I voted. Pretty much straight Green Party ticket wherever running, write-ins everywhere else. Glenn Greenwald for NY State Attorney General! Edward Snowden for Public Advocate!

Cue the YOU’RE WASTING YOUR VOTE! cries from people who voted for the servants of Goldman Sachs. Here’s a thought: one of us actually takes voting seriously.

Happy Monday.

Christopher Columbus was a huge fucking shitweasel.

And yet, there is a ginormous parade honoring him today on Fifth Avenue, from 44th to 72nd Streets, preceded by a “Columbus Day Mass” this morning at St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Fifth Avenue at 50th Street). This stupid parade attracts nearly a million spectators, and is allegedly “the largest celebration of Italian-American culture in the world.” Now normally, we would just be enraged and disgusted at the moral depravity and/or willful ignorance required to celebrate the legacy of this man. Well, there was that one time when Palace archnemesis Antonin Scalia was the Grand Inquisitor or whatever of said parade, and we naturally thought this might finally provide the ideal opportunity to realize our life-long dream of mooning him. As luck would have it, we had bronchitis and a raging fever that day, and could barely get out of bed. : |

But today, we are not only enraged and disgusted at the moral depravity and/or willful ignorance required to celebrate the legacy of this man. No, today we are also annoyed and vexed, because we unfortunately have to go to midtown. And our destination is only one short block from the parade route. Midtown is terrible every day of course, and thus we avoid it like the plague it so clearly is. But shut down Fifth Avenue and dozens of surrounding streets? And drop an extra million people there, not a single one of whom will have seen—much less intended to heed—Johnny T’s NYC Tourist Tips? Let’s just say if there were ever an urgent need for breakfast cocktails, this would be it.

paraderouteA promise is a promise. Off we go.

Happy Monday.

Johnny T’s NYC Tourist Tips.

nycpalaceflagAs the Palace is based within the geographic confines of New York City, we take it as one of our primary obligations to serve as an ambassador on behalf of the city we love. Yes, of course we have regaled Loyal Readers™ with plenty of sappy posts on this very subject. But as we were toiling around in the Palace library this morning, we realized that our online diplomatic efforts could be nicely supplemented with a concise collection of resources for the actual (or virtual) tourist.

In the process of gathering links I came across a video, which I think serves as a perfect introduction to both the city itself and to the new Palace library collection: Johnny T’s NYC Tourist Tips.

Hahaha. Sounds exactly right.

In case you’re interested, here is our new NYC section. Enjoy. Or get out of the way.


[Palace posts that reference NYC can be found here.]

A day in the life.

I don’t usually blog like this. It’s too personal. You probably know what I mean.


I awoke to streaming sunshine and crystal clear blue skies.

I needed to mail a birthday card today, and didn’t want to miss the early mail truck pickup. Still I lingered a little too long over coffee, trading emails, poring over my research for a piece I’m working on for The Feminist Hivemind, and making plans to see After Tiller with a friend tomorrow at Film Forum on Houston.

Shit. Better get going. Shower. Check weather. Holy $#!+! It’s fifty fucking degrees outside! Dig through closet looking for sweaters. Get distracted piling up shirts I haven’t worn in a year. (New York Rule Number 6,722: if you haven’t worn it in a year, give it away or donate it. You need the closet space.) Ooh, look. A black sweater. I haven’t seen one since April.

I eschew makeup as usual, but I do manage to catch a glimpse of my hair in a mirror as I’m heading out the door. Jeezus Christ. It looks like an explosion of jungle overgrowth—and not in that ridiculously sexy way fashionable black women wear big, thick hair. Nope: mine is a tangled mass of wild waves, ringlets, cowlicks, frizz and random straight pieces sticking out, patchy golds and browns and a few wiry grays. My fucking head appears indistinguishable from a dirty old straw broom. I try artfully rearranging it. Parting it. Pulling on the bangs. A headband. Ponytail. Barrettes. None of this is even remotely helping. And I don’t have time to look for my winter hats.

Fuck it.

On the way to the post office is The Meadow, a store that can really only be described as the kind of place that can make one believe in magic. Not the supernatural kind, silly. The magic of an atmosphere suffused with whimsy, color and exotic scent—unmistakably earthly delights. The Meadow specializes in “Finishing Salt, Chocolate, Cocktail Bitters and Flowers,” and as you might imagine it smells really, really nice inside. Lately they’ve been promoting Himalayan salt block cooking, whatever that is. Gorgeous slabs of salt are stacked in the front window. Every time I pass by I wonder whether someone with my level of cooking “skill” could take on such a thing (probably not), and even if so, whether it would be worth it. (Probably not.)

themeadowI bought a little something there. You’ll never guess what. (HINT: it was neither finishing salt, cocktail bitters nor flowers.)

I dropped off my unloved shirts at my local thrift store Housing Works, and took a stroll around the shop. There were some affordable eye-catching finds…


Clockwise from top left: 4-panel carved walnut screen (perfect for hanging all my feather boas!); vintage framed carved wood/painting; oversized wicker and wood chair; metal and lucite chandelier.

…none of which I have any use for, let alone room for. The chances of me finding what I’m actually looking for there are next to nil. (No one ever donates nice coasters. I know this, because I’ve been trolling thrift shops for nice coasters for years. Shit, if I had nice coasters I guess I wouldn’t give ‘em up either, because apparently nice coasters are rarer than Central Park Bigfoot sightings.) That’s the thing about thrift shops: you cannot go in looking for any specific something. You go in with an open mind and a well-honed sense of restraint for impulse buys, or you’re doomed. MOVING ON.

Steve Madden on Bleecker had some boots in the window, and, as it happens, I am in the market for boots. (New York is notoriously hard on shoes. After two years of resoling two pairs of boots that I love, they’re looking a bit beat up). The impossibly trendy sales clerks ignored me (my hair!) which is just as well. Because $500. For a single pair of boots. That aren’t even waterproof. And will almost certainly hurt my feet. MOVING ON.

I headed to a [REDACTED] store over on [REDACTED]. I would say more, except that I was shopping for a gift for someone who is known to read this very blog. Mission: unsuccessful. MOVING ON.

Whoa. Now I’m really hungry. I meant to eat a banana and some nuts before I left the Palace, but with all this Film Forum friend planning, old shirt collecting and MY GAWD THE HAIR I spaced it. I head toward Morandi.

Depending on how I hit the traffic lights, I often pass through a tiny park across the street from the restaurant on my way to or from. There’s a monument there which always godandfamouscatches my eye, because the side of its granite base that I see on my route says “GOD AND FAMOUS.” It’s a part of a quote that wraps around the whole block, but taken alone it just strikes me as…well, really weird. The kind of thing that triggers cascades of thought in all sorts of unexpected directions. God and famous. Wut? Do you win a game show or something, and get to pick whether you get to be either God or famous? If you win the bonus round do you get to be both God and famous? I paused to take a picture of it for my Loyal Readers™ (of course). It had warmed up a little and the sky was still blazing blue. People were seated on the handful of benches, reading newspapers and whatnot. I felt anchored to that spot, just wanted to stand there, and breathe. I read a sign about the park:

McCarthy Square

The 1811 Commissioners’ Plan—the far-reaching gridiron pattern which laid out the streets and avenues of Manhattan—had little immediate impact on the western part of Greenwich Village. The grid was intended to provide a system for the orderly development of land between 14th Street and Washington Heights. However the geography of the West Village had evolved in an unregulated fashion since colonial days, emerging from marshland to farmland and then from a rural suburb to a densely settled residential, commercial, and industrial neighborhood full of crooked streets.

Not until the 1910s and 1920s were Seventh and Eighth Avenues extended south of 14th Street. As a result, a number of small irregular parcels were created, including the traffic island at Charles Street, Waverly Place, and Seventh Avenue South. This parcel was acquired as a street and developed by the Borough President of Manhattan. In 1943 by Local Law #16 the City Council named the site in memory of Private First Class Bernard Joseph McCarthy, who was born and raised in Greenwich Village. A Marine, McCarthy was killed at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in August 1942 at the age of twenty-two. His was the first reported death of a Greenwich Village resident in the war.

The original version of McCarthy Square’s central flagpole originally stood on the grounds of the 1939 World’s Fair in Flushing, Queens. It was moved to this site and embellished with an inscribed base of Deer Isle granite on behalf of neighborhood residents and the Dr. George A. Hayunga Maritime Post #1069 of the American Legion. Both the park and the memorial flagstaff were dedicated in June 1943, a tribute to a brave son of Greenwich Village, the first to fall for his country in World War II.

At about eye level there are colorful little houses set into the greenery. Why? Well, why not? (There’s probably some only-in-New-York story there.)


McCarthy Square.

vermentinoMorandi was bustling. I sat at the bar, and said hello to the bartender. Before I said anything more he had already poured me a glass of Vermentino. Okay, then. I ordered one of the lunch specials: orecchiette with spinach and butternut squash. More Vermentino, more email, and then a coffee. Goddamn, they make good coffee.

On my way out, I see Philip Seymour Hoffman and a companion at a table by the door, smiling and relaxing post-lunch. I run into a lot of famous (and infamous) people at my regular haunts, and I never, EVER do this, but for some reason (the Vermentino? the sunshine glistening off of Hoffman’s eminently recognizable silky pale-gold mop?) I was going to plotz down right next to him and ask if I could take a picture with him.

Then I remembered: OMFG hair.

There would be no photographs.

I took the long way home.

It turned out to be a good mail day at the Palace. Samantha Irby’s book Meaty finally arrived. (I loooove her blog.)


It will go right on top of the stack of books I really want to read but never seem to get to.

I have a dinner date tonight with My Amazing Lover™.

FFS I gotta blow-dry my bangs.

Flashmob FTW.

Inspired. And inspiring.

September 5th, 2013, Raleigh, NC – As Walmart workers petition managers to reinstate employees who have been unfairly treated, a flash mob breaks out.

Wilbur on Daily Kos said:

I signed in just to recommend this.  It is one of the most important diaries I have seen on dailyKos because it shows that individuals are beginning to understand and use the Internet for their own rights.  It makes me much more confident about 2014.

Just a note about whether this is a flash mob or a step show.  They are NOT mutually exclusive.  As a matter of fact flash mobs almost always have a purpose whether a Michael Jackson dance or playing Beethoven’s 7th.  What a flash mob is when people interconnect using the Internet to engage in some function at a specific place and time for a specific period.  The people arrive confident they will be joined by other members of the event, but not knowing for sure who is going to be there.  At the agree upon time the flash mob comes together in the chosen venue, it performs their event, and then it quickly disperses.

What this will do in protest if it is used like it was used here is completely take away the power of the militarized police.  The mob quickly makes its point and then disperses into the air before the police can arrive and arrest anybody.  The events need to be both entertaining and focused to be effective, but they can be more effective than long term occupations.  I am hoping this is the direction Occupy Wall Street goes.  When police arrive in all their regalia they are left staring at empty space.

This, my beloved Loyal Readers™, is civil disobedience of the most excellent kind.

New York City has a great tradition of flashmobs: often they are just for fun and entertainment, but flashmob protests of a political nature are not uncommon (e.g. Occupy deployed them). I would very much love to see the use of this tactic expanded. For one thing, I think if the phenomenon really took hold it could turn out to be something of a prophylactic against aggrieved mobs turning violent instead. It doesn’t need to be a tightly choreographed event like the Walmart protest: ordinary people can participate in something simpler that requires only showing up, and perhaps holding a sign or note. If (when?) people show up in big enough numbers, at the very least we can all enjoy the spectacle of watching America’s Owners and their goons in government and major media piss themselves. Maybe they’d even throw us a table scrap. Or, possibly, two!

May our revolution be remembered for its joyous dancing, clapping, singing, chanting and stepping. Otherwise, the terrorists win.


I take a lot of pictures with my iPhone, but I rarely end up doing anything with them. Taking a picture or five has become more of a ritual to mark a moment for myself, an acknowledgment of the here-and-now, than it is anything else. Once in a while, I will flip through them and be reminded of those moments and the reasons I wanted to capture them in the first place. Individually, they are scattershot, disjointed and unconnected. Taken as a whole, however, what comes across I think is not only a portrait of my life, but how I feel about it.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but just FYI I am still in love with New York City. It has changed over the years since I moved here; indeed it is in constant flux. It has also changed me (I would like to think for the better). Here are reasons 7,951 through 7,963 why I love my home.

Drinks with friends at Grand Central.

Waiting for a late train to take her upstate after dinner, we went for the rosé champagne because…OMFG rosé champagne.



Grand Central.

No joke, people. It’s a beautiful building, inside and out. It makes me feel like I’ve time-traveled back to a century ago. (That’s the Chrysler Building on the right.)


Big Gay Ice Cream Shop.

Does your town have a Big Gay Ice Cream Shop? With a sparkepony unicorn licking a rainbow ice cream cone for its logo? NO I DON’T THINK SO.


Thrift shop finds.

As we are a full-service Palace, we are of course always on the lookout for exciting new thrones. This one is lovely, but doesn’t quite work with our color palette.


We ended up buying these shorts instead. As you can see, they are badass.


World class cocktails.

These vodka martinis were made by my friend Claiborne at Left Bank. Just tell him “Broken Shed, dry, up, with a twist.”


World class desserts.

Traditional Italian desserts at Gaetanas (from foreground to background): ricotta cheesecake made daily from the owner’s mom’s recipe, pistachio tartufo and canolli. The bartender is my friend Dick, a Shakespearean actor who is at least as sweet as anything he’s serving.



Hotties. ‘Swut I’m sayin’.


Secret gardens.

Lush, quiet sanctuaries abound, if you know where to look for them. This garden is at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields, just off of Hudson Street. Plenty of benches, no cell phone chatter allowed.


Amazing people.

This is Mian Ayyub, a cab driver. When *someone* left her iPhone in his cab, he brought it back to the West Village from the Upper East Side where his next fare had taken him—and would not accept money for his time and trouble.


Matilda the Musical.

I am not a big fan of Broadway generally, nor musical theatre particularly. But I have seen this show three times now—and I’d go again. It’s based on the brilliantly subversive book by Roald Dahl, with music and lyrics by Palace fave Tim Minchin.


Cobblestone streets.

I don’t know why I like them. They make for a rough ride in a cab, and at crosswalks they’re tough on your feet, especially in heels. (Cobblestone streets are a major reason why I do not even wear heels anymore, unless there is door-to-door round-trip transportation via car.) I just…I like ‘em, okay?



Sometimes natural beauty catches me unaware, and it’s all the more breathtaking for its juxtaposition with the city that frames it.

moonrisenewyorkThere’s no getting around it. This city is a part of who I am.

Personal notes.

It’s been quiet on the posting front while the Palace has been entertaining family members: two teenage girls. They are, of course, amazing people and I am thoroughly enjoying my time with them. As we share significant DNA it should not be all that surprising that some of their interests and mine overlap, e.g. food, music, theatre, urban hiking, high-end pedicures, ignoring everyone while riveted to an iPhone, staying up late watching movies and sleeping in. It should be equally unsurprising that some of their interests and mine do not, in fact, overlap (see “teenage girls”). This manifests itself in numerous ways, the most egregious example of which can be summed up in one word: Macy’s.

This is my own (un)doing, really. On a previous visit, they had been looking for shoes (and other items that apparently pass for “clothing” among The Kids These Days™). As savvy New Yorkers know, whenever new women’s shoes are required, one proceeds directly to the main shoe floor at Macy’s 34th Street. However, and I cannot stress this enough, this proceeding MUST be undertaken under the most stringent of protocols:

1. Find out what time Macy’s opens tomorrow, and set your alarm accordingly.

2. Roll out of bed, dress, brush your teeth, eat a quick breakfast, gulp down some coffee and transport yourself to the vicinity of 34th Street and Broadway, timing your arrival — and this is key, people — to fifteen minutes after the doors open*. You will thereby be exposed to the smallest number of tourists, the shortest wait times for service and maximum available stock.

3. Go directly to the new shoe floor on 2. Do not be distracted by any objects on 1.

4. Select shoes. This may take significantly longer than anticipated, given that the new shoe floor on 2 is, like its esteemed predecessor on 5, a sprawling affair that takes up an entire floor of an entire building.

5. Interact with a helpful sales worker to determine the availability of selected shoes in the desired size and color(s). Repeat step 4 if necessary.

6. Pay at the register.

7. GTFO! ASAP! Run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit!

7. Immediately celebrate your successful mission with a cocktail. You deserve it.

These strict protocols also apply to shopping for jeans, lingerie, dresses and other items that apparently pass for “clothing” among The Kids These Days™.

Now, when I had originally suggested to these teens that we hit Macy’s for shoes etc., they were disappointed. “Macy’s,” to them, represented a badly lit store in their local mall with a limited shoe department that catered to “old ladies.” (*ahem* I resemble that remark…) I insisted that they humor me, so off we went the next morning to Macy’s 34th Street and what would ultimately turn out to be the Greatest Ever Shopping Extravaganza Ever In History Ever. We were to attempt to repeat this legendary feat on Tuesday, and they were quite enthusiastic. QUITE. Until, of course, it came time to execute Step 2. When the doors open at 9:00 am, sleeping until 11:30am does not bode well for a successful mission. There were people ahead of us in the shoe department! No more size eights! Lines for fitting rooms! It was bloody awful. The entire ordeal lasted about three and a half hours, and required many, many cocktails afterward to recover.

But truth be told, I am enjoying this little break from following news events and social media so intensely, including yesterday’s FINAL SUPER IMPORTANT FEC FUNDRAISING DEADLINE! BOEHNER! PAUL RYAN! YOUR SUPPORTER RECORD: $0.00! OMFG!!!11!! Although I did flip a few bucks to Alan Grayson, because Alan Grayson is still awesome (“Eight months into the 113th Congress, Rep. Alan Grayson has passed more amendments than any other Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrat or Republican.”)

And we could hardly fail to notice (a) the Bradley Manning verdict, (b) Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia and has left Moscow airport, and (c) Glenn Greenwald & Co. at The Guardian revealed more classified information and documents about the NSA’s shenanigans yesterday morning, just before senior intelligence officials were about to lie to testify before the Senate judiciary committee. Hahaha. Good one, Glenn. We are also relived to report that, with mostly minor exceptions, the PowerPoint slides released by The Guardian detailing an Orwellian program ripe for abuse called XKeyscore are not nearly as embarrassing as the PRISM slides.

Speaking of news: Patron Saint of the Palace PZ Myers ran our previous post, Casualties of War, as a guest post at Pharyngula, resulting in a serious uptick in our hit count this week. (Hello Horde! Meet my Many Tens of Loyal Readers™.) The comments on the thread are overwhelmingly complimentary, and led to some interesting discussions. Loyal Readers™ may recall that this is why we have a shrine to PZ Myers in the first place.

Finally, we have been busy with a major expansion of the Palace infrastructure, which I hope to reveal soon. But not soon enough, I’m afraid, for today we are off to Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. In Times Square, fer chrissakes. Dawg help me.

*There are people who make it a point to arrive at Macy’s before the doors open, and cluster in unseemly throngs around said doors. Needless to say, you do not want to be anywhere near such people, and fifteen minutes usually gives them ample time to disperse.

Casualties of war.

The War on Drugs is not a war on drugs, at least not as that phrase is commonly understood in the English language. Assess the misery associated with the drug trade, and you would have to be on drugs yourself to believe the War on Drugs is anything other than a total, abject failure. From measures of public health, addiction rates, narco-terrorism, police corruption, gang violence, vast criminal networks spanning the globe to the inhumane prison-industrial complex here at home, the War on Drugs has made the world a far worse place.

Of course the U.S. government has long known that (a) military strategies do not work and may actually boost profits for drug traffickers, and (b) drug treatment is far cheaper and twenty-three times more effective than supply-side approaches. If the War on Drugs is such a spectacular failure in every respect, why would the feds continue to perpetrate it? The answer is that it is not a failure in every respect: the War on Drugs provides an excellent pretext for violent action by the U.S. and its client states in the Western hemisphere. Not in service to democracy, freedom and human rights, mind you—strictly for the benefit of elite U.S. business interests.

Since 1946, the U.S. Army has been training Latin American government and military officials at its School of the Americas (now WHINSEC) in “counterinsurgency,” for the purpose of suppressing leftist movements that might interfere with the unimpeded exploitation of natural resources by U.S.-based conglomerates. We helpfully trained these people in various torture techniques, civilian targeting, extrajudicial executions and extortion. We enthusiastically encouraged terrorism, sabotage, arresting people’s relatives and blackmail. We have engineered violent coups and murders to keep in power cooperative governments. We have deposed, assassinated and otherwise interfered with democratically elected officials and other leaders who exhibit the merest hint of socialism.

In recent decades in Colombia alone, the U.S.-trained army and its allied right-wing paramilitary groups have killed thousands upon thousands of union organizers, peasant and indigenous leaders, human rights workers, land reform activists, religious leaders, leftist politicians and their supporters. Some paramilitary leaders have attempted to “cleanse” Colombian society by murdering drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, petty criminals and the homeless. It’s true that some Colombian presidents have attempted to address the social, political and economic issues that the guerrillas claim are their grievances. But the United States government will not have any of that. With assistance from its allies in the Colombian political, economic and military elite, efforts at meaningful reform have all been thwarted. And so those pesky guerrillas—who have no love for the drug trade—will continue to strike back the only way they can: by blowing up oil pipelines. That is why there is a “War on Drugs” in Colombia.

Sound familiar? It should. The War on Terror works exactly the same way in the Middle East. That is, it doesn’t work, at least not for its stated purposes. No one seriously doubts that our policies create far more terrorists than we could ever capture or kill, or that we have long supported and armed some of the most brutal, tyrannical, anti-democratic and oppressive dictators in the region for the benefit of the world-warming, profit-pumping petroleum industry. Take a look at this nifty interactive map of Yemen, and then try to tell me with a straight face that we’re over there drone bombing Muslims to Keep Us Safe™ from terrorists, as opposed to, say, protecting a very cooperative Yemeni regime.

The War on Terror has led to profound changes in American society. The populace has meekly accepted the militarization of domestic police forces, the rise of a vast and insidious surveillance state and the erosion of constitutional rights and civil liberties, all in exchange for empty promises of safety. It’s long been clear that none of it works. Meanwhile, on the home front the War on Drugs has subjected generations of citizens to mass incarceration. More than two million people are behind bars in the U.S.: that is 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Prison populations have exploded since the 1980s, with the majority of the increase comprising low-level offenders, particularly drug offenders, and disproportionally black and Latino men who are no more likely to dabble in drugs than their white counterparts. What happened after the 1980s? The previous go-to excuse for invading, bombing and otherwise imposing our imperial will on other countries—the Cold War—had just collapsed, but the War on Drugs had already begun. Eventually, Osama bin Laden did America’s Owners a big favor, and the rest, as they say, is history. What could be a more perfect pretext than a “War on Terror”? Let’s invade Iraq for oil! We’ll just say Saddam’s in league with Al-Qaeda or something! The press?! Pfft. They’ll help us do it, bro. 

This is not a Republican-Democrat thing. No matter which party is nominally in power, the U.S. government will use every tactic at its disposal keep the American left marginalized as effectively as the Colombians do. Obama saw to it that the Occupy movement was crushed. FBI, NYPD, State Police and other law enforcement agencies have long been infiltrating and monitoring groups opposed to U.S. economic policy, immigration policy, harmful trade agreements, union-busting and racial profiling. The feds are also interested in keeping tabs on anti-death penalty groups, labor organizers, those who support Palestinians or the Israel divestment campaign, and, unsurprisingly, anti-war groups. After all, how are we all going to be duped into the next War on Whatever if we have a formidable peace movement?

All of this is precisely what one would expect from a system of unbridled, imperialist capitalism constrained by neither law nor conscience. The System is the problem.


On Tuesday afternoon, I attended a rally at Union Square. It was the NYC kickoff for an “Abortion Rights Freedom Ride,” a cross country caravan organized by, with rallies planned along the route including places where some of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws have been passed: Fargo, North Dakota; Wichita, Kansas; and Jackson, Mississippi. Take Mississippi, for example: since 2002 only a single clinic providing abortion services has been in operation. The state’s legislators and governors, who clearly have no other problems to attend to, have been very busy attempting to shut down that last remaining clinic by passing disingenuous laws purporting to protect women’s health. (As if anyone, anywhere, believes conservatives are concerned about anyone’s health. OMGLOL.) Not to be outdone, North Dakota—another state with only one remaining clinic—passed a ban on abortions after six weeks, a point at which many women have no idea they’re pregnant.

I had recently written a piece mentioning and their refreshingly plain language and savvy messaging: “Abortion on Demand Without Apology.” “Women are NOT incubators.” “Forced motherhood is female enslavement.” When their campaign started to gain attention, the liberal hand-wringing came right on cue. There were concerns, you see. This Abortion Rights Freedom Ride will be “too confrontational, too vociferous and may turn off people to the cause.” The activists will be viewed locally as “invading outsiders.” Mass political protest only “distracts from important court cases.” Besides, it’s better to “rely on officials channels of politics.”

Really. How’s that been working out? In the past three years, states have passed nearly 180 restrictions on abortion, and 2013 is already on track to record the second-highest number of abortion restrictions in a single year, ever.

And these concerns sounded familiar. Where had I heard this before? Oh, that’s right: from critics concerned about the Occupy movement, who in turn echoed nearly verbatim critics of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement, and critics of the women’s suffrage movement before that. Quiet down, they said. Wait. Work with The System. Please. When has anything short of confrontational, vociferous, mass political protest ever yielded more than lip service or a few table scraps from The System?

America’s Owners do not care one whit about abortion rights, except insofar as the issue drives conservatives to the polls to elect their Republican servants or outrages liberals enough to elect their Democratic servants. Indeed, they have every reason to keep the War on Women raging.

This is why voting is not enough: the game is rigged. As Chris Hedges put it so succinctly, “There is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs.” Democrats have concern-trolled themselves right into irrelevance. They are The System. The System is the problem. The math is not hard.

I’ll leave you with something promising. There are people who get it. I met some of them at the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride rally.

rallyMeet (L-R) Noche Diaz, Jamel Mims, and Carl Dix, members of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, and defendants in cases brought for nonviolent civil disobedience actions protesting the NYPD’s Stop & Frisk practices. To be honest, when they were first introduced I wondered why three d00ds would be speaking together at an abortion rights rally. It didn’t take long to find out: their explicit message was that if women, who make up half of humanity, are not free, then none of us are free. They spoke powerfully and eloquently about the oppression that they and their communities have faced—and linked it directly to the same source of oppression and exploitation that women, workers and millions of marginalized people face, here and abroad: The System.

The difficult part is predicting what will spark the revolution—and where we will end up after it’s all said and done. To have a shot a desirable outcome, we need more citizens to realize that we, too, are casualties of war.

I’ll see you in the streets.

Happy Pride.

prideflagThe gay community has much to celebrate this year: the death of DOMA in the Supreme Court means that discrimination against gay citizens may no longer be codified in federal law. This single decision has many positive ripple effects, from immigration rights to inheritance benefits. A delicious side benefit, of course, is that it drives religious conservatives positively apoplectic. We approve of this very, very much.

Another effect seems to be the unusually raucous and jubilant crowd outside the Palace walls today at the annual pride parade. (The Palace is located near the very end of the parade route, where marchers disband and floats are dismantled and every bar stool in the vicinity becomes inaccessible to Palace denizens until some time tomorrow afternoon.) Before we could see or even hear the impending arrival of the Dykes on Bikes — the traditional lead off contingent — the enormous crowd was happily shouting, whistling, chanting and applauding. There hasn’t been a lull since, and it’s now going past three hours — and raining. Occasionally, the din is overwhelmed by house music blasting from a passing float, or by someone speaking over a very loud PA system. But overall, there is just the electrifying sound of joy ringing through the West Village, ringing in a new era of legal recognition for our gay brothers and sisters. Their hard work and that of their allies to bring this about should make us all proud as Americans.

The goal of equality is far from accomplished, but this country has just taken a big step in the right direction. I have to say, it brings a tear to my jaded eye.


Also: fuck you, conservatives. Every time you lose, this country gets a little bit better.