Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mopac and 360 closed, man attempting suicide at the greenbelt

Yesterday, was a good day to be a cyclist.

A 22-year old man with a gun, threatening suicide, was spotted at 3 pm on the Barton Creek greenbelt in Austin by a witness who called 911, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The SWAT team converged on the site and shut down both lanes of Mopac near 360 to handle the situation. In turn, all of Austin's traffic ground to a halt. Cars backed up from Mopac/360, the bottom edge of Austin, to 2222, a near edge in the north. Perhaps you know, perhaps you were in it. The steaming metal beasts of cars trickled along Austin's major highways and side streets with no option of speed.
But the cyclists, they, reigned supreme.

I was in a car, heading southbound on Lamar home to Bouldin Creek. From work, at 2222, I heard traffic was a sludgy mess and tried to take side streets and Lamar instead. It barely worked.
Scanning the radio for news, I finally found a local sports show devoting some time to discussing the standoff between police and the suicidal young man. I can't say I was glad to hear their thoughts. Their traffic reporter though, had insightful, compassionate things to say. She hoped the situation would be resolved and the young man would emerge unscathed, seek the help he needs and heal. Her co-hosts, chuckled over her well wishes with phrases like "I hope he does succeed! I hope the dude offs himself now and let's us re-open the highway." and, "Man, if you're going to commit suicide can you at least do it at home so we don't have to deal with it?!" Perhaps the best, "This guy doesn't really want to do it, he doesn't really. He's bluffing. But you know there are people in this traffic who now want to kill themselves!"

My car still sluggishly moving forward, I stared out at all the bikes, scores of them, zipping along on thin silver wheels. Beautiful, glinting objects flying along the sidewalk at warp speeds compared to us. This was no planned Critical Mass, just a bunch of cyclists who were doing the right thing.

The cars we all sat in were tremendous burdens. Too big for us, to heavy for us to just pick up and move to the side to scoot home. Yes, they kept us cool. Yes, their air conditioning was a welcome respite from the 101 degree air outside. But their engines are only making the climate warmer. The CO2 created yesterday from the entire city of Austin performing a spontaneous, enormous, collective idling "happening" across the city must have numbered in the hundreds of pounds. CO2 emissions from idling are real, see this primer and you'll stop idling your car at the train tracks or to warm it up in the winter.

The cyclists whipped past us, getting to their destinations on time, and arriving having put their muscles, bones, bodies to work. They arrived happy, upbeat, with quickened pulses, alive. The drivers were exhausted, frenetically giving up on getting home any time soon, while the cyclists played on bouyant tires, zinging past us.

I am putting my car to rest. It's bikes and buses for me. I won't contribute to continued global warming and global climate change. This heat will only get worse if we don't all radically change. And it's time. If you can't figure out how to put your car to rest, post a comment here and we'll help you make it possible.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dolly Parton's Commencement Address at University of Tennessee

A forever advocate for the gay community, an icon for drag queens, a gentle soul: Ms. Dolly Parton.

Here's a great video of her singing "Jolene" in 1974:

Dolly's introduction by Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen for her recent Commencement Address at the University of Tennessee (see her speech below that): 

Friday, May 22, 2009

Inspiring, palpably painterly work by Keiko Narahashi

Keiko Narahashi's work is gentle, well tuned and tight as a drum. I stumbled on her work through a friend and found it such a pleasant surprise this afternoon. Here is a sampling of some of her work, below. But do go to her website to see more of her work and listings of her upcoming shows.

Keiko Narahashi holds an MFA from Bard and lives in New York. Her son,
Micah Belamarich, is also an artist, though more of a graphic designer. He runs ONLY NY, a clothing brand, in addition to doing his own freelance work.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm a newly converted bus rider. Join me.

I now ride the bus to and from work because it became too ridiculous not to. The number five bus rolls up 100 feet from my house in the morning and 45 minutes later rolls in twenty feet from my office. I have no excuse.

I went on Capital Metro's website and found this commuting calculator that fully validated my desire to save money and the environment by riding the bus. Through a bunch of data I filled in, it calculated I spend $197 a month commuting to my job nine miles north of my house. That's $2373 a year I could be using for much more interesting things than a car. Like gaycations!! In the present too, the bus gives me more of an opportunity to draw, write, read, watch movies, listen to music, meditate, etc. because I'm not on Mopac navigating the highway like a zen surfer in a metal rocket on tires. 

I am also now predictably on time! My own car could wait for me indefinitely as I changed outfits three times, but the bus will leave me behind if I don't hustle. Now I arrive at work at 8:45 daily, as smoothly as a clock.

Riding the bus thusfar has produced: 2 poems, 3 small painting/drawings, the reading of two books, and the rediscovery of ancient gems in my iTunes including thought-provoking slam poems by the Suicide Kings and Saul Williams left over from my performance poet days. Too, my sense of connection to humanity and interest in learning about others has been effortlessly heightened as I sit next to blind teenagers and aging construction workers, professionals in ties and high heels bound by their laptop cases, young men headed to school or jobs who shout and laugh in Hindi while riding for only a few stops and then departing, and so on. 

The seclusion of our automobiles can feel like a cozy, moving shrine at times, or an extension of ourselves, but during other times, like 5:30 pm Mopac rush hour, cars can feel like boxy weights holding us back from the joy of home. I'm glad to be moving in a new direction. Try it out. I'll see you on the bus.

(This Friday, May 15th, is Bike to Work Day. Many local bike-loving businesses are providing breakfast for the cyclists: see a map of all the food stops here.) I'll be riding!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

German Money Ad Doing it Raw

Wow Germany. Thanks for this compelling ad?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NOM and R.I.M., saving straight marriage one awkward acronym at a time.

First, do your research:
1. NOM ad about "the gathering storm" of gay marriage. And, the rainbow coalition of people gathering to "protect us from gay marriage:"

2. The audition videos for hilarious NOM video above:

And now, the main event:
3. Amazing. Thank you thank you gay actors, and straight actors. Thank you for your comedic literacy and perfect wit:

4. And finally, another little gem from Rachel Maddow:

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Gay Slurs Lead to Child's Suicide

I found this tremendously important to watch and think about. Hearing this story too, makes me glad Austin has organizations like OutYouth, to help our young people with self-acceptance and raise the understanding, acceptance and celebration of diversity in Austin as well. There's so much further we could go, but at least we have resources to work with.