The Pink Agendist

by E.B. de Mas, reachable at: pink.agendist@yahoo.com

Real Estate Troubles at the Vatican. Why wouldn’t a single man need a 700m2 apartment?

popeevita

Apparently Pope Evita is terribly upset. Papa Razzi’s old secretary of state, Cardinal Bertone, is moving into a 700m2 apartment in Saint Charles Palace. Le Figaro notes it has a spectacular terrace!

Bertone had two apartments joined because I guess 300m2 wasn’t enough for his Eminence. The pope himself lives at the Domus Sanctæ Marthæ in a property 10 times smaller than that planned for the cardinal.

I’m curious to see the power struggle play out. Bertone is from the right wing of the church (as was Nazzinger). Bergoglio is a populist modelled on South American dictators of the mid 20th century. It should make for an entertaining fight.

Hoping for a good week. A week in the life.

sold

Business has been great. I went out on a limb and made a monumental purchase. The biggest I’ve made since before the crisis. It’s always frightening. You get that funny tingling in your stomach. Am I doing the right thing? Is this the right choice? Will it sell well? Will it sell at all? How long will it take to sell? It’s complicated being a middling dealer. You can’t afford to have a large stock, so every expensive item has to count. At the same time you don’t want to put too much energy into less expensive items where the risk is lower because it’s the same amount of work for less money, and it’s just not as interesting.

I’m more confident these days because in the past five years Mike started taking a much more active role in the business. When we first met he wasn’t interested at all. Now he knows so much about the whole process (and even about what we sell), that he could probably set himself up as the competition :) Making decisions together means shared responsibility. We can’t blame each other.

We have two lunches this week. One tomorrow up in the mountains with our regular Sotogrande group, and the other at a restaurant on the beach on Friday with our Gaucin/Marbella group. Group 1 is a bit more complicated these days. I think the list is getting too big, and people are acting-up. Group two never changes, and people are always well behaved, that guarantees a good time. Someone asked us for an introduction to group 2 last week, I said yes at first, but now that I’ve thought about it- it’s not going to happen. I don’t want to upset the balance.

Our summer guests, K & S (the English girls), confirmed they’re coming again this year. This is probably the 6th or maybe even 7th year we’ve spent summer together. They’re so much fun and so easy-going, we couldn’t have dreamed up a better match. I hope they still visit once we’re in France.

There’s also a big party we agreed to attend in July (the day after Mike arrives back from Amsterdam). A three day affair. A dinner, then a lunch on the next day and a brunch on the last. I’m not sure I can handle all that. I’m going to try to get out of days two and three. There’ll be 36 guests, so it’s not really a big deal if we’re not there for everything. Plus, the hosts will be staying with us during the whole thing (as their house will be full of their guests), so we’ll still see them everyday. Now I have to come up with an interesting gift.

Not hating how you look. The trick is not comparing

I’ve struggled with this for as long as I can remember, hence the inside joke on my about page. I’m finally over it at 36. Better late than never! I can look at a picture of myself without wincing- or feeling a horrible sinking feeling.

It’s crippling to hate how you look. I felt it very intensely. No one ever told me I was ugly, or anything like that. On the contrary, people have always been very kind in that regard. I just had an overwhelming desire to be better looking. It affected every aspect of life. I tortured myself in all sorts of ways. Gym, waxing, tweezing, poking, pulling, blow drying, and clothes and shoes and even make-up. A never-ending quest to be another. I used to justify it by saying I wanted to be my best-self. Not true. I wanted to be different.

This is my first year, ever, in which I feel at ease. Someone complimented me at lunch yesterday saying I never looked better. Technically, it’s not true. I don’t look anywhere near as muscled and polished as I did in my twenties. But I do feel better, so much better. Maybe that shows. The important part is those things stopped mattering.

nope, not me

nope, not me

Society and the media put an inordinate amount of pressure on people. The expectations for how we look are so terribly high. By the time we’re 12, we’re comparing ourselves to beautiful adults. Adults who are actors and models, probably the most attractive people in the world. How can we feel great about how we look if we’re comparing? For me the trick has been to just stop doing it. Stop comparing. I’m me, that’s it. Imperfect me. No amount of work or will is going to make me wake up one day as a six-foot tall, blonde, blue-eyed, Scandinavian man- And that’s okay. I mean, when I look at a picture of myself, my instinct is still to fixate on everything that’s wrong with it/me, but there’s no more malaise that follows.

So, here’s to accepting ourselves, dark circles, grey hair, blemishes, irregular eyebrows and all!

april21

The Canonisation Ceremony: Two Popes to become Saints.

catholicjail

Popes John XXIII and JP II are to be made Saints next Sunday the 27th of April. The latter presided over the canonization of Josemaría Escrivá (Dictator Franco’s good friend and founder of the Opus Dei)- he also hindered the investigations on child sex abuse including the case of Marcial Maciel (Legion of Christ scandal).

John XXIII was hated by the right wing of the church. More interested in philosophy and history than in doctrine. He started Vatican II which put the traditionalists in a tizz. But, he also set the tone for the sex abuse scandal that exploded after he was dead. The 1962 instructions to Bishops  outlining a policy of the strictest secrecy regarding allegations of sexual abuse (including threat of excommunication for those who spoke out!)- were his work.

Saints? Seriously?

Unrelated side note: If you’re crucified on Good Friday, and your alleged resurrection is three days later, then why is Easter on the Sunday? I’ve seen several unconvincing explanations that include counting the day of crucifixion to how the Jews of the period counted days differently…

More observations on social interactions: Bad, bad, bad

tablefight

It never ceases to amaze me. I already knew big groups didn’t work- but really- how do people arrive at a later stage of life without having developed the proper skills for social interaction?

It seems extraordinarily common. Some just can’t handle it. For others, the problems are probably alcohol related. If someone makes a comment about something they like or don’t like, that applies to their own life, don’t presume it’s a slight!!! If they like a certain style and you like another, it doesn’t mean they’re attacking your taste! There’s no need to prove/demonstrate the merits of your preferences.

Don’t over-dramatize your problems at events that people attend to have a good time. Wrong place, wrong time. People will end up avoiding you. Then, avoiding you more. Everyone has (their own) problems, their own struggles. Yours are quite probably not special- at all.

Don’t drink to the point where you’re embarrassing yourself and/or other guests. Self-evident, no? This is particularly unattractive in the case of women. Sorry, feminists, I do hold women to a higher standard.

Most people who dedicate time and money to inviting others, do so in the hope of providing everyone with a nice time. Don’t monopolize attention. Don’t try to make everything about you. Listen, ask questions, be considerate. It’s not that complicated. And if the people sitting near you start leaving early- you might want to ask yourself a few questions.

 

 

Answers & Questions for Religious Fundamentalists

amosoz

Firstly I’d like to say we shouldn’t forget that although we’re on the internet we’re dealing with real people. Real people who are LGBT, Christians, Atheists, Parents, and the list goes on. My conversations with Katy Faust of the Askthebigot website and Grace Church Seattle have been of an extremely friendly nature. We’ve discovered we can interact on a human level. In a class of debate where people are often dehumanized, that’s progress.

As I couldn’t find my copy, I re-ordered and re-read Amos Oz’s How to Cure a Fanatic this week. He expresses my sentiments on conflict better than I ever could. Everyone should read it. It’s very short, you can finish in an hour. I promise it’s worthwhile. He writes in the context of the Israeli/Palestinian dispute- but his arguments are universal. They can be transposed beautifully onto the vast majority of disagreements regarding rights on our planet.

Not unlike the aforementioned Middle-Easterners, Mrs. Faust and I both firmly believe in the validity of our positions. To our credit, it’s good that we’re able to disagree without casting actual stones at each other. Of course at times I’ve wanted to step on her foot, and I’m sure she wanted to kick me in the shin, but the Atlantic Ocean separating us has prevented any of that from occurring.

What I hope to show with our discussion is that while I’m perfectly comfortable dealing with Mrs. Faust on a personal level. The religious ideology she embraces is of an arbitrary nature and to be held up as valid it depends on dominionism, exceptionalism and a disregard for individual freedoms including freedom of religion.

In a recent post she gave me her views, I’ve highlighted and numbered the statements which I think are most problematic:

“Pink. Good question. I can’t speak for all supporters of natural marriage. I suspect that some of them may channel frustration about homosexual issues into the gay marriage debate. 1. Frustrations stemming from making homosexuality a focus at the Olympics or the St. Patty’s Day parade, the intolerance of corporations like Mozilla toward those who disagree, what seems like an overwhelming media bias in favor of all gay-related issues, and the continual demonizing of natural marriage supporters are examples that come to mind. Those things frustrate me too. But are not necessarily a reason to oppose the redefinition of marriage.

I will speak for me. One’s sexual partnership is totally irrelevant when you are talking about workplace performance, academic aptitude, creative potential, mental/physical gifting, talents, etc. But it is hugely relevant when you are talking about family structure, which is what marriage policy has been, and should be about. (That is, if you think that government should be involved in marriage at all, which my editor and Hewho dispute. And you thought we were all some kind of conservative monolith.) 2. But IF government is involved in marriage policy, its interest is a child-centric one. Not every heterosexual coupling brings forth children, but every child has one mother and one father. And every child desires to be known and loved by that mother and father. And every child suffers when one or both of those parents are absent. If anything deserves to be enshrined into law, it is the amazingly self-evident truth that kids have a right to be known and raised by their mother and father whenever possible. (That, and a child’s right to life/not have their body ripped to shreds pre-birth.)

The “right to marriage” which I think has been well vetted by Duck on this thread, is quickly leading to the “right to parenthood,” a phrase of which Violetwisp often speaks. That is the problem when your civil code is disengaged from biological reality 3. Now children exist for the fulfillment of adults. (Or are discarded according to the desires of adults.) Many of those who are crying “Don’t tell us who to love!” are now taking drastic, self-serving steps to ensure that their child(ren) will never be loved by one or both of their biological parents.”

My comments:

1. I think here we have a basic problem with definitions and boundaries. How do we define attack and how do we define defence? People have legitimate disagreements on this. The Trayvon Martin case is a good example of blurred lines. In some cases, I’ll admit, my views are not as black and white as those of others. I say that if a photographer or a private baker doesn’t want my money, I’m happy to patronize a different sort of person. At the same time, turning someone away from a venue that’s open to the public for a characteristic inherent to their being should be sanctioned. Parades are public events.  They take place on public property. Property funded by all citizens. No free citizen should be turned away. The same would be true for a religious group wanting to participate in a Pride parade (as long as their message wasn’t one of ridicule for the event). Grace and respect are characteristics we should aim for, so I’d also understand that a float with semi-nude Brazilian Carnaval dancers (straight or gay) in a Catholic parade would probably not be appropriate. As for attacking heterosexual marriage. That’s an outright misrepresentation. I have seen no attempts whatsoever to ban, criminalize, do away-with or even limit heterosexual marriage. In fact if there are people who think that government shouldn’t sanction marriage at all, they’re on Mrs. Faust’s side of the ring. (Please forgive my usage of two different definitions of sanction in the same paragraph!)

2. If one were in an American courtroom, this is where the attorney would stand up and say “Objection, your honour. Opposing counsel is assuming facts not in evidence.”  The argument is improper because the question assumes something as true for which no evidence has been shown. There’s no evidence to say that marriage is or should be exclusively child-centric. In fact, current laws undermine that perspective as there are no prohibitions or requirements regarding bearing offspring. Even within religion, this matter can be disputed. A Catholic marriage cannot be annulled on the basis of the inability or lack of desire of the participants to bear children. Further, solid counter-arguments can be made regarding the importance of stable family units in society. Couples mutually assisting each-other and their families are undoubtedly and indisputably in the interest of society and government. 

In what regards children knowing their parents, I don’t think this needs to be addressed at length because, again, it’s based on a false premise. We don’t live in a perfect world and thus we must confront realities rather than utopian fantasies. There are many children of heterosexual parents who’ll never know who fathered them. In the many war zones on our planet there are children who will never know either of their parents.

3. In many cases children are/were conceived for the fulfillment of adults. This isn’t an issue of hetero, homo or bi-sexuality. Some cultures had more children to have more help on a farm. Others to marry them off. Others because they had no access to contraception. Fundamentalist Mormons have children in great numbers for their own reasons.

The problem with this argument is, again, an unrealistic vision of the world. There is no perfection, there is no average, there is no ideal. We have to address the world we live in.

And now for my questions:

  • How would you define where your rights begin and those of another end?
  • How do those who propose the tenets of their religion be made into law hope to avoid being made to follow the tenets of other religions if the leaders of those religions come to power (or the members become a majority)?
  • What use is legislation designed for an imagined world if it doesn’t deal with the realities we have to confront here and now?

And I leave you with Amos Oz: “We need the rational ability to compromise and sometimes to make sacrifices and concessions, but we don’t need to commit suicide for the sake of peace. ‘I’ll kill myself so that you will be happy.’ Or , ‘I want you to kill yourself because I will be happy.’ And those two attitudes are not dissimilar; they are closer than you think.

In my view the opposite of war is not love, and the opposite of war is not compassion, and the opposite of war is not generosity or brotherhood, or forgiveness. No, the opposite of war is peace.”

Damn Gin! Against my better judgement.

 

 

 

tanqueray

I was caught at a weak moment. It always happens. You have a few drinks and before you know it you’ve agreed to attend a huge event. They’re clever. They know you’d never agree to such a thing at any other time. They wait for that precise moment. The turning point. Also known (to me) as drink number four. By sunset you realize what you’ve done. You can’t take it back now. It would be rude. They’d be hurt. Your heart sinks. Stuck at a table with 20 people isn’t a good time. The more people you add, the more complex. Hour upon hour of polite and sometimes not so polite dominance hierarchy. The group is too big for any meaningful conversation to possibly occur. And then comes drink number four again.

The Kitschiest Wedding Card Ever

Mike went out to get a card for us to send with the wedding gift for his nephew and returned with this (straight out of the 1970′s):

weddingcard2The tulle netting with the diamante whatever that is, is particularly amusing.

 

 

A Very Attractive Pied-à-Terre in London (NW6) for £475,000

london

 

My brother-in-law and his wife (or does one say brother and sister in law? Siblings in law? In Spanish we have the precise words for this, he’s my cuñado and she and I are concuñad@s) have decided they no longer need a London pied-à-terre, so it’s up for sale. Cute, compact, well-kept and easy to maintain. Obviously very bright and airy. They always rented it out very successfully when they weren’t using it. The agent says it will sell very quickly. London is always a great investment.

For More Details Click Here

 

Lifestyles of the long mid-week lunches in the mountains

Just got back from Venta García. New chef after losing their Michelin listing. The food is outstanding again, so I imagine they’ll get it back. The owner is always pure charm. The place has been in his family for 3 or 4 generations. He sent us a free bottle of wine which was very kind. The prices are incredibly low, as in, the lunch menu is €13. The house red is excellent and under €20. I recommend the roast lamb or the duck confit. The gin and tonic sorbet is also excellent.

On the drive up I thought of the unpleasant comment I received last night. I’ve decided I’m not going to let myself get worked up about nonsense in future. It’s a waste of time and energy. In fact, I’m not even going to respond to comments that I think don’t merit a response. That includes non-sequiturs or baiting.

I wore a white shirt and a blue jacket. The jacket is now off. My hair is longer than usual, which everyone seems to like, so I’m keeping it like this for a while. My waistline is down an inch. 28″ now. I made no particular efforts in that regard, I was perfectly content. I guess I just ate less or lighter in the past month. I look at pictures of myself these days and I wonder what I was on about when I was younger. I used to destroy most photographs. I was utterly paranoid about how I looked. Didn’t like anything. Self-critical to the extreme. Now I look at myself and think “oh well, he’s not so bad.”

16april2014

INFURIATING: Argumentum ad lazarum. Poor but honest?

Gustave_Dore_Lazarus_and_the_Rich_Man-460x270

Popular and extraordinarily irritating fallacy. Unfortunately very common (no pun intended).

I’m not sure if it was the Jews or the Christians who propagated this rubbish, but either way, it’s ridiculous. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God”- Seriously? I guess that means the Lindbergh baby is out then…

It’s just as bad to look down on someone if they’re from the lower classes than to ridicule them for being from the upper classes.

An individual’s lineage or the number of figures in their bank balance by no means define the quality of their character.

People really need to get a grip on themselves. A while back I posted something about inheritances and how I sometimes think about what effect that may have on my life. I thought I was being refreshingly honest and talking about my feelings on a taboo subject that most people avoid. The idiot du jour at the time was terribly offended (comments now deleted). Apparently I was evil incarnate for 1. being someone who’s going to inherit something and 2. thinking about it.

That position obviously disregards the basic notion that these things are part of many people’s lives. In Spain, for example, where +80% of the population owns a home, inheritance and its effects are a serious issue for the overwhelming majority of the population. So much so that one of the country’s biggest newspapers pointed out this week that since the crisis began 21% of inheritances have been renounced.

I’d also like to clarify yesterday’s 1%(er) accusation that was levelled against me (by the same idiot du jour from the inheritance debacle). My exact words over a year ago were that a popular publication gave two definitions of the top 1%. One was regarding net worth, the other income. I only fit the first. According to my own definition of wealth, I’m not part of the 1%. I’ve had to work (hardish) my entire adult life, and at times I’ve struggled financially, although I won’t deny I’ve always lived in relative comfort. Anyway, where I come from and what I own are really irrelevant to what I have to say unless I start advocating positions which would benefit me in either of those regards.

If I start proposing proposing tax cuts for people who own large homes in Southern Spain, you’re all welcomed to question me thoroughly! 

 

Hurrah!!! A New Book!!!

dewaal

Sometimes I get to do some really fun things. On occasion that means I get sent advance copies/proofs as the one above. That means I get to read certain books before everyone else. Sometimes they’re amazing, as was the case for The Hare and McCann’s Dancer (an account of Nureyev’s life).

(this probably doesn’t mean I’m specialer than you, although, then again, it might :)  let’s go with yes, just for fun!)

Today I was sent one such proof by an author who has (almost at the end of the publishing process!), decided to strike out on her own and self-publish. Incredibly brave. The most interesting factor for me this time is I was told I can speak openly about the book (and in public)- no spoilers, obviously.

I’m diving in tonight, and will let you know how it goes. My first impressions (up to page 6) are of a 1940′s feel, which I quite like.

A Rustic Black Bean Stew for Meeka

blackbeans

Great lentil recipe by Meeka here. I have a black bean version that’s a bit more work, but worth the time. I like to make this in large quantities so it lasts through the week with some clever recycling.

You’ll need:

500 grams black beans (soaked in water overnight)

1 onion (diced)

3 rashers bacon (or pancetta or any fatty cut of pork- diced)

1 small bunch coriander

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

1 red chili (de-seeded if you don’t like heat, I do)

Ham stock (I buy ready made, but if you’ve got the time, this is a good version)

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons cumin powder (I usually add more)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

Salt & Pepper to taste (BUT WAIT UNTIL THE END OF COOKING, ADDING SALT EARLY HARDENS THE BEANS- and there’s salt in the stock and meats)

Method:

Cook the onions and the bacon (until they’re soft and golden and the bacon is beginning to crisp, respectively).

Put the beans in a large pot and cover with ham stock leaving two and a half fingers of liquid above the beans.

Add all other ingredients

Simmer for three hours (covered with a lid)

Then remove the lid and simmer for another hour so the liquid reduces/thickens

You can play with a number of variations on this. On the first day I serve it with oven-baked spicy (creole) sausages and rice (and a green salad). You can also poach boneless diced chicken breasts in the beans in last 20/25 minutes of cooking. You can braise stewing beef in the beans for the whole cooking time. On the last day I liquidize the left-overs with more ham stock and that becomes an excellent soup.

Before serving I add one (raw) diced tomato, and more fresh coriander.

Vegetarians can omit the meats and simply brown the onions in good olive oil. 

 

 

Anyone up for South African Real-Estate? The Pistorius house is up for sale.

pistoriushouse

 

Terrible story. Did he always have that whiny voice?  His version of events is quite ridiculous. He lives in a gated community called Silverwoods. It’s described as “a high-security gated complex with a three-meter high wall, an electric fence, a guarded entrance, and regular patrols.“- I live in a gated community too. We have alarms and panic buttons to call security. What’s the first thing you do when you hear a noise at night? I check the people/animals with me are there and safe. Then we call security. What you don’t do is arm yourself without checking where everyone is and start shooting at closed doors.

Apparently he’s putting his house up for sale to pay legal fees. Estimates vary between 250 and 300k. I found that surprising. You get a whole lot for your money in South Africa. Try buying something for that much in a Western European capital (or the coasts). I promise the media wouldn’t be describing it as a luxury mansion.

It really puts the world into perspective. I thought he was mega-rich. Tens and tens of millions rich. I think I (and the world) tend to presume that of everyone we see in the media. Turns out he’s a regular person with a good income. Well, a murdery regular person, but still.

 

Harvard DS: Testing Indicates “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” Papyrus Fragment to be Ancient

papyruswifejesus

Most interesting points:

  • A wide range of scientific testing indicates that a papyrus fragment containing the words, “Jesus said to them, my wife” is an ancient document
  • Its contents may originally have been composed as early as the second to fourth centuries.
  • The fragment does not in any way provide evidence that the historical Jesus was married, as Karen L. King, the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, has stressed since she announced the existence of the fragment in the fall of 2012. Rather, the fragment belongs to early Christian debates over whether it was better for Christians to be celibate virgins or to marry and have children. The fragment is weighing in on this issue, according to King.
  • The main topic of the fragment is to affirm that women who are mothers and wives can be disciples of Jesus—a topic that was hotly debated in early Christianity as celibate virginity increasingly became highly valued,” King explained.”
  • Twice in the tiny fragment, Jesus speaks of his mother, his wife, and a female disciple—one of whom may be identified as “Mary.” The disciples discuss whether Mary is worthy, and Jesus states that “she can be my disciple.”

Full text:

Testing Indicates “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” Papyrus Fragment to be Ancient | The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.

Excuse me, China, that’s kind of ‘my’ property.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to give permission for anything I own to be photographed, written about, examined or even copied by enthusiasts. (In fact I hope to leave all the better pieces to organizations that will make them available to be seen by the public). The thing is taking an image works best if the owner knows about it. We can usually add important information.

I was mildly annoyed yesterday when someone pointed out that a company in China that sells ‘high quality reproductions’ is offering copies of my Zmurko.  They’ve used a cropped version they got somewhere that completely changes the artist’s composition and vision.

They’re presenting it like this:

fineartchinaIn reality this is a small painting!!!

zmurkoThe exposed shoulder, the flowing fabric, the hint of breast- those are all part of what the artist wanted to express. It’s his point of view. A Berliner showgirl with an attitude. You can’t just cut it down like that.

 

Religious Danger: “Lady Apostle” Helen Ukpabio (endangers children and adults)

witches

 If you missed C4 News last night, you can read about it here.

I think this adds an interesting nuance and touches the heart of the anti-gay (marriage) debate. We have one religion proposing their ‘unique’ vision of the world. In this case She offers “deliverance” sessions, crude exorcisms which have been accused of fuelling witchcraft accusations against children in Nigeria. This week she’s been spreading her message in Britain.

She and others firmly believe they are being true to their religion by engaging in these practices- despite the harm they may be causing to people who fall foul of their standards. They even say: “If a child under the age of two screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health he or she is a servant of Satan.”

What happens when/if they start going a step further? Public campaigns and proposed legislation against witches? Do their sincere beliefs trump the rights of other citizens to be? To live in peace? How would you feel about your child or family member being labelled a servant of satan?

Below is one of her appalling films. In it she implies children/people can leave their bodies at night to meet and practise witchcraft. It’s an ideal theory for pushing her ideology, anyone can be accused at any time.

Keep that in mind when you or anyone else is about to use sincerely held religious beliefs in a way that will impact the life of another.

A Beautifully Gardencentric Day

Spring is really here. We went to the vivero (garden centre) this morning and got three hibiscuses (to put in large pots, 2 for the pool surround), and some indoor plants (begonias and more azaleas). Flowers are starting to bloom in the garden as well. The pergola is half covered in greenery (stephanotis), which is a huge improvement (eventually I’ll get around to getting rid of the white chairs and buying some in a natural material). We also got fresh basil, so we’ll have pesto tonight. It’s been an excellent week work-wise. Two great sales and another two on the back-burner. This means we might be able to increase our 12 month budget reserve to 18 or maybe even 24 months. Result of lessons learnt from the financial crisis…

Apollo Magazine: ‘Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937′, Neue Galerie, New York

“This is an exhibition about an exhibition: the famously – and conspicuously – ‘badly curated’ exhibition of Degenerate Art (Entartete Kunst), opened in Munich, in 1937, by Adolf Ziegler, the National Socialist president of the Reich Chamber for the Visual Arts.

It was organised in parallel with the ‘Great German Art Exhibition’, also in Munich, where the art on show – sanctioned and selected by the National Socialists – was displayed coherently on otherwise clean walls.  The so-called degenerates were, by contrast, hung crassly, jostling wonkily for space on crowded walls, misattributed and incorrectly labeled.”

Full text here

We interrupt this broadcast to ask: What do you think of this house?

Tarn

 

tarn2

 

ignore their furniture!!!

ignore their furniture!!!

tarn4

 

I like it, but is it too ordinary? I’m not sure I see myself in it. That terrace area looks quite nice. Next to it is the kitchen. Then there are two large rooms in the main part of the house divided by a central corridor that goes all the way from one end to the other.  The bedrooms are all upstairs. It’s much more Southern than any of the other houses we’re interested in. Only a three hour drive to Spain, which means decent weather. It’s less than half the size of our current house, which means half the work! That will be WONDERFUL. It’s also on the inexpensive side. That means we’d be able to invest in enough rental properties so that I’d be able to only focus only on the parts of my work that I enjoy (big projects). No more donkey work, having to sell x every month.

Another couple is coming to see our house on Monday, so there’s cleaning to be done. Here we go again… I just keep reminding myself only one client has to love it to buy it.

Anyway, wherever we end up, you’ll get to see the design/furniture selection/reforms process first hand, which should be amusing.

Bias and Ethics in Life & Blogging. The Askthebigot matter is a process, and here’s how she changed my opinion of her.

conflictofinterests

“…to say that someone has a conflict of interest is not a moral criticism, but rather a description of a set of circumstances. That person has a primary interest that he or she needs to fulfill, although other interests may push or pull the person in different directions. A moral failure would be if the person neglected their primary interest and allowed these other interests to rule.” Environmental Health Sciences Decision Making; Yank Coble, Christine Coussens, and Kathleen Quinn

(Thank you for bearing with me. I wanted to do this in stages because I need time to process and decide what I actually think. I still haven’t made up my mind entirely, except for being certain an honest and cordial debate is a good thing. Distilled antagonism doesn’t get anyone anywhere.)

Firstly I’d like to clarify that outing Katy Faust was no group effort. It was done by me and me alone. Not Violet, or Clare, or Ark, or Roughseas. I take full personal responsibility for the debacle. I did it because I believed and still believe that this was a case of conflict of interests. I probably wouldn’t have felt the need to do so in a number of similar cases but anti-gay rhetoric is another story.

It should be taken very seriously because it affects people the most at the point when they’re most vulnerable which is childhood and adolescence. Gay youths deal with a very particular and difficult set of circumstances. The confusion of feeling different, the discovery of a sexuality that doesn’t fit in with the mainstream and the realization one might not naturally conform to the expectations of others. Adding further pressures makes the situation for some absolutely unbearable as evidenced by the suicide rates for gay youths.

I think when anyone puts that demographic at further risk, for whatever reason, they have a responsibility to do so openly. If they’re members of organizations that espouse anti-gay beliefs or make any sort of profit from that ideology, I feel that information must be disclosed.

All that being said, I think the outcome of the situation was positive, because Mrs. Faust’s response to me demonstrated an understanding of nuance I hadn’t gleaned from her website. I’ll let you decide for yourself:

“E. de Mas,

Thanks for writing me, I really do appreciate it. I don’t know if anything will be accomplished by this, I only know that I am to make the effort.

If my blog has not conveyed that gay people are valuable, gifted, precious and worthy of love then I have erred greatly. While I have devoted posts in the past to that reality, clearly it is time to state it explicitly again. I will do my best to convey that truth in my next post.

“You can’t deny that there are heterosexual parents who do a monstrous job at rearing children. Their heterosexuality doesn’t stop them abusing, beating, rejecting, ignoring or neglecting their flesh and blood.”

You are of course absolutely right about this. Heterosexuality does not a good parent make. And conversely, a same sex attraction does not negate parenting abilities. As stated numerous times on my blog, my mother was an exceptional parent. Much of what I do that is good as a parent myself comes directly from her modeling. She is one of God’s greatest gifts to me.

“Could a gay couple possibly offer respite in one of those situations?”

Absolutely. Which is why I traveled internationally with a lesbian couple when they were adopting their special needs child. (Also mentioned in several posts.) Do I think their daughter will miss out by not having a dad? Yes. Will she be immeasurably better off in the care of those two wonderful women than in the orphanage? Absolutely. Does that mean that we should promote a family structure where mother or father is absent? In my opinion, no. Do I hate them? Not by a long shot. Have some Christians criticized my decision to support them during their trip. Yes. But my Lord tells me that I not only can, but must, serve those even if we disagree about ideas. (Not to mention, they are just fun to be with.)

Thank you again for your email. Though I don’t know what this would look like, if I can do something to serve or sacrifice for you I will try to.

All the best to you and your partner.

Katy”

Am I wrong to have changed my opinion?

I don’t have major issues with anything she says in that message, even if I don’t agree with every detail. In fact, I think it takes a very considered tone. I’d just point out that in my view there’s no single family model that should be promoted because life is much more complicated than any model. Every single family will have their positives and negatives. I come from a traditional family model and it was traditionally imperfect with women more or less taking a back seat to the men and their wishes/careers. Ideal? Hardly. On the other hand I now see I had some extraordinary advantages in regards to travelling the world and learning and being exposed (first-hand) to science/politics/history/art. Everyone and every family has their own story, some good, some bad- and the gender of the parents is (or isn’t) just one more factor of many.

 

 

The Christian and the Gay Part II: My First Response to Katy Faust

I was still terribly annoyed about the debacle, and I didn’t hold back:

“Hi, Katy
Thanks for your message, although I’m not entirely sure what you hope to accomplish. Your efforts and website do the opposite of portraying gay people as valuable, gifted or precious people.
You reduce human beings to their sexual orientation as if that’s the be all and end all of human existence.
You ignore the basic notion that life isn’t black and white. That people can be good or bad and their sexual orientation has very little, if anything at all, to do with that.
Perhaps you didn’t personally have a good experience, but that doesn’t mean that that’s the full picture of possibilities. You can’t deny that there are heterosexual parents who do a monstrous job at rearing children. Their heterosexuality doesn’t stop them abusing, beating, rejecting, ignoring or neglecting their flesh and blood.
That’s the point at which one has to ask themselves, what does that mean? Could a gay couple possibly offer respite in one of those situations?
Should we not look at cases individually without prejudices? Couldn’t the gay couple where one is a psychologist and the other stays home possibly fulfill the needs of a troubled child better than a heterosexual couple where both work long hours in a bank?
regards,
E. de Mas

What did the Christian and the Gay say? Part 1 | asktheBigot

First, I’d like to recommend a book everyone interested in politics should read. It’s by Amos Oz. He was born in Jerusalem in 1939, so he’s lived in the midst of very combative politics his entire life, with divisions even within his own family.

He was one of the first Israelis to advocate a two state solution. At the same time he defends Israel’s absolute right to self-defence. Two policies that usually don’t go together. One of the reviews says “Oz argues that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a war of religion or cultures or traditions, but rather a real estate dispute–one that will be resolved not by greater understanding, but by painful compromise. As he writes, The seeds of fanaticism always lie in uncompromising righteousness, the plague of many centuries.

I can’t find my copy of the book, so I’m paraphrasing, but he says the fanatic is colourblind. Someone incapable of seeing the wonderful spectrum of variety in the world- more preoccupied with antagonism than with reaching out and finding solutions and compromise.

Mrs. Faust and I decided to go for brutal honesty in the hope of establishing a dialogue, or showing how we established a dialogue. I suggested the importance of breaking up the conversation into acts because nothing happens all at once. I’m a suspicious animal by nature. I wasn’t even sure if I should open her messages at first, but I did.

Last week a cohort of bloggers spearheaded by a Pink Agendist participated in exposing my real identity.  Pink then proceeded to slander my husband and my church on his blog.  He published the names and addresses of our home community leaders as well as my friends’ picture.  Though some of these people from my church have probably never read my blog, they were made to suffer because I choose to write about gay marriage.”

What did the Christian and the Gay say? Part 1 | asktheBigot.

P.S. I won’t be posting my part today because we’re having a dinner party for 8, which means I’m swamped- I’ve only just finished laying the table and there are still napkins to iron.

9april2014

Grace Church Seattle, the Faust’s and Progress. Building Bridges.

Soon, I shall be posting something regarding a private exchange with Mrs. Faust. I think it’s good. Kindness, generosity and understanding should always precede their antonyms. One should always, always, be prepared to sit with others to listen to what they have to say.  That’s how true progress is made and how we learn to make room for each other in this very eclectic world.

Stay tuned.

Am I classist, snobby, elitist and do I rub education and wealth in your face? The Importance of Fighting Back

One hopes the answers to all those questions is a resounding yes. It’s entirely intentional; Designed to subvert the oft-disseminated stereotype of the marginal underling gay. When I was a boy, 25 to 30 years ago, this was so endemic it even shaped people’s perceptions of the types of jobs we could have.

Gay men were hair-dressers of florists. If one was wealthy, one could become an art or antiques dealer (aah, the irony), or perhaps a museum curator. We weren’t just boxed in, we were excluded from mainstream society. There was the presumption that the (presumed) flamboyance of the gay man precluded him from working in a boardroom, in a bank, as the CEO of a company. I mean, how could we possibly work at a university if there was a chance we might show up to work one day dressed like this:

cage-aux-folles-1978-05-g (1)

The choices were simple. Either one was discreet to the point of closet-living, or one had to choose a profession and an environment that was unconventional. These limitations encompassed all aspects of life. They even affected how and with whom we could socialize.

Mike and I have been together for thirteen years, all of which we’ve spent in a quite traditional and conservative community called Sotogrande, one of Europe’s (and the world’s) most exclusive residential developments. The first couple of years weren’t easy. I remember people with a straight face saying things like “You’re invited to the party, but you two have to come separately“, or “We’d like to invite you, but would you mind staying in the garden area where it’s more crowded?“, or even “I can invite you when my husband or the children are away“- I’m not sure exactly what they were expecting, whether there was a risk we’d burst into Broadway musical style song, or that we might just start having sex in public view. The prejudices were so absurd, they seem almost funny in hindsight.

Having never been one to take anything sitting down, I decided to fight fire with fire. Sometimes it’s the only way to make people seriously consider the impact of what they’re doing. This took a measure of wit, but me being me, it also took a degree of brutality. To the woman who suggested inviting us when her husband was away, I said “What a relief! I didn’t want to say anything, but I’m not really comfortable with people from that country“. I may have followed that with a comment on terrorists. Her eyes widened in horror, and there began her crusade to prove to me that her husband was a lovely man despite my misgivings regarding his nation of birth. Dearest shoe, meet other foot. Other foot, meet shoe!

It’s a shame that so many people feel prejudice and discrimination in the form of reductionism is an issue that doesn’t affect them, and they adopt positions that are genuinely harmful to others. That’s my problem with websites like Askthebigot and groups like Grace Church Seattle. Someone there said that if my life was ‘great’, why would I waste my time fighting back against what they were doing? The implication being that I had some sort of insecurity. That couldn’t be further from reality. I fight back because it’s only fighting back that we’ve been able to arrive where we are today.

The other day I received an anonymous email from a young man who explained how happy he was when he first heard the gossip of us being here. He was a young gay teen who up to thirteen years ago had only been exposed to the idea of gays living in the sidelines. Like him I once thought the only social role we could have was that of  a companion, a walker. This took the form of accompanying widows, divorcees or women whose husbands were away, to social events. We filled in the boy/girl/boy/girl seating arrangements. That was it.

We weren’t invited as independent entities. We fulfilled a role. I’ve had the pleasure to see and participate in this change during my lifetime. It happened gradually, and not because people sat back and did nothing. I still remember my anxiety the first few times I hosted. Will they come? Who will come? An uphill battle.

We had the monumental task of demonstrating, proving even, that our existence wasn’t limited to our sexual orientation. People enjoyed the black and whiteness of it, some in the world still do. When they say a gay couple is less capable/ideal than a heterosexual couple, they imply that gender is the single most important factor in a child’s rearing (or to be honest, in humanity). Not psychology, love, comfort, education, support. When they say they’re fighting for the children, that’s what they’re doing. No nuance, no mention that each case is an individual case. That a gay couple could, in many cases, fulfill the needs of a specific child better than a heterosexual couple.

It all depends on the individual cases and by opposing gay adoption (or marriage) in a generalized manner they unfairly and misguidedly reduce our identities to sex- and in doing so create limitations for millions of children in the world who live in poverty and hunger, without anyone to care for them. And I say that with no horse in the race. I’m not a parental type, I’ve never wanted children.

All these years later, I feel we’ve accomplished something. I say that personally and as a community. Since ‘our scandalous arrival’ other openly gay couples (including of the flamboyant variety) have arrived and just blended. None of the gossip, none of the wild rumours. In fact, most are now welcomed with open arms on the assumption they’re probably fun, like a drink and throw a good party. That’s because knowledge is everything.

For years we’ve been the house on the street where children come play with the (many) dogs, where they’re welcomed to use the heated pool- where we work from home so if they need something their parents tell them to come to us. A far cry from the stereotypes that were attributed to gay men in the past. Yesterday we were sitting with a friend in the pergola as her eight year old daughter threw the kong toy in the garden. We saw her being brought home from the hospital. We watched her start speaking. First French, then Spanish and English, now Swedish. When her brother died, they all came here to not be alone after hearing the news. One day we’ll probably see her get married.

No trauma has been had by her growing up in the vicinity of an openly gay couple. I think all concerned would agree it’s been quite the opposite. The little girl told us yesterday we’re her favourite neighbours anywhere and I make the best sandwiches. None of the parents we know have ever had any qualms regarding their children being in our company- and that’s because they know something that the bigots don’t want to know. That we’re people, we’re human. That sexual orientation isn’t the be all and end all of ANYTHING, except of sexual orientation itself.

And it’s not just because we’ve arrived at this point that we should sit back and enjoy and leave everyone else hanging. I feel a personal responsibility to keep going, to keep pushing, to make it so others in our community, far and wide, are able to live in a less hostile world. Something we’ll only be able to accomplish if we fight back against the nefarious efforts of the anti-gay brigade.