My Dots for Sunday, August 26, 2007

“Photo of the Day: Eyebrow. Two Dudes Did WHAT Today? Andrew Sullivan Got Married?” Humorous, colorful photograph of disbelieving “eyebrow guy” in the midst of Times Square. This photograph is presented in stunning high-resolution.

[tags: blogging, blogs, Photo of the Day, Eyebrow, Andrew Sullivan gets married, gay, photograph]

“Andrew Sullivan: Here Comes the Bride, er’ the Groom. Whatever.” Gay blogger Andrew Sullivan, recently named one of the 50 most influential persons in Washington, D.C., marries actor Aaron Tone in Provincetown, Mass. Maybe now Sullivan will blog less about his “marriage blather.” Photographs are included.

[tags: blogs, bloggers, blogging, Andrew Sullivan, gay, gay marriage, celebrities, photograph, photograpy]

See the rest of my Dots at Blue Dot

Posted in Blogs. Comments Off on My Dots for Sunday, August 26, 2007

Photo of the Day: Eyebrow. Two Dudes Did WHAT Today? Andrew Sullivan Got Married?

Andrew Sullivan: Here Comes the Bride, er’ the Groom. Whatever.

Soon-to-be Husband Actor Aaron Tone: Acting Asleep

Andrew Sullivan and Aaron Tone

Another gay marriage blob from Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic on Friday, this time about his own:

“Off to the Chapel [tomorrow, August the 27th]. Well, a garden, actually, but the same idea. I’ll be back after Labor Day, and a brief honeymoon…. In the meantime, wish me luck. I’ll see you on the other side of matrimony…. ‘

And a few days ago, in The London Times, a somewhat jittery Andrew Sullivan wrote:

“So this is what it feels like? In a week’s time I’ll be walking down the aisle with my soon-to-be husband. Our families are both coming for the big day. We’re getting hitched in Massachusetts, where I’ve lived every summer for the past decade or so, and which is the only state in America where civil marriage is legal for everyone.

Every now and again I have to pinch myself. This is real? For me? It is hardly possible that it could be real for anyone. But me? After so long?

A brief personal history: in 1989, as a jejune junior editor at The New Republic, I got involved in an editorial argument about proposed domestic or civil partnerships for gay couples. The idea had emerged in the 1980s in several cities, partly because of the trauma of couples torn asunder by hostile relatives in the Aids crisis.

Some social conservatives were understandably worried that by setting up an institution like “domestic partnership”, we were creating “marriage-lite”, an institution that would spread to heterosexual couples and weaken the responsibilities and prestige of marriage itself.

As a gay conservative I found both arguments compelling. I saw the pressing need to give gay couples legal protection, but I could also see the danger that an easy-come-easy-go pseudo-marriage could pose for society as a whole.

The solution, however, seemed blindingly obvious to me.

“Well, why not let gays get married as well?” I asked. “Isn’t that the true conservative position?”

My liberal bosses loved the idea of irritating conservatives with a conservative argument. So I obliged. The cover illustration was the first time that a leading magazine had put two guys on a wedding cake on the cover.

The piece created a mini-sensation. I enjoyed the buzz, but the more I thought about it the more convinced I became that this was not just a necessary change, but also a long overdue one. With straight marriage no longer legally linked to children, and with gays desperately needing integration into their own families and society, it seemed like a no-brainer to me.

It was a philosophical decision for me, not a personal one. I was in my twenties and had no intention myself of getting married. In fact, I was a pretty swinging bachelor. But it was the principle that mattered.

Almost two decades later, after years of intense political debate, after years of personal activism, court cases, congressional testimony, threatened constitutional amendments, civil disobedience and a global revolution in marriage rights, the political has now become personal for me. It’s a week away. And I officially have the jitters.

We decided on the most minimalist wedding possible – basically close family only. (We’ll have a bigger party for friends later.) We’re getting married in the same place – a beach house – where we are having the tiny reception. It’s a block down the beach from where we live.

We have the licence, the judge, the clothes, the menu, the photographer (although he hasn’t been in touch lately – gulp), and the rings. I’ve written out the civil liturgy. We’ve settled on the vows. I should relax now, right?

The other night it hit me for the first time that this is really about to happen. I guess I had just put it out of my head until it was only a matter of a week or so away. My fiance, Aaron, and I have lived together for three years. I have no qualms about our actual relationship. For me, this is for life.

However, standing up in front of my family and my spouse’s and saying the vows out loud has me in a state of butterflies. I can go on television and barely break a sweat, but I’m terrified of performing in front of my own family.

I’m scared that I’ll lose it. I bawled through the last same-sex wedding I went to. When I was diagnosed with HIV 14 years ago, I assumed that this day would never come. And now that it has, the emotional impact is a little hard to measure.

You fight for something, never expecting it to happen, let alone to you, and then it does and it can overwhelm. Taking yes for an answer can be harder than no.

Maybe it’s a function of having overthought this issue for so long; maybe it’s just handling a big family occasion of any sort (Christmas is bad enough). Maybe it’s a lifetime in which my actual relationships have always been private, or so targeted by political enemies that I’ve become very defensive.

Maybe I’m scared that two decades of passionate advocacy in theory is easier than a simple act in practice. But whatever the reason, going public with my husband – even in front of our supportive families – is suddenly much tougher than I expected. My throat is a little dry. My stomach is a little unsettled.

My sister e-mailed support: “Don’t worry, it is natural to stress, I practically had a baby the day before mine! 75 to the church, another 75 in the evening, the food, the flowers, the photos, all those people watching me!

“On the day it just felt like a dream, I felt like I was letting out a huge breath all day, like that waiting to exhale, I exhaled all day and it was wonderful.”

Our wedding is much smaller. My old friend and marriage advocate Evan Wolfson reassured me as well: “You’re supposed to be in a zombie state till the beauty of it breaks through.”

Are zombies nervous? They never seem to be. They just stagger forward. Oh, well. Here goes . . .

I, Andrew, take you, Aaron, to be no other than yourself. Loving what I know of you, trusting what I don’t yet know, with respect for your integrity, and faith in your abiding love for me, through all our years, and in all that life may bring us, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part, I accept you as my husband and pledge my love to you.

So revolutionary for some; so simple for me. For the first time in my adult life I will have a home.

And reported even earlier in the Washington Post:

Getting hitched: Conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan and his partner of three years, artist-actor Aaron Tone. The New York Observer set off a blogger guessing game yesterday when it reported that Sullivan is making it legal with an actor appearing in Studio Theatre’s production of “The Pillowman,” whom it erroneously ID’d as simply “Eric.”

No big mystery: Sullivan, 43, and Tone, 31, have been domestic partners in D.C. for two years, and will marry in Provincetown, Mass., this August. The couple originally planned to wed last year until a “book crisis” postponed the event. “There’s no way to pull off a book and a wedding at the same time,” Sullivan told us. No word what role their beloved dogs Dusty and Eddy will play in the small ceremony, but they’re “definitely” in the wedding party.

And even more, from The N.Y. Observer:

Andrew, did you see David?” said authoress and blogger den mother Arianna Huffington to writer Andrew Sullivan as Hollywood mogul David Geffen approached. The group had coalesced outside the Hilton banquet hall as they attempted an early exit from the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.

Yes! We just had sex!” Mr. Sullivan said. “Safe sex!”

That’s right,” the bald billionaire replied with a laugh. “Standing up, because we can.” Then Mr. Geffen turned more serious. “Now what’s this I hear? You’re getting married?” he inquired.

Yes,” said Mr. Sullivan, the wedding would be in late August. “He’s got hair on his back and everything.” Mr. Geffen nodded sagely. “All the things you like in a man,” he said. “Congratulations.”

Later that night, at the Vanity Fair party held at Christopher Hitchens’ house, The Transom pried loose a few wedding details from Mr. Sullivan’s fiancé, Aaron, an actor (last name withheld at Mr. Sullivan’s request): It’s going to be a small affair, mostly family, to take place in Provincetown, Mass.

We haven’t done much yet to prepare,” said Aaron, who is currently starring in the Studio Theatre production of The Pillowman. “We’ve rented the house where we’re going to have it—that’s about it. It’s on the beach.”

Mr. Sullivan was standing nearby, wearing a tux and his trademark Dr. Martens. Would he be allowed to wear those hogs to the wedding? “Absolutely not,” Aaron said.

No, but we don’t need to talk it over,” Aaron said. “He won’t be wearing those.”

Now, all of this Sullivan-Tone matrimonial bliss must be REALLY, REALLY big news, since Matthew Yglesias at The Atlantic just pointed out that Andrew Sullivan has been named as one of the 50 most influential people in Washington, D. C. by GQ Magazine:

“You may have read on the internet that Andrew Sullivan is the 46th most powerful person in Washington, but as best I can tell you need to get your hands on a copy of the print GQ to find the real news of the list — Ross and I are “up and coming” powerful just like the mayor and Susan Rice.

You might be tempted to look at this list and nitpick. Does it really make sense to say that John Podesta is more powerful than Ben Bernanke? Suppose Podesta wanted to cause a global financial meltdown, or plunge the country into recession . . . what he could do about it? Nothing. But then you realize, no, this list must be one hundred percent accurate since it correctly identifies me as one of the centrally important figures of our time.

David Bradley, owner and Supreme Leader of the Atlantic Media Company is also on the list, but since he doesn’t have a blog it’s difficult for him to brag about it in a somewhat ironic and self-effacing manner. Point being: the Atlantic Media Company and its associated blogs are very, very, very powerful or, in some cases, up and coming as powerful. Be afraid.”

Okay, Andrew Sullivan and other Atlantic Magazine bloggers have become big movers-and-shakers in D.C. I just hope that after tomorrow, we don’t have to continue hearing so much of Sullivan’s “marriage blather.”

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My Articles for Thursday, August 23, 2007

“Photo of the Day: Night at the East River.” This is a stunning photograph of a man alone, gazing in dark solitude at New York’s East River. The photograph is presented in high-resolution.

[tags: blogs, Photo of the Day, Night at the East River, photo, photograph, New York City]

Grace Paley, the author and social activist who explored in pungent and tragicomic style the struggles of ordinary women muddling through everyday lives, died on Wednesday at home in Vermont. She also lived in New York’s Greenwich Village. Ms. Paley was New York’s first official state author and a poet laureate of Vermont. Photograph and video are included.

[tags: blogs, Grace Paley, Grace Paley dies, celebrities, news, video, photograph, New York City]

The Columbia Journalism Review details how Matt Drudge continues to distort and poison political discourse in the media. Specifically, it details how The Drudge Report fabricated the so-called recent “cat-fight” between Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, and how his distortions spread like wildfire through the mainstream media.

[tags: blogs, Matt Drudge, The Drudge Report, celebrities, politics, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton]

See the Rest of My Articles at Blue Dot

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Photo of the Day: Night at the East River

Posted in Art, Blog, blogger, blogging, Blogs, Blue Dot, Cultural, Culture, image, New York City, NYC, photograph, Photography, Social, Social Life, Society, United States. Comments Off on Photo of the Day: Night at the East River

Grace Paley, Celebrated Writer and Social Activist, Dies at 84

Grace Paley, Thetford Hill, Vermont

Grace Paley (megaphone) and Gloria Steinem (center)

Demonstrating for the Women of Iran, Who Demanded Their Rights in the 1979 Revolution

Margalit Fox reported the death of Grace Paley, renowned writer and social activist, in today’s edition of The New York Times:

“Grace Paley, the celebrated writer and social activist whose short stories explored in precise, pungent and tragicomic style the struggles of ordinary women muddling through everyday lives, died on Wednesday at her home in Thetford Hill, Vt. She was 84 and also had an apartment in Manhattan.

Ms. Paley had been ill with breast cancer for some time, her literary agent, Elaine Markson, said yesterday.

Ms. Paley’s output was modest, some four dozen stories in three volumes: “The Little Disturbances of Man” (Doubleday, 1959); “Enormous Changes at the Last Minute” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1974); and “Later the Same Day” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1985). But she attracted a devoted following and was widely praised by critics for her pitch-perfect dialogue, which managed at once to be surgically spare and almost unimaginably rich.

Her “Collected Stories,” published by Farrar, Straus in 1994, was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. (The collection was reissued by Farrar, Straus this year.) From 1986 to 1988, Ms. Paley was New York’s first official state author; she was also a past poet laureate of Vermont.

Ms. Paley was among the earliest American writers to explore the lives of women — mostly Jewish, mostly New Yorkers — in all their dailiness. She focused especially on single mothers, whose days were an exquisite mix of sexual yearning and pulverizing fatigue. In a sense, her work was about what happened to the women that Roth and Bellow and Malamud’s men had loved and left behind.

To read Ms. Paley’s fiction is to be awash in the shouts and murmurs of secular Yiddishkeit, with its wild onrushing joy and twilight melancholy. For her, cadence and character went hand in hand: her stories are marked by their minute attention to language, with its tonal rise and fall, hairpin rhetorical reversals and capacity for delicious hyperbolic understatement. Her stories, many of which are written in the first person and seem to start in mid-conversation, beg to be read aloud.

Some critics found Ms. Paley’s stories short on plot, and in fact much of what happens is that nothing much happens. Affairs begin, babies are born, affairs end. Mothers gather in the park. But that was the point. In Ms. Paley’s best stories, the language is so immediate, the characters so authentic, that the text is propelled by an innate urgency — the kind that makes readers ask, “And then what happened?

Open Ms. Paley’s first collection, “The Little Disturbances of Man,” to the first story, “Goodbye and Good Luck”:

I was popular in certain circles, says Aunt Rose. I wasn’t no thinner then, only more stationary in the flesh. In time to come, Lillie, don’t be surprised — change is a fact of God. From this no one is excused. Only a person like your mama stands on one foot, she don’t notice how big her behind is getting and sings in the canary’s ear for thirty years. Who’s listening? Papa’s in the shop. You and Seymour, thinking about yourself. So she waits in a spotless kitchen for a kind word and thinks — poor Rosie. …

Poor Rosie! If there was more life in my little sister, she would know my heart is a regular college of feelings and there is such information between my corset and me that her whole married life is a kindergarten.”


Interested readers can access the full version of The New York Times article here.

The Washington Post published a detailed article today about Grace Paley’s death, which interested readers can access here.

Grace Paley: The 2007 Robert Lowell Memorial Lecture

In the video above, Grace Paley reads from her short fiction and poetry. Paley gave the Robert Lowell Memorial Lecture: Celebrating the Legacy of Room 222 in April 2007. In the 1950s, visiting lecturer Robert Lowell taught poets Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and George Starbuck, among others, in Room 222 at 236 Bay State Road (Boston University). Paley is introduced by Robert Pinsky, a College of Arts and Sciences professor of English and three-time U.S. poet laureate.

Paley is known for her short fiction, her poems, and her political activism. She was the author of three books of short fiction: The Little Disturbances of Man, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, and Later the Same Day. A compilation of her previously published work, The Collected Stories, was reprinted this spring. She published three books of poetry, Leaning Forward, New and Collected Poems, and Begin Again: Collected Poems, and a book of short stories and poetry, Long Walks and Intimate Talk.

She received the Edith Wharton Award, the Rea Award for the Short Story, the Vermont Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and the Jewish Cultural Achievement Award for Literary Arts. She was a member of the National Academy of Arts and Letters and was named New York state’s first official writer.

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Matt Drudge Continues to Put the Yellow Back in Journalism

Matt Drudge, the GOP Toy 

Another View of Drudge

Drudge Set to Promote Obama-Clinton WWE Jello-Wrestling Bout

The Columbia Journalism Review comments on Matt Drudge’s intentionally poisonous effects on journalism, and in particular upon campaign reporting:

“Thank you, Matt Drudge, for providing us all with a brief respite from what might have otherwise been yet another ho-hum August day of campaign reporting.  Because who cares what candidates are saying about Iraq or Cuba or assault rifles when “OBAMA WIFE SLAMS HILLARY?” (as Drudge casually wondered aloud across the top of his web site yesterday morning).  Cat fight!

Drudge linked his teaser to a Chicago Sun-Times column in which a line from a recent Michelle Obama stump speech—”…if you can’t run your own house, you can’t run the White House”—was referenced sans context along with the suggestion (Drudge bait!) by columnist Jennifer Hunter that it “could be interpreted as a swipe at Hillary Clinton.”  Drudge linked.  Bloggers dissected.  And predictably, Drudge soon saw his all-caps question mirrored back at him from television screens tuned to network and cable news.  Some examples:

“MRS. OBAMA ATTACK?” — CNN’s American Morning this morning

“FAMILY VALUES: Did Obama’s Wife Slam Clinton?” — NBC’s Today Show this morning

“MRS. OBAMA AIMS AT SEN. CLINTON?” and “MRS. OBAMA VS. SEN. CLINTON: Cheap shot or fair territory?” — Fox News’ Fox & Friends this morning

No matter that Mrs. Obama’s “if you can’t run your own house” line could also be “interpreted” in other, less “newsworthy” ways, particularly when read in context (she was talking, as she has before on the stump, about her own family’s efforts to balance work and family time).  No matter that Barack Obama told reporters (when asked on a conference call yesterday morning) that his wife was not referring to Clinton.  Once flagged by Drudge, the Sun-Times’ suggested “interpretation”—them’s fightin’ words!—was the one that ricocheted around the media echo chamber.”

Interested readers can access the full Columbia Journalism Review article here.

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