Posted in Almost Dorothy, Culture Clash

Jesus joins Florida AIDS Walk 2012

Jesus | Painting by Caravaggio

What would Jesus do? No need to answer that question. What else would you expect from a man (or woman) who dedicated his (or her) life to healing and dispelling the myth that the sick are worthless. In fact, Jesus established the first system of universal healthcare dedicated to providing love, support, comfort and peace of mind to people living with and affected by any and every disease imaginable and unimaginable. (Source: the Bible.) So, join Jesus this Sunday on Fort Lauderdale Beach for Florida AIDS Walk 2012. He’ll be the One inside the heart of every man, woman, child and pet at the walk. Bring your heart and help us raise funds for local organizations on the front lines: Neil de la Flor’s donation page.

When Jesus existed, no one had heard of HIV/AIDS. Now, somewhere between 33 – 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS across the globe and Jesus can’t heal the world by himself. He needs us. That’s what he said. Even though there’s no cure for HIV yet, there are clinical trials on the way and existing treatments that help people live ‘normal’ lives, thrive, prosper and just BE. However, this is the problem: many who live with HIV/AIDS do not have access to basic care and are often stigmatized because of the disease. Florida AIDS Walk 2012 will raise funds for organizations that provide some basic healthcare services, counseling, education, support and peace of mind for people living with and/or are affected by HIV/AIDS.  Support Florida AIDS Walk 2012 by making a contribution to my team: Neil de la Flor’s donation page.

Recent article about stigma, denial and fear: http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/29/health/jacksonville-hiv-florida/index.html

Posted in Almost Dorothy, Culture Clash

Nerds want you to join Florida AIDS Walk 2012

What would a 12-year-old nerd do? After trying to feather his pretty hair, he’d help us raise funds for Florida AIDS Walk 2012. Join our team, donate and pass this link forward to friends and family: http://takeaction.aidshealth.org/site/TR?px=1008298&fr_id=1120&pg=personal.

Note: According to the CDC, only 9.6% of adult Americans have been tested for HIV. Furthermore, only 1 in 4 HIV infected Americans receive adequate medical care to control the disease.CNN.com reports that South Florida has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the nation. Although Florida AIDS Walk can’t fix these numbers, we are part of a long-term, multidimensional solution that will diminish the impact of HIV/AIDS on those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Posted in Almost Dorothy, Culture Clash

Neil de la Flor wants you to support Florida AIDS Walk 2012

Florida AIDS Walk 2012

When this photograph was taken in the early 80s, almost no one had heard of HIV/AIDS. Thirty years later and between 33 – 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS across the globe. There’s no cure for HIV, but there are effective treatments that help people thrive, prosper and just BE. However, this is the problem: many who live with HIV/AIDS do not have access to basic care and are often stigmatized because of the disease. Florida AIDS Walk 2012 will raise funds for organizations that provide some basic healthcare services, counseling, education, support and peace of mind for people living with and/or are affected by HIV/AIDS.  Support Florida AIDS Walk 2012 by making a contribution to my team: Neil de la Flor’s donation page.

Thank you,

Neil de la Flor

Interesting stuff: “HIV is a lentivirus, and like all viruses of this type, it attacks the immune system. Lentiviruses are in turn part of a larger group of viruses known as retroviruses. The name ‘lentivirus’ literally means ‘slow virus’ because they take such a long time to produce any adverse effects in the body. They have been found in a number of different animals, including cats, sheep, horses and cattle. However, the most interesting lentivirus in terms of the investigation into the origins of HIV is the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) that affects monkeys, which is believed to be at least 32,000 years old.” Source.

Posted in Almost Dorothy, Culture Clash

Almost Dorothy’s Florida AIDS Walk Fundraising Page

Bobo the Mutt, ma and I are going to raise money on May 2oth, 2012 for several organizations that provide healthcare services, counseling and peace of mind for people living with HIV/AIDS regardless of their ability to pay. Ma says this is important because we still live in the richest country on the planet that doesn’t provide equal access to health services for all citizens regardless of income or employment status. Some of the organizations that will benefit: AIDS Healthcare Foundation, SunServ, The Center for Positive Connections among others. Join my family or support us with a small cash donation that is totally tax deductible. I’m not sure what tax deductible means, but I suspect it has something to do with ducks who don’t pay taxes.

Visit my father’s fundraising page where you can make a donation: Florida AIDS Walk Fundraising Page.

Posted in Glit Lit

Poets on Jesus (Limited Edition)

“Even a Saint Won’t Protect You: Use a Condom,”  photo by Steve Butterman, São Paulo, BrazilEven a Saint Won’t Protect You: Use a Condom,” photo by Steve Butterman, São Paulo, Brazil

Because I live on the beach in what some folks call old Florida, there are a fair number of ponytailed guys in my neighborhood who look like Jesus. One, in particular, drives a pick-up and loves animals, even abandoned beach cats. I don’t know if my neighbor, Pete, is a poet or not. He looks like a middle-aged, hard-drugging Jesus to me, so he could be. We say hi to each other most evenings. And if a hurricane came along, I know he’d share his canned chili and Easy Cheese. One weekend he parked his truck crooked to keep tourists out of our lot and blocked my space by accident. When I politely tapped on his door to move his truck, he yelled from the shower: Park on the goddamn grass, asshole.

Jesus, I said to myself.

Once in a while a poet comes along who thinks he gets Jesus. This is my thesis. The “thinks he” qualification is important. I contemplated taking it out, so that my thesis wouldn’t sound watery, or worse, judgmental. Finally, I left it in, and there it remains, giving me away as a weird Jesus cynic while I write this on a sunny Easter in old Florida surrounded by seedy holy old Floridians. Tourists clutter the beach after going to church on the mainland. (There are no churches on the island, only sea.) Somewhere, a poet is writing about Jesus.

Goodtime Jesus

by James Tate

Jesus got up one day a little later than usual. He had been dream-
ing so deep there was nothing left in his head. What was it?
A nightmare, dead bodies walking all around him, eyes rolled
back, skin falling off. But he wasn’t afraid of that. It was a beau-
tiful day. How ’bout some coffee? Don’t mind if I do. Take a little
ride on my donkey, I love that donkey. Hell, I love everybody.

(from Riven Doggeries, Ecco, 1979)

And singing about Jesus.

Jesus was a sailor
When He walked upon the water
And He spent a long time watching
From His lonely wooden tower

And when He knew for certain
Only drowning men could see Him
He said,”All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them”

(excerpt from “Suzanne,” by Leonard Cohen)

A lot of poets are pissed off at Jesus, and with good reason, of course. Poets should be pissed off at something, if not everything. If I stay down below the height of my window sill, I can’t see the tourists driving up and down the street looking for a parking spot, and I can’t see them dragging their beach paraphernalia along the sidewalk, and I can’t feel guilty about another wasted opportunity for exercise and a Vitamin D fix. In the end, we all have our versions of heaven and hell.

Emptying Town

by Nick Flynn

I want to erase your footprints
from my walls. Each pillow
is thick with your reasons. Omens

fill the sidewalk below my window: a woman
in a party hat, clinging
to a tin-foil balloon. Shadows

creep slowly across the tar, someone yells, “Stop!”
and I close my eyes. I can’t watch

as this town slowly empties, leaving me
strung between bon-voyages, like so many clothes
on a line, the white handkerchief

stuck in my throat. You know the way Jesus

rips open his shirt
to show us his heart, all flaming and thorny,
the way he points to it. I’m afraid

the way I’ll miss you will be this obvious.

I have a friend who everyone warns me
is dangerous, he hides
bloody images of Jesus
around my house, for me to find

when I come home; Jesus
behind the cupboard door, Jesus tucked

into the mirror. He wants to save me
but we disagree from what. My version of hell
is someone ripping open his shirt

and saying, Look what I did for you. . .

(from Some Ether, Graywolf Press, 2000)

In 1972 Anne Sexton published “The Jesus Papers” in The Book of Folly. All nine pieces are neutral on the heaven versus hell issue, but they offer controversy in many other ways, often regarding sex, always regarding divinity. All are highly recommended.

Jesus Awake

by Anne Sexton

It was the year
of the How to Sex Book,
the Sensuous Man and Woman were frolicking
but Jesus was fasting.
He ate His celibate life.
The ground shuddered like an ocean,
a great sexual swell under His feet.
His scrolls bit each other.
He was shrouded in gold like nausea.
Outdoors the kitties hung from their mother’s tits
like sausages in a smokehouse.
Roosters cried all day, hammering for love.
Blood flowed from the kitchen pump
but He was fasting.
His sex was sewn onto Him like a medal
and His penis no longer arched with sorrow over Him.
He was fasting.
He was like a great house
with no people,
no plans.

(from The Complete Poems, Houghton Mifflin, 1981)

My neighbor Pete tucks his hair up under his baseball cap sometimes. He and his wife feed the cats that people throw away on the beach. I’m not saying he reminds me of Jesus in any way but looks. I’m certainly not about to capitalize Pete’s pronoun.

When I lived in Harlem in the late eighties, early nineties, my partner and I would open our back door on Easter morning and listen to gospel from the neighborhood. We’d dance around the kitchen making breakfast. We couldn’t help ourselves.

–Maureen Seaton, April 8, 2012

Posted in Almost Dorothy, Culture Clash, Politics

Heart Attack: KONY vs ASSAD

Hafez al-Assad. Taken sometime before April 1987. | Sexy and he knows it.

Somewhere between the left ventricle and the right ventricle, the heart beats for an assassin and a Noble Pizza Prize Winner. Between YouTube and Facebook, the heart beats for updates and check-ins and friend requests. Somewhere between KONY (island) and ASSad, the heart beats as plastic ponies go round and round a loop. Between the beat and loop, the heart sleeps somewhere between hope and matzoh ball soup. Between what is and what will be more or less. Of the same. Between less and more, the heart beats aware of rifle fire and Lucky Charms. On Sundays and everyday the sun shines in Syria and Syracuse and Syrup. Somewhere between Syria and Uganda, the heart beats under the weather. Unaware of dictators and ducks. Unaware of politics and public policy, the heart beats like a bunny’s heart beats as the wolf snaps the bunny’s neck. Energized, the wolf’s heart beats for the transactional state of Schrödinger’s bunny and Schrödinger’s anti-wolf. The heart beats to beat death to death. Not for peace or prosperity. Not for smiles or chewing gum. Not for Africa or the Middle East or new Nikes. Between the forest and the trees, the heart beats in the treasure chest of a boy and a girl who are unaware of the heart beat of wolves and bunnies. Of Homs and black birds. Of the origin of space and plums. Of what it is like to be funny in pajamas while running from mortars and monkey mobs. Tanks and tat-tat-tat-tat. Tat. When the heart beats, love dies for more.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2011/sep/08/syria-protests-video

Posted in Almost Dorothy, Culture Clash

Lakshmi

God Vishnu with Lakshmi and... | 11th Century | Art Institute of Chicago

Somewhere between Paris Hilton and the Kardashians, Lakshmi swims in an uncanny river of Covergirl and Maybelline. Between the Western Station and O’Hare Airport, Laskshmi pulls eyeliner out of her vintage fanny pack and draws a unicorn between passengers who sleep between the nightmare of the American dream and Disneylandia. Between Lady Gaga and Lady Di, Lakshmi throws stones. Between acts of beauty and acts of courage, Lakshmi winks with her insanely big brown eyes. Between the Gilded Age and the Epic of Gilgamesh, Lakshmi unravels the mystery of junkies and junk food. Between Tablet I and Tablet XII, Lakshmi scribbles a mini epic staring her brothers Ganesha and Karthikeya as lovers reaching their hands out toward each other because they don’t want to waste the life Vishnu gave them. Lakshmi laughs like an idiot because she is not the carefree Jain Goddess of Beauty and Make Believe. Not a coward or schlep born out of frustration and chaos. Not a stone tablet or statue of art. Not a chance.

Between then and now, Lakshmi reasons with seals and pepper-sprays for peace and quiet beneath the aurora borealis and Aurora, Illinois. Between the two poles, Lakshmi raises her mighty magnet hands against the impenetrable night to attract the birth light concealed in the shapes of shadows. Between the Blood of Bashar al-Assad and the Panjwaii District, Lakshmi fails to distinguish saints from sinners. Devas from asuras. Machine gun from washing machine. Indian from Indian.

Lakshmi sings for women to spin their halos around and around and around. She challenges them to sing happy as rain as they pray for the ascension of fossils and fools. She challenges them to unfree themselves from the safety mat of yoga and farmers markets. Between the stun gun and the crowbar, Lakshmi weeps for Rama and Krishna. For quantum physics and quantum love. For the murdered civilians and the servicemen who killed them. For Santa Claus and his army of slaves. For light and for courage. For generosity and for providence. For consorts and avatars.

Between Monday and Friday, Lakshmi weeps for the atoms of sand that layer the desert and for Michael Jackson’s glove. Between the piano and bar, Lakshmi belly dances with a pink elephant and crotchety owl entourage. In her glamorous pink sari, Lakshmi hums oṃ śrīṃ hrīṃ klīṃ tribhuvana mahālakṣmyai asmākam dāridrya nāśaya pracura dhana dehi dehi klīṃ hrīṃ śrīṃ oṃ. Again and again and again. Until flight 1557 lands in a blue hammock.

Posted in Almost Dorothy, Culture Clash

Ganesha

God Ganesha, Remover of Obstacles | 9th/10th Century, Java | Art Institute of Chicago

Somewhere between the Big Bang and the Big Gulp, the universe lives silent and cunning in her unstable mink suit. Somewhere between the atoms that create us and the atoms that will destroy us, the universe lives benignly unaware of our prayers and promises. Somewhere between the cosmos and the comic book store, the universe lives in the smile of a boy and/or a girl standing on the southwest corner of 42nd Street. In a blizzard. In awe of the universe. Wearing mittens and Long Johns. Somewhere between the crucible and the last dance, the universe lives in every elementary particle that powers every disco ballroom from Heaven to Las Vegas. Somewhere between the heavy elements and the light elements, the universe lives in our desire to be prepositioned for entry through the gates of heaven. Somewhere between heaven and hell, the universe lives free of sin and sorrow. Between Ganesha and Goliath, the universe lives in an elephant’s memory of blizzards. Between the belly button and the Achilles Heel, the universe lives with the secret that no one, not even God, can remove obstacles that do not exist in the physical world. Between the real universe and the imagined universe, humans live in a constant state of humming. In a constant state of ah-ha and oh-no and WTF. Between you and me, the universe lives in us. In every obstacle and wound. In every chant and bedroom. And even in the womb sealed tight from the light of the blue moon.

Posted in Almost Dorothy, Art + Design

Shiva

20120307-172507.jpgSomewhere between male and female the soul lives unstirred by the memory of childhood. Somewhere between the Destroyer of Obstacles and the Goddess of Fortune the soul lives in a state of constant hip hop guided by a white flashlight. Somewhere between now and now the soul lives possessed by the certainty that it is always in transition and will always live in between the present and the present. Somewhere between Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 the soul lives in a million humans who will pass through life in the third person. Somewhere between the Real Shiva and the Statue of Shiva on display at the Art Institute of Chicago the soul lives in every person. In between the clowns and grapefruits. In between the yellow bus driver and the happy waiter. In between the zoo and the opera house. Between life and death. The soul lives light as a father. Or feather.

Posted in Almost Dorothy, Art + Design, Culture Clash

Art Institute of Chicago

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Ma says this is a woman collapsing into a woman collapsing into a background of elegant brushstrokes divined by some god or goddess possessed by a deep love for Jupiter. For real. This is what ma said between sips of gin.

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This is what ma looks like divined by Toulouse Lautrec.

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This is a lyrical representation of what ma and I would look like if we were the subject of art and not the creators of mayhem and mini murders. I’ve always been a fiery redhead in my head.

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Ma said these two look like fools beneath umbrellas beneath the unbearable beauty of the mid day sun.

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When ma saw the Chagall windows, she shut the fuck up. She bent down on one knee like she was a knight in shiny pink lipstick and prayed. She prayed for the advent of sun. She prayed for the blue and the blues. She lifted her head up as if she were a marionette pulled by an almost invisible string. Blue, she said, belongs to god and windows.

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Between us, ma and I understood the power of art and factless wonders like love and Alzheimer’s. We went down to the lover level because the lower level is a level we hope to never return. True love, ma said, is subterranean and foundational. It’s what stabilizes the whole wide world. It’s what normalizes the logic of sequined pants and the smile of a long loved friend.