Texas Liberal

All People Matter

I’m Glad To Be A Cincinnati Queer Blogger

I’m very glad to be a Cincinnati Queer Blogger.  If you go to QueerCincinnati.com and look on the right side blogroll, you’ll see that Texas Liberal has an honored place as a Cincinnati Queer Blogger.

( Here is my post about attending a half gay wedding in Cincinnati. Isn’t it disgusting that we put of the matter of gay people getting married on the ballot? How would you like to have your most basic rights voted on?  Do you think all rights for Muslims would pass if they were placed on the ballot? People have essential freedoms that need to be protected. We have a right to the relationships we want in this brief and brutal life.) 

It’s great to have this connection to my longtime hometown and to this fine blog. As I never tire of telling folks, I was a Stonewall Cincinnati endorsed candidate for the Cincinnati Board of Education in 1997.

Thank you QueerCincinnati.

( Above is a snowy day in Cincinnati. In the center left is the corner of Martin Luther King & Eden. I lived on that corner for a couple of years. The smoke stack is from a power plant used by the nearby University of Cincinnati. How could I have known when I was on that corner in my college years that I’d someday be living in the semi-tropics of Houston and dealing with hurricanes?)  

I’d also like to thank my friend Teddy at Left Of College Stationfor the number of times he has linked to me in recent weeks. Teddy keeps on figthing despite being in an epicenter of the right in College Station, Texas.

Patti at Texas Education sent me a nice e-mail a few weeks back and I have been very slow to respond. I apologize for this transgression. Patti does a great job and I promise I’ve not forgotten her.

Perry at Brains & Eggs, written here in Houston, often gives me a link. Perry is a senior statesman among Texas political bloggers and a link from him is a strong endorsement that you’re doing a good job.

It’s been nice to have comments here from Tiffany who has just begun a blog of her own called What You Got Tired Of Reading On MySpace. I hope she sticks with the blogging and I’ll add her to my blogroll this week.

Jobsanger in Amarillo always does good work. Please read his blog often.

Finally, let me say hello to my friend Lunchcountersitin at All Other Persons out of Washington, D.C. The October 24 post on All Other Persons about the need of the National Urban League to get more with the times in its advocacy is on target. Many times I’ve walked past the Urban League building in Houston and wondered just what it is those folks are doing.

It is great to have so many blogger friends.

October 25, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, Cincinnati, Good People, Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

I Told Car Rental Agent That I Love Both Hindus & Muslims

I recently booked a car rental over the phone.

I use the phone instead of the computer so I can help keep people employed.

The rental car reservation guy, based on his accent and the fact the connection was lousy, was, I guessed, in India.

I want to keep people employed in India as well.

He seemed like a nice guy. He was telling me what a great deal I’d get if I rented this car or that car. It was quite a pitch. It was funny. 

I said to him–“Hey, where are you? India?”

He said–”That’s right sir.”

I told him that while I have never been to India, that I would vote for the Congress Party and never for the BJP.

Congress and the BJP are the two leading parties of India. Congress is currently in government while the BJP is in opposition. 

Broadly speaking, the Congress Party, for all its many flaws, sees pluralistic democracy as the underlying principle of the Indian state, while the BJP sees Hindu nationalism as the underlying principle of the Indian state.

Well–You know what side of the aisle you and I are on when faced with a choice such as that.

The political state and the operations of democracy must rest on the widest possible foundations.

The man in India told me he had voted BJP in the last election, but had been considering a switch.

I said that I love both Hindus and Muslims and that this pluralism was the proper basis of democracy.

Who knows if he agreed with me, but  he did seem to grasp what I was saying. I gave him credit just for that.  

It is always the right time for politics. It is always the right time to express concern for our Hindu and Muslim brothers and sisters and for all people.

Here is an overview of the current situation in India from the BBC.

And here is a link to Indian politics as seen by The Economist. If you click the country briefing link at the bottom of the politics info, you’ll find much more information.   

April 6, 2008 Posted by | Good People, Politics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Johnny Castille Was A Union Member And A Liberal Democrat

I am sad to report the passing of my friend Johnny Castille.

Johnny was proud of his longtime membership in the United Auto Workers as a General Motors employee in Indiana.

He often referred to himself as a “liberal Democrat.”  

Johnny had also fought in Vietnam.

He was a member of St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Houston.

Johnny was one of the first friends I made after I moved to Houston in 1998.

Waiting for his full retirement benefits to kick in after leaving GM, Johnny took a job as a bagger at a local supermarket.

He and I struck up a friendship in the once or twice a week I would see him at the store.   

I’m sorry to say that after Johnny’s health no longer allowed him to work at the store, I did not do a good job in keeping in touch.

He left the store within the last six months or so. I made one effort to call him at home.

Johnny did not have a cellphone or a computer or an answering machine. 

I just should have kept calling until I reached him.

If you have someone you value in your life, try keep in touch with them as best you can 

January 30, 2008 Posted by | Good People, Houston, Relationships | , , , , | 2 Comments

I’ve Been To A Half-Gay Wedding

While I have not been to a gay wedding, I have been to a wedding in which one of the participants was gay.

This was in Cincinnati, Ohio somewhere between 15 and 20 years ago.

Gay people can get married—even in Cincinnati—as long as they marry someone of the opposite gender.

That’s the catch.

Gay marriage is an excellent idea because people should have the right to marry the person of legal age that they choose to marry. Life is brutal and short. Why create barriers between people?

The groom was gay at the wedding I was at in Cincinnati.

An issue behind the wedding was, as I understood it, getting health insurance for one of the married couple. Though they were close friends as well.

Good enough!

I was not formally invited to this ceremony.

I just happened to run into the bride the day before the wedding and she said I should come. I knew her from around.

If you’re lucky, you had a point in your life when you could walk down a city street and know people. I guess I’m too old for that at 40–or maybe Houston is an inhuman place where people drive around a lot– but it sure was fun in my early 20’s.

I think anybody at all could have come to that wedding. That’s good.

People who include are good. People who exclude are jerks.

The couple was married in the above-pictured “Temple of Love” in Cincinnati’s Mt. Storm Park.

As I recall it, this detail is a bit hazy, they were married by some kind of “priestess.” I recall the ceremony being conducted by a woman in some sort of white flowing robe-like garment

Temple of Love is just what that thing is called—-

“Mr. Strauch designed the Temple of Love in 1852, which still stands as an outstanding landmark to Mt. Storm today. The white columns of this Corinthian style pergola, which can be seen on the east lawn, was once the cover for a reservoir that supplied water to Mr. Bowler’s seventeen greenhouses, gardens, orchards, and a waterfall and swan lake on which seven black swans swam.”

The flower girls were men in dresses. They handed out flowers and kissed guests on the cheek.

Now that’s good clean fun!

Later that night there was a reception in a loft in Cincinnati’s Over-The-Rhine neighborhood.

I ate squid and drank wine. I remember eating a lot of squid.

I got married in a Las Vegas hotel by a guy in a purple robe. For the reception we went bowling.

Please click here for the excellent photo of my wife in her wedding dress holding a bowling ball. My wife is the best person in the world.

People should be able to have the relationships they want.

People can define family any way they wish.

Any type of wedding ceremony is good. People can express their feelings in whatever way suits them.    

(Please click here to see how the gay lifestyle is taking over Galveston, Texas)

Below is a picture of Over-The-Rhine in Cincinnati. As you can tell, it is an older community. There is nothing of merit about the persistent poverty in this neighborhood. Yet I would not trust the forces of gentrification as far as I could toss them. I won’t pretend I have the solution to making Over-The-Rhine a better place. 

 

January 23, 2008 Posted by | Cincinnati, Good People, My Wife Is The Best Person Ever, Politics, Relationships | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

500th Texas Liberal Post—Each Post Worse Than The One That Came Before

 

This is the 500th Texas Liberal post. While not a big deal for you the blog reader, I’d like to comment. 

500 posts is not a lot for some blogs, yet it is still quite a bit of work.

I enjoy blogging and I’m thankful to have the ability and the time to communicate with others.  

Three important things we have in life are our relationships, our values and the ability to communicate.

Since the beginning of October I’ve run just under 400 page views a day according to my WordPress stats. That’s good I’d say. I appear to still be moving up in traffic. My goal is 1000 page views a day at some point in 2008 and to take it from there. 

If you like Texas Liberal, please forward the link to somebody you think might feel the same way. The internet may seem like mass communication, but you build an audience for a blog one–by one–by one. 

There are a few of my entries I’d like to link to that I feel, for various reasons, have some merit. ( At the bottom of this post I’ll mention some other strong blogs. It’s no fun without other blogs.)

Malcolm, Martin & Liberals Like Myself is a brief overview of how I came to my outlook on politics and society. It describes why I’m often not at ease with people who might in some respects appear to be natural allies.   

My Excellent Wife Wearing Wedding Dress And Holding Bowling Ball is a great post because it involves my wife. My wife is the best person in the world.

 A Very Good Phone Call With Melissa Noriega is my favorite post about Texas politics. I went from skepticism about Houston Council candidate Noriega to an ongoing dialogue with someone who is now a friend and a sitting Councilmember.   

Colonial Loyalists As Modern Conservatives With Bonus Tarring-And-Feathering Picture is a good post from the number of entries I’ve made on Colonial America.  

Texas Fish Kill As Andy Warhol Painting is my favorite post on sea life. I’ve gotten a lot of mileage posting about sea creatures. In this post, I simply enjoy the three illustrations of the fish.

As Liberal As I Am, If Hillary Clinton Is The 2008 Democratic Nominee I’ll Give Her My Strong Support lays out some of my views about the 2008 campaign.

I Tipped The Kid Who handed Me A Burrito $5 Because I Felt He Shared My Outlook And Might, With Time, Share My Values  is a post that I hope suggests we can always be of help to good people.   

People Have A Right To Define Family As They Wish is the post I’m most proud of on the blog. Every day I get search engine traffic from someone googling the term “define family” or “what is family.” I feel maybe this post has helped somebody.   

Posts I’ve written have been linked to by Crooks and Liars , SlateThe Agonist, rebecca’s pocket and The Minneapolis Star-Tribune . I’ve been picked up by BlogBurst a number of times and those good folks have landed me at USA Today, The Austin-American Statesman and the Reuters News Agency. 

Blognet News/Texas and Lefty Blogs are most helpful. And, of course, so is WordPress. I can’t say enough good about WordPress.    

I have one of five featured political blogs at the Houston Chronicle and I also blog at Where’s The Outrage?

Where’s The Outrage? is the home of the Errington Thompson podcast. 

My thanks to Dwight Silverman at the Chronicle and Errington Thompson at WTO? in North Carolina for these opportunities. 

Friendly bloggers and good blogs can be found at, among other places, Jobsanger, Brains & EggsLast Row, Blue Bloggin’ , Who’s Playin? and Panhandle Truth Squad.

South Texas Chisme does a very good job of conveying a lot of information in an efficient way while keeping a sense of humor.    

I’d also like to note two blogs, on the opposite side of the aisle from myself in some respects, that were nice enough to recently place me on their blogrolls.

Bloggin’ All Things Brownsville is well-conceived and well-executed. I’ve had to find a voice for my blog. I think BATB knew what she was doing from the start.

And—Thanks to my friend Tito for the link from Custos Fidei. That link is, I think, another example of how people often sense they have something in common despite clear enough differences.  

Also, closer to my side of the aisle, The Field Negro out of Philadelphia is well-tuned to my sensibilities. Thanks to that blog for the link.

Thanks George and Bill in Cincinati for all the comments and thanks to Citizen X for reading the blog. Thanks to many long-time friends who read the blog.      

Thanks to super-smart Alex Ragsdale at the U. of Houston and thanks to her good friend Will who is studying at Georgetown. Both are bright young folks who will do great things.    

Most of all—Thanks to everybody who has read Texas Liberal and thanks for the comments. As I mentioned up top, please consider sending this link to others as I work to grow Texas Liberal.

The illustration is of some type of pygmy Mastodon. The Mastodon is the state fossil of Michigan.

November 29, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Cincinnati, Colonial America, Good People, Houston, Houston Council Election '07, Martin & Malcolm, My Wife Is The Best Person Ever, Politics, Sea Life, Texas, Welcome To TexasLiberal | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Night Johnny Rotten Spoke To Me—My Greatest Punk Rock Moments

Anyone part of a midwestern hardcore punk scene in the 1980’s was lucky. I was lucky in this regard. Cincinnati, Ohio had a great scene.

(I’ve wondered sometimes what kind of scene Houston had. Click here for a link to Houston Punk Archives. )

In reverse order, here are six of my best punk moments and accomplishments.

6. Watching The People’s Court and spending the day with San Francisco hardcore band Fang when I was 17.

This would have been 1984. It was one of my first punk encounters. Sammy from Fang later went to jail for manslaughter—And I’m not sure how benign he seemed the day I spent with him and the band.

But it sure was fun.

Later that night, Sammy got sick from a mix of White Castle hamburgers and whatever else he may have ingested. He threw up on stage. However, he finished the show as would any true performer.

5. Being included in the lyrics of the Cincinnati classic punk song Newport Gestapo by The Edge .

The song title referred to the Newport, Kentucky police department. Newport, across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, was where our best local club, The Jockey Club, was located.

In the song I arrested by Newport police in a raid of the club. The Jockey Club was indeed raided, though I was never arrested.

4.  Anytime I was in Newport’s The Jockey Club.

It was always a blast. Click here for a great website dedicated to a great punk club.

3. The night the Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten spoke a few words to me.

Public Image Limited played one night at a club Bogarts in Cincinnati. I knew the manager of the club. He let me work “security” for a few shows I wanted to see. I’d get maybe 50 bucks and some beer and pizza.

At the P.I.L show, my job was to stand in between the stage and the wooden barrier built just to protect Johnny Rotten. I was supposed to be looking out at the crowd. Instead, of course, I watched the show. Mr. Rotten saw me looking at him instead of the audience. He locked eyes with me and said, ”Get back to work.”

That’s my Johnny Rotten story.

2. Being thanked on the liner notes for the Seven Seconds album “Walk Together Rock Together”

The Nevada skate band spend a night or two at the home of a friend. We all hung around. If you have the record, I’m the Hockeypunk on the liner notes.

That was me—the Hockeypunk. I’d take a hockey stick to shows sometimes. Everybody needs a gimmick. I felt that way as a kid and I feel that way today.

1. Easily–My three years on Cincinnati’s best ever punk radio show “Search and Destroy” broadcast weekly on WAIF 88.3 FM.

I’m forever in the debt of Handsome Clem Carpenter for having me as co-host. It was great being the Hockeypunk and it was always fun to have someone come up to me on the street and say they had a tape of the show.

We were “All punk rock all the time” for three hours a week.

October 16, 2007 Posted by | Cincinnati, Good People, Music | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Picture Of Great Liberal Chief Justice Earl Warren Is 400th Blog Post

This is my 400th blog post. I’m a bit short on time tonight, so my post will be, in large part, a picture of the great liberal Chief Justice Earl Warren.

Justice Warren led the court on the historic Brown V. Board of Education Case in 1954.

Please click here a good article about Warren’s service.

At core, Warren wanted to know if what he was ruling on was fair or unfair.

Thank you to everyone who has read the blog so far. I’m keeping at it and hopefully getting better and better as I go along.  

September 29, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Good People, History | Leave a comment

Tip Guy In Drive-Up Window While Listening To Disco And You’ll Have A New Friend

 

 

 

Based on ordering food at a Mexican take-out restaurant here in Houston yesterday, if you tip the young man standing in the drive-up window a dollar while listening to loud disco music, you’ll make a new friend.

The young person handed me my food and I give him a buck. It seemed the least I could do given the fumes he had to breathe on a hot day for what is likely low pay.

We did not speak so much as I was playing loud disco music in my car. I was listening to “Fly, Robin, Fly” by Silver Connection. Silver Connection also performed “Get Up And Boogie.”

The guy seemed to like my music.

I’m beginning to think that disco in the universal music of people getting along. I will expand on this idea in future posts. 

September 19, 2007 Posted by | Good People, Houston, Music, Tip Your Waiter Time-And-A-Half On Holidays | 6 Comments

Cairo, Illinois Reminds Me Of How Much I Love My Wife

  

One place I wanted to see for years was Cairo, Illinois. This is where the Ohio River flows into the Mississippi River.

Moving from Cincinnati to Houston in 1998, my wife and I found that Cairo was on the drive to Houston. We stood on an observation platform where the rivers meet. It was a good moment.

Now when I fly back to Cincinnati once or twice a year, the plane sometimes flies right over that point. Each time it does, I think about being there with my excellent wife.

The wife and I have also been to the point in Pittsburgh where the Ohio River begins. So Pittsburgh also makes me think of how much I love my wife. 

General Grant was camped out in Cairo for a time during the Civil War. General Grant reminds me how glad I am the North won the Civil War.    

   

August 16, 2007 Posted by | Cincinnati, Good People, Things I've Done | Leave a comment

Effort And Imagination Makes Friendships

I have a friend named Nora who up until last week I had not seen in maybe 20 years.

I knew Nora when I was in college in Cincinnati. We hung out at the same bars and we knew some of the same people.

A couple of years ago I got to thinking about Nora. I recalled three things about her—

1. She often threw parties and one always felt welcome at her apartment.

2. When I spent a few weeks in Spain in 1988, Nora was one of two people to send me a letter while I was away.

3. Nora sent out holiday cards each year while most people I knew were out drinking and whatnot. I know I did not send out any holiday cards.

It occurred to me that if Nora had these qualities when we were, in essence, kids, that she might well still be a good person.

I tracked Nora down and e-mailed her. We talked on the phone a few times. Last week we had lunch in Cincinnati. She was willing to drive from her home in Columbus, Ohio 220 miles round-trip to have lunch with the wife and myself.

Now I’ve got a friend I’ll have for a long time ahead.   

Somewhere there is somebody from your past who would love to hear from you and would enjoy a renewed friendship.  With a little effort and imagination it can be worked out.    

   

August 14, 2007 Posted by | Best Posts July-Dec. 2007, Cincinnati, Good People, Relationships | 4 Comments

Texas Blogger Who’s Playin? Waves Impeachment Banner

Fellow Texas blogger Who’s Playin? had enough and felt he had to do something.  So he did. He and some other folks took the case for impeachment to a highway overpass.

It takes all kinds of actions to get things done. You need letter writing, blogs, voting, volunteering, donations, and making the case to friends and family.

It also takes public actions such as waving a sign from a highway overpass. This tells folks that what they are feeling is also felt by others.

I don’t think an effort to impeach President Bush is worth the energy it would take and the distraction it would involve.  As much as I dislike Mr. Bush’s conduct of office, I think impeachment is almost always a political act. That is how it was in the case of President Andrew Johnson and how it was in the case of President Bill Clinton

When both sides of the aisle knew a president had to go, Richard Nixon quit his office. 

No matter though what I think—Who’s Playin? is clearly on a good path.

July 26, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Good People, Political History, Politics | 2 Comments

Houston Council Candidate Melissa Noriega Has Willingness To Listen & Capacity For Imagination

Houston City Council Candidate Melissa Noriega offers the prospect of real change for Houston. Ms. Noriega is someone willing to listen and someone with a genuine capacity for imagination.

Given the huge problems Houston has and given the failure of both Democrats and Republicans over the years to address these problems, this capacity for imagination is the greatest strength Ms. Noriega can offer our city.

I’ve written two blog posts suggesting a measure of hesitancy over Ms. Noriega’s candidacy. I was put off by the lack of specifics on her web page—Which is for most people the most accessible way to learn about her— and I have a longstanding disappointment with the silence of many Houston City Hall Democrats over the borderline third-world conditions we have here in Houston.

At the suggestion of the blogger who writes Greg’s Opinion, I called Ms. Noriega to get what I was told would be a more accurate picture of who she really was.

Ms. Noriega and I spoke for nearly half-an-hour. She listened to me and I listened to her. After speaking to her, I believe Ms. Noriega has the potential to be a leader on council and in Houston. Ms. Noriega and I have also had an e-mail exchange since then and again she was gracious and open-minded.

I believe Ms. Noriega has the ability to see that as an elected official, she has the prerogative to define her office as she sees fit in order to help her constituents. Political office is at heart an act of imagination. I believe she will give serious thought to creative solutions to tough problems and that she will speak on issues others leave alone.

It is good that Ms. Noriega is the strong favorite to win the Houston City Council run-off election next month and I look forward to her service on council.

May 25, 2007 Posted by | Good People, Houston, Politics | 2 Comments

Bibas Cafe On 5600 Block Of Memorial In Houston Has Pictures Of M.L. King & J.F.K Hanging Up Inside Establishment

So if in Houston, eat at Bibas Cafe on the 5600 block of Memorial.

May 13, 2007 Posted by | Good People, Houston | Leave a comment

I Like All Immigrants Because My Father Told Me To Trust People With Many Vowels In Their Last Name

When I was young my father told me to trust people who have many vowels in their last name. This advice, offered 30 years ago, is at the core of why I like all immigrants in Texas and everywhere else. I think immigrants make the best Americans.  

Though not all immigrants have many vowels in their last names, I got the idea behind what my father was telling me. People from other places were okay just like the Aquino’s who got off the boat from Italy in 1910 were okay.   

The more immigrants the better. It is American voters and American politicians who have cheated people from decent wages–Not some person just off the boat or who has come across the desert.    

May 9, 2007 Posted by | Good People, Immigration | 2 Comments

Friendship Between Lou Grant And Ted Baxter

I watched a Mary Tyler Moore Show rerun yesterday. In this episode, Lou Grant needed an operation to have a piece of World War II shrapnel removed. While in the hospital, Lou is visited by bumbling anchorman Ted Baxter. 

Lou is shocked when cheapskate Ted brings a top-notch bottle of scotch. Ted says he considers Lou to be his best friend despite all the times Lou has yelled at Ted in the newsroom. Lou was touched and allowed Ted to read to him in order to pass the time recuperating in the hospital. 

I teared up watching this. (I have a lot of vowels in my last name and my father told me that this can be a sign that a person is prone to emotion.) It is true that the most unlikely relationships can take root. You never know who might be a friend. You should be very hesitant to close the door on anybody. Life is short and brutal and you need all the friends you can get.   

April 26, 2007 Posted by | Good People, Relationships | 2 Comments