Posts Tagged ‘TN’

When I was at Camp St Joseph for Girls, I sang “If Ever I Would Leave You” in drag. I was maybe 13 or 14 and the nuns thought nothing of it. Since I was the tallest camper who could carry a tune, I was dressed as Sir Lancelot in Camelot. Is it called drag when girls dress like boys and perform musical comedy hits, like Victor Victoria? What about Shakespeare, where men always played women?

Back in the day, I’ve witnessed many a guy on stage dressed like a Hawaiian Hula dancer. The trope is funny, with coconuts on their hairy chest. Mostly it was the big, brawny football types who felt secure enough in their own masculinity to don womens’ clothes. I’d never even heard of drag until I was in my 30s and we went to a bar in Key West. Our Big Chill group took up a sizable part of the audience and we had tons of fun.

And now here I am in Nashville with a Drag Star Hair Stylist!

Tennessee is the first state in the union to ban public displays of drag to “PROTECT” our children. What exactly are we protecting them from… ? TN Republican legislators say drag is “harmful to minors;”  They called it an “adult cabaret” that would “appeal to a prurient nature.” My hair stylist in his alter ego, aka The Britney Banks, attended one of the protests. He/she held a sign that said

“Trust Politicians PARENTS”

I absolutely cannot trust politicians to keep our children safe. Safe from what, from learning their own history in school?

Safe from what? reading books that may make them uncomfortable?

Have politicians kept our children safe in their schools? Yesterday, I bought three purple Columbine plants for my garden, and every time I say that word, Columbine, I feel that tragedy deep in my bones; when two teenage boys killed 13 students and teachers and wounded more than 20 in 1999.

Politicians however, have voted against enhanced background checks after Sandy Hook, where six adults and 20 CHILDREN were murdered. They did nothing again after Uvalde, where 19 children and 2 teachers were gunned down. Children are simply pawns to be sacrificed on the altar of Republican Greed. If you haven’t heard Jon Stewart parry with Oklahoma Republican State Legislator Nathan Dahm you’re in for a treat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCuIxIJBfCY

It’s a bit long – they must go through a series of free speech and 2nd Amendment chaos – but wait till the end. Stewart asks Dahm if it’s true that he doesn’t like drag queens reading to children. Oh my, well of course that’s true. Then Stewart, with righteous indignation in his eyes, asks him why it’s OK to infringe on free speech but not OK to regulate firearms? And Stewart’s trick question is, “DO you know what the leading cause of death is for children?”

It’s not drag queen readings. It’s GUNS!! Yes, now guns surpass motor vehicle collisions, and unlike adults, where the majority of gun deaths are suicides, “…for children, 65% of firearm deaths are homicides and 35% are categorized as suicide.” I guess there is the occasional accidental suicide when a toddler finds mommy’s gun in her purse and shoots himself, but honestly 65% of firearm deaths are murders! And our leaders cannot even reinstate the Assault Weapon Ban?

Why can’t we treat a gun like a car? I used to ride in the front seat with my Daddy Jim. Every time he braked, his arm swung over and pushed me back in my seat. I even did it for awhile with my kids, who used to sprawl all over the back seat to and from the beach with towels and dogs running rampant. Kids are not dying in cars as much anymore because politicians have passed regulations that require parents to take certain measures and buy car seats and not even let them sit in front until they reach a certain height…

Bless Gov Lee’s heart, his priority is not exposing children to Drag Queens, but hey, the more guns the merrier! I wonder when his Christian cohorts will want to end bachelorette parties in Nashville? Or Purim costumes for that matter at a synagogue, where a man recently dressed as Queen Esther. Are we going to infringe on religion? You get my drift. These two know and love my aforementioned hairstylist, and I’m more than OK with that!

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Yes, I just made up a word, take note Merriam Webster. Curricularity is a noun – a state of mind expressing “… extreme amusement” of any school board member that has been criticized, harassed or generally polarized by parents wishing to be partners in their child’s education.

When I sat on a school board in NJ, I learned quite a lot about the Business of Education.

I got a crash course on marketing when the superintendent wanted to upgrade the track that ran around the football field. I learned more about the composite materials of running tracks than I ever wanted to know. It seems the age-old clay and ash track (or was it asphalt and rubber?) didn’t cut it with the coaches and football parents; we needed to allocate multiple thousands of dollars for a new age synthetic track.

In this country, “… building a 400 meter polyurethane track from scratch typically costs around $1 million. Resurfacing an existing track usually costs about $300 thousand.” https://www.quora.com/How-much-does-it-cost-to-build-a-400-meter-track

We needed the other tax-paying-parents to buy in to the scheme, and we needed to convince the Borough Council it was necessary. As a newspaper reporter, I knew the economics of any new building project for a public school meant the money had to come out of some other fund, or you had to get a loan in the form of a bond. It was basic “Guns and Butter.” And most of a school’s budget is spent on… can you guess?

Teacher and Administrator salaries.

In an ideal world, public school board members should not be politically biased. Their mission should be to want only the best for their students; but in reality, many states have members that are elected and bring their own unique overt or covert bias right along with them. Unfortunately for TN, we are in the news AGAIN, for all the wrong reasons!

Parents yelling at and threatening public school board members in Franklin was bad enough. Now in a vote of 10-0, McMinn County members voted to ban an 8th Grade book on the Holocaust … on Holocaust Remembrance Day. But at least we’re not alone in our book banning.

GOP politicians across the country have sought to emulate Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s successful campaign focus last year on “parental control” of education, which revived calls to ban Toni Morrison’s Nobel Prize-winning “Beloved.” In November, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) ordered a statewide probe of potential “criminal activity” into “pornography” in schools after two LGBTQ memoirs were pulled from some districts in his state. Around the same time in Kansas, a school board near Wichita announced it was removing 29 books from circulation, including Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” and “They Called Themselves the K.K.K.,” a history of the white supremacist group.”


The Rocker was in 8th Grade when he wrote a compelling essay on censorship. Thirteen year olds are smarter than we think, and in NJ, teaching middle-schoolers about the Holocaust is a requirement in the curriculum. Like teaching Math, there are actually right and wrong answers and parents mostly left that up to the teachers. I was never asked to opine about books that were purchased at my son’s school, not as a parent or a board member.

The banning of books in our public schools sets a dangerous precedent. At its best, It’s unfortunate that todays’ conservatives think it’s better not to discomfort our children; didn’t they accuse us of being soft, snowflakes? There is nothing humorous about what’s going on in certain states.

I’m going to buy the Pulitzer Prize winning book Maus, and donate it to our local free library so children can read it. Maybe we can start something? https://www.parnassusbooks.net/book/9780394747231

The Rocker’s 8th grade school picture on my desk

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Ever want to just get away from it all? Our friends Yoko and Rick – who happen to be retired public health officials- picked us up last weekend for a little trip back to nature. Only this campsite was somewhere between a cabin in the woods and a fancy shipping container

Getaway is a great business model. Some enterprising folks bought land outside of major cities all over the US, and put up tiny boxes for city folk to rent. They provide everything you might need – a bed with a forest view, air conditioning, a range, a shower and throne room.

They even leave you wood by the combo grill/campfire! Oh and there’s no WiFi so you’re really off the grid.


Every time I leave home, for any reason, my anxiety level shoots up. Adding a pandemic transition to the mix only makes it worse. It was just about a two hour drive to our #getaway but we traveled together and Rick was our fearless driver.

We stopped for lunch overlooking a lake in Kentucky. We stopped at a fish hatchery where trout are raised to stock Tennessee rivers. We enjoyed each other’s company and our combined grilling skills, plus I tasted Japanese milk bread for the first time.

The off and on rain didn’t matter, I whipped up a ratatouille with Farmer Bob’s bounty! And then on the way home we met a woman hiking a waterfall trail who was collecting Turkey Tail Mushrooms! She complained about people calling her long-haired, young son “they.”

So we had a brilliant discussion in the car about pronouns. Did you know the Japanese language doesn’t use pronouns?

The good news is my anxiety eased and my hip survived all the glamping activities so my PT must be working! If only we didn’t live in a state that would fire a health official, a pediatrician, for telling health care providers that TN law allows children 15 years and older to be vaccinated without parental permission.

When our doctors are censored and fired for telling the truth, what’s next TN?

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Please. With a newborn in the family everyone loses a little sleep. But the Bride carries the heaviest burden of nursing every two to three hours. And since today is going to be a glorious life-affirming, celebratory day, I’ll make this post brief.

TN in its infinite wisdom has voted “YES on 1” which was an anti-choice, anti-women ballot initiative. The question was deliberately confusing, and ads by religious PACs made it seem like a reasonable option.

However, in the future elected officials now have more power to legislate what we women can do, or not do with our bodies. We may be made to wait longer for an abortion, make multiple visits to a doctor, and even watch an ultrasound or succumb to an invasive pelvic sonogram. TN cannot overturn our right to seek reproductive care, but the GOP can now chip away at our ability to access it with more TRAP laws.

So thanks TN, for thinking that old white men and a few women know best.

With more and more women in medicine and politics, this state just may be first for music but last in recruiting young people in science and technology fields. Just another result of apathetic young voters, or is this a sign of the times?

Let me sleep on it baby.


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