Friday, October 9th, 2009
I’m in Washington D.C. for the National Equality March to be held this Sunday. I got here early with friends, so today we were tourists, doing a tour of the Capital on Segways (Segways and tour guides from Capital Segway).
Before setting out on our tour we practice in Franklin Park across from Capital Segway Jim had Segwayed before, so he was a pro Me at the Capitol Our group with the National Mall and the Washington Monument behind us
Click any of the above photos to embiggen
Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
These pop can pull tabs really aren't worth much
Not worth the time it takes to collect

Towards the end of July 2008 someone in my office set up a jar to collect the pull tabs from our pop cans; the tabs were to be donated to Dayton’s Ronald McDonald House, whose webpage about their pull tab collection program says that they raise “approximately $14,000 a year from recycling pull tabs!”

Now at the time my curiosity had me googling to find the value of pull tabs, and I found an informative page at Barbara Mikkelson researched the issue and found that pull tabs really aren’t worth much. She found one source saying recycling companies pay between 10 cents and 28 cents per pound of pull tabs and another source saying pull tabs are worth between 50 cents and 70 cents per pound. I shared this information with my co-workers and suggested that people would do more good by each pledging to drink one less can of pop a day and donating the money saved. I backed that up with a personal donation of $10 to Dayton’s Ronald McDonald House.

Well today our pull tab jar was just about full, about 15 months after we started working to fill it, so I used our office postal scale to weigh the jar with and without its contents, and lo, and behold! we managed to collect 11.1 ounces (.69 pounds) of pull tabs! Using the generous rate of $0.70 / pound of scrap aluminum, that means we raised $0.49 over 15 months for the Ronald McDonald House. Go us! We should be really proud!

Now I’m not saying the Ronald McDonald House doesn’t deserve our support or that aluminum cans shouldn’t be recycled. No, what I’m saying is that if each person in our office gave $12 / year in cold hard cash to the Ronald McDonald House instead of bothering to pull tabs off our cans, we’d raise a helluva lot more money for them. Or we could cut back on (or stop altogether) drinking pop, drink tap water instead and donate what we save!

If you want to help the Ronald McDonald House of Dayton, go to to make an online donation today.

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009
Drivel? Or relevant information for voters?

Yesterday, on and on Facebook, candidate for Dayton City Commission David Esrati twat, "[Dayton Daily News editorial writer] Martin Gottlieb writes drivel about Gary Leitzell in todays DDN- go comment on his lameness," posting a link to Gottlieb’s 10/21/09 column about Dayton mayoral candidate Gary Leitzell, “Leitzell cites Reagan, Thatcher; what’s it mean”.

I don’t get what it is in Gottlieb’s column that Esrati finds to be “drivel.” Is it Gottlieb’s contention that “asking people whom they admire in public office often yields a lot”? No, surely that can’t be it.

Ronald ReaganMargaret Thatcher
Independent icons?

Perhaps it’s Gottlieb’s premise, that something about a candidate who “is all about the independent label” and who says “that people shouldn’t read too much into the fact that he has the Republican endorsement” yet “really admire[s]” Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher doesn’t make sense. Taken independently, perhaps Gottlieb is reading too much into whom Leitzell most admires politically, but add in Leitzell’s Republican Party textbook reply to me in December 2008, that “changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage […] could lead us on a very dangerous course,” and Leitzell really does sound less independent and more Republican.

Now what Esrati finds to be drivel in Gottlieb’s column surely can’t be Gottlieb’s interpretation of Leitzell’s admiration of Reagan and Thatcher, “that he mentioned two people he sees as having come into bad situations and made them better.” Leitzell’s and Esrati’s campaigns are all about Dayton’s current mayor and city commission’s having let Dayton develop a bad (to put it mildly) situation, one that requires new blood in the persons of Leitzell and Esrati to make better.

No, instead what Gottlieb said that Esrati might see as drivel is that seasoned politicians wouldn’t be seen “naming two icons of the conservative Republicans when he’s seeking election in an overwhelmingly Democratic city.” Esrati may see that as drivel, but I don’t. No, I think that a novice politician might be excused at the outset of his campaign for making the stupid mistake of raising the issue of equal marriage rights, not a local issue, when asked his position on a city’s non-discrimination ordinance (although, if that novice politician himself does not have a traditional marriage, he might have thought twice before speaking). But almost a year later, a month before the election, is a continued overt association with Republican values and icons the best strategy for an independent to get elected in a heavily Democratic town? I’d say, probably not, and I’d also say it might be fair to assume that a politician who makes such missteps during his campaign could also show similar deficits in judgment in office.

One last thing—something I find incredibly ironic is that I hadn’t even been aware of Gottlieb’s article until Esrati pointed it out. Now that he’s done so, all the people who’ve been googling “Gary Leitzell” and ending up on my blog know about the article too.

Friday, October 23rd, 2009
Stop trying to understand Gary Leitzell

On Dayton mayoral candidate Gary Leitzell explains exactly what was drivel in the Martin Gottlieb column about which David Esrati twat and about which I wrote yesterday. What was drivel was that Gottlieb was trying to make sense of answers Leitzell gave him, a mistake that I myself have made.

You see, Mr. Leitzell thinks that we Dayton voters should “[s]top trying to get into [his] head people.” He says that if we “don’t understand [him] now, [we] never will.”

No, we’re not supposed to understand the politicians for whom we cast ballots. We’re simply to make choices without making any sense of what they say. Apparently what they say doesn’t matter.

And if Mr. Leitzell truly believes that, he’s right about one thing. I will never understand him.

Sunday, October 25th, 2009
Natalie Clifford Barney portrait by her mother Alice Pike Barney
Natalie Clifford Barney
in a portrait
by her mother
Alice Pike Barney

Ask people you know to name a famous historical figure from Dayton, and if they don’t name the Wright Brothers, they might name Paul Laurence Dunbar or John Patterson or perhaps even Erma Bombeck. But I bet they won’t name Natalie Clifford Barney. If you’re not gay yourself (and even if you are), odds are that you’ve never heard of her either. Yet when Natalie Barney died in 1972, her obituary was in the New York Times, and if you speak French and ever find yourself in Paris and ask about her, you’ll have a better chance than in Dayton of finding someone who’s heard of her1.

Why? Because Barney, an heiress of Dayton’s Barney Car Company, lived for decades in Paris as an out lesbian, feminist, writer, and salon hostess, bringing together authors and artists such as Romaine Brooks (her long-time lover), F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, T.S. Eliot, Rainer Maria Rilke, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Marcel Proust, and many more.

Today, 37 years after her death in Paris and 133 years after her birth in Dayton, an Ohio Historical Marker was finally unveiled, thanks to the efforts of the Greater Dayton LGBT Center, the Living Beatitudes Community (Dignity Dayton), the Gay Ohio Historical Initiative and the Ohio Historical Society. As Dayton mayor Rhine McLin pointed out during the dedication, the marker commemorating Natalie Barney is another Dayton first, the first historical marker in Ohio commemorating an LGBT person.

Long-time Dayton LGBT Center board member, librarian and Dayton historian Leon Bey spoke both outside during the dedication as well as at the reception inside the library afterwards. Over the years Leon has done a lot of research on Barney’s life. An interesting anecdote he shared was of going to Paris with his partner David and visiting Barney’s faithful servant Berthe Cleyrergue, who prepared for Leon and David many of the items she’d so often made to serve at Barney’s famous salons.

During the reception, in addition to hearing more from Leon about Barney’s life, we were treated to a Readers Theatre highlighting a small selection of writings by and about Barney. The readings also gave a taste of another historical perspective about Dayton, the annual Salon de DLGC (Dayton Lesbian and Gay Center, as the Greater Dayton LGBT Center was then known), held in the 80s and early 90s in the style of Barney’s Paris salon with performances by gay and lesbian Daytonians. You yourself can read the selections presented during the Readers Theatre by viewing the event’s program (in PDF format), which also includes an annotated bibliography of the sources used for the text of the historical marker about Barney.

To see some more photos from the dedication ceremony, visit the gallery page about the event.

(Click either image above to embiggen.)

1Si vous parlez français, this page has a lot of information about (and photos of) Natalie Barney.
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