Saturday, September 30, 2006

(50) October 5, 2005 A "Whirlwind" Year...

2005: First Class Stamp $0.37 cents
Hurricane Katrina wreaks catastrophic damage on the Gulf coast
The marriage of The Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles
The U.S. death toll in Iraq reaches 2,000.
LOGO, a TV channel for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adults,
is launched in the United States.
Pope John Paul II Dies
"My Name is Earl" premieres on NBC
"Brokeback Mountain", "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"
and "RENT" in theaters
Oil Prices rise sharply following the economic effects
of Hurricane Katrina
In the passage of years, it has been my experience sometimes one comes along and in a short time changes everything. This was a year like that for me. In short order my role in the food business had changed, my Mother and only parent died, an old love returned full force to recapture me, I moved temporarily to Texas, and on my birthday this year I found myself in a devastated New Orleans picking through Wade's damaged life. It was a fast and furious year, situations changing from one day to the next, and it had been a long time since the ground shifted under me quite like that. But finding myself in a year of quiet contemplation afterwards, I finally understood these lines from an Indigo Girl's song I memorized long ago:
"We own nothing, nothing is ours.
Not even love so fierce it burns like baby stars.
But this poverty is our greatest gift.
The weightlessness of us as things around begin to shift"

Friday, September 29, 2006

(49) October 5, 2004 Arty Appetite

2004: First Class Stamp $0.37 cents
Enormous tsunami devastates Asia
U.S. media release photos of abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.
San Francisco begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples
Chechen terrorists take between 1,000+ people hostage,
mostly children, in a school
Mount St. Helens becomes active again
Fahrenheit 9/11
"Desperate Housewives" premieres on ABC
"Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events"
and "The Incredibles" in theaters
Gay Marriages begin in Massachusetts,
the first state in the country to legalize such unions
The year when all roads led to "Arty Appetite." A collaboration between my brother-in-law the food designer and me, I had been thinking about the similarities between artists names and food for a long time, and this was the natural projection. I spent this year setting up the business with my sister and developing the first food items. My marketing strategy was to introduce the products first to American Museum gift stores, since I knew they did not traditionally sell gourmet food and this would make this product very visible quickly. By the end of this year we had found placement in 2/3rd of the nation's art museums, and all of this from a basement office in a small Illinois town. The most exciting gift from the Universe this year was being chosen as #2 gift product by the Washington Post for their annual Christmas Gift Buying List...against such esteemed design companies at Neiman Marcus and the various national design firms. And all this within six months of the product's initial launch. A very exciting time, it spurred a lot of media attention this year, and it proved to me once again the power of focus and belief in the process of life.

(48) October 5, 2003 An unexpected birthday surprise...

2003: First Class Stamp $0.37 cents
In the State of the Union address, Bush announces
that he will attack Iraq even without a UN mandate
Space shuttle Columbia explodes, killing all 7 astronauts
More than 10 million people protest in over 600 cities worldwide,
the largest war protest to take place before the war occurs.
Rush Limbaugh publicly admits
he is addicted to prescription pain medication
The "Green River Killer" confesses
Dan Brown publishes "The Da Vinci Code"
"Carnivale" premieres on HBO
"Big Fish", "Matrix Reloaded", "Matrix Revolution" in theaters
"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" premieres on Brav0
Imagine my surprise on my birthday this year when I went to a movie with a friend and found one of my candles featured in it. We had no idea to expect it, so it was quite the feeling of "kismet." The movie was "Connie and Carla", a silly romp through the world of drag queens. Now, the candles have been pictured in many books and magazine, backdrops in movies and on stage, but what made this special was there was an entire scene devoted to my old "Our Lady of Drag Queens" candle. Having left these images behind, it was comforting to see them inspiring others, and it felt like seeing an old friend. This was also the year a musical inspired by my poor white trash paperdolls made it's debut in Chicago, "Lust in the Rust." Two more concrete examples of my belief that we are all pools of creativity overlapping and building on the energy of each other. And definitely a sign to go forward for me.

(47) October 5, 2002 More Diamonds in the Dreck

2002: First Class Stamp $0.37 cents
U.S. President George W. Bush signs the
Homeland Security Act into law
Snipers prey upon DC suburbs, killing ten and wounding others
North Korea admits to developing nuclear arms in defiance of treaty
Gay Canadian teenager Marc Hall is is allowed
to attend his high school prom with his boyfriend.
"American Idol" premieres on FOX
"Six Feet Under" debuts on HBO
HIV is leading cause of death worldwide, among those aged 15-59
This year found me with my family in Illinois dealing with my mother's ailments and working the Illinois auction circuit with my sister. We concentrated on purchasing what we knew well from estates (like 30-50's ceramics, Nippon ceramics, 50's toys and kisch items, and of course costume jewelry) and selling it on Ebay. It was surprising how often we actually found real jewelry in the mix, and at one auction we actually unearthed a $10,300.00 diamond, sapphire, and platinum brooch we purchased for $20.00. It was really fun to do auctions during this time, and I learned a lot about the antique and collectible market. I tended to be the one that bid when we attended, because I have nerves of steel and a poker face in such situations, and my background and knowledge in design really came to play here. But most precious of all to me was, during this time, I was around my nieces when they were small. We got to know each other much better as people and I was not just the "crazy aunt" that arrived at Christmas. A much needed and healing dose of kid energy. :)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

It's all set...

The reservations are complete...I will actually be staying at the Flagship Hotel in Galveston for my birthday. This tickles me, because in childhood I spent many hours combing the beach around the Flagship pier, looking for all manner of shells protected by the pillars. I actually watched it catch fire one Fourth of July during a fireworks display. I have a lot of memories that include this place. Wade reminded me this morning that my 40th was at the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle, and that this might mean I must spend every major birthday "over the sea" in some way. Perhaps I am a mermaid after all. It really is the perfect choice. Here is a postcard image from the Flagship from the 60's for all you old Texas beach babies. :)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

(46) October 5, 2001 In a small theater in Arkansas

2001: First Class Stamp $0.34 cents
George W. Bush is sworn in as the 43rd President of the United States
Andrea Yates drowns her children in a bathtub
ENRON files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
Black Monolith found in Seattle's Magnuson Park, by an anonymous artist
in reference to the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.
"Six Feet Under" debuts on HBO
"Moulin Rouge" and "Donnie Darko" in theaters
"Moulin Rogue"; just the thought of this movie makes me smile. The world seemed so bleak at this time, and the realization that our countries election had been "hi-jacked" in such a way effected almost everyone I knew, and struck terror in the heart of this Texan. The bright spot this year was definitely Xi. Met on a message board on AOL, she was a true diamond in the dreck. A kindred spirit and artist, we saw this Baz Lurhman's movie together in a dusty Arkansas theater when I visited her at her mountain home that summer. How could you not admire a woman that would jump in a pickup truck and drive 11 hours just to meet? She came just when I needed to believe in magic again. And through her, I regained some of my faith in human beings in general, and lesbians in particular. This is an art letter she sent to me, the one describing our first meeting. I will never forget your kindness my friend, and will cherish this memory of how we met always.

(45) October 5, 2000 A Message from my Grandmother

2000: First Class Stamp $0.34 cents
The peak of the Dot-com bubble
Seattle's Kingdome implodes to make way for Qwest Field
Rare astrology conjunction consisted of: the Sun and Moon,
Mercury Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn
Santana released " Supernatural "
Prince plays his classic song 1999 to celebrate the new century in NYC,
and then vows to never play it again..
Supreme Court seals Bush victory by 5-4
"O'Brother, Where Art Thou" and "Chocolat" in theaters
"Survivor" debuts on CBS
This year found me in San Antonio. Texas has always been a "weigh" station for me in some respects, a place I return to when I need to contemplate and find new direction. I worked diligently on my health problems that year, and enjoyed my solitude, especially after the whirlwind of the years in Seattle. It was a completely different culture, and I spent some time traveling on my own and really enjoying being steeped once again in the Hispanic way of life. Being the grandchild of a somewhat famous white "curador de mujer sabio," and being concerned with my health that year, I went with a Spanish speaking friend to consult a local "Curcandera" in San Antonio to inquire of my fate. This amazing old woman gave me tea and cookies, and then told me she recognized me through my grandmother. As a young woman she had known my grandmother well, and had studied healing arts informally with her for a while. Then she produced a crudely carved staff given to her by my grandmother, and this she gave to me. The friend I took along and I were completely shocked by this turn of events. We never did talk about why I was visiting her or my ailments, but I have come to realize that she was surely a message from my grandmother to me. It is indeed a small world in many ways and on many different levels.

NOT a birthday Blog...(LOL)

Boy, if you ever want to gain perspective on your life, just choose and write a memory about every year of it leading up to a big birthday. A lot of work has gone into this, and reflection as well. I guess people are generally too busy living day to day to see patterns and dramatic shifts in their lives, and this exercise has been very enlightening to me on a personal level. To see where something began, how attitudes and society shifted, how things ended that seemed abrupt at the time in such a linear way has been a true gift. I have worried this would all be too self indulgent, but heck, it's my should be reflective of what I am thinking, feeling, experiencing in life at the time, right? This birthday has brought me to a big turning point in my life, and not knowing just what this means or what it look like yet, it does help to reflect on where I've been.
At lunch at a chinese food restaurant today, I got a fortune cookie fortune that said this " The finest structure can house the worst evil." I have been collecting fortunes from fortune cookies since the mid-eighties and I've never gotten one like this one. Gives one pause considering the current political climate, and given the culture's obsession with how things "look" and how little substance is truly valued. I think how must Walden have felt in his time, or other great writers and artists in theirs. So many distractions, so little true solitude available to most people. It is a wonder PROZAC isn't available in vending machines.
A beautiful day in Texas, bright, clear with a kiss of fall in the air. Finds me musing on the Universe and the meaning of life again. Like this is something new. :)

(44) October 5, 1999 Seattle WTO Riots

1999: First Class Stamp $0.33 cents
Spongebob Squarepants debuts on Nickelodeon
Leonardo da Vinci's newly-restored masterpiece "The Last Supper"
is put back on display after years of restoration
The initial release of Napster
"Livin' La Vida Loca"
The 6 billionth person in the world, according to the UN is born
Concerns arise of serious Y2K problems with computer systems.
Columbine High School Tragedy
"Boy's Dont Cry", "American Beauty",
"Being John Malkovich", and "The Matrix" in theaters
John F. Kennedy Jr. lost at sea in in his plane
When the World Trade Organization met in Seattle this year, all hell broke loose. I actually had to give my employees several days off, as I was concerned with their safety commuting through downtown Seattle to work in the Kingdome area. Thousands upon thousands of protestors were everywhere, and downtown really saw their wrath. I was honestly surprised there were not more arrests, and if Seattle police hadn't been so "politically correct" I think there would have been. Funny thing was, I agreed with some of the platforms the protestors stood for, but there is always those that take advantage of any situation and loot and damage property for the fun of it. I had several accounts with stores downtown, and in the aftermath we heard stories and saw the damage firsthand of this "peaceful" protest. There was definitely a climate of fear, both around Y2K and the future of this country, settling around Seattle at this time. Rapid changes afoot for the region, and not for the better. With unexpected illness, love in a far away place, and a heavy heart I made the decision to leave Seattle this year.

(43) October 5, 1998 Teatro ZinZanni and Douglas

1998: First Class Stamp $0.32 cents
Smoking is banned in all California bars and restaurants
The wife of Saturday Night Live comedian Phil Hartman kills him...
while Charlton Heston becomes president of the NRA
Monica Lewinsky
Apple Computers introduce the iMac
Frank Sinatra dies
Jessee Ventura elected Govenor of Minnesota.
Elton John is knighted by Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace
"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and "God and Monsters" in theaters
Matthew Shepard, gay Wyoming student, fatally beaten in hate crime
This was the year everything changed for me. After fighting the good fight, I was removed from my home of six years by my landlord Douglas, who had a little problem with my home alter items and the thought of such a "visible" lesbian in his building. I took this very hard, as I am a creature of my home, and this is the first time I truly realized that law was not fairly distributed to all citizens. A really rude awakening. So began the feeling of impermanence that has haunted me ever since.
Teatro ZinZanni opened in Seattle this year, and I was privledged to be invited to the opening night of this production by my association with One Reel Productions. It was clear from the very beginning this was an unusually creative dinner theater, and I must have taken every single person I knew to see it over the first run. It was a very bright spot in a very difficult year, and I would highly recommend it as an experience to anyone visiting Seattle or San Francisco.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

(42) October 5, 1997 "Bubba" and "Nadine"

1997: First Class Stamp $0.32 cents
Hong Kong returns to Chinese rule
Bill Clinton is back for a second term
Heaven's Gate Cult members commit mass suicide in California
"MMMBop" :::shiver::: again
First "Harry Potter" by J.K.Rowling is published
Diana, Princess of Wales dies in car crash
"South Park" is aired for the first time on Comedy Central.
Murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace
"Titanic" and "Men in Black" in theaters
AIDS is 8th leading cause of death in U.S.
Spent a lot of time and effort getting Bill Clinton back in office, and finished the 18 month painting jag it took to publish my "Twister Ridge" Poor White Trash Paperdoll Book. I had actually started on a drag queen paperdoll book, and scrapped it in the last hour because it was rumored Chronicle Books in San Francisco was publishing one and I didn't want to compete. I learned a very valuable lesson from this, because the book they published was not all that great, and my dolls were really fun and I am sure would have sold better to the general public. C'est La Vie.
I came to love "Bubba" and "Nadine" just as well, and the media around their launch was intense. This was the year of the big article in the Seattle Times Magazine that featured me and used the paperdolls as a design element, and the year that my home alter was featured in the artist's home studio walk by COCA Museum. After this, I was suddenly "known" by people on the street everywhere I went, and this was very disconcerting for me. I know there are people that love this kind of attention, but I promise it is not all it is cracked up to be. Especially as an artist, since it really cuts down on your ability to observe and reflect life when your anonymity is gone.

(41) October 5, 1996 Must have been a slow news day...

1996: First Class Stamp $0.32 cents
The musical RENT officially opens on Broadway
Lisa Marie Presley files for divorce from Michael Jackson
Britain alarmed by an outbreak of "mad cow" disease
"MACARENA" :::shiver:::
"Toy Story" First Computer Generated Animated Film
JonBenet Ramsey Mystery
F.B.I arrests suspected Unabomber
Greg Louganis, an Olympic diving medalist, revealed that he has AIDS.
First performance of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues.
The number of HIV-positive people worldwide
was estimated at 22,000,000,
more than the population of Australia.

The last big milestone birthday happened this year, and the above display ad in the Seattle "Stranger" appeared during my birthday week. I still haven't figured out how my friends managed this, as nobody ever gets these in the cooler-than-you Stranger. Even though it was a pretty spectacular birthday, I'll leave these memories for all that participated in the debauchery. And definitely the pictures of everyone wearing my birthday hat will stay in the album for now. Great for blackmail later...Bwaa-Haa-Haa What happens in the "Beatle Suite" should stay in the "Beatle Suite" (LOL)
No, the thing that stands out to me about this year was that on Dec. 11th, I had a very strange thing happen to me, one that I don't think happens everyday to everybody. I have thought about this many times, and wonder what my horoscope looked like on this particular day. It started out pretty normally, as I was busy and involved in two businesses at the time. But by the end of the day I ended up being interviewed for CNN Business Radio and Internet News Feed in the morning for one company, and involved in the first "Internet" wedding with the other company that was covered by all news media, including CNN National News and Fox News in the evening. Anyone that knows me well knows I tend to avoid publicity that features "me" as a person like the plague, and it was indeed a strange day.

(40) October 5, 1995 Miracle on 18th Street, Fremont

1995: First Class Stamp $0.32 cents
O.J.Simpson is found not guilty of double murder
Oklahoma City Federal Building Bombed
DVD Optical Disc Storage Media Format is announced
"The Sweetest Taboo" -Sade
EBAY founded in California.
"Toy Story" First Computer Generated Animated Film
SELENA is murdered in Corpus Christi
"Boys on the Side" and "Dolores Claiborne" released in theaters
Greg Louganis, an Olympic diving medalist, revealed that he has AIDS. .
53,769 AIDS Deaths in the USA
Being the activist and idealist I always was, of course I carved some of the profits from my business and donated to various causes in my community. Additionally this was the year I was asked to participate as an artist /designer in the "Miracle on 18th Street" miniature golf course in Fremont, and I was honored to do so. Eighteen artists and businesses in Seattle designed miniature golf holes that were played through the weekend and then sold at the end and all proceeds were donated to Bailey-Boushay Hospice House in Seattle. Other entrants that year included SUB POP, The Seattle Symphony, The Set Crew of Northern Exposure, ENTROS, and even Muszak was involved. I was the only female artist included, and I actually built (with the generous participation of Bob Kramer and J.) a double sided alterpiece, with the Virgin Mary kicking up her skirt on one side and Kali the destroyer with her many arms and swords whacking at golf balls on the other.(LOL) It actually sold for the highest price paid for a golf hole as art that year, and it now resides somewhere in Austin, Texas. It still sets me to giggling that it is still out there as someone's bizarre lawn art.

Friday, September 22, 2006

(39) October 5, 1994 Warehouse Angels

1994: First Class Stamp $0.29 cents
Nancy Kerrigan attacked while skating
Edvard Munch Painting "The Scream" stolen and recovered in Oslo
John Wayne Gacy put to death
" All I Wanna Do" -Sheryl Crow
Kurt Cobain found dead in his home in Seattle
" The Shawshank Redemption", "Heavenly Creatures" and
"The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert" in theaters
"ER" and "Friends" premiere on NBC
A Benetton ad depicted Ronald Reagan with Kaposi Sarcoma
(a rare cancer contracted by many with AIDS) lesions.
47,663 AIDS Deaths in the USA

When I say life changed, I am not kidding. My little company grew much bigger faster than I could ever have imagined, and I was so lucky that these angels were right there to take the load. "The Warehouse" as it came to be called was always bustling with activity, people, food, laughter, and yes, we actually got the work done too. Such a magnetic, happy place folks would drop by on their days off to hang out and help. There are so many stories about this time of excitement...from shipping candles to Italy, Iceland, and Japan; selling candles directly to Michael Jackson for a party; the press all over the nation exploding. But those memories don't even "hold a candle" to my memories of the people who worked with me and the family we became. Brian, Chris, Stacey, and Mark you were my rocks. I will always be grateful that you were there with me.

(38) October 5, 1993 Everyday Icons

1993: First Class Stamp $0.29 cents
First World Trade Center Bombing in NYC
First Issue of "Wired" Magazine published
Lorena Bobbitt
Prince changes his name to an unpronounceable symbol
Brandon Lee is accidentally killed filming "The Crow"
" The Nightmare before Christmas"
Like Water for Chocolate is published by Laura Esquivel
"Frasier" premieres on NBC
Clinton agrees to compromise on military's ban on Homosexuals
CDC updated its definition of AIDS to include new opportunistic infections.
43,769 AIDS Deaths in the USA
The jewelry company was doing well, but the influx of imported items showing up in highly juried craft fairs gave every craft artist pause. I was attending the Houston International Show that year by myself, and as always arrived to a warm welcome. But the handwriting was on the wall for all craft people, and I was thinking of new ideas as I made my travels that spring. I had been making a line of "Everyday" Icon Brooch pins, with little prayers inside like the wall pieces I had made in Seattle for galleries. Standing in line at a Feista Market, buying a roast beef sandwich and a Coke (I still have the receipt from that purchase), I spied a huge display of Hispanic Religious Candles. Now I always bought candles to take home with me to Seattle, as some of the subjects were truly strange and wonderful to me. In a moment of divine inspiration standing right there it occurred to me that "I could do this"...make humorous faux religious candles based on the issues that plagued modern life. Of course I continued that train of thought, and when I returned home I started the work to make it happen. Everyone thought I was a little crazy, but that really never stopped me from anything in life. By the Fall, I had the first eight designs completed for the candles, and started marketing to my existing customer base by mail. In a flash, my life and business totally changed.

My Studio Alter Circa 1992

No, I don't think I'll be describing the contents of this one anytime soon, thank your lucky stars. (LOL)

(37) October 5, 1992 BUMBERSHOOT

1992: First Class Stamp $0.29 cents
Violence erupts in Los Angeles over Rodney King
George Bush Sr. "upchucked" in Japan
Amy Fisher shoots at Mary Jo Buttafuoco
Dan Quayle erroneously corrects a student's spelling of the word potato
Kurt Cobain married Courtney Love
Sub Pop creates the "grunge -speak" hoax, tricking
The New York Times into printing an article
"No Ordinary Love" by Sade
Sinead O'Conner rips the up the Pope on Saturday Night Live
FDA began "accelerated approval" of drugs to combat HIV.
40,587 AIDS Deaths in the USA
This year found J. and I traveling the country to juried art shows with Three Tacky Texans jewelry. Because of our burgeoning notoriety, we experienced a lot of people and places on the road that were truly memorable, but one of my favorite shows that year was BUMBERSHOOT in hometown Seattle. A well known and respected art and music festival, there were only 50 slots available for juried artists that year, and we were miraculously accepted. I say this was a miracle because we were very underground, and not your average lovely trinkets usually accepted to shows of this nature. Of course the world was exploding with "Grunge Music Fever", and this festival was like ground zero of all that energy. There were record producers, entertainment lawyers, and just about anyone you could name as a celebrity at the time present in the 1,500,000+ crowd, and I have never been so exhausted in my life from doing a show. It was estimated that we saw at least 375,000 people walk by the tent each day in that four day period, and they truly herded by like cattle and once the gates were open it never let up. Being the identified cool "outsider" artist of the show kept me busy and talking constantly, and my jewelry became "the thing" to purchase there. The Indigo Girls played that year in the big stadium as an opening act, and I was so busy that I couldn't break away as planned to see them perform. So I worked at setting up shop that Saturday morning listening to the sound of Amy and Emily tuning up while preparing for the hoards to descend once again. It was a show I'll never forget.

(36) October 5, 1991 A Christmas Story

1991: First Class Stamp $0.29 cents
Dr. Jack Kervorkian assisted in medical suicides
Video captures the beating of Rodney King
"Thelma and Louise"
The First Form of Worldwide Web goes online
The Van Gogh Museum recovers 20 paintings stolen
Serial Killers Ailien Wuornos and Jeffrey Dahmer confess
The collapse of The Soviet Union
Freddie Mercury dies in his sleep just 24 hours
after announcing that he had AIDS
"The Silence of the Lambs"
GRUNGE is BORN with Nirvana
Madonna publishes "SEX"
Magic Johnson announced he was HIV-positive.
36,175 AIDS Deaths in the USA
I have told this story many times, as it is one of the best expressions of love I have ever personally experienced. A small story, but a meaningful one to me.
In was December 1991 in Seattle, and J. and I had just finished having dinner at Tup Tum Thai restaurant on Queen Anne. I am sure that included at least Three *** Lemon Grass Soup with shrimp, but what I don't remember is what we were heatedly arguing about. Both of us left the restaurant in a foul mood, angry and not speaking, I am sure all couples can relate. We crossed the street to the other side where our truck was parked, and in doing so walked past an antique store, all decked out with vintage Christmas finery. In icy silence, not a word between us, I remember looking in the window and seeing an angel tree topper. Not your average angel, but exactly the type that was on my Christmas tree as a child. It had been years since I had seen one, and I gasped out loud. It really was nothing special, just a simple die cut angel printed in Germany with gold wings, but what made it special was the Fiberglas rays that reflected the colored bulb behind it and the Fiberglas "cloud" it nestled into. I called J. over to look at it, and told her when I was a child that I thought it was the most beautiful thing in the world, and that the Fiberglas cloud was actually real angel hair. She smiled, and this broke the anger between us, and we left for home feeling a little less stressed with each other.
That Christmas day we celebrated with Marty and Roger, and my last gift was almost forgotten in all of the excitement of the day. Wrapped in a flat paper bag was my angel tree topper from J. I cried and was touched truly beyond words, not because I owned something so precious to me, but because I knew in that very moment I was loved beyond a shadow of a doubt. That J. had gotten past her own anger in the moment to hear the child in me offering a worldless truce, and had loved me in spite of the pettiness we found ourselves in that day. One of the best gifts I ever received, and one for which I am grateful to have experienced.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

(35) October 5, 1990 Epicenter of "Cool"

1990: First Class Stamp $0.25 cents
Jimi Hendrix's Fender Stratocaster Guitar
auctioned off in London for $295,000
Milli Vanilli admits to lip-synching "Girl You Know It's True."
and later have their Grammy award revoked.
The first known Web page is written.
"Twin Peaks" premieres on ABC.
Painting by Vincent van Gogh is sold for a record $82.5 million
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is closed to the public due to safety concerns
"VOGUE" by Madonna
Former president, Ronald Reagan, apologized
for his neglect of the epidemic during his term, a little late.
Keith Haring dies of Aids, as well as Ryan White
31,102 AIDS Deaths in the USA
Seattle. The place we decided to make home after traveling so long around the country. A beautiful city, with a sense of promise in the air and art to be found everywhere. I lived with Marty and Roger for a summer, in a small apartment on Roy St. After Howard's death, I had decided the best memorial to my friend was to make my art my full time living, and so this year found me doing all manner of art projects, working my way up to building my own business. This was the year "Three Tacky Texans" was born, named after Marty, Roger and I. Originally developed for a coverall for all our art individual projects, eventually it turned into my wholesale jewelry company. Small steps do indeed cover large distances, as the jewelry company grew exponentially. The idea to use Frida Kahlo images in pieces came about this time, as Hispanic arts had always been my interest and the resulting pieces looked very much like tiny alters to wear. My favorite design though, was my pendant necklace that told the fortune of the wearer when the front piece was spun.
I also started a group of wall pieces that I called "Everyday Icons" that were funny alterpieces dedicated to everyday issues in life. Like everything I find, a body of work builds on what comes before it. These were the seeds I found in my new home.

(34) October 5, 1989 ALCAN TRIP

1989: First Class Stamp $0.25 cents
Chinese students take over Beijing's Tiananmen Square
in rally for democracy
J.K. Rowling gets the idea for Harry Potter
while on a train ride from Manchester to London.
Exxon Valdez spills 11 million gallons of crude oil
into Alaska's Prince William Sound
Katherine Dunn gave us "Geek Love"
"Seinfield" Premeires
"BATMAN" by Tim Burton returns to theaters
"The Satanic Verses" by Salaman Rushdie
"Love Shack" and "Ring My Bell" got us dancing
Two years of protest by AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power
(ACT UP), led the drug company, Burroughs Wellcome
to lower the price of AZT.
27,408 AIDS Deaths in the USA
It was in Alaska I met one of the true loves of my life. J. was rather unusual, a wilderness guide and Lord help her she had her hands full, since we all know how I am (wilderness camping is a hotel without room service, right?) This was the year we decided to leave Alaska, travel and eventually set up home back in the lower 48. So several months were spent organizing and packing. J. prepared the pick up truck like an armored vehicle, as we planned to ship our household items by barge and drive the Al-Can Highway from Alaska to Seattle at first spring thaw.
The day we started it was a beautiful spring day, melting the ice and snow away. We drove for hours and hours with not a person or mark of civilization in sight. I cannot explain what this is like, driving down a highway and wilderness on both sides, but I will never forget it. The trip had to be planned in such a way as to find gasoline, as filling stations seemed to be about eight-ten hours away from each other. So we drove and drove, talking, playing taped music, and enjoying the truly majestic wilderness. J. had set up a bed in the back so sleep was possible, but the first day was too exciting to sleep. After hour upon hour we finally made a small town, and as J. went to find a motel room I stood outside the car in the dark and watched the most beautiful Northern Lights show I ever saw just above my head. Undulating curtains of blue and green color, waving like sheer fabric. It really did seem like I could touch them if I reached up far enough. I have never seen anything before or since as breathtakingly beautiful. I always think of it as Alaska saying good-bye.

(33) October 5, 1988 The 15%

1988: First Class Stamp $0.25 cents
Pam Am 747 Explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland
Jessica McClure fell into the Well
Michael Jackson purchases "Neverland" Ranch
"The California Raisins" heard it through the grapevine
U.S. C. Everett Koop states that the addictive
properties of nicotine are similar to those of heroin and cocaine.
Alaska is published by James A. Michener
"Dangerous Liaisons" in theaters
"Don't Worry, Be Happy"
The U.S. government mailed 107 million copies of a booklet entitled,
"Understanding AIDS," to American homes
20,786 AIDS Deaths in the USA, including Howard
Being young and idealistic, I always made an effort to be involved in some sort of community activism. In Alaska this ended up being asked to be vice president of a non profit organization called "The 15%", so named because there did seem to be a disproportionate population of lesbian women residing in Anchorage as compared to other cities. This organization threw fund raising parties all year long for the lesbian community, the proceeds used for the communities fight against the killer AIDS.
Part of my duties as vice president that year was to be the director of the largest event, Celebration of Change, which was an evening of women's music/talent show. Oh, the headaches! Oh, the lesbian angst! Oh, the late night rehearsals! Oh, the "I won't stand next to her on stage" hissy fits! On, the DRAMA! Although I love them, it was this experience that led me to my oft used quote "I would be hesitant to direct 80 lesbian women to the bathroom." It did end up being an incredible evening going off without a hitch, and everyone thought I was a happy prom queen when I was called up and given roses in the end. Truth was, I was relieved it was over without bloodshed. Until next year.

(32) October 5, 1987 Off to Alaska

1987: First Class Stamp $0.22 cents
Aretha Franklin becomes the first woman inducted
into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Jessica McClure fell into the Well
The World Population reaches five billion (5,000,000,000)
Andy Warhol Dies
Prozac makes its debut in the United States.
The Harmonic Convergence is observed around the world.
We get out first view of "The Simpson's"
Toni Morrison Publishes "Beloved"
"The Last emperor" in theaters
"La Bamba", "Walk like an Egyptian" and
"BAD" on the charts
The AIDS Memorial Quilt was started in San Francisco
16,098 AIDS Deaths in the USA
Some people do things like get married or start a family at 30, I of course not being some people, moved to Alaska. It was quite an adventure, Texas femme in the wilderness. I fell in love with the place in the summer...twenty-two hours of sunshine and the most amazing mountains and clear water imaginable. But my first winter there was the real slap of reality. Cold and dark, my employees had to have breaks every hour or so to plug their cars in to keep them from freezing. Yikes! It was quite the experience to walk in a Gay Pride parade with only 12 people in downtown Anchorage, or to be the only woman in a dress at social functions.
The Iditarod starting point was right outside my apartment. Since it was Fourth street, and Third, Second, and First streets didn't exist anymore from a previous earthquake I felt every tremor of the ground. One night I was sitting in my apartment and the whole building shook as I watched a huge thirty pound art glass vase (Yes, the Grasshopper) twirl around on my desk. I called my mother to tell her about this, and she replied "God didn't mean for people to live where the ground shakes." I didn't have the heart to remind her about tornados.

(31) October 5, 1986 Rendez-Vous with Howard

1986: First Class Stamp $0.22 cents
Space shuttle Challenger Explodes
Haley's Comet Returns
Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone's secret vault
to find a bottle of moonshine.
Georgia OKeefe dies
"The Oprah Winfrey Show" premieres
"Blue Velvet" in theaters
"Hands Across America"
"Addicted to Love", "Sledgehammer" and
"Two of Hearts" got us dancing
U.S. Surgeon General Everett Koop published a report on AIDS,
urging sex education as a means of prevention.
11,932 AIDS Deaths in the USA
There are very few events you encounter in life that you know for a fact will be a memory some day. The Houston Rendez -Vous Musical Concert by Jean Michel Jarre was one of those events. He was invited by the city of Houston to celebrate the birthdays of the state, city and NASA in 1986. Over a million people crowded every available view of downtown to watch this spectacular event. The entire city was still mourning the Space Shuttle astronauts, and this spectacular free public concert really brought joy back to Houston. I took a picnic lunch up to a hill overlooking downtown from "The Heights" with my friend Howard. Every local station in Houston played the event music at the same time from the same feed, so the echo of eveyone's radio on the same station was really strange. And when it started, it was breathtaking. The city had no idea of the magnitude of the explosives stashed on the buildings downtown, but once started the fire marshal had no choice but to let it continue. (LOL) I will remember as long as I live Howard leaning over to me and saying, as we watched the show, "This is what art will look like in the future."
That same week, Howard was asked to paint a backdrop for a press party for Jean Michel Jarre, and this is a picture as he did it. Well, Howard, I made it to the future. Art still doesn't look and feel as it did that night, I wonder if you would have lived if it would have. I miss you.

Dragging in from PRIDE: Sunday Blog Diary

Sunday morning it was drizzling. Try as we might to be positive, it was pretty clear it might actually rain on our parade. Everyone was groggy and tired from the debauchery of the night before, and distracted by the fact rooms must be cleared at the hotel before attending the Pride parade. Now, we had made arrangements to meet Risley's friend Pam for breakfast, and even though our spirits were more than willing, our flesh was definitely on the weak-ish side. (LOL) I called her, hoping an extra hour would give us all enough time to become functional, and she very graciously rescheduled at the last minute. Genie and I scrambled around trying to tie up our loose ends, but it did became apparent the entire group just could not get away to attend at the same time. Pam arrived, met the entire groggy group, then Elf and I escorted her to breakfast.
Some people might be a little intimidated, meeting the "Texas Five" en masse with no prior warning, but Pam took it all in stride. Of course, any friend of "the Monkey" was a friend of ours, and Genie and I really enjoyed her humor and conversation. Mackie arrived, and we all chatted as if we'd known each other forever. We also heard some very interesting stories about Risley that good taste once again prevents me from disclosing. Your secrets are safe with us Monkey. For a price. (LOL)
OK. Now the funny part.::::sigh::::: Well, ummm...see, I have a new cell phone. Even though some parts of me are definitely goddess-like, my life description does not really include "technical and mechanical ability." I still can't program a VCR, much less this tiny cell phone. After excusing myself to the ladies room I met Pam on her way in, and I promptly arrived back at the table and decided to call Lisa and Dottie to check on their arrival in Pam's absence. The phone was answered by a sexy southern drawl:

"Hello, didya miss me?"<--the voice

"Baby, how could I not? You know I can never get enough of you" <--me, teasing and drawling back
"Well you could wait until I get back to the table darlin' " <--OMG.... it was Pam

I turned beet red and practically fell on the floor. I have never seen Mackie and Genie laughing as hard as they did this very minute, as it became painfully obvious to everyone that I had hit redial instead of Lisa and Dottie's number and had gotten Pam in the bathroom instead. I think I stammered some sort of apology, if I didn't I offer one now. I do remember slamming that phone shut like it was on fire. Pam, you'll just have to trust this is not my habit on meeting someone, but I do understand if there will always be some doubt. (LOL) You were very kind, and didn't tease me too badly upon your return. I appreciate that. :)
After taking pictures of this momentous event we said goodbye to Pam and Mackie, and when Dottie and Lisa arrived off to the Pride Parade we went. The drizzle had turned to bona fide rain at this point, but we figured if the drag queens could do it with their mascara running, then so could we. None of us seemed in that much danger of actually melting. Even in the rain, the crowd was huge, all colors, ages, and flavors. Dottie made it to the front of the barricade, where she got the best view possible of the event. Genie's favorite part was the beginning, when Lupe Valdez, Dallas County's first female, Hispanic, and openly lesbian elected sheriff walked down the middle of the street in full police uniform, happy and proud as any lesbian there to the cheers of those assembled. Of course PFLAG was there, Dykes on Bikes (Va-rooom), men from the Bear community, all the usual bases covered. My favorite part was the walking memorial to Ann Richards. But the most magical thing happened to Dottie. Because of her command performance, every single float that drove by with a drag queen (there, of course, were several) that had seen her the night before hooted, hollered, waved, and blew kisses when they spied Dottie, Elf or any of us in the crowd. It was such a commotion the folks on either side of Dottie actually began to wonder just who they were standing next to. (LOL) Because of her position, she snagged every bead necklace, Frisbee, coffee sample, EVERYTHING that was thrown from floats on the route, and we were inundated with all manner of free stuff. Good thing I had that Guadalupe backpack open and ready. You can never be too prepared at a PRIDE parade. (LOL) The parade itself lasted two hours, and if any of the people there were disturbed by the torrential rain you'd never have known it. We were all soaked to the skin, but happy to be alive, proud, and with each other.
Afterwards, we made our way out of Dallas, into more rain (I swear, it hadn't rained this much in the entire year since I'd moved back to Texas!) and stopped at a restaurant on the path home for m Lisa and Dottie to make sure they were headed in the right direction. We had a great time talking about everything that had transpired, and I know I will always remember Dottie's first PRIDE parade fondly.
So I am finally back home recuperating from the experience. Should be back on my feet by next PRIDE parade. (LOL) It was an honor and pleasure ladies.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dragging in from PRIDE..Saturday BLOG Diary

Saturday morning found us early, as Dottie had scouted out the scene and found there were free waffles downstairs in the lobby. I am here to tell you, not one of this group would ever find themselves passing up free hotel waffles, so we all drug it out of bed and headed for the syrup. Mackie arrived and regaled us with her military career stories while managing to flirt with every waitress within view. A true work of nature to behold.
After breakfast, we convened in Dottie and Lisa's hotel room, where we lounged around and enjoyed each other's company while everyone became fully functional. Then it was off to find more lesbians and food at the chic eatery Eatsie's. Now, this is one of those concept places, where just about every gourmet food imaginable is available for take home or immediate consumption on their patio. Packed with swarming humanity, we split up in anticipation of what we'd all meet outside with later. In the bakery section I looked at birthday cakes, and then spied the chocolate covered strawberries. I knew this would truly be the way to celebrate a lesbian's birthday, and then back to the long line waiting for the counter. Meanwhile, Genie, being the reasonably sane one among us, tolerated the crowd for as long as it took to make the decision to leave and go across the street to bring back a Slurpie and Cheeto's. (LOL) Now that is a true Texan for ya.
After everyone arrived at the table, we traded food finds topped off with chocolate covered strawberries and Dottie's impromptu serenade on the patio with her violin. We had persuaded her to bring it along, and have violin will make music is her motto. I believe even the most jaded yuppies appreciated this midday concert with their meal, and everyone was happy and smiling, unusual for the urban "I've seen it all" crowd. I will tell you up front, that Dottie is quite the Pride weekend accessory. IIf you want to meet anyone just send Dottie over. You'll be invited to their house for dinner by the end of it.
Next on our agenda was shopping. Now I don't mean Neiman Marcus, this was more specialized QUEER shopping. This was Dottie's first real encounter with the shops that cater specifically to homosexuals, and it was delightful to see her enjoying herself. I snagged a Pride Cowgirl Rainbow sticker and bracelet before she had a chance to see them to surprise her with. Every gay cowgirl must get their souvenirs from the big event to show off to the folks back home.

As we crossed the threshold of Sue Ellen's, Dottie was almost beside herself with glee. We hung out on the patio, enjoying the nice Texas weather and enjoyed conversation and each other. It was about this time I realized my sides were actually hurting from all the laughter. And then suddenly, without warning, it happened. POOL TABLE Madness.
It started as a friendly game. Really. But what most didn't know and everyone was soon to find out Genie is all about pool. It had been a few years, but you could definitely see the serious pool shark come out in her. And if ever meet Dottie "Yeah, I really don't play pool" at the pool table just know she is a ringer. You've been warned. "The Clash of the Titans" as it were. Luckily they actually love each other, or there would have been a bloody bar fight with broken cue sticks for sure. It was a lot of fun to watch them play. It was about this time we realized Dottie was due at her benefit, and we cleared out of the bar and back on to the already crowding streets to once more climb into the "Love Shack" jeep and go gaily forward. What would we find at the end of this "Lisa must hit all the road bumps just to shake things up back there" trip? Read on.

Now I don't know how many of you have personal experience with drag queens, but one of the things they do best (other than accessorize) is make money for different causes within our entire community. When it became known that Dottie was a fiddler of some note, the drag queens were thrilled to welcome her to play at the big benefit on Saturday night for Dallas Hospice House. The bar we attended was an insider bar, where all the drag queens performed to raise money for their various personal causes, and the entire court system hung out on their off time as paid entertainers. We arrived to a packed floor, and after a while finally found seating to enjoy the show. Every manner of drag queen was represented this evening, the silly to the sublime, and when it came to Dottie's time to play I was a little worried. As you can imagine, drag queens are a rather tough crowd. She strode up to the stage and the reigning Ms. Gay Rodeo 2007 held Dot's mike personally as she began to play. At first, you could have heard a pin drop, as Dottie was completely unexpected, then the tips started rolling on up. By the end of her set, she had the entire bar stomping and screaming "Ye-Haw" in unison, and I am sure had brought in more money than most that had performed before her. She definitely got my biggest tip of the night. I have never seen queens agree on anything in my life, but they did agree she was a smash hit. Of course we stayed until the end, enjoying everyone's turn at the mike, and Dottie became the "woman to meet" that evening for the patrons. The offshoot of this (as good things always come to those that do them with no expectation of return) Dottie was invited to play at the social event of the year, Coronation Ball later in the fall. A high honor for anyone in the community, much less a country lesbian :) After this evening, we took a vote and reasonably surmised that Dottie was, indeed, an "out and proud" lesbian, our work here was done. (LOL)
When we closed down the bar, suddenly we realized it had been hours and hours since we had eaten, and there was only one thing to do in Dallas after you've closed down a bar with a group of friends. FIND A WHATTABURGER. Genie took the wheel so Web could experience the whole "Love Shack" back-seat thing on her own, and off we went searching for the elusive 3 am Whattaburger. I didn't dare tell those assembled my favorite "Whattaburger after the Bar closed" story, as it involved tattoos and really bad hangovers the next day. They were much too wild at this point, and would have been unduly influenced I fear. After finding the cheeseburger prize, we all zipped back to the hotel.. Ceremoniously slowing down past a sculpture in a nearby business park that looked suspiciously like a group of witches in the darkness. Now, I grew up in Dallas, and I am here to tell you no business would have a "group of witches" sculpture in their atrium and expect to actually do business in Dallas, but there was some lively debate on that point. Instead of risking another brush with law enforcement we made a pact to return in the daylight to get the whole story of this abnormality. Crisis averted.
Back at the hotel, we all ate and made plans for the next day's revelry. Dottie was definitely not in Kansas any more, and who knew what was just around the corner for the next day.

Dragging in from PRIDE..Friday BLOG Diary

Wow, I certainly feel every minute of my 49 + years today.(LOL) It looks like I've finally reached the age where it takes me three days to recover from every one day of debauchery. We did have a great time, and it was a real gift to see the whole thing through my friend Dot's enthusiasm and joy. I can't imagine what it must have been like to be in such a closeted relationship for so many years and not be able to proclaim yourself as a lesbian proudly. Especially with her robust personality. But even in the pouring rain I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Our sordid tale begins on Friday, when Genie packed everything we drug up to take in the car like the trooper she is. We packed as if we were going to Mount Everest (OK, I admit it. For several days before this event I made cookies and gathered various snacks for the hotel room. I have indeed become my own mother, as well as mother to those around me.) There was some concern about our leg of the trip to Dallas, because I 35 was virtually a parking lot for a while early in the day because of a mysterious "paper" accident. Genie puzzled over how paper could shut down a five lane stretch of highway, but we pressed on in preparation. Our friend Mackie called to inform us she had arrived at her hotel room, and the "paper" was removed from our path (as reported on the evening news...must have been a slow news day in Dallas), so off we went on our adventure. No threat of unruly paper would keep us from our mission this day.
Once at the hotel, we found that rascal Mackie ready for PRIDE lounging on her balcony checking out the action below in her flame printed pajamas. Soon after, Lisa and Dottie arrived and checked into the hotel, and Mackie changed into actual street clothing much to the relief of the female staff of the hotel, I am sure. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, the meeting of the final "Dallas Five" in the same room without flame throwers or asbestos suits. It was at this moment, with wit and quips whizzing in every direction, I realized this wasn't going to be your average weekend romp in the city.
Piling into Lisa's Jeep (with back-seat antics too delicate to be repeated in polite society), we drove around the Cedar Springs and Oak Lawn district of Dallas, and each of us was moved to remark how similar it seemed to "the gay ghetto" concept rumored to exist in most major metropolitan areas. Pride flags, lesbians and gay men littered the street in all manner of dress and undress, and for Dottie it certainly proved an eye opener. We decided to dine at a Dallas institution, El Fenix Mexican Food, where we arrived just five minutes before closing and still were treated like the queens we obviously were. Great food and company, chatting and eating like civilized folks with table manners and everything. Who says you can't take lesbians anywhere? We finished our meal while discussing the next item we were to accomplish. DRAG QUEENS.
No PRIDE event is complete without drag queens, and Dot had never seen one up close and personal. We found a fabulous little bar where there were rumors to the effect that, in the right light on the right night, you could actually see this rare plumed group. Upon entering Dot was welcomed personally by Miss Gay Rodeo Association Queen for 2007, and they became fast friends immediately. I had the pleasure of giving Dot her very first dollar bill with instruction on tipping her very first drag queen for charity, an honor I'll not soon forget. After the experience, and seeing how well she took to the spirit of it, I doubt it will be the last.
Of course we hooted and hollered and had a great time with the performers. Mackie worked the drag queens like a pro, and I am sure there were more wiggles and giggles than usual because of her expertise. When the show ended, Dot was asked to come back and perform with her fiddle the next night at a special charity event for the Hospice Care House in Dallas, and how could she refuse a bunch of begging drag queens?
Now, considering our advanced ages, you'd think it was time to return to the hotel for a good night's sleep. You'd think, but you'd be wrong. Now it was time to seek out our sisters, as it were, and off we went to a real big city lesbian dance bar. We arrived just in time to witness the evening's pole dancers, and this certainly separated the butch members of our party from the femme right away. Eventually the evening progressed to actual dancing, and a great time was had by all. I am sure I moved parts of my body I didn't even remember I had, and I hadn't even been drinking. But eventually the abundant cigarette smoke overcame us, and we were forced to call it a night.
Well, not quite yet. The giggles from the back seat grew so intense Lisa and I decided to heck with taking this group anywhere, just load them in the back of the car and drive around all weekend. I was raised right in this regard, don't look, don't ask, don't tell is all I will say about it. As we were driving, Mackie spied GIANT Crayola Crayons and wanted her picture taken with them. Well, heck, she was the birthday girl (59? 60?, only her mother knows for sure) so we had to oblige. So here we were, scrambling over giant lit up crayola sculptures in the middle of the night taking pictures of Mackie. The big burly security guard who drove up in his little go-cart didn't find in nearly as amusing as we did. Being the photographer, suddenly all the jokes I had made about dragging up bail flashed before my eyes. "Damn...not on the first NIGHT!" I thought. Seems like we had to have written permission to take photos of these "special" crayolas. I drawled in my sweetest southern manner, all the while explaining to the guard that we were tourists, it was her birthday, etc. Lucky for us, we went on to play another day, although Lisa and Genie assured us they would have bailed us out. Eventually. (LOL)
And just think, in six more hours, we'd be up and going again.

"Borrowed" this Internet Test :)

You Should Be A Libra

What's good about you: A total charmer, you easily find friends and allies

What's bad about you: You have a secret side that's easily confused and depressed

In love: you enjoy flirting, dating, and the whole process of falling for someone

In friendship, you're: very social ... You rather be with your friends than be alone

Your ideal job: fashion designer, makeup artist, or song writer

Your sense of fashion: very feminine / masculine (depending on your gender)

You like to pig out on: sweet stuff like ice cream and French toast
Funny thing how blogging works. When you read other's blogs, you find these tests and they spread within a community like wildfire because we all "borrow" them. Of course I am a Libra, so no surprise there. I just think it's an interesting phenomenon.

Friday, September 15, 2006

OOOps...Looks like my ride is here...

Off to Dallas Gay Pride with a group of incorrigible Lesbians. Pray for my soul, and start dragging up the bail money.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

New York Times Obituary for Ann Richards

Ann Richards, Ex-Governor of Texas, Dies at 73
By Rick Lymon New York Times
Published: September 14, 2006

Ann W. Richards, the silver-haired Texas activist who galvanized the 1988 Democratic National Convention with her tart keynote speech and was the state’s 45th governor until upset in 1994 by an underestimated challenger named George W. Bush, died Wednesday at her home in Austin. She was 73. Ms. Richard died, surrounded by her four children, of complications from the esophageal cancer, the Associated Press reported. Ms. Richards was the most recent and one of the most effective in a long-line of Lone Star State progressives who vied for control of Texas in the days when it was largely a one-party Democratic enclave, a champion of civil rights, gay rights and feminism. Her defeat by the future president was one of the chief markers of the end of generations of Democratic dominance in Texas. So cemented was her celebrity on the national stage, however, that she appeared in national advertising campaigns, including one for snack chips, and was a lawyer and lobbyist for Public strategies and Verner, Lipfert, Bernhard, McPherson & Hand. “Poor George, he can’t help it,” Ms. Richards said at the Democratic convention in 1988, speaking about the current president’s father, former President George Bush. “He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” Her acidic, plain-spoken keynote address was one of the year’s political highlights and catapulted the one-term Texas governor into a national figure. “We’re gonna tell how the cow ate the cabbage,” she said, bringing the great tradition of vernacular Southern oratory to the national political stage in a way that transformed the mother of four into an revered icon of feminist activism. Dorothy Ann Willis was born Sept. 1, 1933, in Lakeview, and graduated in 1950 from Waco High school where she showed a special facility for debate. She attended the Girl’s Mock State government in Austin in her junior year and was one of two delegates chosen to attend Girl’s Nation in Washington. She attended Baylor University in Waco — on a debate scholarship — where she met her future husband, David Richards. After college, the couple moved to Austin where she earned a teaching certificate at the University of Texas in 1955 and taught social studies for several years at Fulmore Middle School. She raised her four children in Austin. She volunteered in several gubernatorial campaigns, in 1958 for Henry Gonzalez and in 1952, 1954 and 1956 for Ralph Yarborough and then again for Yarborough’s senatorial campaign in 1957. In 1976, Ms. Richards defeated a three-term incumbent to become a commissioner in Travis County, which includes Austin, and held that job for four years, though she later said her political commitment put a strain on her marriage, which ended in divorce. She also began to drink heavily, eventually going into rehabilitation, a move that she later credited with salvaging her life and her political career. “I have seen the very bottom of life,” she said. “I was so afraid I wouldn’t be funny anymore. I just knew that I would lose my zaniness and my sense of humor. But I didn’t. Recovery turned out to be a wonderful thing.”
In 1982, she ran for state treasurer, received the most votes of any statewide candidate, became the first woman elected to statewide office in Texas in 50 years and was re-elected in 1986. In 1990, when the incumbent governor, William P. Clements Jr., decided not to run for re-election, she ran against a former Democratic governor, Mark White, and won the primary, then later fought a particularly brutal campaign against Republican candidate Clayton Williams, a wealthy rancher, and won.
Among her achievements were institutional changes in the state penal system, invigorating the state’s economy and instituting the first Texas lottery, going so far as to buy the first lotto ticket herself on May 29, 1992. It was her speech to the Democratic convention in Atlanta, though, that made her a national figure. A champion of women’s rights, she told the television audience: “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.”
In 1992, she was chairwoman of the convention that first nominated Bill Clinton. Two years later, she underestimated her young Republican challenger from West Texas, going so far as to refer to George W. Bush as “some jerk,” a commend that drew considerable criticism. Later, she acknowledged that the younger candidate has been much more effective at “staying on message” and made none of the mistakes that her campaign strategists had expected. She was beaten, 53 percent to 46 percent. Her celebrity, however, carried her onto the boards of several national corporations, including J.C. Penney, Brandeis University and the Aspen Institute. She also co-wrote several books, including “Straight from the Heart: My Life in Politics and Other Places” in 1989 with Peter Knobler and “I’m Not Slowing Down” in 2004, with Richard M. Levine. On her 60th birthday, she got her first motorcycle license. “I’ve always said that in politics, your enemies can’t hurt you, but your friends can kill you,” Ms. Richard once said. Survivors, according to The AP, include her children, Cecile, Daniel, Clark and Ellen Richards, and eight grandchildren.

I was fortunate enough to have met Ann Richards once at a political luncheon in Austin, and she was as personable and intelligent in person as she appeared on the political stage. No matter what your political persuasion you'd have a hard time finding something to dislike about Ann, who's sometimes brutal honesty and enthusiasm for politics was infectious. She will be remembered, I am sure, for her humor. But in my mind it will be her clarity of purpose, wisdom, and humility that will be missed the most. A lady in a decidedly male dominated state who came by her respect the old fashioned way, she earned it.

She was a real Texan, and she will be missed.

(29) October 5, 1984 Ladies Room

1984: First Class Stamp $0.20 cents
"Where's the BEEF?" the big question
The first Apple Macintosh goes on sale.
Madonna was "Like a Virgin"
"Ghost Busters" released in Theaters
"Miami Vice" debuts on television
1984 Summer Olympics in L.A.
Michael Jackson goes up in flames for Pepsi
"The Terminator," The Pope of Greenwich Village"
and "Amadeus" in theaters
The Centers for Disease and Prevention urges
abstention from intravenous drug use and shared needles
3,504 AIDS Deaths in the USA
The second year of intense magazine work found me in an interesting living situation. I moved into a huge Victorian house with two other artists, one photographer, and one psychology major. Of course, they were all men, and I was lone woman. I lived in the top floor on the second story, where we had set up a huge shared studio area. My room was tiny, not much bigger than a closet, and so short it could not take a regular sized mattress. I slept curled in a ball for an entire year, and my roommates called this "the ladies room." Funny thing was, this was an amazing experience, as we all worked long hours and found much inspiration in each other. Since I lived upstairs, when everyone was off to bed I would stay up and make art late into the night and the guys would always come upstairs in the morning to see what the "art fairies" had delivered overnight. We were great inspiration to each other as artists, and I learned how to make the perfect Kraft Mac & Cheese from a box. (It's a two person job according to Bruce) This situation taught me a valuable lesson in life, that we are all individual puddles, and when resources overlap it makes all the puddles involved bigger and better.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

(28) October 5, 1983 A "SPECIAL" Year

1983: First Class Stamp $0.20 cents
Sally Ride First Female astronaut in Space
McDonald's introduces the "McNugget"
Harvey Fierstein's Torch Song Trilogy in NYC
"Koyaanisqatsi" released in Theaters
Toyko Disney Theme Park Opens
"Flashdance" made leg warmers cool
Microsoft WORD is first released
"Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" Eurythmics,
"Syncronicity" The Police,
and "1999" by Prince on the airwaves
The Centers for Disease and Prevention announce
the first case of AIDS transmission in heterosexual Sex
1,476 AIDS Deaths in the USA
Every university in the country has a student magazine, at E.T.S.U. it was called "The SPECIAL." (I wasn't there to name it, so don't blame me.) This was the year that I was asked to be the art director of this magazine on campus. I looked at the amazing group of illustrators, designers, and photographers available, then looked at what a terribly designed student magazine was being published, and it became my mission to change the entire format. I spent every waking moment working at this, convincing somewhat skeptical artists that this was a great vehicle to be published in, as color and black and white printing was available within it, four times a year. "Great for the Book" (meaning professional portfolio) was my mantra, and in a very short time we completely redesigned it. So much so the magazine printing costs increased, and the University decided to cut our budget, and not print two of the issues because of costs. I will never forget getting all the artists and photographers together on campus to discuss ways to get their work published. I learned from this never to piss off a group of committed artists, as all of the sudden there were flyers everywhere, parents calling the president's office, and editorial cartoons attacking the campus administration. I was never clear if these actions got the last two issues published and more money for the next year I was art director, or if it was finding out we had won second place in the nation for overall editorial excellence (over Yale, Harvard, etc.) in the newly created Gold Circle Awards at Columbia University. These awards were considered the university equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize, and over the two years I was art director we won 23 awards at Columbia, sometimes sweeping design, art, and photography areas. Funny how that motivates cash flow. :)
P.S. Hey Roger, as I was writing this I thought of Zita and her "asinine alliteration", and you. Pretty good for a couple of under achievers, thanks for sharing this time with me.
Also thinking of my friend Jani Blake today. Wherever you are, hope you are well and happy :)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

(27) October 5, 1982 First Warning

1982: First Class Stamp $0.20 cents
Tylenol Scare Sweeps the Nation
MTV is launched
Michael Jackson releases "Thriller"
"The Color Purple"is published by Alice Walker
The first Compact Discs appear in record stores
"St. Elsewhere" and "Cheers" debut on TV
John Belushi does of a drug overdose
"Gloria" by Laura Branigan
"Blade Runner" and "E.T." in theaters
The Centers for Disease and Prevention announce
HIV could be transmitted through sexual contact and blood products
447 "HIV" Cancer Deaths in the USA
You all probably notice that starting in 1980 I started including the Aids epidemic in my time capsules. This is not just because I am a lesbian I do this, or to honor those I know that died during this period. In actuality, I am adding this in honor of my mother. In 1982, when the general public didn't even know this crisis was happening, my mother kept me supplied with up to date information she was seeing come through the CDC at the time. I did not hear this disease was sexually transmitted through the community or the media, it was my mother who told me this first. She was concerned for me, and like most microbiologists she understood from the very beginning that this disease would know no limited boundaries. Although most of the men I knew in this period died early in the epidemic, already infected, when I did know information I passed it through the limited channels I had at the time. I would like to hope this may have saved someone, I am sure it probably saved me. Thanks mama.
In the summer of 1982 I took my first trip to New York City from Texas, and it was the first time I saw art and artists I had studied but only seen in reproductions. I spent two weeks crawling across the city going to museums, SOHO, and other quirky places of interest that I had saved from issues of New York Magazine. I bought an amazing pair of blue glitter tennis shoes at Bloomingdale's and lived on food in Chinatown. It was an amazing trip, and thus began my serious love affair with New York.