raised an eyebrow and dryly commented that everyone was pretty much over Napoleon Dynamite.

"It spoke to me here." she said, tapping her chest, "Somebody is going to love it."

Somebody did love it, but it wasn't her or Alex or either of the kids.  Their pet pig, a rescued Hampshire sow named Maggie, adored the ball.  She would bump it around with her nose until it twisted up the pole out of her reach and then she would stand back and wait patiently as the ball slowly unwound in the other direction. At first Karina thought Maggie was doing this because the kids encouraged her. When the holiday break ended and the pig was left to her own devices, Karina would glance out of the kitchen window to see Maggie happily tipping the ball with her nose.

"Did I tell you that my sister came to visit last week?" Karina poured herself a mug of tea and offered me one. "I love her but oh my gosh, the complaining."

"Maybe she was just tired," I said. "Travel and time change make a lot of people cranky."

She shook her head. "Trust me. That's just her. She was talking about how hard it was when everyone around her seemed to have an easier time of it and how she didn't understand how some people kept getting more. I told her that maybe she just needed to learn to be content."

"And then she asks me, 'What does contentment even look like?'  At that moment I'd happened to walk over the to the kitchen window and saw Maggie out there bumping her tetherball.  I could have told Sis what contentment looked like, because at that moment I was looking right at it.

copyright 2010 jas faulkner

Friday, January 01, 2010

Hello 2010! Here's My List, So Please Don't Hurt Me!

I made a promise somewhere else on the internet to do something that I've neglected since 2001: Make a list of resolutions.

Some of the items are no-brainer type things that were easy and obvious:

1.) I will eat like it's a part of my body's daily maintenance

2.) I will exercise every day

3.) I will write every day

4.) I will be kinder and more patient

5.) I will remember gratitude as a necessary component to everything

6.) I will put off procrastination in favor of productivity

7.) I will be a better friend

Somehow it seemed like a tall order and yet it didn't seem like enough, either.
Then one night I was surfing Youtube and found this video:



It brought up some very important questions about how deeply I was willing to invest in making the most of this year and the ones to follow. What kind of world is my generation leaving for the ones to come? What good will I do this year, this week, this month, on this day? If I can't effect direct change, how can I keep from doing harm?

So here is the rest of the list:

7.) I will think globally, beyond the comfortable confines of my own life and stay conscious of the true extent to which I am safe, privileged and free to do what I can to help others.

9.) I will be more socially responsible about where I spend my money. This includes learning what I can about where what I buy comes from, who makes it, who pays the greater personal price to put it in my hands and who really benefits from the purchase.

10.) I will learn more about the political process and be more active in it.

11.) I will be more conscious of the environmental impact my choices have on our planet.

12.) I will pray and meditate more.

13.) I will not stay quiet when I know making my voice heard will make a difference.

14.) I will skate more and play more hockey.

15.) I will play more.

So there it is. I hope you'll take some time to consider what you will do this year.