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Posts Tagged ‘New Orleans’

That was stupid.  –  Chase Bebak-Miller, to his victim

Last week, on my way back from Seattle, I listened to the Little Shop of Horrors soundtrack.  That may have been a mistake because I had a tooth pulled the next day, and I kept giggling because this song kept going through my head.  The links above the video were provided by Mike Siegel, Franklin Harris, Cop Crisis (x3), and Radley Balko, in that order.

From the Archives

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My favorite musician of all time, Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou (best known by his stage name, Vangelis), died last Tuesday in Paris at the age of 79.  And because he was the creator of a large fraction of the soundtrack of my life, I find myself very affected by his passing, more so than by any of the other relatively-recent deaths of musicians whose work I admired.  I wrote a Twitter thread featuring many videos, with a few facts and a bit of criticism, but here I’d rather share more personal thoughts about my relationship with his music.

Like many Americans, I was first introduced to his work by Carl Sagan, who used the third movement of Vangelis’ Heaven and Hell (1975) as the theme to his amazing and groundbreaking TV series, Cosmos.  And while I found the music lovely and moving, it was the music used in this sequence, demonstrating the evolutionary history of humans, that really took hold of my brain:

In those pre-internet days, there wasn’t any simple way to find the name of a piece of music used in a show if it wasn’t listed in the credits, and it wasn’t.  Fortunately, someone thought of writing in to TV Focus, the weekly TV magazine of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, to ask about the main theme, and somebody over there was able to name Vangelis as its composer.  Armed with that knowldge, I begged my cousin Jeff to take me to New Orleans’ best music store, Leisure Landing, where I found the Cosmos soundtrack and a number of other Vangelis albums.  Fortunately, part of the piece I was looking for was on the soundtrack album, along with its name, “Alpha”, and the name of the album on which it appeared, Albedo 0.39.  And it wasn’t long before I made another trip to Leisure Landing to buy it.  China soon followed, then Heaven and Hell, then Spiral; I played them all frequently, and copied them to cassette tapes for playing in the car (as we used to do in those long-ago and far-off days, dear reader).  They were among my favorite albums for playing while dallying with lovers, and to this day I cannot hear the titular song, which appears on Heaven and Hell, without thinking of lying in the afterglow with my first adult inamorata on lazy Friday afternoons in the early ’80s in my apartment near UNO.

Of course, I was much too young then to really feel in my gut what it meant to remember such things across a gulf of decades; even Vangelis himself was only 32 when it was recorded, and singer Jon Anderson two years younger still.  But in the many intervening years my brain has caught up with my very old soul, and the departure of my lifelong musical friend has left me feeling very old indeed.

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After Hereticon ended a week ago today, I flew into New Orleans to visit old friends; since my first visit was scheduled for Friday, I decided to go down to the flea market in the French Quarter to see my friend Solomon, an Ethiopian man whom I’ve been buying Indian dresses from since I was a stripper in the late ’90s.  Due to delays in picking up my rental car I arrived fairly late, after most of the vendors had already packed up and gone for the day; however, since Solomon was a friendly and popular guy who’s been a fixture in the market for over 20 years, I asked one of the few who was left about him.  And when I was told he had died just a few weeks ago, I was unprepared for how very sad I felt.  It’s not like he and I were drinking buddies; I never even knew his last name.  But he always had kind words and compliments for me, and never failed to recognize me; everyone in the market liked him, and for my part I never even considered buying my dresses from anyone else.  And when I heard the sad news, I couldn’t help crying; it was as though a part of New Orleans itself had died.  Perhaps that’s part of why I was so sentimental for the rest of the visit; it did my heart good to hear the local accents, to see the displays of king cakes at the doughnut shop where I bought my breakfast, and even just to drive the streets I once knew so well.  I even took some time to go to a branch of the grocery store chain where Grace and I used to shop, and bought some things that just aren’t available in Washington; of course I had to send them home by priority mail so the TSA couldn’t steal them by belching out the magic word “liquid”.  Later that afternoon, my friend Olivia contributed to the nostalgic mood; when it was time for dinner she said, “I made gumbo; I hope that’s OK.”  Nothing could’ve been better!  Because even though I do love my little farm and all my Seattle friends, and have absolutely no regrets about choosing to relocate, one long root of the tree of my life will always be inextricably embedded in the swampy soil of south Louisiana.

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Diary #603

What an exhausting week!  After Hereticon ended Thursday morning, I flew to New Orleans to visit some old friends I haven’t seen in a long time, including the cousin who recently got back in touch with me.  And while I had a lovely time, the pace definitely took its toll.  I knew the rapid weather shifts from Seattle to Miami to New Orleans (with a cold front moving in Saturday) and back to Seattle would play hob with my sinuses, and they did; it started as a post-nasal drip which turned into a cough on Friday, then practically as soon as I got back to Seattle turned into heavy congestion.  It didn’t help that I had decided to do the week without cannabis; in retrospect, that was a bad idea because I didn’t sleep nearly as well as usual (even with the help of other drugs), so by Friday I was pretty tired from days of poor sleep.  The flight into New Orleans was on a regional jet, which are far more conducive to giving me vertigo attacks than larger aircraft, and such attacks (while I recover from them more quickly than I used to thanks to my meds) tend to sap my reserves.  By Saturday afternoon I was so debilitated by the one-two punch of lack of sleep and wonky sinuses that I strongly considered asking my cousin if I could stay an extra day, because I was genuinely unsure if it would be safe to drive back into town feeling as I did.  But fortunately, she’s a very early-to-bed-early-to-rise type, so I took a five-hour nap and by 2 AM I felt good enough to get the rental safely back to the airport, board the plane, and promptly fall asleep by lying across three seats.  I don’t actually remember takeoff; the next thing I knew, the pilot was telling the flight attendants to prepare for landing.  The layover in Dallas was mercifully short, and though I didn’t sleep as well on the flight to Seattle it was mostly uneventful.  Once back at my apartment some breakfast and tea allowed me to rally enough for the drive home, and though it was far more tiring than usual, I made it back to Sunset at last.  This was typed about 9 PM Sunday night, so I hope you’ll forgive its brevity; I hear my edibles calling.

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Back in the South

Longtime readers may remember that despite appearances, I’m really quite the homebody.  Given my druthers, I’d rather not go very far from home very often, and when I do travel I’d rather return as quickly as possible.  That preference has only become stronger as I’ve aged (which I suppose isn’t all that unusual), and since I moved to Sunset full-time I’ve become even less inclined to wander than I was in my Oklahoma days, plus Grace’s health problems mean she shouldn’t be alone for long either.  Furthermore, there’s the fact that since hygiene theater Pelion was piled atop security theater Ossa, flying has become even more stressful and odious than it already was, so I now suffer low-level anxiety for weeks before having to travel by air.  Fortunately, I was able to find conveniently-scheduled flights; I left Seattle Sunday night and arrived in Miami Monday morning, then flew to New Orleans yesterday to visit dear friends there for the first time since the summer of ’16.  Sunday morning very early I’ll be flying back to Seattle, which given my legendary hatred of doing anything before noon should give you an idea just how much I want to get home.  Next week I’ll need to be back in Seattle again, but after that I hope to leave Sunset as little as possible for the entire month of February; let’s hope I needn’t travel again before spring, at the earliest.

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Whether we like it or not, the 1st Amendment protects both vaccine misinformation and hate speech.  –  Mike Masnick

Quiet Genocide (#1023)

In which the UN throws away what little credibility it had left:

The Chinese government’s violent oppression of the…Uyghur[s]…is no longer a secret…[its] actions…have been…[properly identified as] genocide…[b]y…the human rights community…[yet] the United Nations, the very institution created to “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights,” is assisting China in its violent efforts to wipe out the Uyghurs by helping the CCP cover its tracks…UN human rights officer-turned whistleblower Emma Reilly…[report]s that prior to every UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session in recent years, China has requested the names of Uyghur and other Chinese dissidents who were scheduled to speak.  And despite this being explicitly forbidden by the UN’s own rules, the UN…has [betrayed them so]…Chinese authorities…[can] use [the information] to harass the dissidents’ families who are still based in China…Reilly…first discovered the practice in 2013…when [her] superior, Eric Tistounet…advis[ed] staffers t[o obey because he was scared of China]…But while the UN has at times acknowledged this indefensible practice, it has simultaneously provided contradictory statements denying it.  When asked about the allegations in March 2017, Tistounet…[barfed out the magic word] “wing” [as though it constituted an excuse]…

Tissue of Lies (#1109)

The latest pig fad: collecting a bunch of unrelated raids, arrests & record updates and calling the resulting dog’s breakfast a “sex trafficking sting”:

Five…teenage [runaways were arrested in New Orleans and] their families [alerted.  In an unrelated record review] 30 [people condemned to the “]sex offender[” registry were also arrested] after…U.S. Marshals [accused them] of violating their…registration requirements…One of the [ar]res[t]ed teens was a 16-year-old girl…suspected of stealing a relative’s car and handgun…[three others appear to have been engaging in survival sex work, and the fifth] was…a[ccused of “]felony human trafficking[“]…

These “operations” were innovated in Georgia after the pandemic made actual “stings” much more difficult, and have since become popular with cop shops all over the US.

Lack of Evidence (#1120) 

Only a prohibitionist could claim banning armed thugs from attacking women for merely existing in public is a “thorny issue”.  And the writer of this piece of trash is definitely a prohibitionist; her assumptions are lurid and puritanical, her heavy use of moronic dysphemisms cringeworthy, and her attempts to prejudice the reader so transparent it’s difficult to believe she thought anyone would fail to see what she was doing (“who are just past their teenage years but looked young enough to be on their way to a high school dance” is used to mean “youthful-looking twentysomethings”).  Most nauseating of all is that the LA Times has such a low opinion of its readers’ intelligence that they believe a pretense of objectivity can be maintained while printing straight-up anti-sex propaganda from people who sound as though they’re making furtive movements in their pants while sharing their ugly masturbatory fantasies with this delusional parrot.

The Widening Gyre (#1136)

More innocent people accused of “sex trafficking” by attention-hungry loons:

“Child luring incident!” read the warning that appeared last Friday on several Teaneck, New Jersey, social media pages.  “A man in a car pulled up and tried to get a child in around 11 am on 12/31/21…[in reality, the “child”]…was…the…14-year-old [son of Debra Passner], who wanted to leave [a family gathering] early (as 14-year-olds often do).  He started walking home, with his parents’ blessing.  Later, when they were driving home themselves, they saw him on the street and slowed down to offer him a ride.  “My son, being a wiseass, says, ‘I don’t take rides from strangers,'” Debra Passner recalls. So she leaned over and called out, “Don’t you like candy? We have candy!”  When their son shook his head, his father said, “Okay, then I’ll follow you.”  But moments later, they drove on.  Once the Passners saw this online, they immediately called the police…[who still felt compelled to invade the family’s privacy before they] issued a press release stating…no attempted luring [of a young man] had occurred…

You Were Warned (#1156)

The bipartisan war on the internet moves us another step closer to idiocracy:

…both [US ruling parties]…want to control the internet in a manner that helps “their team.”  But both approaches involve unconstitutional desires to interfere with 1st Amendment rights.  For Republicans, it’s often the compelled hosting of speech, and for Democrats, it’s often the compelled deletion of speech.  Both…are unconstitutional.  On the Republican side, we’ve already seen states like Florida and Texas [enact] content moderation bills — and both have been blocked for being wholly unconstitutional…some other Republican-controlled states have shelved plans for similar bills, [but]…it looks like the message has not made its way to Democratic-controlled states.  California has been toying with unconstitutional content moderation bills, and now NY has one as well.  Senator Brad Hoylman…has proudly introduced a hellishly unconstitutional social media bill….[to] “hold tech companies accountable for promoting vaccine misinformation and hate speech”…[but] it is unconstitutional to punish anyone for that speech, and it’s even more ridiculous to punish websites that host that content, but had nothing to do with the creation of it.  Believe it or not, the actual details of the bill are even worse than Hoylman’s description of it…

Panopticon (#1171)

Cops will continue to do this until there are criminal penalties for it:

[Cop shops] throughout San Diego County continue to spend thousands of dollars every year on technology that tracks the location of people’s cars, even though the information collected most often has nothing to do with solving crime or protecting the public…five [of these] have been violating state law by sharing this information with agencies all over the United States…that don’t have a…right to access it…including Border Patrol and [ICE]…

To Molest and Rape (#1202) 

Hey, female cops; how’s that collaboration with the police state working out?

A female Pittsburgh [cop was raped by a fellow cop after]…a cookout at the station…she was too drunk to drive home, so [the rapist] drove her to her house…[and] raped her…he later [tried to get her]…not t[o report him, and though]…she [did report him]…no charges were filed…[internal affairs] ultimately recommended the [rapist] be fired…[but] instead [he was given]…a…three day [vacat]ion and [the result was called “public safety”]…

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Diary #602

I’m in Miami Beach right now for Hereticon, a new conference that was originally scheduled for May 2020 in New Orleans until it was torpedoed by the COVID shutdowns.  It was eventually rescheduled for October 2021…then that date, too, was sunk, by Hurricane Ida.  And while I’m glad the conference is finally taking place, I wish they’d been able to keep it in New Orleans.  Miami Beach, as the old song says, ain’t my kinda town, but New Orleans is where I was born, and no matter how far from it I live, there will always be a part of me there.  So I decided to fix what was broken by catastrophes, and when the conference ends on Thursday I’ll be hopping over to the Crescent City (only a two-hour flight from Miami) to visit old friends for a few days.  It meant having to pack for three different temperature ranges while yet keeping it to one suitcase (I don’t like having my luggage out of my control, so one roller bag, a large purse, and whatever I can wear is the limit), but I somehow managed. And I’ll try to get some interesting pictures to share with you.

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Rooted in the Past

It’s hard to believe it has already been a year since I semi-retired, which means it’s been 22 years since I started escorting full time, 27 years since my first husband left me, and just a few days shy of 37 years since the first time I accepted money for sex.  But despite my life being different in a number of ways from what it looked like in 2015, and quite different from what it looked like in 2005, and extremely different from what it looked like in 1995 and 1985, I’m still the same person in many ways.  Obviously I’m much older and much wiser and far more satisfied with my life, even if it doesn’t look anything like 1985 Maggie would have imagined it would look.  And yet, there’s a clear line of continuity across all those decades, and even the changes which might seem major to outsiders (such as moving from librarian to whore, from Louisiana to Washington, and from nigh-total abstinence to daily drug use) are in reality rooted in what went before, in the same way plot developments late in a novel might be foreshadowed in the early chapters.  This was driven home for me just two weeks ago, when one of my cousins suddenly decided to re-establish communication after almost 30 years of none.  We were very close friends for several years in our mid-teens, but when I went to UNO and she went to LSU we lost touch as so often happens, and though we would chat amiably every time she came into the library, we both had poorly-chosen husbands to deal with and she lived on the other side of Lake Pontchartrain.  Apparently, her mother brought me up in conversation at Thanksgiving and it made her realize how much she missed me, so she contacted my sister on Facebook and we were soon playing catch-up.  Once I told her about my activism, she decided to watch the many videos available on YouTube and was struck by how little my vocal inflections, mannerisms, and the like had changed since those long-ago and far-off days when I’d ride my bicycle over to her house and we’d hang out all afternoon doing the sorts of things that seem very important when you’re 15.  Her timing was very good, because next week I’m headed to Miami for a conference, and after that I plan to stop by the New Orleans area for a visit; it’ll be good to see her again after so long, and I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t the first of a series of such returns, unexpected and yet foreshadowed, old loose threads being gathered together to serve a new function in the story of my life.

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It’s coming…it’s coming soon.  –  Rodolfo

This seasonal video is kinda brilliant on several levels.  It was provided by Walter Olson, and the links above it by Tim Cushing, Missy Mariposa, Mike Siegel, Clarissa, David Ley, The Onion, and Mike Peters, in that order.

From the Archives

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Quarter Century

After my first husband left me on January 2nd, 1995, it took me almost two years to climb out of depression.  Beside the fact that I’ve never been good with breakups, there were a number of other traumas for about six months on either side (follow the link above if you’ve never heard the long, sad tale), including one that still tends to upset me every Memorial Day.  I have no interest in rehashing any of that stuff; I’ve written about it all before, and I don’t need to dig up those skeletons to be sure that they’re still there.  But today is an anniversary I may not have mentioned before, and though it followed those other awful events it marks the day I finally got back on course.  1996 wasn’t nearly as bad as 1995, and in the autumn I finally started thinking about the future again.  In the last week of November I sold my house; it was a seller’s market then, and I was able to get a good deal with very little time or effort (which is good, because I had none of either to spare).  Then I called an apartment finder service and told the guy I was willing to pay a year of rent in advance if the landlord was willing to forego the usual bureaucracy and let me sign a pseudonym on the lease; I told him truthfully that I didn’t want my ex-husband or his lawyer to be able to find me.  I know that practically sounds like science fiction now, but September 11th and the police state it spawned were still five years in the future, and back then even regular businesspeople were often willing to do things under the table, especially for attractive, well-spoken young women with cash.  Anyhow, the deal was done and after a difficult downsizing (including the loss of half of my library), I rented a moving truck, and 25 years ago today I moved into the shitty-but-discreet little apartment where I was still living when I started stripping almost a year later.  But on that very first night, after my friends had gone, I walked over to the nearby shopping mall just to kill some time, and got my nails done on a whim.  That’s why I’m so particular about getting them done regularly ever since; for me, it’s not merely an act of self-care but the visible sign of a covenant with myself, a promise never to let things get that out of control again.  And as you can see, I’ve never broken it.

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