Posts Tagged ‘eric shaw quinn’

I recently saw a news report about hearing damage being cause by excessive iPod use.  One of the people interviewed said something like, without the musical stimulation of their digital music box, life was flat and boring.

Quickly,  I rushed to judgment.

“There is more sensory input available from walking down a country lane on a calm day than in all the music created since the beginning of time combined,” I thought.  “Stupid teenagers,” I added for good measure before contemplating how great Brian Williams looks.  Sigh.

Then I watched an evening of television or looked around on the internet for items of interest — socially redeeming and otherwise – played a computer game, read a book or generally did anything I could to escape from the reality of my life.  Now I’m not the center of the world, but my life is pretty swell.

Still, I would rather spend an afternoon playing FreeCell or updating my Netflix Queue than actually being present where I am.  Try to sit quietly doing nothing for an hour, I dare you.  No eating or drinking, just sitting.  It’s crushing somehow.

What is that? It’s like a vacuum.  It’s as though I live on a grand stage on which I perform the most petty and menial of tasks.   Life is like playing Chopsticks at Carnegie Hall.

Now, I’ve no patience with people who whine about being bored.  Yet I’m not certain that filling my hours with The Sims isn’t just an active form of boredom.  The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we shall all be as happy as kings, Robert Louis Stevenson tells us.  I’ve always been given to understand he spent most of his childhood bedridden.  True or not, the idea that someone confined to bed might be able to see how full-up life is seems to beg the point.

We the bored have no one to blame but ourselves.

When I say I’m bored, what I usually mean is that I am too lazy to do anything to amuse myself or, god forbid, anyone else.  I choose instead to sit and lament that no one in life is bashing in my door with a heartfelt urge to entertain me.  With the exception of those trapped in some non-life-threatening prison, I can’t help but think that, for the rest of us, boredom is merely a lack of effort or imagination.

One of the worst fates I can conceive is to be paralyzed, unable to move or speak, but fully conscious.  Every man must choose for himself (or perhaps have the Senate decide for him on a holiday weekend), but please feel free to pull the plug on me in such circumstances.

Why is my own company so fearsome?

I will spend more time with me than with anyone else.  As a single person who works at home, I spend most of my time on my own.  I spend so much time by myself, it has become challenging for me to visit family or friends.  When I am staying at someone else’s home, there is always someone else there.  Yet, ask me to drive the car without music playing and I will give you the launch codes without resistance or argument.

We are quick to think our civilization evolved or even advanced.  The idea of third world or emerging cultures originates from our presumption of superiority.  But we are helpless in the face of the truth of our lives.  We have created a construct for existence and filled it up with enough fish plates, salad forks and iCrap to consume every moment of existence with our self-imposed ceremonies of triviality.   We bristle at the thought of being deprived of our portable phones, yet cower at the idea of speaking to the strangers of whom we thoughtlessly inflict our conversations and blinding text screens.

Every day I’m offered newer and faster ways to fill each precious passing hour of my dance, all to brief, across a stage made of stardust into oceans and skies and forests and clouds and everything between them.

I live in the most culturally diverse city on earth.  Over a hundred languages are spoken here.  There are millions of people in this city that sprawls over thousands of square miles of amazing real estate.  The roads are jammed with people on their way to the countless occupations that fill our days and nights.  We clog the freeways to get arrive and escape.  We literally manufacture fantasy here to distract the world from the death row wait that life can so easily seem.  Yet I am surrounded by people who can find nothing to do.

In the midst of it all, I check Facebook to see if anything has happened since I last logged on.  I judge my life by the number of pictures I’ve taken of myself doing things instead of enjoying my life doing the things pictured.

Am I living my life if there’s not a TV special about it yet?

Am I bored or am I just unwilling to make the effort?

The problem may not be that I have too few options, but too many.  Boredom, it seems, is a privilege afforded to those few in life who suffer the burden of choice.


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The phone is dead.
I’m stranded, helpless, clueless. It baffles me. How will I manage? Thank God I switched to cable internet or I’d be completely cut off, isolated from the world. How ridiculous is it that I feel this way?
I have become completely dependent on a few basic utilities, without which, my life is not possible.I live in an apartment in a highish rise building. On those rare occasions when the power goes off I might just as well live in a cave high up a sheer cliff face – no a cave would be better, I could build a fire to warm myself. This place is useless without electricity. I can’t cook. I can’t see in many of the rooms, even in daylight. There’s not even any hot water to clean myself. I must climb an unlit staircase to get up to my floor once the emergency battery lights give out as there is no means of natural lighting there.
I have become helplessly dependent on the most fragile set of circumstances.
I am the first generation in my family to have had indoor plumbing my entire life. It’s not like I’m the oldest living confederate veteran or something. Running water and electrification have been universal in this country for a relatively short time. Huge government programs brought us light as they helped bring us out of the depression a little over sixty years ago. There were hardly any paved roads here just a hundred years ago, and no highway system at all. President Eisenhower started the program that crisscrossed the country with freeways in my lifetime.
Today, if I lose my debit card I’m unable to feed myself, the microwave is taking forever and the damned cell phone keeps dropping my calls.
I wonder what record, if any there will be of us from this period?
These little treatises I post here are never on paper at all. Some sort of electromagnetic blast from the sun would erase most if not all of the records of the last ten years of my life. It’s enough to make me wonder if we are more advanced than those cultures we consider so primitive. I don’twant to go back – hell I don’t even want to go outside if I can avoid it. But the phone or the power being off reminds me of how tenuous and fragile my civilized life has become.
Yet I am bombarded every day with the demands of those who want to take apart or at the very least stop paying for the operation that sustains the very fragile luxuries of our lives. Do you know there are places in our country that are unpaving roads because dirt is cheaper to maintain than pavement?
What would city life be like without pavement? And country life? What if farmers had to clear brush and timber to get our food to market?
As we embark on this debate over the course of our country, I do hope that some voices of reason will emerge soon to remind people that paying our taxes is about funding this way of life that we’ve spent the last hundred years or so creating. If the power grid and the highway system aren’t a great value for our dollar, what’s the alternative? Somalia? Is that really better? How’s small business doing there with no taxes or regulations or a minimum wage?
I like flipping the switch and lighting my house, watching a movie or cooking my dinner. I love that it took me only a couple of minutes to get to the drug store, the market and the gas station today.Even though it had been raining, the roads were open and pasable. Our society is a marvel of interdependence fostered by the strong central government that emerged after the civil war. It was paid for by a thriving middle class who benefited most from their investment. I’m sorry so many people don’t seem to like that. I want a first class country, not a discount knock off. We will not pass this way again, so why not?
I hear all these complaints about deficits but no one willing to pay them off. I understand. I don’twant to pay taxes. I don’t want to pay for anything, if I don’t have to. I’d skip paying rent and load up on groceries if there were no checkout stands. But I like living in a place with firemen and water and paved roads and public schools and hospitals.
Yep, that’s right. None of us want to pay taxes. Tough. None of us is willing to sacrifice anything to avoid it. We’re glad to cut other people off, but not us. I’m bored with this discussion, aren’tyou?
The state that I live in started this so-called tax revolution back in the 70’s when our school system was the envy of the world and our highways the model for a new age. Today, we’re broke. We can’t put together a budget to cover the cost of extravagances like educating the young. And yet, no one here wants to pay for anything. The upcoming elections are another tired discussion about taxes.
Every election since 1980 has been a referendum on whether or not people want to pay taxes.California’s former governor took the cause national back then when he moved into the White House and it’s pretty much been all we’ve talked about since. I’m over this conversation. I thought the 21st century would be about flying cars and transporters and intergalactic travel. Are we really still talking about whether or not there should be a union?
On the plus side, today I won’t be receiving any of the robo-calls urging me to join their cause to stamp out civilization as we know it.

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When the World Trade Center was attacked, the Reverend Jerry Falwell said the hideous terrorist act was God’s punishment on the US for offering equal rights to gay people and, worse, women.  It was, in Falwell’s view, God striking out at this country for believing that all men are endowed with certain inalienable rights by their creator.   Clearly, the Right Reverend felt we are not all so endowed and that the country was being punished for it.

Apparently Mr. Falwell thought God was a not only a Muslim extremist, but also a little slow on the uptake since notions of equality are the principals on which this country was founded several hundred years prior to September 11, 2001.  Not sure what God was waiting for and I’ve no idea about Falwell’s whole Muslim extremist/God connection beliefs.  Perhaps it’s just one extremist admiring the work of another.

Falwell was creating hatred with his words.  He was encouraging the shooting of fifteen year old Lawrence King for being gay.  He was arming the lunatic who murdered a doctor for performing medical procedures he didn’t agree with.  He was doing the work of evil by creating evil in the world with his words.  He was an Anti-Christ — the opposite of Christ in his words and actions.

When a massive earthquake struck Haiti, destroying the capital and killing tens of thousands, the Reverend Pat Robertson said it was God punishing the people of Haiti for throwing off the yoke of slavery and fighting for their freedom.  Another Anti-Christ, Robertson  was creating evil in the world by speaking it.

I’m gay so I don’t feel welcome to be a Christian, and I would never presume to suggest asking ourselves “What would Jesus do?”  Perhaps, though, I could suggest asking “What would Jesus say?”  I can’t imagine Jesus saying that gay people getting married is the same as “incest and pedophilia,” as the Anti-Christ, Reverend Rick Warren said.

Apparently what Jesus did say was “Love one another as I have loved you.”  He did not say that we should love one another with the following exceptions.  Nor did he imply that we should love one another but feel free to work against others sharing our same rights and privileges.   What he did apparently say was that “By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  This means we can easily recognize those who are NOT his disciples.  They’re the ones who don’t love others, or advocate it, or speak out for it or, as in the case of Anti-Christs like Warren, Falwell, Robertson and those like them, speak out against loving one another.

So when in the face of this epidemic nation tragedy of gay teen suicides, Mormon Elder Boyd Packer gives a hate filled sermon claiming that God is incompetent and made some of his children to be unnatural and impure.  When Packer rails against sacred bonds of love and marriage, it’s easy to see he’s too is an Anti-Christ.

It is odd to me that the most evil things I hear in the world today are spoken by those who claim to speak for their God.

I don’t know that I’m a disciple, but it’s easy to see who isn’t.

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Whenever I’m offered something that’s “Home Made” I always ask myself:  “Who’s home?”

I’ve been in some homes where I would not have eaten anything offered.  Got a Home Made Pie from a home with unemptied cat boxes, overflowing trash and a texture to the kitchen counters?  Well, I’ll pass.

I kind of feel the same way about the Family Research Council.  “Who’s family?” and perhaps more to the point, “What research?”

Theirs is the kind of family where Dad campaigns against equal rights for all Americans, particularly the gay ones, and then hires a young man half his age from Rentboy.com to accompany him on vacation.  Then, because dad is such a great guy, he lies about hiring the prostitute even though there’s home movies of them together at the airport.

If dad wants to take a hooker on vacation, I don’t really think it’s any of my business.  Mom’s maybe, but not mine.

But let’s say dad founded an organization called the Family Research Council, as George Alan Rekers did.  And suppose that organization is devoted to preventing Americans from having the right to marry people of the same sex, just as the Family Research Council does.  What kind of research would then convince Daddy George to pay someone of the same sex hired off of Hustlerboy.com to go on holiday with him? Was it these same findings that told him to lie about it? Or was it a different study?

Either way, theirs is a family reunion I don’t want to attend.

And what about Uncle Tony and his prayer group of Christian Law Makers? Was it research data or just good old fashioned Christian family values that brought AFC President, Tony Perkins together with those Godly legislators in a televised prayer circle to entreat the Lord for the poor health or, better still, the death of an ailing Senator so they could prevent poor people from having access to healthcare?

Whichever it was, I’d rather pass on Thanksgiving at their table.

Now, the good family folks at the Family Research Council want to ban groups they are prejudiced against from access to public transportation.  That’s right, not just the back of the bus, they want the right to keep other people off the bus entirely. Or in this case, off the train.

Just like in the good old days, the FRC family values bigots actually object to sharing public transportation with minorities they are prejudice against.  Fortunately, it’s gays they hate.  If they came out against black or Hispanic Americans on public transpiration they might actually have more to fear than sharing a seat.  (Head’s up though, research shows it was okay to be for whites-only drinking fountains not so long ago.)

What kind of family are these people a part of? And what is their research telling them? That God hates poor people? That Christ would pray for a man’s death to get his way? That calling for a return to Pre-Civil Rights Act restrictions on public accommodations and transportation is a good or even a popular idea?

My research indicates that none of those are particularly family values.  But then who’d order cat hair pie, right? They can hardly call themselves the Voice of Evil and expect to raise the kind of money they need to protect the health insurance industry.

So apparently, according to the latest Family Research Council data, it’s okay to take a rentboy on vacation, just not on the train.

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Words are how I enter the world.

I actually thought I was going to be an actor.  I still do a little bit.  I miss it a lot.  When I was a baby, before I could sit up on my own, I would recite poetry.  I did a particularly stirring Owl and the Pussycat, I’m told.

I loved the power of words from the start.  I could talk at six months but didn’t walk until I was three.  Why get up when you can just ask for it?  But alas, I could not seem to learn to spell or punctuate and still don’t know which sides the knife and the fork go on or which way is west with consistency.  And so I fell in love with the power of the spoken word.  Stage left and camera right never change no matter which way you’re facing, so I felt at home there.

It was acting that brought me to writing where I discovered the power of creation that exists there as nowhere else.  Writing brings whole new worlds into existence and invents the future through collective dreams.  There were no submarines when Jules Verne wrote 10,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea or pocket communicators when Gene Roddenberry put them into the hands of Captain Kirk and his crew.  Today we’ve been to the bottom of the Marianas Trench and our pocket communicators have become so ubiquitous they are arguably our single greatest addiction issue.

Still, writing is sort of an accidental career for me.  When I was in college I got a part time job as a writer.  Given my abilities or lack thereof,  I’d never pursued it.  I took one writing course in college because they made me.  I couldn’t diagram a sentence, still can’t.  I can’t even think why you’d want to.  It just never occurred to me that I might be qualified to write.

So, when everyone else in school was getting a job waiting tables — I tried to get one, too — I found myself in need of employment and short of employable skills.  In the free time that unemployment offered, I auditioned for a production of Wild Oats that was being mounted near my college.  I got cast.  The director, who owned an ad agency, hired me.  I wrote copy, ran errands and answered the phone often, as it turned out, at the same time.

I’ve been writing ever since.  Writing for advertising and public relations lead me to writing plays of my own — some for client trade shows, some just to live in my bottom desk drawer.  I began writing an arts and entertainment column for the Free Times, a local entertainment tabloid.  My words there got me hired to do arts and entertainment reporting on-air for the local NBC affiliate WIS with my own weekly feature Backstage with Eric Shaw Quinn — catchy right?

With the three jobs and continuing to act and direct, I found myself with Saturday mornings free.  An idea came to me one day born out of my own vague attempts to grow up — I’m still working on that one.  I’d always considered that being gay was more incidental than significant and I just figured that I’d have basically the same experience as everyone else save that it would be me and another man rather than me and a woman, but the rest of the details, I assumed, would be the same.

But when I didn’t meet him in college and marry him after graduation as I’d planned, I began to see that it really was different.  I wondered about some of those other details, not the least of which: children.

Would I? And if I did, what would that be like?

I began to explore those ideas on paper.  Yellow pads and pilot razor points, one page at a time, it became my first novel Say Uncle, the story of a gay man raising a child.  Given the prevailing political climate, it was some time before it was published.  But when it happened, the time was right.  I actually got my first movie deal with Propaganda Films before the book came out.  I even got hired to write the screenplay.  I got the chance to work with the legendary director John Schlesinger and to collaborate with the sublime Lewis Colick and the sublimely funny Amy Heckerling on the script.  Several drafts and several years later, with Amy stepping in to direct and Billy Crystal ready to play the lead, the studio was sold and my beloved Say Uncle was delayed in coming to the screen.  Someday.

The book was a critical success, but it was the readers that really made it worth the wait.  People came to my appearances to get their books signed and to ask me parenting questions! I could not have been more surprised or delighted.  Probably my favorite moment from the book so far came rather anonymously, in line at the San Francisco airport several years after the book’s publication.  I had been E-ticketed and presented my driver’s license to the man working at the desk.  Noting my name, but without any other explanation or a mention of Say Uncle, he began telling me the story of how he and his partner had adopted and were raising a little boy.

Imagining a future into being.

When I wrote the book, courts were taking people’s actual children from them because they were choosing to be true to themselves and live as out gay people.  Today “Gay-bies” are as common as tight tee shirts in the gay community.  I don’t think that Say Uncle caused that, but I hope it helped to.

With the movie deal off and my editor departed from my publisher, the sequel to Say Uncle languished.  Don’t Ask Don’t Tell had made bigotry a bumper sticker and there were growing numbers of people who called themselves Christians but who spoke mostly of hatred and intolerance.  My father, in an effort to help me see that there was maybe room in the tent for all of God’s children, pointed out to me the stories of the books of Samuel and the verse that inspired me to write my next original novel.

And it came to pass that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David

and Jonathan loved him as he loved his own soul.

Then Jonathan and David made a covenant,

because he loved him more than he loved his own soul.

1 Samuel 18:1 & 3

It has taken some years to complete this rather ambitious project, I knew nothing of 10th Century BC Israel, let alone the bible.  I’m not even Jewish.  So there was a lot to learn.

In the interim, I worked with the producers of the television series Queer as Folk to write two original novels based on the early lives of the show’s characters, Never Tear Us Apart and Always Have Always Will.  My work on those books brought me to a new publisher and the racy content caught the attention of my next collaborator.

I was driving home from the gym one day when the cell phone rang and a young woman asked me if I was available to meet with Pamela Anderson’s manager.  Well who could say no to that?

One thing led to another and before you can say “boob job” I was sitting across the lunch table from Pancho, Lefty and the girl they’ve taken along for the ride, Pam.  I wrote my next two books the hit Star and the unfortunate Star Struck based on a series of breakfasts with the then most famous woman in the world.  I was supposed to work as a ghostwriter, but Miss Anderson said no one would believe she had written the books and she did not have room in her closet for any more secrets.  She outed me on Jay Leno and very generously took me on a book tour quite unlike any I’ve experienced so far.  So, if you read Pam’s books and thought they were hot and sexy, that’s me.  In the end it wasn’t my favorite experience.  Still, I’m a New York Times best seller now, so there’s that for the obituary at least though by then I fear no one will remember what the New York Times was.

After the Pam project subsided, shall we say, I found myself with that pesky free time again.  It was a new century but despite huge cultural changes for gay people, civil rights were and are still not among them and the bible is regularly used to justify bigotry and worse.  That verse from Samuel came back to me and the time seemed right.

It’s several years later.  Star Crossed is written.  I know way more about the bible and the laws of Leviticus and ancient Israel than I’d ever thought I would.  What will happen next? I can only imagine.

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