Sunday, January 8th, 2017

I’ve taken down my post about Nate Fisher, F & W Properties, and Park Layne Apartments, not because I believe I said anything false or defamatory but because I don’t have the energy to deal with a court case. If you want information about this subject, you’ll have to look elsewhere on the Internet.

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

A good place to find some solitude is Cox Arboretum on a Sunday morning.

My first stop today was the Butterly House. I’d visited last month shortly after it opened for the season but that was a bust—tons of kids, both of the lepidopteran and human kinds, but hardly any butterflies and no peace or quiet. This morning was kid-free, and there were lots of butterflies.

Next was the Tree Tower, which is just beyond the Butterfly House. The tower is a new addition to the arboretum. A couple of ladies were descending as I arrived, but then I had the tower to myself. Pleasant breeze, nice views, good place to clear one’s mind.

I didn’t have a specific destination in mind after I left the tower, but I did decide to veer off the pathways and walk on the grass through the trees. I’m glad I did because I was able to get the nice shot of the tower that you see to the left.

My final stop was the south pond, or to be more specific a bench in the shade by the pond. A few walkers passed and one couple jogging but otherwise it was surprisingly quiet. A perfect place to spend an hour reading. I finished one book and started another.

The book I finished was Stephen Fry’s memoir, Moab is My Washpot, about his years growing up away from home at boarding schools. Fry’s making the news right now for having written an open letter calling on British Prime Minister David Cameron to get the 2014 Winter Olympics moved from homophobic Russia. I’d heard of Fry before this, at least vaguely (oh, yeah, he played Mycroft in the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes), but I didn’t know he’d written any books. This one’s ten years old.

Part of why I liked Moab is that I’m a bit of an anglophile. I grew up reading Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. I don’t know why would an American kid from the Midwest would enjoy learning about an English way of life that doesn’t exist any more, but there are plenty of Americans who like the royals and watch Downton Abbey. Part of Fry’s vocabulary is like a foreign language, not all of which is available in dictionaries or online. It’s easy enough to figure out Heinz Salad Cream and buttons A and B and tuck shops, but what’s with dividend tea?

I also liked Moab because different though Fry’s life is from mine, I understand much of what he went through as an adolescent. He hated gym and sports (or in British, games and sport). He had to deal with kids at school calling him queer. He had an obsessive crush on a cute boy. And he loved to read, seeking out books that explained who he was:

Today the gay boy in every section of society has a world of gay music, dance and television to endorse his identity. … They don’t need a parcel of old poofs historically sequestered in Capri and Tangier to tell them who they are and where they come from and whether or not they have the right to hold their heads up high. I did need them, however. I needed them desperately and without them I am not sure what I would have done to myself.

I needed them too, although I didn’t discover that some of the old poofs like Auden and Forster were in fact old poofs until after I was out of high school.

Although his story is rather serious at times, what with growing up gay and a thief (finally hitting rock bottom at 18 and going to jail for his thieving), Fry’s a great story teller, taking a path connecting incidents in what at first may seem meandering but in fact works to keep our attention and hit all the points Fry wants to touch. I enjoyed it so much that I’ll be getting Fry’s novel The Liar (parts of which, Fry explains in Moab, are based on Fry’s life) and his second autobiography The Fry Chronicles.

The book I started today was Joan Didion’s memoir The Year of Magical Thinking, an account of her year of grief after her husband, John Gregory Dunne, died unexpectedly. I haven’t gotten far enough into it to say much about it, although already something Didion quoted has got me to thinking. Thinking about grief, Didion quotes from a letter a priest sent her after her mother died:

The death of a parent, he wrote, “despite our preparation, indeed, despite our age, dislodges things deep in us, sets off reactions that surprise us and that may cut free memories and feelings that we had thought gone to ground long ago.”

Perhaps why this struck me is that yesterday and today I’ve been thinking about my biological father and about my uncle Bill.

Yesterday, googling myself (sounds naughty, but don’t we all do it?), I discovered my father’s grave (on Find a Grave). Well actually it’s not his grave. I know where my father’s remains are, and they’re not where this tombstone is. I guess it’s rather fitting that he’s not there, because he was certainly not in my life when I was looking for him. I never mourned my father’s death—he wasn’t capable of being a father really—but it’s true that even now, thinking of him “cut[s] free memories and feelings that [I] had thought gone to ground long ago.”

I had a father figure whose death I did grieve, however, and that was my uncle Bill. His birthday’s this month, so I was already thinking of him, but this morning I happened to check my website’s log and saw that some Internet visitor had been on my page about my uncle. I pulled it up myself and re-read the eulogy I gave five years ago. It made me cry again. Uncle Bill was someone I could talk to about books, and I miss him.

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Rubi Girls, James Bond and Marion’s pizza

I thought I’d mention a few fun things I did this past weekend, lest you get the impression from Sunday’s post that my life’s all gloom and doom.

Saturday evening I saw the Rubi Girls at the Dayton Art Institute. The highlight of the evening was a special 10th anniversary showing of the Rubi Girls documentary film by Jonathan McNeal (aka Ileasa Plymouth), followed by a live performance, all in the Renaissance Theater.
Taj Mahal and me in my brand new t-shirt
The proceeds of the evening were split 50/50 between the Rubi Girls to support AIDS organizations and the DAI towards a new sound system (which, as I’ve noted before, is desperately needed). The Rubi Girls were fun, as always, even doing a rendition of the ever-popular Rubi Dance.

After the show, everyone moved to the Gothic Cloister for the after party. Souvenir t-shirts were on sale, the bars were flowing, the Rubi Girls were mingling, and everyone was enjoying the food catered by Dana Downs of Roost Modern Italian. Unfortunately this was the last time we’d be able to enjoy Dana’s food at the DAI, as they have parted ways (see “Restaurant owner says lack of revenue, disagreements doomed Art Institute partnership”) and Leo Bistro is now managed by Elite Catering, with a new menu lacking favorites such as the Branh Mi sandwich (ginger lemongrass pork, carrot daikon pickle, siracha mayo, bacon jam, yum!), which luckily I had one last time the week before. I do like going to Roost itself but I’ve really enjoyed having Leo Bistro right across the street. I will try out the new Elite Catering Leo Bistro in the hopes that it’s worth patronizing.


Martin Bevis peforming on the Wurlitzer Organ at Victoria Theatre
I spent Sunday afternoon with my mother. First we went to Victoria Theatre to see one of their Cool Films. This weekend was James Bond weekend and the Sunday movie was Live and Let Die, the first Bond film to star Roger Moore, my favorite of the James Bonds, perhaps because Sean Connery was before my time. The movie was preceded by Martin Bevis performing on the Wurlitzer organ and then a Bugs Bunny/Wile E. Coyote cartoon. I liked James Bond but something I didn’t realize watching Bond when I was kid is how inept the criminals in this film are: if you want to kill James Bond, don’t stick him on a rock in a pond full of crocodiles and then walk away—just shoot him!

After the movie, Mother and I went to Marion’s Piazza to use our 48th anniversary 48% off coupons. To celebrate their anniversary, Marion’s used to sell pizzas at their 1965 prices, but they switched a couple years ago to offering a discount matching their anniversary—here’s hoping they keep the current policy for their 100th anniversary and that I’m still around! Marion’s was born the same year I was, and I’ve been eating Marion’s pizza all my life (the sausage may look like animal droppings, but it’s delicious!). You can read another fun Marion’s memory here. The deal with the anniversary coupons is that you can’t phone in orders but have to place them at the restaurant. Marion’s is very efficient, though, so the line moves quickly. I was wearing my brand new Rubi Girls t-shirt, and interestingly three different people, including the manager at Marion’s, asked me about it. The Marion’s manager wanted to know if I was one of the Rubi Girls. Another person said they loved the Rubi Girls. A third person asked if I knew Josh Stucky aka Dana Sintell (I do); it turns out she went to high school with him but amazingly has never seen him perform!

So there you have three fun things to do whether you live in Dayton or are just visiting. Actually folks who aren’t native Daytonians often don’t like Marion’s, but they’re crazy!

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

P/R via good works

Okay, since I was rather negative about David Esrati’s chances of winning a city commission seat after he squeaked by in the May runoff, it’s only fair that I say something now that Esrati’s done something I like.

What’s Esrati just done that I like? He’s launched a fun campaign around cleaning up Dayton’s basketball courts. He got barber shops and beauty salons around town to sponsor nets, and then he went out to do the work of cleaning up basketball courts and putting up new nets, capturing it all on video.

You can see the video below:

I’m still not convinced that Esrati can move up from fourth out of five commission candidates in May to one of the two who will win seats in November, but when Esrati does positive campaigning, showing what he can do instead of focusing on others’ negatives, it makes me like him more. That can’t hurt.

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Can an online petition save Garden Station?

Folks in Dayton are upset about the possible demise of Garden Station, a community garden on abandoned land by the railroad bridge on Wayne Avenue between Third and Fifth Streets. That land, owned by the City of Dayton, was leased to the group that runs Garden Station for $10/year through 2015 with an option to extend through 2020, but with the caveat that the city could “terminate the lease in the event that the property is needed for a future development project.” Now there are reports that the city may have a developer for the land, and people are clamouring to save Garden Station.

One way in which Garden Station supporters are organizing is, of course, via their Facebook group, which currently has 2,983 “likes.” For an idea of how significant 2,983 FB likes are, read my posts about Occupy Dayton and its Facebook page, in which I compare Occupy Dayton’s 5,000+ “likes” with the population of Montgomery County.

Another way Garden Station is gathering support is through a petition on Change.org.

Some Change.org petitions have been successful. NPR has a story about successful petitions to get Bank of America not to charge a $5 monthly debit card fee and to get felony charges against an autistic child who slapped her teacher dropped. The Bank of America petition had 306,892 signatures. The petition in support of the autistic student had only 1,195 signatures.

Garden Station’s petition has just over 1,800 signatures. That doesn’t seem like a lot, especially when you consider that 11,420 people live in ZIP code 45402 (which contains Garden Station) and 15,339 people live in ZIP code 45410 (close to Garden Station). Over five times as many people (9,985) voted in this May’s mayoral primary Post on Facebook urging folks to sign the Garden Station petitionas have signed the Garden Station petition, and that election has a really small turnout (almost 18,000 people voted for each of the two city commission winners in the November 2011 election).

I signed the Garden Station petition shortly after it was started on June 27th and have since been keeping an eye on it. It took four days to get 1,000 signatures. This past Sunday, six days after breaking 1,000, the petition had only just over 1,300 signatures, which I noted in a comment on David Esrati’s blog post about Garden Station, where I said it looked like the petition had lost momentum. Coincidentally also on Sunday there was a post on the Garden Station FB page urging Update 7/13/2013: Well they didn’t make their goal of 2,000 by the 7/10 commission meeting but did finally get to 2,000 today.

Update 7/26/2013: Okay, 13 days after my last update, this petition now has exactly 2,100 signatures. Looks like it’s petered out.

Update 8/5/2013: 10 days after my last update the petition is up to 2,112 signatures. 12 signatures in 10 days. I’d say the petition’s done.

Update 8/19/2013: 2,119 signatures, about 1 signature every other day. The Garden Station Facebook page is up to 3,073 “likes” (up from 2,983 when I wrote this post)—people can click a “like” button but can’t be bothered to sign an electronic petition, I guess.
that people continue to share the petition in order to get 2,000 signatures by tomorrow’s city commission meeting, and sure enough in the past two days they’ve gotten 500 more signatures, so they might make that goal.

Will that be enough, though? I wouldn’t have thought so before doing a little research in preparing this blog post and learning about the 1,195-person petition in support of the autistic student. In my mind 2,000 signatures—many of which are from people who don’t even live in the city of Dayton (one of today’s signers is from Suwanee, GA)—wouldn’t be enough to sway the city commission.

Something I do find interesting about the petition is that not even all of the 2,983 people who “like” Garden Station on Facebook have signed the petition. It’s one thing not to be able to get a majority of the folks who voted in the last primary to sign the petition or a majority of the folks who live in Garden Station’s ZIP code to sign the petition, but to not be able to get all of Garden Station’s Facebook fans to sign the petition is kind of sad.

You might think that signing the petition would be the least you can do, but no, actually clicking “like” on Facebook is the least you can do without doing nothing; signing a petition requires typing your name and contact info. Right now there are about 1,100 people who like Garden Station enough to click a button on Facebook but not enough to sign a petition.

Why did I sign the petition if I didn’t think it would do any good? Partly because a friend asked me to and I thought it was the least I could do. I wasn’t motivated to write a letter or make a phone call, but signing a petition I was willing to do. I’m not against Garden Station (although I’ve never stopped by). I think the city has enough vacant land that they could give this small parcel to the Garden Station group instead of evicting them.

Thinking about the Garden Station petition made me think of another petition I signed this year, the petition asking Google not to kill Google Reader, a petition that, believe it or not, people are still signing. I looked today and 5 more people have signed, bringing the total to 153,814 signatures. Talk about tilting at windmills! I didn’t have much hope that Google would change their minds about Reader when I signed the petition when I first found out about it, but come on, why would anyone sign the Google Reader petition now? There’s no way Google, having carried out their promise to kill Reader, will bring it back now. Signing a petition may be about the least you can do, but signing the Google Reader petition now is just stupid.

As for Garden Station and its petition, I don’t know what the outcome will be. I won’t be surprised if a city that lets decades-old trees on its downtown levees be chopped down also decides to kill a community garden in the hopes that a developer will make better use of the land.

However, I also think that the Garden Station supporters, although comparatively small in number, have some motivated folks in their midst—after all, unlike the Occupy Dayton folks, the Garden Station people managed to get a lease on some land and to develop a garden with regular events and a functional website and a Facebook presence. Somehow, if the online petition fails to impress Dayton’s city commission, I think the Garden Station folks will be back with additional activism.

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Politics in Dayton—lots of choices but little interest

Plus some comments about selected candidates

Earlier this week Dayton held its runoff elections for mayor and city commission. Lots of people were running (and even more wanted to run but failed to qualify), but hardly anyone cared enough to vote.

Mayor (pick 1)
Nan Whaley 4,965 50.3%
A.J. Wagner 2,566 26.0%
Gary Leitzell 2,338 23.7%
Commission (pick 2)
Joey Williams 6,384 36.1%
Jeff Mims 5,282 29.9%
David Greer 2,230 12.6%
David Esrati 2,087 11.8%
Joe Lutz 1,696 9.6%

Dayton’s population is about 142,000, and only 9,869 people voted in Dayton’s May 7th election. The adult population of Dayton is about 109,596 people, so only 9% of adult Daytonians cared enough to vote.

I wasn’t part of that 9%.

Shocking, I know, and this is the first time in quite a while that I haven’t voted. It’s very simple to vote. My polling place is directly across the street from where I live. But I found none of the candidates running to be compelling enough to vote for and didn’t think it really mattered who won.

However, I did vote in a way that’s almost as important as casting a ballot, by making a campaign contribution. I gave Nan Whaley $50, a drop in the big bucket of $106,502.06 Nan collected so far this year and $32,928.20 Nan collected in 2012.

Plenty of people think that the amount of money involved in politics is obscene, and I won’t argue with them. That people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in a runoff election where fewer than 10,000 people vote is insane.

Or is it?

The candidates who pledged to spend less than $10,000 this year (incumbent mayor Gary Leitzell, perennial candidate David Esrati and community volunteer David Greer) and the candidate who couldn’t even raise $1,000 (Joe Lutz) all lost.

Leitzell and Lutz lost absolutely—they will not be on the ballot this November. (Leitzell is the first sitting mayor of Dayton in 50 years to lose before the general election.)

Greer and Esrati technically won the right to be on the November ballot, but I’ll go out on a limb here and predict that neither will win in the fall. Williams and Mims each got more votes than Whaley; Greer and Esrati each got fewer votes than Leitzell. I see absolutely nothing to make me believe that Greer and Esrati are going to do significantly better in the general election.

So the winning candidates know something about elections that the losing candidates do not—given the status quo, money matters in winning elections. Wish that it didn’t at your peril. Even President Obama, given the choice between taking the high road by refusing SuperPAC money or winning re-election, was realistic about money.

 

So why’d I give money to Nan Whaley?

A small reason was that I wanted to see the inside of Michael Ervin’s $1.6 million Oregon District house (formerly the Southern Belle bar). Clever idea to hold a fundraiser there. Good relationship building to gain Dayton mover and shaker Michael Ervin’s endorsement.

A much bigger reason was that I very much appreciate Nan’s support for amending Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinances to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. Former Dayton mayor Rhine McLin lost her seat in part for her support of this change. I’ve said before that I’m a single issue voter, and I mean it: be supportive about gay rights and gain my loyalty—be stupid about gay rights and I won’t vote for you.

Certainly there are valid reasons for people not to vote for Nan. If the amount of money in politics offends your principles, I can’t fault you. Nan’s push polling was distasteful. And I can understand why some people say she’s been on the commission long enough and that it’s time for a change.

The other choices, however, weren’t ones I could make.

A.J. Wagner, although having expressed support privately to me on gay issues, has not taken a clear public stand on his website and has shown a less than clear understanding of things such as Dayton’s domestic partnership registry.

And Gary Leitzell is someone for whom I simply would not vote, for reasons about which I’ve already written. Add to those reasons one more—at a recent event Mayor Leitzell came up to me, our conversation turned (as it is wont to do when I’m involved) to gay issues, and the mayor told me that gay people could manage without marriage, by, for example, getting health insurance through their employers based on domestic partnership. That’s just not true. My employer, a small non-profit, would like very much to offer coverage to same sex partners of employees, but we’ve simply not been able to find an insurance company that will provide such coverage to us. When Mayor Leitzell did not believe me, I pulled over our company president and CEO to explain how he’s tried, to no avail, to find same sex partner coverage.

I do have plenty of friends, gay and gay supportive, who did support the mayor’s re-election, and I don’t blame them for that. I’m a single-issue voter, but many people are not. Reasonable people can disagree. Unfortunately for my friends who supported Leitzell, they were vastly outnumbered, unable to convince 91% of Dayton voters to vote at all and unable to convince 76.3% of those who did vote to vote for Leitzell.

About David Esrati

One friend who supported the mayor’s re-election, however, is not really of the mindset that reasonable people can disagree. That friend is David Esrati. What made me realize David’s mindset, and also made me decide I couldn’t vote for him this time, was a Facebook post in which he told his friends that if any of us had Nan Whaley signs in our yards, we should go ahead and defriend him.

I didn’t have a Whaley sign (I don’t have a yard), but I wondered what David would think if he knew I gave Nan money. Would he defriend me? Not that it would really matter—I’ve been defriended before.

Back in 2010 when David was running for Congress, I wrote “An endorsement, of sorts, of David Esrati for Congress,” in which I said, “David Esrati may be crazy, he may be annoying, [and] he may be unelectable.”

How Esrati conducted himself during this campaign confirms that all these things are still true. He’s still unelectable—his coming in fourth out of five in this week’s election shows that. He’s still annoying—for example, see his blog post “Disrespectful, stupid (and my mother dresses me funny).” And he’s still crazy—that old saying about doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results certainly applies here.

However, something else I said in that 2010 endorsement of sorts is also still true—“Esrati makes his opponents more accountable” and “he offers something” to Daytonians. The Dayton Daily News report on this week’s election says that “Leitzell claimed he’d be more powerful as a private citizen than as mayor.” I think something similar is true about Esrati as well.

To explain that, let me mention two emails David sent me last month.

One was to ask me if I was going to update my 2010 endorsement of him. I delayed answering that one because I didn’t want to write something negative before the election, although I was already starting to think about writing something (which has become this post you’re now reading).

The other email was to let me know that the DDN was compiling a list of the Top 50 Thinkers in the Miami Valley and asking if I would recommend him for that. I did not hesitate to write that recommendation. I pointed out that many Dayton Daily News articles originate from posts on Esrati.com—that’s so true that David’s April Fools post this year, “Esrati.com to shut down, Esrati to work for Dayton Daily News,” actually fooled some people.

In my email to Ron Rollins, I also wrote:

Whether or not people like David Esrati or his ideas, there’s no denying that David Esrati is worth paying attention to, that he puts out ideas for moving our community forward, that he encourages participation in thinking about those ideas, and that therefore he is a Top Thinker in the Miami Valley.

Although David Esrati’s not clever about getting elected, as election after election shows, he is rather clever about using running for office as a way to get people to hear and discuss what he says. If you, like so many people, decline to vote for Esrati, I understand—you might not want to throw away a vote. But if you’re one of Esrati’s few vocal supporters, I can respect that as well. Given the overall apathy in Dayton, a political blogger and community activist who cares about Dayton is someone to value (even if he is annoying, crazy and unelectable).

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

A.J. Wagner on the issues

Click to embiggen this screenshot
of A.J. Wagner’s issues page:

A year ago I wrote about hijacking A.J. Wagner’s first Twitter account after word leaked of his original out-of-state website for his then-unannounced mayor campaign. Yesterday Wagner achieved some moderate success in Dayton’s mayoral runoff, getting 26% of the very low turnout of 9,869 votes, a result that pales in comparison to Nan Whaley’s 50.31% of the vote but that outpaces that of the incumbent mayor, Gary Leitzell, who got only 23.69% and has thus lost his position as mayor. Wagner thus advances to the general election this November and will likely garner many of the votes that might otherwise have gone to Leitzell.

Last year I wondered about Wagner’s positions on gay rights, including issues such as the domestic partnership registery (since enacted but then under discussion by the Dayton City Commission) and marriage equality. Wagner wrote a column in the Dayton City Paper about what he termed a “marriage registry” (an inaccurate term), and he assured me in an email that he is “supportive of gay marriage.”

I wrote that I hoped when his new mayoral campaign website, designed by the Dayton-based firm Eight Deuce, came out that Wagner would clearly state his position on LGBT issues there.

“site:domain.com query” is a useful Google parameter that lets you search a specific website. A year later Wagner’s new site does not list any position on LGBT issues. Google “site:ajwagnerformayor.com marriage” or “site:ajwagnerformayor.com discrimination” or “site:ajwagnerformayor.com gay” and you won’t find a single result.

We queers needn’t feel slighted, however, because Wagner’s “Issues” page has absolutely no substantive content on it, as you can see from the screenshot to the right (click to see an embiggened version).

Why Wagner or his web developer would choose to put a link to his Issues page at the bottom of every page on his website and yet leave that Issues page devoid of content I do not know.

Another interesting item about Wagner’s Issues page is his or his web developer’s choice of name for the page. If you go to Wagner’s website and hover over the Issues link at the bottom of any of his pages, you’ll see the URL for that Issues page, which is http://www.ajwagnerformayor.com/donations-to-the-max/. Yep, you read that correctly—Donations to the Max.

Wagner is not a novice politician. He’s been elected to office before. Heck, he even made it past the first post on the way to the mayor’s office. So perhaps he doesn’t need to explain on his campaign website where he stands on any issues.

And I’m no politician. I’ve never run for any office and never will. While I might naively assume that a campaign website is a way for voters to learn about candidates, a campaign website is really, as you can see from the name “Donations to the Max,” about raising money for the campaign.

Experienced politicians seem to think a majority of folks are fine with that.

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

A strange incident on Olive’s patio (plus some food porn)

Today for lunch I headed over to one of my favorite places in Dayton, Olive, an urban dive. I like Olive in large part for the food, of course. I also like that it’s near where I live and work. I like its atmosphere, both its cozy tasteful interior and its cheerful patio. I especially like the people who work there, a friendly hard-working bunch (hi Kim and Sandy and Laura and Betsie!). I’ve been eating at Olive about once a week, more or less, since they opened in the summer of 2011.

Olive, because its building (a former Wympee’s) is small, can be difficult to get into. You definitely need reservations for dinner and also for lunch if you go during peak time, the noon hour. I don’t usually make reservations, though. For lunch I drop by around 1 p.m. and can usually get in with little or no wait. For brunch on Saturday I’m often there when they open at 10 a.m. and never have a wait. Today I arrived about 12:30 and inside was pretty busy but the patio was wide open, so I snagged a nice spot in the shade, at the long table in the foreground of the photo to the left.


Visit Olive on Facebook to see their specials
and lots more food porn
Something to know about Olive’s is that it’s not a place to go if you’re in a hurry. If you’re in a rush, go get fast food. The pace at Olive is laid back. It can take some time for the food, but it’s made fresh from good local ingredients and worth the wait. I’m never in a hurry at Olive because I either have gone with a friend or two and we chat as we wait, or, often as not, I’ve gone alone and brought a book.

A trick, however, that you can use to your advantage is to know what you want and to order it when a server asks what you’d like to drink. Makes things easier all around and speeds up the process a bit. Another trick is to like Olive on Facebook because there you can see enticing photos of their daily specials. Today I took advantage of both tricks. Having seen the special online, the meatloaf sandwich (pictured to the right), I knew what I wanted, and as soon as Laura seated me, that’s what I ordered.

Armed with an iced tea and the latest copy of Granta, I settled in on the patio on this nice spring day and awaited my lunch.

While I was waiting, I overheard some people on the other side of the patio fence as they discovered my gay car parked there (“How cool is that!” they said) and took a picture of it. But that wasn’t the strange incident.

 

The strange incident involved a pair of couples who joined me on the patio for lunch.

The first couple to arrive was two lesbians. One might have suspected from looking at them, but one of them was wearing shorts with a rainbow graphic on them. Laura had set the high top (middle of the photo to the left) for them and the couple they were to meet, but the one lesbian wanted to sit in the sun (table at the right of the photo). No biggie—both tables were open, Laura didn’t mind where they sat, and they helped Laura to move the napkins and flatware.

The lesbians’ friends, a heterosexual couple, then arrived to join them, but oh, they weren’t sure they wanted to sit in the sun. Oh, that’s okay, we can sit back at the high top in the shade, the lesbians said, laughing a bit and explaining they’d just moved from that table. No, no, you want to sit in the sun, the straight couple said, we don’t mind, although the wife said she’d have to get her hat and asked her husband for their car keys.

All this negotiating and maneuvering and fetching of hats took some time, but soon enough the two couples were settled in and I had my lunch.

And this is where the strange incident happened.

I had my book propped open, my sandwich in my hands, my mouth full of delicious meatloaf, and the wife looks over at my table and says, “Oh that table would be perfect for us. Would you mind moving over there (pointing at the high top)?”

Would I mind? Yes, of course, I’d fucking mind. I’m already in the middle of my sandwhich, babe, and why should I move for you?

I didn’t actually say that, of course, but instead said, “Um, I’m already settled here,” but the wife didn’t take the hint. “Could we join you?” she asked. “Um, sure,” I said, and over the four of them came, introducing themselves. The husband put out his hand to shake mine but then realized I was holding a sandwich and not really in a position (or the mood, though he didn’t notice that) to shake hands.

I returned to my reading (trying to ignore their conversation right on top of me), and Laura came out to take their order, a bit surprised that they’d moved yet again. “Oh, here at Olive’s you have to be friendly,” I said, which is true, especially inside where the tables are close together, although out on the patio I hadn’t expected there to be two other empty tables and then have people insist on sitting next to me.

The wife remarked that in Europe people share tables all the time. Yeah, I’ve lived in Europe, so I know that’s true but not when there are empty tables to be had.

The silly foursome chattered on, puzzling over the menu (“What’s a socca?” and “I don’t understand the benestacks”), talking about everything they’d done so far today (they get up early!) and everything they were still going to do. Friendly people but a bit queer, and I don’t mean the lesbians.

I enjoyed my sandwich very much though, as well as the champagne vinaigrette dressing on the salad (usually I do patio herb). Not wanting to be rushed off from my little corner of the patio, I also got a scoop of salted caramel Jeni’s ice cream, which Laura knew is my favorite.

What better way to end this post about Olive than with some food porn? They have tons of food porn on their Facebook page, where I stole the above photos of their patio and their meatloaf sandwich, but the following photos are one I took myself of food I especially appreciated at Olive:


Warm scallop salad

Scallops with pasta

Eggs benedict benestack

Triple layer French toast with cream cheese and Nutella

Alfredo socca with pancetta

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Uncle Bill’s Encyclopædia Britannica

One of my favorite things to do when I visited my grandmother and grandfather was to go up to their attic, which was the domain of my uncle Bill, and look through his books. He had tons of books, starting along the edge of the stairs up to the attic, continuing along walls of bookcases on every side of his attic room, and ending in stacks on his desk and tables. Actually the books didn’t end there—Uncle Bill also had books on shelves in my grandmother’s sewing room and even some in my grandparents’ tiny living room. Their house was small but it held a lot of books.

Page 877 features an article about Dayton, Ohio, before the famous 1913 flood and, curiously, with no mention of the Wright Brothers, Dayton’s most famous native sons. In 1910, 116,577 people lived in Dayton, just slightly less than the 2010 population of 141,527. Click on the image above for a larger version, or click here for a PDF.

Even when my uncle was someplace other than Dayton—in Saudi Arabia or Cincinnati or Washington DC—his books made it seem as if he weren’t so far off, especially because he was absolutely fine with my going through his books and looking at whatever I wanted.

Some books I returned to time and again were my uncle’s copies of the eleventh edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, published in 1910–11. I thought it was so cool that he had an encyclopedia from over 60 years earlier.

Now of course everyone has access to this edition of Britannica since it’s in public domain and available online, but when I was a kid we didn’t have the Internet. Not everyone had encyclopedias in their homes, and doing a report for school often required a trip to the library. My mother did buy us a student encyclopedia, one volume at a time at the grocery store, the cost of which, I suspect now, was underwritten by my uncle, and I did pore over those in my bedroom, but it still wasn’t as exciting as looking through my uncle’s Encyclopædia Britannica.

Now that my uncle’s gone, I have his old Encyclopædia Britannica, now over 100 years old, on a shelf in my living room. From time to time I pull down a volume, to page through it, sometimes learning something new, sometimes marvelling at the historical perspective. It makes me feel that Uncle Bill’s still not so far off.

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Meaningless lists and happy cities

On Facebook today Daytonians are happily posting the news that Dayton is the “Happiest City to Work In,” according to a report on Forbes.com. Dayton’s news media is similarly all abuzz.

Except that all lists like these are just so much bullshit.

Guess what the #2 most unhappy city to work in was in 2012? If you guessed Dayton, you’re right. This time last year Forbes.com had a similar report, but Daytonians weren’t happy about it because our fair city was the second most unhappy city in which to work.

Do Forbes logo and Career Bliss logo believe this stuff, or do they just want to sell advertising? Does anyone really believe that so much has changed between 2012 and 2013? In 2012 Dayton scored only 3.66; in 2013 Dayton scored 4.02. That’s a huge change, isn’t it?

Or not, considering that 1–5 is the range of the rankings. Out of five, 3.66 is 73% or a fairly low C, and 4.02 out of 5 is 80.4%, a B but just barely. The happiest city in 2013 to work in got a B, Dayton’s #1, with a score of 80% or a B and people are deliriously happy about that? Dayton didn’t even get an A.

Also, in 2013 the unhappiest city to work in, Boulder, Colorado, got a score of 3.45. Does a difference of 0.57 out of 5 mean anything? In 2012 the happiest city to work in, Miami, got a score of 4.14, while New Haven, 2012’s unhappiest city to work in, had a score of 3.46—a spread of 0.68. Do you get the feeling that there’s really not all that much difference between the happiest city and the unhappiest city?

Don’t get me wrong—Dayton’s not a bad place. There are plenty of worse places in which to live and work, and, despite our #1 ranking this year, there are plenty of better places. But don’t pretend that lists like this mean anything.

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Mark Luedtke has as much credibility as Don Rasmussen (et al.)

Mark Luedtke Mark Luedtke The Dayton City Paper is now featuring a column, “Conspiracy Theorist,” by their regular contributor Mark Luedtke, who also often takes the “Right” side in their regular Debate Forum feature. Luedtke bills himself on his LinkedIn profile as the “Best Damn Writer at Dayton City Paper.” DCP puts a disclaimer on his Conspiracy Theorist column, saying that the views expressed in it “are published strictly for entertainment purposes only,” and with what Luedtke writes it seems he really must just be trying to get laughs.

In this week’s column, “It’s the Candidate, Stupid!,” Luedtke writes about the recent presidential election. Luedtke provides a lot of material one could analyze but the most entertaining sentence in his column (written “for entertainment purposes only”) is this:

Rasmussen reports that Americans favor repeal of Obamacare by 15 points.

Luedtke goes on to talk about Mitt Romney’s credibility or lack thereof, but by citing, of all pollsters, Don Rasmussen, Luedtke demonstrates a lack of credibility himself.

There are plenty of polls about whether Americans support the Affordable Care Act, including a post-election one by the Kaiser Family Foundation (see this Washington Post article, “Poll: Support for Obamacare repeal is plumetting”), but the pollster Luedtke chooses to bolster his arguments about Obamacare is the same one who said, a week before the election, “The most entertaining fall-out will be the recriminations of pollsters and polling generally in the wake of Romney’s 330+ electoral vote win next Tuesday.”

Switch out one name in that sentence—Obama for Romney—and Don Rasmussen would look remarkably prescient. Rasmussen got the entertainment part right, but the entertainment’s all at his expense and that of other pundits (see also the “Pundit Shaming” tumblr).

Luedtke didn’t share Rasmussen’s disadvantage of writing before the election. Luedtke was analyzing the election after the fact and yet in arguing against Obamacare chose to ignore the most important poll of all, the election itself. President Obama was re-elected and the Senate remains in Democratic hands. That doesn’t look to me as if Americans overwhelmingly favor repeal of Obamacare.

Rasmussen was right about the “entertaining fall-out” and “the recriminations of pollsters” after the election. People are asking why people like Jennifer Rubin and Karl Rove still have jobs.

Locally one might also ask why Mark Luedtke still has a job at the Dayton City Paper, but luckily for him he writes “strictly for entertainment purposes only.”

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Happy first birthday, Occupy Dayton!


Click to embiggen the above screenshot of
Occupy Dayton’s likes on Facebook
You may know that I “like” Occupy Dayton.

I put “like” in quotes because I actually don’t like them, bless their hearts, but I “like” Occupy Dayton’s page on Facebook. Now although I don’t really like Occupy Dayton, I don’t dislike them—I sympathize with them and their goals—but I think they’re rather silly and ineffectual.

I don’t actually give them a lot of thought—I haven’t blogged about them (and their process-y-ness) since a couple posts last fall. The only reason they came to mind today is that, because I still “like” Occupy Dayton on Facebook, I see their posts, the most recent of which was one today about their planned rally tomorrow on Courthouse Square to commemorate their first rally there exactly a year before.

Unfortunately for Occupy Dayton, not many other people in Dayton think about them either. When I first blogged about Occupy Dayton, last November 11th, 5,325 / 537,602 = 0.991% there were 4,046 people who “liked” them on Facebook. A year later 5,325 people “like” Occupy Dayton on Facebook. That’s growth of 31.6%, but unfortunately 5,325 is still only 0.991% of the 537,602 residents of Montgomery County.

In other words, Occupy Dayton is the 1%. No, not that 1%, but still not the 99% they hoped to represent.


Click to embiggen the above screenshot of Occupy Dayton’s online forum, innundated with SPAM
Their website, not at its original domain of occupydayton.org (which the group lost after some of the processing and bickering they seem to have continued after I blogged about them last year) but rather at the new domain of occupydaytonoh.org, also does not paint a pretty picture. The last post on the home page is dated June 20th, the last General Assembly minutes are from February, and the forum is awash in ads for products I will not name here for fear of drawing unwanted visitors to my site. No one, not even any of the 1% of Daytonians who purport to care about Occupy Dayton, is minding the Occupy Dayton store.

Of course, not being part of the solution, I am part of the problem. I could go to the rally tomorrow, but I won’t. Instead I sit in my easy chair and poke fun at a group made up of earnest, well-intentioned volunteers rather than doing anything constructive myself to try to make a difference. Shame on me!

I’m jaded, and old, I admit. Once I was a newly out 20-something who was a member of Queer Nation Dayton, a group that liked to process and that perhaps did a tiny bit of good but that didn’t last. Perhaps, in some ways, I’ve turned into one of the older fags despised by those of us in Queer Nation back in the day. (But only to a certain extent—I’m still visibly out, I still do some volunteering, and I’m not a member of the Log Cabin Republicans or GOProud.)

Will Occupy Dayton have a second birthday? I wouldn’t bet against it, but I also wouldn’t bet any money that they will either. I will, however, predict that they won’t have many more Facebook “likes” if they don’t change something about what they’re doing.

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Books & Co. Going through some old boxes (yes, I still have some boxes I haven’t unpacked from my last move) I came across some Books & Co. paraphernalia. Books & Co., as those who grew up in Dayton will remember, was an independent bookstore in the Town & Country shopping center in Kettering.
View a PDF, front and back, of some of the Books & Co. bookmarks I have


My old Books & Co charge card
My old Books & Co charge card
I have tons of their bookmarks, including, as you can see, some from the days when Annye Camara still owned the store.


View a Books & Co. newsletter from January 1985 (PDF format)
I also have a copy of an old Books & Co. newsletter from January 1985, interesting, of course, because it shows a bit of Books & Co. history but also because it’s a sample of a pre-desktop publishing newsletter, with its typewritten columns and hand-drawn graphics and headlines. Remember when the titles of books were underlined because typewriters couldn’t do italics? This newsletter touts an appearance by IBID, the Books & Co. Book Frog, who I just do not remember.

I used to go to Books & Co. at least once a month, and I could never go in without buying something. If I was lucky, I went with my uncle Bill, and he’d pay for the books I wanted. Other times I wanted to go on my own because Books & Co. had a well-stocked gay and lesbian section, which before I came out I wanted to browse on my own. They always had copies of the Dayton Lesbian & Gay Center’s newsletter (which, like this Books & Co. newsletter, was typewritten—this was after lesbians decided that “gay” didn’t include them but before bisexuals and transgender people got any representation). I even had a Books & Co. charge card, and I loved their great sales (an excuse to buy even more books than I normally would).

Alas, I never go to Books & Co. any more. I still read a lot, but more often than not I read ebooks on my Kindle Fire or my Kindle DX (or soon on my new Kindle Paperwhite). I do still tend to buy hard copies of gay books, but I don’t buy them at Books & Co.’s big new store at the Greene (really just a Books-A-Million franchise) because they have a “Lifestyles” section, not an LGBT section, and they don’t have much of a selection of gay books. (Earlier this year Erin McCann wrote an article, “Books-A-Million gives the slip to gays, minorities,” voicing similar complaints about another Books-A-Million location.)
Books & Co, now redefined to something not for me
Of course, even traditional bricks-and-mortar gay-specific bookstores have been dying out.

So yeah, it’s sad that the old Books & Co. no longer exists, and it’s sad that there aren’t many gay bookstores left, but it’s good that it’s so easy to get books from Amazon (at least I think so; I know others disagree), and there are still some bookstore gems out there.
Key West Island Books, an independent bookstore that reminds me of what Books & Co. once was.
For example, while I was on vacation earlier this year, I picked up some interesting gay books, not at a gay-only bookstore, but at Key West Island Books. I know what you’re thinking—it’s in Key West, so it must be pretty gay, but Key West isn’t as gay as it once was, although of course it’s still very gay-friendly, as is this bookstore. Books & Co. was never this small (at least as I remember it), but it once was as welcoming.

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Gary Leitzell on LGBT equality

The Dayton City Paper, in a piece entitled “A Step Towards Equality,” features some comments by Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell on the city’s recent passage of a domestic partnership registry, and having read the mayor’s comments, I find myself compelled to comment.

Before I say anything about what the mayor had to say, first let me say that I do appreciate his support and that of the other city commissioners on passing the domestic partnership registry. Given that polls continue to show rising public support for marriage equality, given that our president has finally evolved to the point that he is able to say publicly that he supports marriage equality, given that even in Dayton the first candidate to announce for the 2013 mayoral election says he supports marriage equality, it really would have been something for anyone on Dayton’s city commission to oppose the creation of a completely voluntary registry which no public or private body is obligated to recognize. Yes, it’s great that queers (and unmarried heterosexuals too) can now get a piece of paper from the City of Dayton recognizing their relationship, but hospitals in Dayton, for example, still are not bound by law to recognize visitation rights because of these papers. A 5-0 vote in favor of a domestic partnership registry is a step (a baby step) towards equality, but in 2012 it is not ground breaking.

Now let’s take a look at what Mayor Leitzell has to say in the DCP:

Mayor Leitzell says, firstly, “I have always supported equal rights.” Oh, really, Mr. Mayor? Then why did you, when you were running for mayor in 2008, tell me that you “have a problem with changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage”? I wasn’t even asking you about marriage but rather about Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinances and you, a man who we now should believe has always supported equal rights, felt compelled to say that marriage wasn’t something whose definition you’d want to change to provide equality to queers.

And if Mayor Leitzell has “always supported equal rights” for queers, we might expect to find his name on the website of the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry. Take a moment and go to that website. You’ll see the names of the mayors of Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Columbus, East Cleveland, Lakewood, Lima, Stow, and Youngstown, Ohio, but you will not see the mayor of Dayton, Ohio listed. This is not an oversight, either, because I know that friends of mine have contacted Mayor Leitzell to ask him to add his name to this site of mayors who truly do support full equality for LGBT people.

However with Gary Leitzell it gets better. In the DCP article the mayor says secondly, “If the majority of people in North Carolina want to place extreme limitations on their citizens then it is their right to do so.” In other words, Gary Leitzell does not in fact believe in equal rights for queers. He believes that the rights of queers should be subject to the will of the majority. If the majority of voters in a jurisdiction decide that queers should not have the right to marry, then Gary Leitzell is fine with that.

Gee, thanks, Mr. Mayor. Frankly, the support that you claim to have always shown for my equality isn’t worth much.

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

A.J. Wagner, Twitter and gay rights in Dayton

Perhaps you read recently that former Montgomery County auditor/former Montgomery County Common Pleas judge A.J. Wagner is running for mayor of Dayton. Wagner has’t made a formal announcement and perhaps hasn’t even actually decided yet whether he’s running, but he did go so far as to have someone set up a website for his campaign. I read about it on Esrati.com.

One thing interesting about Wagner’s new mayoral campaign website stems from the recent furor over the City of Dayton’s having gone out of state to find a developer for a website for the city. The story about the city’s choosing a Colorado web developer was also on Esrati.com. The main point of Esrati’s post about Wagner’s website was Wagner’s status as a career politician and some history on how he resigned his judgeship, but Esrati did mention at the bottom of the post that Wagner, like the City of Dayton recently, went out of state to find a web developer.

Now City of Dayton officials are defending their decision to choose a Colorado firm, so perhaps Wagner too looked locally for a web developer but decided that to get what he needed he had to go with a DC firm—namely, Code and Politics, “a Washington, DC based firm specializing in online strategy and creative for candidates, organizations and causes that we believe in.”

The logo for Wagner's DC-based web development firm
Having your web developer’s branding/link on your site isn’t uncommon and might get you a discount—but—having a link to an out-of-state web developer might not be the best choice
for a Dayton politician
What did Wagner get by going out-of-state?

He didn’t get a developer who thought about hiding Wagner’s new website—ajwagnerformayor.com (which has since been pulled down, though Google’s cache will work for a while yet)—from prying eyes until the site was finished and until Wagner was ready for it to be seen. Perhaps the strategy was that by hiring someone outside of Dayton, no one in Dayton would know about the site. Oops.


ajwagnerformayor.com, as it looked Saturday morning, with a couple tips added (click to embiggen)
And Wagner didn’t get a developer who thought about registering the Twitter handle to which the new website prominently linked. Atop ajwagnerformayor.com was a prominent list of “Four Things To Do RIGHT NOW,” the fourth of which was to “FOLLOW Us On Twitter.” Unfortunately for Wagner and for his developer, when I visited his new site early Saturday morning after reading Esrati’s post, I clicked on the links and tried to follow him on Twitter to no avail—the Twitter handle @wagnerformayor did not exist! Major oops that leaves one open to mischief.

What kind of mischief, you might be asking? Well the kind of mischief that befell Dean Lovelace last year when he or his web developer (Dayton-based or out-of-state, I don’t know) let his domain name registration lapse. Someone—okay, it was me—registered Dean’s domain name and put up a website opposing his re-election to city commission (for all the good it did). When I saw that @wagnerformayor was up for grabs, perhaps I should have been kind and notified someone, but I was evil and registered it myself, although to be fair, I did use the name FakeAJ Wagner so people would know it really didn’t belong to the real A.J. Wagner. (As any political web developer should know, fake Twitter accounts are not uncommon.)

Why’d I do it? Not because I had any grudge against A.J. Wagner (as opposed to the grudge I had and still do have against Dean Lovelace). I can’t claim that I thought A.J. Wagner was anti-gay or that I had some noble cause in mind when I snagged that Twitter account. I was bored, and I thought it’d be funny to do it. And it was kind of funny.

But you know, things in my life have a way of turning out pretty gay, and this was no exception.

Esrati posted a list of questions for Wagner, and I, as FakeAJ Wagner, started answering some of them. One question was what Wagner thought of Mayor Leitzell (another person about whom I’ve posted here on my blog), and FakeAJ said, “About Mayor Leitzell’s stance on traditional marriage—gays marrying has never harmed my marriage to Joan.” That was just an off-hand quip (and a little dig at Leitzell), but I do think it’s true—Wagner and his wife have been married for a long time, and queers getting married hasn’t hurt their marriage.

 


Late to the game and curious about what FakeAJ Wagner said before @wagnerformayor was taken over by the real A.J. Wagner? Click on the image above or PDF screenshot of FakeAJ’s tweets
So people started reading FakeAJ’s tweets, and comments started heating up on Esrati.com about FakeAJ, and someone who it seemed might be Wagner’s DC developer posted an angry comment, and so I officially came out as FakeAJ (although jeez, it shouldn’t have been that hard to figure out). Finally, Wagner’s real DC developer made an appearance, denying that he had posted the earlier pseudonymous comment, acknowledging he’d made a mistake and saying he was just working hard to elect real progressives. Which raised the question—is A.J. Wagner a real progressive?

For me, admittedly a rather single issue person, a real progressive is someone who believes in equality for LGBT people. Dayton has some real progressives, including on its city commission, people who were willing to take what shouldn’t be a risky position these days, standing up for extending non-discrimination protections in the city based on sexual orientation and gender identity. (It shouldn’t be a risky position, but Dayton also has some real bigots—more on that in a moment.)

Wagner’s new mayoral campaign site, although it had been revealed to the public before it was done, was rather light on its issues page. No mention of LGBT issues. Contrast that to President Obama’s 2012 campaign site, which has a whole Pride section aimed at the LGBT community. Sure, the non-discrimination ordinance is a thing of the past, but I’d bet there are some who’d like to see it repealed; would Wagner oppose that? And yes, although Candidate Leitzell volunteered his position on traditional marriage, marriage is not a local issue, although plenty of mayors are indeed willing to come out for marriage equality; where would Wagner, who touts his Catholic faith, stand on that?

And a very current local LGBT issue is the domestic partner registry that Dayton’s city commission is considering. Would A.J. Wagner as mayor be for or against that? If ever he actually announced his candidacy I would want to know the answer.

So no, I didn’t snag @wagnerformayor thinking to punish A.J. Wagner or even thinking to make him come out on gay rights, but the more I thought about it, having that Twitter account might be a way to get him to say something about where he stands on my issues. And wouldn’t you know it, it worked.

Late last night A.J. Wagner emailed me to say he is “fully supportive” of the “the City Commission Gay Registry Ordinance” (if a little misinformed—it’s not a gay registry but a domestic partner registry that would be open to unmarried heterosexual couples too) and that moreover he is “also supportive of gay marriage.” Wow!

Wagner also told me that he had also written about the registry for his column in this week’s Dayton City Paper, which came out today. His column (which is not yet available in HTML format but which will appear on this page when it is and which is available on page 22 of the Flash version) talks about Dayton’s proposed “marriage registry” (again, a bit misinformed—it’s not a marriage registry) and explains Ohio’s constitutional amendment against marriage equality, the chances that it will be overturned by the courts and why, and the upcoming campaign to put repeal of that bigotted amendment up to a vote next year.

Wagner didn’t come out in so many words in his column and say he’s for the registry and for marriage equality, but the tone of the article is supportive, and I don’t think he’d have said what he said in his email to me if he didn’t mean it. When his mayoral campaign website (which, by the way, will no longer be done by that DC-based firm) does come out, I hope he states his position clearly on it.

But that’s good enough for me for now to turn over control of @wagnerformayor to Wagner. I’m going to post this blog entry and then put a final link on the Twitter account, and then I’ll change the password and give it to Wagner. I hope he has a good local developer who can help him with it.

And it’d be great if he showed up at tomorrow’s city commission hearing and spoke in favor of the domestic partnership registry. The bigotted pastors from the Dayton Baptist Pastors & Ministers Union plan on showing up to advocate that queers’ civil rights should be put to a public vote (see their semi-literate letter to the Dayton City Commission).

Years from now (and not too many years from now) our kids and grandkids are going to wonder what the big deal was about treating LGBT people fairly. It’s a battle we’re going to win. Straight people have two choices—drag their heels and fight on the wrong side of history, or become allies so that we no longer have to waste time on this issue and can move on to other things (like feeding the hungry, building stronger communities, etc., all the issues that queers too do care about and would fight harder for if we didn’t have to fight on this issue).

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A new sacrifice on a stuffed animal altar to the dead

If you’re a regular reader, you may remember some photos from 2009 I took during a walk along I-75 and North Main Street just north of downtown Dayton. Memorial stuffed animals on North Main Street at Great Miami Boulevard on August 6, 2009
Stuffed animals about 3 months
after being sacrified on a memorial altar
One thing in particular I documented on this walk was a stuffed animal altar to some people who’d died about three months earlier in a car crash at Main Street and Great Miami Boulevard. You can see one of the photos of the stuffed animal shrine here to the right, you can view more on my August 6, 2009 gallery page, and you can read about the crash in this PDF of the Dayton Daily News article.

I pass through this intersection just about every weekday and often on weekends too, and—while I understand that buying stuffed animals and tying them to traffic posts near spots where loved ones have perished in automobile accidents must be of some comfort to those who engage in that practice—this strange shrine just seems depressing to me. When I first photographed the stuffed animals, about 3 months after the accident, they were still in pretty good shape, Memorial stuffed animals on North Main Street at Great Miami Boulevard on December 12, 2010
Stuffed animals over a year
after being sacrified on a memorial altar
but over a year later, this abandoned sacrificed teddy bear, still hanging from a pole over dirty gray sludge, was so strikingly depressing that I took another photograph.

I’m blogging about this again now because today when I passed by this stuffed animal altar to the dead I noticed it had changed—some new stuffed animals had been sacrificed and added to the shrine. As you can see from the new photographs below, the sad old teddy bear has been joined by some new brightly colored (for now) stuffed sacrifices.

But look closely at the second photograph below and compare it to the one from last year above. Although today I noticed the new recent sacrifices, I missed some earlier stuffed sacrifices. In last year’s photo, the one sad teddy bear hangs alone, but, as you can see from the photo today, today’s additions are not the only ones—at some point between last year and now some other stuffed animals had been brought to keep the old raggedy teddy bear company, long enough ago that they too are starting to look a bit sad.

Memorial stuffed animals on North Main Street at Great Miami Boulevard on December 31, 2011
New stuffed animal sacrifices
Memorial stuffed animals on North Main Street at Great Miami Boulevard on December 31, 2011
Stuffed animal altar with old and new sacrifices

If I should ever perish in a horrible car crash (and with the way I drive I might), I wouldn’t ask my survivors to sacrifice stuffed animals in my memory, but then funerals and graves and memorials are not really for the dead but are, as this stuffed animal altar shows, for the living, so if it would bring you comfort to remember me by crucifying a teddy bear on a traffic pole, I guess that’s what you should do.

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Occupy Process Dayton (to death)

I’m one of 4,046 people on Facebook who “like” Occupy Dayton’s Facebook page. I like it in part because I do, theoretically, support the Occupy movement’s goals of attempting to rein in corporate greed and influence, but if I’m honest, I’m not part of the 1% who are the Occupy Dayton movement.

4,046 / 535,153 = 0.756% 1%, you ask? Wait, I thought the Occupy folks were the 99%.

Well, let’s do some math, shall we? According to the 2010 Census, Montgomery County, Ohio, has 535,153 residents. Take 4,046 divided by 535,153 and you get 0.756%, which, if you’re feeling generous, is 1% of Montgomery County’s population. (If you’re not feeling generous, you’d reduce that 4,046 because some of those people do not live in Montgomery County and because some of those “persons” are instead other Occupy movements—for example, Occupy Northside-Occupy Clifton “likes” Occupy Dayton on FB, or you’d reduce it because there have never been 4,046 people at Occupy Dayton’s camp or any of its marches.)

I’m also not a part of the more famous 1% because I’m not so wealthy that I don’t have to work or that I can afford multiple homes. I’m not poor though. I have a financial cushion that most people don’t. If I weren’t gay, I might selfishly think that the incessant Republican drive to reduce taxes for the rich could be worth voting for. (In case you wonder, no, I’ve never voted Republican, and yes, I voted No on Issue 2/SB5.)

So I’m in neither 1%, not the über-rich nor the people so angry they are protesting in the streets and Occupying public spaces.

But would you like to know another reason, besides my being an employed white man with a financial cushion, that I’m not part of the Occupy 1%? It’s that the Occupy movement, including Occupy Dayton, likes to process things to death.

It’s an indication of my lack of privilege in one area, being gay, that I have experience with processing things to death. Because I am queer, I have been involved in the gay rights movement. I was a part of Queer Nation Dayton in the early ’90s. I have Marched on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal rights and Liberation. I have volunteered on LGBT political action committees and Pride Dinner committees and attended countless meetings of more groups than I even remember now. I have been a co-facilitator for the Dayton Dialogue on Race Relations. I have served on the council and on committees at a justice-loving church. If I’m honest, I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t have done any of these things if I were a straight white man instead of a queer one, but I am queer, and believe me, I know processing.

It’s only because of my lack of privilege in one area and consequent involvement in these things that I even recognize the enormous privilege I have from all the other aspects of my life (being male, being white, being American, being lucky in family and personal connections). And I know that it’s because of the enormous privilege I have that I’m able to say I can’t stand all this processing. But I can’t, and I won’t.

How much processing, you might ask? Here’s a sampling:

Occupy Dayton General Assemblies
Date Start time End time Amount of processing
10/22/2011 3:15 p.m. 4:00 p.m. Only 45 minutes of processing
10/29/2011 3:15 p.m. 5:35 p.m. 2 hours and 20 minutes!!! of processing

Best comment: are yall still only holding GAs on saturday only? in eugene and portland we hold them every night. i think the camp is bigger here though. that way we can vote on pressing issues everyday rather than putting them off till next week… just a suggestion. and maybe get more involvement if people know that issues are voted, came to a consensus, every day [italics mine]. more people might come down to the camp??

11/2/2011 7:20 p.m. 8:42 p.m. 1 hour and 22 minutes of processing

Now on Wednesdays too

11/5/2011 3:35 p.m. 5:15 p.m. 1 hour and 40 minutes of processing
11/9/2011 7:13 p.m. 8:27 p.m. 1 hour and 14 minutes of processing

Followed by 239 (and counting) comments on Facebook

Why are there 239 comments on Facebook about the 11/9 GA? Because that GA had a special guest, Sandy Gudorf, of the Downtown Dayton Partnership, who came to ask Occupy Dayton if they would, pretty please, decamp to Dave Hall Plaza for the period of 11/23–11/25, during which time the Downtown Dayton Partnership has a permit for the setup and lighting of Dayton’s Christmas tree, the “Grande Illumination.” Want to instigate some processing? Ask the Occupy Dayton 1% to move so the larger crowds who fill Courthouse Square can continue a decades-long Dayton tradition.

This is not something that is going to end well. The Dayton Daily News is already putting the spin on this, saying that “Occupy Dayton protest must relocate for Grande Illumination.” If you wade into the 11/9 GA comments on FB, you’ll see there is dissent as to what the Occupy Dayton campers should do. And Occupy Dayton is not the only Occupy movement facing eviction.

So, no, I’ve not been down to the Occupy Dayton camp to use hand signals to participate in a General Assembly. By writing this blog post, I guess I can be taken as an opponent of Occupy Dayton, a viewpoint that if the Occupy Dayton campers take I can understand.

I think that’s a bit strong though. I wouldn’t count myself as an opponent of Occupy Dayton. They have valid points about the vast inequality in America and the world and about the power of corporations. I’m just too comfortable in my privilege to deal with their processing. That might turn out to be a poor decision on my part.

Update 11/13/2011: The number of people who “like” Occupy Dayton’s Facebook page has been growing since all this Grande Illumination publicity. Now 4,125 people (including “persons” such as other Occupy groups including Occupy Columbus, Occupy Wright State University, Occupy Ohio, Occupy Toledo, Occupy Detroit, Occupy Indianapolis, Occupy America, and Occupy Wall St.) like the page, an increase of 79 people or almost 2% since Friday (bringing them to 0.77% of Montgomery County’s population).

Also, the processing continues. In the last 24 hours there have been 173 comments on two posts about a possible counter-protest against Occupy Dayton and 44 comments on a post about whether a Dayton police officer was being truthful or misleading when he told a camper that driving on Courthouse Square was inadvisable because its foundation is crumbling and it might fall in (despite, as commenters have been pointing out, Dayton police pulling their cruisers onto the square, heavy equipment being brought onto the square for the Christmas tree, and plans for huge Grande Illumination crowds remaining in place).

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

The history of deanlovelace.com and the difficulty of running deanlovelace.com ads

What the current deanlovelace.com is

Say No! to Dean Lovelace on November 8, 2011 If you’ve been a regular reader of my blog, you know that I created a website, deanlovelace.com, about Dayton City Commissioner Dean Lovelace. You may know this because I blogged on February 28, 2011, about doing so; you may know this because whenever you’ve come since then to the main page of davidlauri.com you’ve seen a teaser, linking to my February 28 blog entry, about the “special present I’ve put together for Dean Lovelace.” That “special present” is a website outlining three reasons to vote against Dean Lovelace for Dayton City Commission on November 8, 2011.

Even if you had never heard of me, you may know about deanlovelace.com because whenever you google Dean Lovelace the number three result is the website entitled “Say No! to Dean Lovelace on November 8, 2011,” namely deanlovelace.com.

At the bottom of that website is an “About this site:” box that states “This site was developed and paid for by David Lauri and is not affiliated with any candidate” and that links back to davidlauri.com. When I created deanlovelace.com I did not try to hide who I was. I’m not ashamed of having created deanlovelace.com.

Why I created deanlovelace.com

Why did I create deanlovelace.com? Because the opportunity to do so presented itself. David Esrati remarked on February 27, in a post he made about why people should sign petitions so that Esrati could run for city commission, that he couldn’t find a campaign website for Dean Lovelace. I did some googling of my own and discovered that Esrati was right—Dean Lovelace was a Dayton City Commissioner running for re-election but did not have a campaign website up. Dean Lovelace used to have a campaign website at deanlovelace.com—if you go to my current deanlovelace.com website you will find a link to the Internet Archive cache from 2004 of the old deanlovelace.com—but did not feel it important enough to keep up and running. I was not surprised that Dean Lovelace did not feel it important enough to keep his website current with commentary on his views, but I was a bit astounded that he would have let his domain name lapse. I was not surprised that Dean Lovelace did not feel it important to keep his website current with commentary on his views about issues facing the City of Dayton, but I was a bit astounded that he would have let his domain name lapse.

And so I decided, on a whim, to register deanlovelace.com myself. Having done so, I announced in a tongue-in-cheek comment on Esrati.com that I had found a site that “tells you everything you need to know about Dean Lovelace.” (I still believe that deanlovelace.com tells you what you need to know about Dean Lovelace.) I posted a few more links to deanlovelace.com on Esrati.com, on my own website, on Facebook and on Twitter, but after posting a few final links on March 8 after Dean Lovelace lucked out and did not have to face a primary in the Dayton City Commission race (my March 8 post on Facebook is visible only to my friends and friends of my friends but you can see a screenshot of it; my tweet on March 8 is still visible to the public), I really didn’t give deanlovelace.com much more thought.

I did not contact Dean Lovelace to let him know about deanlovelace.com, but I would not have been surprised had he contacted me. I did not contact Mr. Lovelace to let him know about deanlovelace.com, but I would not have been surprised had he contacted me. In September 2009, I created a website, www.notojoey.com, opposing the re-election of Dayton City Commission Joey Williams because of his abstention on a vote to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Commissioner Williams found out about the website, took steps to get my cellphone number, called me, asked to meet with me, and asked me what I would want to take the site down. I told him I would not take the site down but that if he would state clearly on his campaign website that he opposes discrimination based on sexual orientation I would amend the site to remove my objection to his re-election. He did so, I did so, and you can still view the results on www.notojoey.com, a site that is now nowhere near the top of the Google search results for “Joey D. Williams” (although it still appears in them).

Dean Lovelace, unlike Commissioner Williams, made no attempts to contact me. I assume he’s aware of deanlovelace.com because on April 22 he registered a new domain name for his new campaign website, given that his old domain name was no longer available. I decline to share his new domain name here, but if you like you may go google for it yourself to see if you can find it. I’ll give you a tip though—you have to go way down the page past the results for deanlovelace.com to find the official Dean Lovelace re-election website. I myself was unaware of Dean Lovelace’s new campaign website until doing a bit of research for this blog post.

Placing ads about deanlovelace.com

However, although it is true that I did not give deanlovelace.com a lot of thought since creating it (the page has remained unchanged except for fixing a link that no longer worked), it was in the back of my mind that it might be fun to run some ads this fall to promote deanlovelace.com. To that end I sent two emails earlier this month inquiring about placing ads for deanlovelace.com. In those emails I explained that deanlovelace.com was not owned by Dean Lovelace but rather was a site that I had created to oppose his re-election and that I would like to run some display ads for the site. The recipients of my two emails? The Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival and the Dayton City Paper.

The response of the Downtown Dayton Priority Board to my request to place an ad in the Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival

The Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival, in case you haven’t heard of it, is rather amazing for a city the size of Dayton. The festival, currently in its 6th year, will take place September 23–25 at the Neon Movies downtown and is a great opportunity for queers and our allies to see independent LGBT films and to meet some of the people making these films. Jonathan McNeal, the manager of the Neon, is the curator of the film festival, and he’s done good work not only in finding films worth watching but also in finding support for the festival and promoting it. I figured placing an ad of interest to Dayton’s LGBT community in the film festival’s program would be a good idea.

However, Jonathan, despite being the curator of the film festival, does not have carte blanche in accepting ads for it. He quoted me a price of $175 for a 1/2 page ad but explained that “though [he] curate[s] the festival, [he] still [has] to answer to the Downtown Priority Board as they are the banner sponsor for the event.” That’s understandable. The Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival is not primarily about politics, although in the United States in 2011 anything queer is in part about politics. The Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival is not primarily about politics, although in the United States in 2011 anything queer is in part about politics, and Jonathan’s primary responsibility is keeping the festival viable. Jonathan checked with the Downtown Dayton Priority Board and was told that its chairperson, Stephen Seiboldt,
The ad rejected by
the Downtown Dayton Priority Board
declined to accept my ad, saying that the Priority Board did not want any political ads in the film festival’s program.

I wonder if Stephen Seiboldt checked with the Dayton City Commission and in particular with Dean Lovelace. The Downtown Dayton Priority Board, as is the entire Priority Board system, is a program of the government of the City of Dayton. Read about the Priority Boards on the official City of Dayton webpage. Whether it is legal for the City of Dayton to quash advertisements opposing the re-election of Dayton City Commissioners I do not know, and although I have enough personal resources to be able to afford an ad in the Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival, I do not have enough resources or enough energy for a prolonged battle with the City of Dayton.

Getting a response from Jonathan about running a deanlovelace.com ad in the Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival program, although I did not get the response I wanted, was quick and easy. Here’s the cost; here’s who I have to check with; sorry, I can’t take your ad. The whole process took a day.

The response of Paul Noah, Publisher of the Dayton City Paper, to my request to place an ad in his paper

Getting a response from the Dayton City Paper was not so easy. Two days after I sent an email to them asking whether they would accept a display ad in October and possibly also in September for deanlovelace.com (pointing out, as I’ve said above, that this was a site I created to oppose Dean Lovelace’s re-election), I got a brief email from the publisher of the Dayton City Paper, Paul Noah, saying, “I am considering your request. Patience please. Plan to hear again from me before the end of this week. Genuinely, Paul Noah.”

Okay, I can understand that Paul Noah, like Jonathan McNeal with the film festival, does not have carte blanche as to what ads he may accept for the paper he publishes. Paul Noah is not the owner of the Dayton City Paper, and even if he does not have to run ads by the paper’s owner, he does have to be concerned about the viability of his newspaper. Would it piss other potential advertisers off if the Dayton City Paper accepted an ad for deanlovelace.com?

Apparently that was not an easy question to answer because despite Paul Noah’s having said he would get back to me by the end of the week, he did not in fact do so. A week after having gotten his brief email urging patience, I sent him a follow-up email to ask if a decision had been made yet. The following day Paul Noah sent me a reply, not a reply with a decision but a reply explaining that he could still not decide and moreover chastising me for my actions in creating the deanlovelace.com website.

As to whether the Dayton City Paper could accept an ad from me about deanlovelace.com, Paul Noah says, “[A]s your ad would be for the purpose of promoting the idea to voters to vote against Mr. Lovelace, I would need to see a sample of the ad copy you intend to run. More specifically, I would need to forward your ad copy to our legal dept. to review your ad in addition to having them view your website for libelous commentary.”

I am not a lawyer, but I do not think that my deanlovelace.com website libels Dean Lovelace. If Dean Lovelace thinks that anything I have said about him is libelous, I invite him to bring a lawsuit against me. I make three contentions about Dean Lovelace—that he let his registration for deanlovelace.com lapse, that he supports discrimination against LGBT people and that it’s time for a change—and I support those contentions. The first two contentions are fact-based: Dean Lovelace did let the registration for his domain name lapse, and Dean Lovelace did vote twice to keep discrimination against LGBT people in the City of Dayton legal. The third contention is one of opinion but also based on the fact that Dean Lovelace has been in office since 1993. If Dean Lovelace thinks that anything I have said on deanlovelace.com about him is libelous, I invite him to bring a lawsuit against me.

Had Paul Noah left it at that, that he needed to be cautious about accepting an ad in his paper for legal reasons, I might have been disappointed but would have had to accept his caution. However, Paul Noah had more to say to me.

Paul Noah thinks I was wrong to register the domain name deanlovelace.com. In his email to me he went on to say:

For the record, I have no opinion of Mr. Lovelace or of his record as I know little about him. However, I am disappointed that you decided to use Mr. Lovelace’s domain name for the purpose of campaigning against him. I believe if you would have left his domain name alone and, instead, created and promoted a website domain name such as “VoteAgainstDeanLovelace.com” you would have accomplished the same results without appearing to obviously and blatantly having taken advantage of Mr. Lovelace’s failure to remember to renew his domain name. In all fairness, it’s most likely that Mr. Lovelace had confided in another individual to register his domain name on his behalf and, therefore, it was likely the failure of his confident to renew the domain name. In my eyes, the fact that you had exploited Mr. Lovelace’s domain name expiration by purchasing the rights to it and utilizing it as a resource to campaign against him significantly reduces the credibility of your mission. It is for this reason that the Dayton City Paper may end up declining your request anyway.

I’m a bit surprised by Paul Noah’s righteous indignation at my having created the website deanlove.com. I replied to him to tell him that I could have understood such indignation if I had created a spoof website purporting to be by Dean Lovelace himself but not given that the website clearly states that I own the site and that it is not affiliated with any candidate.

I also told Paul Noah that I was a bit surprised that he claimed to have no opinion of Dean Lovelace’s record. Why is it difficult for Paul Noah to form an opinion about Dean Lovelace? If he had visited deanlovelace.com, he would have found links to newspaper articles and to Dayton City Commission pages documenting what Dean Lovelace said and what he did. In 1999 Dean Lovelace said that all discrimination is wrong but then voted to keep discrimination based on sexual orientation legal. In 2007 Dean Lovelace said that passing an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation was the right thing to do but then voted again to keep such discrimination legal. Why is it difficult for Paul Noah to form an opinion about that?

I agree with Paul Noah that Dean Lovelace probably was not personally involved in the registration of or the lapse in registration of the deanlovelace.com domain name. I doubt very much that Dean Lovelace has the technical expertise to register a domain name or build a website. However, I pointed out to Paul Noah that Dean Lovelace does have expertise in campaigning for office, and part of campaigning for office these days is having a campaign website. Dean Lovelace should have known that his campaign website from 2004 was, at the least, out of date because Dean Lovelace never directed that anything be added to it. That deanlovelace.com was no longer a functioning website in February 2011 when Dean Lovelace was running an active campaign for re-election is a reflection on Dean Lovelace’s management skills and worthy of consideration.

Paul Noah ended his chastising email to me by saying, “I am interested in your thoughts about my commentary above as I would hope that you consider doing the right thing and play fairly here.” He did not say what he himself would consider “the right thing” and what “play[ing] fairly” would be. Perhaps he thinks I should apologize for my actions. Perhaps he thinks I should give Dean Lovelace back his domain name.

My response to Paul Noah

Well here’s my response. I decline to apologize to Dean Lovelace. I stand by what I have posted on deanlovelace.com. I stand by what I said: Vote against Dean Lovelace on November 8, 2011. Unlike in my interactions with Commissioner Williams, who merely abstained from a vote to ban discrimination in Dayton based on sexual orientation, there is nothing Dean Lovelace can do to make me retract or change what I have said.

Dean Lovelace voted twice to keep discrimination based on sexual orientation in the City of Dayton legal and that by itself is reason enough for people who value the equal treatment of all Daytonians to vote against Dean Lovelace on November 8.





Updates:

David Esrati wrote about my attempt to place a deanlovelace.com ad in the Dayton City Paper, in which Esrati says, “[Paul Noah] should not only accept the ad (with the addition of who paid for it) in his paper, but that he should keep his opinion on his opinion pages — and not insert it into political ads.”

The Dayton Informer ran an interesting video interview with Dean Lovelace about this issue, asking him what he thought of me and what he thought of gay rights. Dean Lovelace called me a jerk, which I can understand, and he said that “gay rights are not civil rights” although he later admits that gay rights may be “human rights.”

An Esrati.com reader had questions about Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance, and so, in a comment on Esrati.com, I give some more background about the laws in Ohio banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and on Lovelace’s actions to keep such discrimination legal in the city of Dayton. I also respond to Dean Lovelace’s correct contention that the LGBT civil rights struggle is different from the African American civil rights struggle; in the Dayton Informer piece when Dean Lovelace said that gay rights are not civil rights, I think what he was ineptly trying to say was that the struggles faced by queers and by African Americans are different. He’s right about that, and I point out some of the differences in my comment on Esrati.com.

Jeremy Kelly wrote an article in Dayton Daily News reporting on my taking over of deanlovelace.com.

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Olive, an urban dive


Olive, an urban dive, is a great new restaurant in the historic Wympee building downtown at Third and Wayne
I’ve been following the saga over the past several months of the hurdles Kim Collett has faced getting Olive, an urban dive, her new restaurant, up and running, but it wasn’t until today that I was able to make it over to check things out for myself. They had a very successful sold out “Dive into Olive” preview week, and David Esrati, in his review of Olive, warned that it might be difficult to get in for lunch given how good the food is and how small the restaurant is, but Kim posted on Facebook yesterday that people shouldn’t “worry that we’re too packed,” and so my best friend and I headed A view of the historic Wympee building, spruced up a bit A view of the historic Wympee building, spruced up over for lunch today, a bit after 1:00. They were doing a good business but still had a couple tables available inside, and we were seated right away.

The outside of the building looks pretty much like it always has, with the historic Wympee signs, but it’s been spruced up a bit with plants and benches in front and an inviting patio in back with outdoor seating and with herbs growing that Olive uses in items such as the scrumptious patio herb salad dressing.

Looking at the inside of the building, you’d be hard pressed to know it once was Wympee’s because everything’s been completely redone, with amenities ranging from fabulous handmade wooden ceiling tiles to a new cork floor to custom lights and other great decor. Head over to Olive’s Facebook page (you can read there about some of the hurdles they faced getting started), in particular their photo gallery which has tons of photos documenting all the hard work they put into their business and building. A view of Olive's fashionable dining room A view of Olive’s
fashionable dining room
Keeping the historic facade of the Wympee building honors its past, but the totally redone interior, suitable for a first class restaurant, hardly goes along with Olive’s so-called “urban dive” moniker.

The wait staff, in addition to being very friendly, is also very knowledgeable about Olive’s unique mission to strive to use local ingredients. Not only did our server explain how Olive’s grows their own herbs out back (and invite us to be sure to check out the patio), but she also told us about what, if I’m remembering correctly (which I may not be), are young herbs—for example, radishes that are cut before they bloom so they impart hints of radish flavor. As you can see from Olive’s soft open “lunchish fare” menu, they have a lot of choices for a small restaurant that makes everything from scratch, and our server was good about explaining all the options.

My friend and I both got the same thing, tuscan grilled cheese sandwiches served with the house salad (of course with the famous patio herb dressing) and cups of tomato bisque. This is not your traditional grilled cheese and tomato soup, although it was delicious and comforting. Our meals were served very stylishly on long rectangular white plates that you wouldn’t expect to find at Wympee’s or an urban dive. Tasting the tomatoes in the sandwiches makes one appreciate fresh, local produce, and the house pesto on the sandwiches was also a tasty addition. Topping it all off was the patio made sun tea, lightly sweetened with agave (our server brought us sugar cubes, but the tea was perfect without any added sugar).

Olive has a very relaxing atmosphere. At our corner table my friend and I had a pleasant conversation as we enjoyed our meal, but near us were some single people eating alone, one reading a book and another just taking in the scene. I’m glad Olive is finally open and glad that I was able finally to visit. I plan on going back often, and you should check Olive out too—you won’t be disappointed!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Zamboni at Riverscape

Today I took a walk across the river to RiverScape where I got to see a Zamboni in action. If you want to watch too, click on the picture below:
Zamboni at Riverscape in downtown Dayton

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Looking out my window this morning and seeing a plane circling downtown Dayton pulling an airborne ad along did make me curious enough to get my camera out to take some photos but did not motivate me enough to call 1-800-STATEFARM.

Monday, July 5th, 2010

One of the highlights of the 4th of July weekend in Dayton is the annual Cityfolk Festival, a three-day event in downtown Dayton featuring multiple stages with various types of folk music and dancing
The Cityfolk pin I was prescient enough to buy unbidden
as well as food vendors on Monument Avenue by Riverscape and on Patterson Boulevard by Fifth Third Field.

My recollection was that Cityfolk was created after Dayton was chosen back in the 90s to host the National Folk Festival for a couple years, but looking at Cityfolk’s history page, I see that I was wrong.
An unfortunate
clothing choice
The 4th of July Cityfolk Festival indeed is Dayton’s successor festival to that National Folk Festival’s having been in Dayton, but Cityfolk as an organization existed for more than a decade beforehand. At any rate, although Cityfolk organizes many other cultural events, its Festival in July is what it’s most known for.

Living downtown I do try to stop by the Festival each year, and this year I made it over to the Festival twice, on Saturday the 3rd of July, when the Festival was fairly crowded because the City of Dayton fireworks that evening attract folk from all over,
Sparse attendance on the 4th led to boredom for the Montgomery County
Beef Queen
and again on Sunday the 4th, when the Festival was markedly less crowded. I didn’t stay long on the 3rd, having ventured down with my sister and brother-in-law just to partake of the good eats (I got a roadhouse porkshop sandwich and some dipping dots); before it got too crowded, we decamped back to my highrise apartment for a better view of the fireworks, but not before having taken in some views of unfortunate clothing choices.

Sunday evening, after a mid-day family cookout at my sister’s, I ventured back over to the Cityfolk Festival, where navigation was much easier than the day before. Despite not having
The Red Stick Ramblers’
“Two Guys One Fiddle” act
paid $30 for exclusive Room With a View parking, I was able to snag a parking spot on Patterson less than a block away from the main stage. I watched Ruthie Foster put on a good blues and soul show, Under 1 Roof teach folks under Five Rivers MetroParks’ new $6.2 million pavilion (MetroParks is lucky to have its own source of income) about house dance, and the Red Stick Ramblers put on a good Cajun/western show. Of course the real reason I’d wanted to come was to watch the last performance ever of Rhythm in Shoes, Dayton’s nationally known folk dance company,
Rhythm in Shoes dancer chats
with a fan
and, again despite my not having paid for exclusive Room With a View seating, I snagged a front row seat. Their Rapper Sword Dance is my favorite, and it was terrific this time too, bringing the audience to our feet with applause.

The final Rhythm in Shoes performance, combined with low attendance numbers, brought an end-of-an-era feel to the crowd, causing folk to murmur about whether this might also be
A great view of a great dance company
the final Cityfolk Festival. Certainly the continual shilling of Cityfolk pins (“Give us ten, so we can do it again”) raised awareness of the costs of putting such a festival on — luckily, despite not having sprung for Room with a View access, I had purchased a $10 pin and so was not embarrased when emcee Michael Lippert later called me out by name from the main stage. A Cityfolk board member, wandering through the audience selling those pins, stopped to tell some folk near me that she was sure the Festival would be back in some form next year. I hope she’s right.

Monday, June 28th, 2010

I love the view from my balcony, day or night. The moon is out, the city’s alight, oh, what a beautiful night!


Click image to embiggen

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Mayor Leitzell’s Pride Month proclamation
(Click above image to embiggen)

If you’ve been a regular reader of my blog, you probably know that I was not a fan of Gary Leitzell during his campaign to become mayor of Dayton. This stemmed in part from his interjecting a concern “with changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage” into his response to my asking him where he stood on the addition of sexual orientation as a protected class to Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance. It also stemmed in part from what I perceived to be his hypocrisy on the issue of traditional marriage given the non-traditional state of his own marriage. And it also stemmed in part from Leitzell’s seeming inability or unwillingness to say clearly and simply that he would oppose any attempts to remove sexual orientation from Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance.

Now we finally have some clear evidence of Mayor Leitzell’s views on sexual orientation’s being a protected class included in Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance; that evidence comes from the mayor’s having issued a proclamation declaring June 2010 to be Pride Month in the City of Dayton.

God, talk about difficult. The man couldn’t just say back in December 2008 that he supported Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance’s inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes and would oppose any attempts to remove those classes? He had to raise the issue of marriage knowing full well that marriage isn’t a local issue and knowing moreover that his own marriage wouldn’t satisfy those clamoring for allegedly traditional marriage?

I’m glad this is finally settled. Thank you, Mayor Leitzell, for continuing your predecessor’s tradition of proclaiming June as Pride Month and for clearly stating that you are “committed toward ensuring that all of [Dayton’s] citzenry is protected from the harm of discrimination,” including discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Today I was curious about this crowd near my building.

Each of these images is just a clip from the same 3648x2736 telephoto shot, which you can view if you want to see whether you recognize anyone.

Living on the same street as the Greek Orthodox Church, the Art Institute and the Masonic Temple, I get occasionally get some noise from crowds.

Today, hearing some noise outside, I went out on my balcony and saw a crowd pouring out of the Masonic Temple spilling into the street, a crowd that with some googling I discovered was the just-graduated Class of 2010 of Stivers School for the Arts and their families and friends. I don’t mind the crowds—they’re fun to watch and they involve a fair exchange of value. I give up a bit of my peace and quiet, and the crowds give up a bit of their privacy.

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Two morning errands — Post Office and Panera — and two cards

Back of a credit card, properly signed
The USPS just cares that the credit card you’re using is signed, not that the signature or card is yours.

This morning my first stop was at the Mid City Post Office in downtown Dayton, to pick up some Forever stamps. I like going to Mid City because it’s always much less busy than the Main Post Office and because the clerk who works there is much nicer (she greets people as they come in, perhaps because, unlike the clerks at the Main Post Office, she’s not overworked).

However, bless her heart, perhaps the Mid City clerk is assigned there for a reason. After I swiped my credit card for my stamp purchase, she asked, “Credit or debit?”, and when I answered, “Credit,” she said she needed to verify the signature on my card. I handed my card over to her, she looked at the back of it, she hands me my receipt, I get ready to sign, and she says, “Oh, you don’t need to sign for purchases under $25.”

Hmm. I guess when she said she needed to verify the signature on my card, she just meant that she needed to see that the card, whether stolen or not, did in fact have a signature.

A MyPanera card gets you free food
Yay for MyPanera cards and the free food they get you!

My second stop this morning was at the Brown Street Panera to get a frozen caramel and a bacon and egg ciabatta breakfast sandwich. Unlike the Mid City Post Office, Panera is always hopping, but like Mid City, the folks working at Panera are also friendly. My favorite person working at the Brown Street Panera is named Kathy. Something she and I have in common is that she has a brother named David and I have a sister named Kathie*. Kathy always greets me by name and knows that I like large frozen caramels.

Another good thing about Panera is their new MyPanera card. You let the cashier scan it when you order, and then not only do you not have to tell her your name (if she doesn’t already know it), but you also earn rewards such as free frozen drinks or free pastries or free bagels. I already liked Panera enough that I went fairly often, but this good marketing on their part makes me enjoy going even more. Thanks, Panera!

*Well, I get away with calling my sister “Kathie” because I have for decades, but you probably wouldn’t get away with doing so.

Thursday, January 7th, 2010
Dayton’s in the midst of another winter.
I’m lucky and got to work from home today.
Normally I can see I-75 and Route 4 (aka “Malfunction Junction”) beyond the Greek Orthodox church, but not today.
My view of downtown Dayton’s skyline has been obliterated by snow.
This shot of the Masonic Temple, reflected in my sliding glass door, turned out nice.
Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

A couple of cold photos from Englewood MetroPark this afternoon (click to embiggen):

Google Maps still refers to “Englewood Recreation Reservoir,” but as you can see from Five Rivers MetroParks’ sign about the “lake,” it’s reverting to a “rich floodplain habitat,” not that you can tell that when it’s covered by even a small amount of snow.

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Goodbye, Harmon Cadillac

Earlier this year GM killed Harmon Cadillac, and today they finally came to repossess their sign.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

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.
Friday, June 5th, 2009

Dean Lovelace
Proud to dine with queers, proud to vote against queers?
I went to the Pride Dinner a couple days ago and was surprised to see Dayton City Commissioner Dean Lovelace in attendance. Why surprised, you might ask? Aren’t these types of events typically attended by various politicians? After all, Lovelace’s fellow commissioner Nan Whaley also attended, as did Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley.

Well the reason I was surprised to see Lovelace is that unlike Foley, who was there to tell us about Montgomery County’s new policy banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in county hiring, or Whaley, who was there to remind us of her support in 2007 for an ordinance prohibiting such discrimination in the City of Dayton, Lovelace actually supports discrimination against queers.

In case you don’t remember, in 2007, Dean Lovelace voted to keep discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity legal in the City of Dayton. Perhaps by attending the Pride Dinner he’s hoping that queers have forgotten that, and maybe also that African American pastors from the the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, who also opposed the ordinance in 2007, will be unaware of his attending a gay pride event.

If a white politician in 1967 had voted to keep racial discrimination legal, would he have been welcome at a NAACP dinner?

Perhaps if such a politician publicly recanted his vote and opposed any new attempts to make discrimination legal again, he’d be welcome.

I don’t know if black ministers are still thinking about trying to put Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance up for a public vote, but if they do, Lovelace will have a chance to redeem himself. Until such a time I say that his 2007 vote trumps his 2009 Pride Dinner attendance.

And I won’t have forgotten his 2007 vote if he runs for re-election in 2011.

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Good Friday Greek Orthodox-style
(Click to embiggen)

Dayton skyline at night
(Click to embiggen)
The new CareSource all alit
CareSource’s building all alit
(behind some others)

Tonight I heard singing and chanting outside that I couldn’t understand. It was Greek to me, and when I went to look for its source, wouldn’t you know, it was! Tonight the church across from my apartment celebrated Orthodox Good Friday, and part of their service was this candlelit procession around their building. Fun!

While I was out I got a decent shot of Dayton’s skyline at night. Healthcare must be really profitable because not only could CareSource afford to build a brand new building downtown but they can also afford to keep all the lights inside fully blazing along with fancy colored trim lighting along the roof.

Saturday, March 7th, 2009
Parking Fail

The green line in this photo taken tonight is almost a parking spot. There’s some event going on tonight at the Masonic Temple, an event that requires more parking than the Masons’ two decent-sized parking lots plus the parking lots of the Art Institute and the Greek Orthodox Church can accommodate, and thus people have been driving around my neighborhood searching for parking spots, getting to this almost-a-parking-spot and deciding that no, they can’t fit their gihugeous SUVs into it after all.


Click to embiggen

One thing that’s funny is that from my balcony seeing their cars pull alongside the spot I can see that if some of these drivers actually knew how to parallel park, a skill Daytonians in general haven’t mastered, they could in fact fit their cars in this almost-a-parking-spot or that if any of them were driving one of the brand new self-parking cars, their new self-parking car could fit itself into it.

Another thing I can see from my perch high above the potential parkers is just how much wasted parking space there is. People don’t seem to want to pull up. The red lines in the lower photo here point out all the wasted parking space. Makes me glad I have a spot in our building’s garage.

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Last week I read on esrati.com about yet another Dayton mayoral candidate, namely James R. Greene, III, so, as I did with Gary Leitzell, I e-mailed Mr. Greene to ask about his position on Dayton's non-discrimination ordinance and the 2007 addition to it of sexual orientation.

And as with Mr. Leitzell I got an interesting response from Mr. Greene, not one saying, as Mr. Leitzell did, that traditional marriage should be protected—I hadn't asked Mr. Greene (or Mr. Leitzell) about marriage, which is not a local issue—but saying that he thought our laws already provided for protection against discrimination on any basis and that Dayton's law just mirrored that. Lest I be accused of misquoting Mr. Greene, as I was with Mr. Leitzell, here is precisely what he said:

First, as a practicing civil rights attorney for over 20+ years I am firmly convinced that our laws, as presently written, provide that no person should be discriminated against on any basis. Second, Dayton's ordinance merely reflects current law. Third, I do not believe that the discussions on Dayton's non-discrimination ordinance were properly framed. The focus of the ordinance should've been on treating people as you or I would want to be treated.

I was surprised by that. If our state's and nation's laws already prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, then what was all the fuss about getting sexual orientation added to non-discrimination laws? I wrote back to Mr. Greene and said I didn't think he was right and asked specifically if he therefore thought sexual orientation should be removed from Dayton's non-discrimination ordinance.

Mr. Greene replied back, saying that "[he] would not withdraw the ordinance," but that he disagreed with my interpretation of the law:

I respectfully disagree with your interpretation of the law. Under a Title VII (federal discrimination statute) comprehensive analysis, the United States Supreme Court in Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc. 523 U.S. 75 (1998) held that same-sex sexual harassment may fall within Title VII's prohibition of discrimination. The legal argument was framed this way: "…[a]s some courts have observed, male-on-male sexual harassment in the workplace was assuredly not the principle [sic] evil Congress was concerned with when it enacted Title VII." But statutory prohibitions often go beyond the principal evil to cover reasonably comparable evils, and it is ultimately the provisions of our laws rather than the principal concerns of our legislators by which we are governed. "Title VII prohibits 'discrimination … because of … sex' in the terms or conditions of employment." Thus, a reasonable legal argument can be sustained that a person who is deprived of means of support, employment and such when done on the basis of that person's sex, is impermissible because the US Supreme Court has said that harassment (including, hiring, firing etc., and I quote "must extend to sexual harassment of any kind that meets the statutory requirements." The Supreme Court is basically putting forth the argument that if one can establish that sexual orientation is the basis of discrimination, and that sexual oritentation [sic] has nothing to do with job performance etc., it is impermissible to use sexual orientation as a criteria to discriminate against that person.

I thanked Mr. Greene for his reply and said that I wanted to check with some gay rights organizations to see whether they could find any cases related to the case he cited. The folks at the Midwest Regional Office of Lambda Legal were very helpful. Cheryl Angelaccio actually laughed when I told her about Mr. Greene's position and asked for help in finding cases related to it. She didn't have any cases in which people had tried to use Oncale v. Sundowner for redress for instances of sexual orientation discrimination, but she did point me to a very informative PDF on Lambda Legal's website, "There Ought to be a Law," which summarizes multiple cases involving harassment based on sexual orientation, all of which specifically say that, contrary to Mr. Greene's opinion, Title VII does not apply to harassment on the basis of sexual orientation.

I shared this information with Mr. Greene and asked him if, given that courts have held that Title VII doesn't apply to harassment on the basis of sexual orientation, he still thought that Title VII would be applicable to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and if he could cite any cases in which someone who'd been fired for being gay had been able to obtain redress under Oncase v. Sundowner. His answer to that was:

The direct answer to your question is no. I am only aware of the case I cited being used for same sex discrimination in the employment setting (which is what my law practice is centered around).

Meanwhile in addition to asking Lambda Legal for help I'd also contacted Equality Ohio, thinking that perhaps they could give me some examples here in Ohio. They refered me to Scott Knox, a Cincinnati attorney, who has dealt with a lot of gay / lesbian / transgender / HIV issues, and Scott said what I'd noted above, that Oncale was about harassment not discrimination and that "[t]his case has absolutely no applicability to people who are fired / not hired / otherwise discriminated against in employment because they're gay."

So perhaps Mr. Greene is right and our nation's greatest LGBT legal minds are wrong, but I don't really think so. And, as I pointed out to him, even if he were right, it's important that sexual orientation be included explicitly in non-discrimination laws because our laws reflect what our society thinks is right and wrong and because having it included explicitly might discourage people from engaging in it. He points out that it won't prevent it completely, which is correct, just as having race-based discrimination being illegal hasn't prevented that, but I think it might stop some people.

Now I post all this not as an attack on Mr. Greene for being (in my and others' opinions) wrong about this, but because if he thinks this, perhaps other people do. Lord knows that enough people who aren't lawyers and who have never heard of Oncale think that firing someone just for being gay is already illegal. And even if Mr. Greene is wrong about the law I have to give him credit for thinking that gay people (and everyone) should be "treat[ed] as ... [he] would want to be treated," for not wanting to roll back Dayton's protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and for being willing to engage in dialogue about what he thinks.

At the end of all these e-mails between us, Mr. Greene asked me if I had any concerns other than the anti-discrimination ordinance and if so what they were. I answered him that I do have other concerns, giving him urban sprawl and race relations as two, in addition to wanting a decent grocery store downtown. However, I also told him that plenty of people share my other concerns and ask politicians about them, which is why I don't ask about a long list of issues but focus on gay rights. I have spent time personally working on race relations and spend time through my church's Justice and Witness ministry working on that as well as on the environment, but I don't see tons of straight people asking politicians whether they think it should be legal to fire queers. Well, actually, let me strike that; I do see a fair number of straight people who think that it should be legal to fire queers advocating for that. So, yeah, I'm going to continue to keep my eyes open, and when I see people running for office, I'm going to ask questions about my issue. You gotta love democracy, and the Internet, which makes dialogue with politicians much easier.

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

EasyParkDowntown.org as it looks in Firefox
(click to embiggen)


EasyParkDowntown.org as it looks in Internet Explorer
(click to embiggen)

The Dayton Daily News had an article today about the Downtown Dayton Partnership's fancy new EasyParkDowntown.org website. The article's author, Tim Tresslar, must be a faithful reader of David Esrati's blog because this is not the first time he's written about something that Esrati wrote about first (update: actually Dayton Business Journal wrote about it first). Esrati's blog entry about EasyParkDowntown.org was not favorable.

And I have to say I'm not impressed with EasyParkDowntown.org either, but for other reasons, namely web design reasons. The interactive map on the site was created using Adobe Flash, a cumbersome tool for websites (read some of my earlier gripes about Flash on websites), and the coder added some JavaScript to his page to make sure the Flash object is resized to take up the entire size of the browser window. Actually it makes the Flash object larger than the browser window, cutting off text and making it impossible to scroll down to see the rest of the content, especially in Firefox but even in Internet Explorer. Their helpful "Let's get Started" text mentions buttons you can click in order to hide or show layers of information on their map, but you can't see the buttons if your web browser's set to a size their web developer didn't anticipate (for example, maximized Firefox or Internet Explorer windows on my 1920x1200 laptop screen or my 1440x900 external LCD)!

Did anyone even look at this application after it was published but before it was announced to the world?

From the work I do I know that some organizations are willing to pay big bucks, thousands of dollars, for applications such as this (for example), and they're too ignorant to know better. I gleaned the data from EasyParkDowntown and rolled my own webpage based on Google Maps in a couple hours. Check it out and see if you don't agree that it's friendlier to end users: www.davidlauri.com/easyparking

Here's one way in which my version is friendlier — try printing from my version and try printing from EasyParkDowntown.org. Completely ignoring the fact that if you print using your browser's File->Print command on their site you won't get what they intended, even if you do realize that to print you have to click on their print icon (the little pic of the page at the right of the icons below their map), what you get isn't at all useful. Want a list of parking garages to take with you? You're not gonna get it from EasyParkDowntown.org!

One last gripe — if you're coming downtown to go to the Oregon District, you won't find any of its parking on EasyParkDowntown.org. Is it because most people don't consider the Oregon District to be part of downtown (or Greater Downtown)? Or is it because the Oregon District Business Association wouldn't participate in the Special Improvement District tax that funds the Downtown Dayton Partnership?

Saturday, December 27th, 2008
A copy of a photograph of Gary Leitzell with his lovely wife and daughter was originally posted here, but he asked me to remove it.*
Traditionally no husband would be a stay at home father. So much for changing the traditional definition of marriage, huh?

I read in today's Dayton Daily News of Gary Leitzell's mayoral candidacy, so I e-mailed him to ask where he stood on last year's addition of sexual orientation as a protected class in Dayton's non-discrimination ordinances. He very quickly replied, saying that he has "no problems with equal rights for gays" but adding, unasked, that he does "have a problem with changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage."*

Funny, how equal rights for gays so obviously, even to a straight man, relates to marriage.

Funny, also, how people don't understand what marriage traditionally meant. Traditionally marriage meant a man was master of his wife or wives. He'd acquired her (or them) from her (or their) father(s) and legally couldn't even rape her (them) for how could a man rape what was basically his own property. Women had no rights in marriage traditionally.

You don't hear too many people advocating a return to truly traditional marriage, do you?

No, most people have grown comfortable with the idea that marriage is a relationship between two equal partners. And if the definition of marriage has changed to that, and don't tell me it hasn't, then what's so wrong with those two equal partners both being men or both being women?



*Update: Gary Leitzell e-mailed me to ask me to remove the photograph of him with his lovely wife and daughter, so I've done so, though you can still see it (at least for now) on his mayoral campaign blog or on his personal blog.

He was also dismayed that I had asked him "a question anonymously" and then posted his answer, taking it out of context.

Well first, I did not ask him a question anonymously. I used my real name and used my davidlauri.com e-mail address, not some made up AOL or Yahoo screen name totally unconnected to any real person. And second, he's a candidate for mayor; that he should be surprised that people discuss his positions on issues is itself surprising. And no, he did not specify that his answer was "off the record," though if he had done so, that'd be pretty interesting, wouldn't it? A candidate for mayor who didn't care to take public stands on issues?

So let's look at the rest of his reply:

I do have a problem with changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage to line the pockets of lawyers though. It would mean that we could legally change the meaning of any word to suit our purpose. That could lead us on a very dangerous course.

I suppose that could mean he doesn't mind changing the legal definition of marriage if it wouldn't line the pockets of lawyers to do so.

Or it could mean that he thinks that despite our having changed the legal definition of marriage in the past to preclude polygamy or to make divorce possible or to change a wife's rights that to change it by extending it to same sex couples would mean that we'd start changing the definition of other words too — perhaps we'll end up dangerously redefining legally "blue" to mean "red" or "expenses" to mean "income."

Why he'd think that, I've no idea. Seems to me that marriage has had a relatively straightforward (no pun intended) legal evolution and extending it to same sex couples doesn't mean we're going to be redefining everything.

And I think it seems that way to the justices on the Supreme Courts of several states (Hawaii: Baehr v. Lewin, 1993; Vermont: Baker v. Vermont, 1999; Massachusetts: Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, 2003; California: In re Marriage Cases, 2008; Connecticut: Kerrigan and Mock v. Connecticut Department of Public Health, 2008 [update 04/03/2009: and Iowa: Varnum v. Brien, 2009]) and a foreign country too (Canada: Reference re Same-Sex Marriage, 2004) as well as to the legislatures of some foreign countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada). But what do they know?

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008
The fine folks involved in the Sure, I suppose it's difficult to spell-check images of our fair city, at least those at its Human Relations Council, aren't very good at proofreading:


They do, however, a fine job of being PC (not, I guess, that there's anything wrong with that):
Monday, June 9th, 2008
I bought a 1945 street map of Dayton from eBay. You can see it online here.
Wednesday, August 1st, 2008
Carl and a statue Dayton Dragons logo This evening my nephew Carl and I did a typically American summer thing, namely go to a ball game, the Dayton Dragons vs. the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

The game was actually fairly fun, almost a shutout but Rattlers managed to get one run in the top of the 9th, not enough to save them however against the Dragon's 8 runs, several of which were home runs.

The Dragons mascots Heater and Gem had various fun activities on the field between innings.

And of course there was food. We started with ice cream dots on the theory that life is short so you should eat dessert first and also on the premise that the rule about having to eat something green in order to get dessert is suspended at ballgames. We did end up having something green though — cotton candy.
Me and a statue
Heater and Gem and some announcers
Tykes racing on the field
Monkey Carl eating green cotton candy
Carl and me
Tug of war
Some actual baseball action
Tuesday, July 31st, 2007
If you've visited my books page or if you're a long-time reader of my blog, you know I'm a fan of Dayton's library. I'm still a fan but this summer construction on St. Clair Street downtown has made trips to the library a real aggravation!

Construction started in the spring, initially just a small area of St. Clair near Second Street, but now, almost August, instead of cleaning up their mess as they progress down the street, the construction crews have managed to block off all of St. Clair between Second and Third Streets as well as starting a mess on the next block.

Why is this a problem? The library's main entrance, which used to be on Third Street, was relocated to St. Clair a few years ago because there's a whole lot more parking on St. Clair. Or at least there was. Now they've managed to block all parking in the block in front of the library's main entrance as well as access to the library's drive through window and handicap parking spaces. Now to be fair, sometimes they do have a single lane open on St. Clair, so the drive through and handicap spaces are sometimes available, but not so you could count on them!

Another reason this construction mess is a problem is that St. Clair, one of Dayton's infamous one-way streets, is a major thoroughfare through downtown for people traveling south on Riverside Drive heading for Patterson Boulevard and points south. Patterson Boulevard passing the library and Fifth Third Field is one way north, meaning everyone coming south is directed onto Monument Avenue and then onto St. Clair. Which now, more often than not, is closed at the library.

Brilliant planning. No end in sight. Ugh.
  (click pics to enlarge)

There's parking on Third Street near the front entrance if you're lucky, but then you have to walk across the construction


I don't know if this is new or slated to be replaced


It makes for an interesting photo at least


Capitol Tunneling of Columbus seems to be one of the culprits


No parking and no passage!
Sunday, July 22nd, 2007
An old punch bowl and 1969 television
Yesterday evening was the annual Dayton Gay Men's Chorus progressive dinner, of which I hosted the first course, hors d'oeuvres, which gave me an occasion to use my grandmother's 18-piece Williamsport Crystal Punch Service of polished Prescut crystal by HazelWare®,

My friend Bob
pouring punch
into my
grandmother's bowl
which came to me in its original box. As near as I can tell, the punch bowl and its accessories are worth $10 or $20 on eBay, but this one is of course more valuable than that to me because it was my grandmother's.

Unless you're a collector of HazelWare or Prescut crystal, the punch bowl may not be of much interest to you, but you might be interested what was used to cushion it inside its box, namely a couple sections of the Dayton Journal Herald newspaper of Tuesday, April 1, 1969. That date is less than a week after the birth of my sister, so I wonder what use my grandmother put the punch bowl to that week after which she'd have carefully packed it back up. She used a couple different sections of the paper as cushioning, but rather than share the whole trove with you at once, I'll follow my grandfather's tradition and save it for multiple blog entries (no, he didn't have a blog, but he could cut up a single Bun Bar and make it last for a week or longer).

Journal Herald TV logo What I saw when I lifted the punch bowl out of its box was the top half of page 35, the TV listings for April 1, 1969. This pre-dates my own TV viewing memories but only barely. These were the days when every city had only a handful of stations and when every house had an aerial on its roof. Our house (and probably many others) had an antenna that could be rotated by means of a control kept atop the TV console because different stations (particularly the distant Cincinnati ones) came in better with the antenna in different positions. The Dayton newspapers listed both Dayton and Cincinnati stations, although during prime time the choices on Dayton and Cincinnati affiliates of the same networks were duplicates.

So what were your prime time viewing choices in Dayton, Ohio, on April 1, 1969?
  2 WLW-D 5 WLW-T 7 WHIO-TV 9 WCPO-TV 12 WKRC-TV 22 WKEF
7:30 Mod Squad Jerry Lewis Lancer Klas. Family
Easter Special
Jerry Lewis
8:30 Julia Red Skelton It Takes a Thief
9:00 First Tuesday
Couldn't find this show
on imdb.com but the JH
had it marked as one of
the "Day's Best," featuring
an interview by
Sander Vanocur
with Clay Shaw
9:30 Doris Day N.Y.P.D.
10:00 Ironside 60 Minutes That's Life
11:00 News w/ Sports News News w/ Sports News News Trails West
11:30 Tonight Perry Mason Movie Joey Bishop
Basically you had three choices although sometimes Dayton and Cincinnati affiliates pre-empted or varied from network offerings, though you did get an extra half hour of prime time. No PBS (though it would be founded later that year) and of course no Fox or WB or UPN.

In addition, the newspaper also lists channel 16 WKTR-TV as having "movies" (but doesn't name them!), channel 26 WSWO as having Canadian hockey and channel 19 WXIX as carrying the Joan Rivers Show (I loved Joan Rivers when her Late Show helped launch the Fox network but had no idea she had an earlier show). All three of these channels were independent stations launched in 1968 and 1969. WKTR and WSWO I don't remember, and Wikipedia reports they were both off the air by 1970 (perhaps because all they showed were these untitled "movies"), but WXIX is what my sister and I tuned in after school to watch snowy repeats of shows like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeanie.

The idea of television being in color was still a novelty since the Jerry Lewis Show is noted in one of the previews as being "in color." It seems the Journal Herald didn't employ its own television writer, relying instead on the syndicated services of Richard K. Shull, an Indianapolis-based writer who died just this year. One obituary notes that Shull was noted for his acerbic wit, a wit that's apparent in his preview of the April 1, 1969 episode of the Doris Day Show; he says, "this episode isn't all that bad. Miss Day has some good, light comedy moments." Not quite what you'd call high praise, but I checked out the first season of Doris Day's show once from the library and I think Shull's analysis is accurate.
Sunday, July 1st, 2007

For the past year, I've lived near downtown Dayton on Grafton Hill. I like living downtown because there are lots of fun things to do within walking distance. I spent part of today with my mother, sister and brother-in-law. First we walked over to the CityFolk festival, where we got something to eat, watched some dancing and listened to some music. Then we went to the Victoria Theatre for the first of this summer's Cool Films, 1776, a film fitting for the holiday weekend but one about whom I agree with Roger Ebert.

Something I love about my place on Grafton Hill is being able to watch the sun set, and this evening I got to see another beautiful sunset. I finished the night by walking down to the river with a neighbor where we stood and watched the fireworks, after which most people had to walk through the crowds to get to their cars to fight the traffic to go home. Not us—just a few steps back up the hill and we were home.

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007
Something that comes along with having a website is that you can look at your logs to see what's bringing people to your site. I got a particularly interesting hit today from Google, namely the query "is rhine mclin gay."


If Mayor McLin is gay
she hasn't told me
For those of you who don't know, Rhine McLin is the City of Dayton's illustrious mayor. I've mentioned her a few times, but I have no personal knowledge of whether she's gay or not. She is fairly gay-friendly, attending various local Pride events and issuing proclamations, but she certainly hasn't put herself out on the line to try to extend the city's non-discrimination ordinances to cover sexual orientation, unlike a previous city commissioner, Mary Wiseman, who is proudly openly lesbian.

It's possible that Mayor McLin will get a push in this area sometime since there's a fresh generation of young queer activitists who might have the energy to do so.

The other hit I got today is from someone studying Shakespeare and wanting to know "which is the merchant and which the jew," something I had to consider for ENG410 once. Alas for the poor Googler, although my site can point him or her in the right direction, I do not reveal the answer.
Tuesday, February 6th, 2007
Sure, I can go months without posting anything, but give me some snow and a camera, and it gets me in the mood again.
Friday, October 20th, 2006
This evening, courtesy of MVFHC, I went to the Dayton Branch of the NAACP's annual Freedom Fund Banquet, the 55th year the dinner was held but the first time I'd ever attended.
The event was held downtown at the Convention Center, and so I can't help comparing the NAACP banquet to the Pride Dinner, which was held several years at the Convention Center and was the last dinner-style event I'd attended there.
frowny face
The first comparison is that at Pride Dinners there were several cash bars set up around the periphery, but at the NAACP banquet there are none. Apparently the NAACP membership, made up of lots of African American pastors and their congregations, want attendees to be sober, although when it comes to fundraising, I'm not sure that's necessarily a wise tactic.
smiley face
The food was better than I remember from years past. The menu featured chicken, of course, but instead of being bland institutional chicken it was actually pretty good and was served in combination with pork in a sweet sauce.
frowny face
The NAACP entertainment in general paled in comparison to that of a typical Pride Dinner. Bless the little ACT-SO performers' hearts, but they weren't exactly enthralling. (And a lip-synching drag queen is? Point taken, but again, alcohol helps loosen an audience up).

Corrine Brown as seen from my distant seat
neutral face
People certainly have no qualms about leaving the NAACP dinner early. NAACP Dayton Branch president the Rev. Dr. Robert E. Baines Jr. bragged about there being two tables for members of his congregation, Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, but after his part in the program, a bunch of Macedonians got up and left, obviously not caring to wait to hear the keynote speaker.
smiley face
The NAACP pulls in higher powered politicians. You can count on local Democrats to attend Pride Dinners, but the NAACP banquet gets Republicans too, and not just local ones. Ohio's beloved Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell made a surprise appearance, I guess hoping to shore up what he considers a key constituency, but I was pleased to hear only lukewarm applause for him (Update 10/23: A friend who attended with me disagrees and thinks that most people in attendance probably will vote for Blackwell). And then there was the evening's keynote speaker, Congresswoman Corrine Brown of Florida.

Corrine Brown
in pink
Brown was fun, and though she was politic enough not to mention Blackwell by name, she didn't spare him any punches, exhorting the audience to vote for people not just cause they "bought a ticket to the NAACP barbeque" but instead because of their stand on the issues and their voting records and reminding us that we need to be vigilant to make sure this year's election is a fair one, unlike the 2000 election in Florida, in which 27,000 voters in her district had their ballots tossed out, and the 2004 election in Ohio, for whose handling Blackwell has been so widely praised (not).
I couldn't see Brown so well from my distant seat on the edge, but she stood out since she was pretty in pink, a color I guess she likes to wear other places too. Now Brown is prettier than a drag queen, but, bless her heart, I have to admit the comparison did cross my mind. I looked for a pic of Ms. Demure (of Harper's Bizzaroworld fame) in pink but couldn't find one.
Looking for websites tonight while writing this, I see that people are just plagued by expiring domain names. The Dayton Branch of the NAACP is one of only a few in Ohio listed on the NAACP website as having its own website (the big three, Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati don't have websites), but daytonnaacp.org expired in June this year and was snatched up by a domain name prospector. Ms. Demure used to have a domain name for her show at bazzaroworld.com, but that expired and has been taken over too. Google lists an article about Ms. Demure on queerohio.com, but that just expired this month, though its proprietors may yet reclaim it. How difficult is it to keep track of your domain names, people?
Stupid idea: NAACP is commonly pronounced as N double-A CP. I think it'd be cool if they updated their name to American Association for the Advancement of African Americans, cause then they'd be the quintuple-A.
Thursday, October 19th, 2006 #2
Yes, it's rare for me to post twice to my blog on the same day, but I just got an e-mail that I want to comment on.


Not a good place
to have anonymous sex
A friend forwarded a report from today's Dayton Daily News about four men, including a Troy High School teacher, being arrested for having sex in a shelter (you can rent this shelter for $50 but not to have sex in it) in Triangle Park.

My friend is upset that the police do not "put hot undercover babes with their tits hanging out in parks [to] bust the straight guys," and he considers this arrest to be "entrapment and selective enforcement" and "cultural repression and isolation" to be "the crux of the problem."

Now entrapment is certainly a tool that the police and others use to try to weed out behavior they consider undesirable. However, the DDN article says that the men "were arrested Tuesday evening after undercover Dayton officers said they observed them engaging in sex acts in a park shelter." The men were not arrested because they approached an undercover police officer and asked for sex (there in fact used to be a law in Ohio against asking another man for sex, if the other man might find such a request offensive, but that was struck down as unconstitutional in 2002) — no, instead the men were arrested because they were fucking in a park shelter, clearly not entrapment.

I don't think it was selective enforcement either. The article also quotes Police Lt. Patrick Welsh as saying these "undercover operations" are common "in the park and other areas where public sex and prostitution are common." Prostitution stings against heterosexual men aren't exactly rare, are they? And last time I checked there haven't been tons of straight men and women heading to park shelters to have sex. Are the police aware of something I'm not and giving public breeders a pass?

I suppose you could argue that having sex in a park at night, when children aren't around, doesn't hurt anyone, and you could argue that police resources would be put to better use by focusing on other crimes. But I'd argue that working for the right to have sex in park shelters is not the best use of our resources either. Is having sex in park shelters more important than having the right to marry or to have health insurance or Social Security benefits?


A good place
to have
anonymous sex
No, of course, it's not, especially because there are plenty of alternatives when it comes to have consensual, recreational, man-on-man sex. In addition to gay.com there are tons of other websites devoted to helping gay men find sex partners. Find what you want online and invite him over for sex in the privacy of your own home (which, since Bowers v. Hardwick was struck down in 2003, is much safer from the police than a park shelter).

Married (to a woman) and still in the closet? Well if you don't want your wife catching you online at gay.com, then you don't have to resort to the park to find sex. You can drive up to Club Columbus or Flexx Baths, find yourself a man and have police-free sex in a private club.

My friend may in fact be right that "cultural repression and isolation" are the "crux of the problem," but that's not the fault of the police. Heterosexually-married, closeted gay men may think that sex in a park is their only option, but I cannot fault the majority of people who think sex in parks is inappropriate and should be stopped.

Note to Mr. Pyle: yes, sex in park shelters might be considered an example of destructive behavior, but I still think heterosexual johns cruising for hookers have gay guys outnumbered.
Tuesday, November 9th, 2004

Issue 1 votes in Montgomery County


Presidential election 2004 in Montgomery County

See that island of dark blue slightly to the right of the center of first map to the left (you might need to zoom in to see it)? Those are the precincts in Montgomery County that voted against Issue 1 by a margin of at least 2:1. I live in one of them, Dayton precinct 1-B, which voted 307-90 against Issue 1, or a margin of about 3:1. (The gray areas also voted against Issue 1, just much more narrowly.) The vast majority of my immediate neighbors think that I should have equal rights, or at least that Issue 1 went too far in denying me equal rights. That shouldn't be too surprising since many of my neighbors are gay. So if you have to live in Dayton and want to live in the best part of town, check out the Oregon District.

The second map shows how precincts in Montgomery County voted in the presidential election. (Both these maps come from an article by Dayton Daily News reporters Jim DeBrosse, Lawrence Budd and Ken McCall.) You'll notice that in this map I live in a somewhat larger island of blue, roughly corresponding to the city of Dayton. (My precinct isn't dark blue, however, as some of my neighbors, even some gay ones, supported Bush.) Interestingly, there's a gray section from the first map that is pink in the second map (perhaps Oakwood and parts of Kettering?). Maybe these are the Republicans who actually listened when Governor Taft and Senators Voinovich and DeWine told them Issue 1 was a bad thing.

What does this mean for me? I'm still leaving. I wouldn't mind living on an island, but I'd prefer a different one.

Friday, May 21st, 2004
This evening I went with some friends to A World A'Fair, an annual event held at the convention center that I've attended even before I moved downtown. We got there in time to see the opening parade of nations featuring people in various ethnic costumes (Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin marched too but not in ethnic garb).

Although the parade is fun, the point of the event is the food. We started with some Riesling from the South Slavs (even during various wars and peaceful divorces in Europe, immigrants from Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia here in Dayton always continued to get along). I had a cheese triangle pastry thingie (I forget what it's really called) from Greece, bul go gi (marinated beef) from Korea, plantain chips from the Philippines and a cannoli from Italy (yum!). And of course no World A'Fair is complete without some Appelflappen from the Netherlands (although this year they are 2 for $1 instead of 3 for $1).

It runs through Sunday at 6pm so you can still go if you're reading this in time.
Wednesday, April 14th, 2004
I walked over to the main library today to pick up a book today, and after I was done at the library I stopped at Yummy Burger to get some Thai for lunch. Derek and I ate there a couple weeks ago. It doesn't have the variety that Thai 9 in the Oregon District has, but it's cheaper and doesn't require reservations. Do be sure to take a friend or a book, though, as the service isn't especially fast.
The other White Tower building left downtown, a couple blocks south of Yummy Burger, has signs in its windows saying it's going to become a Smokin' BBQ place. That'll be interesting.
Thursday, July 24th, 2003
Click for larger versionClick for larger version I was out and about downtown this afternoon (had lunch at Quiznos and saw Sweet Sixteen at Neon Movies). While I was out I saw something you won't see much longer downtown, namely a mounted patrolman. Because of budget cuts, the city is getting rid of the horses and making their downtown police officers ride bikes. I guess all the reasons make sense (not having to pay a trained policeman to spend his time taking care of horses, police on bikes being better able to chase criminals, etc.), but it seems to me that with the push to make downtown tourist-friendly the horses were a nice touch.

Click for larger versionClick for larger version Then on my way home I saw something on my street you'll probably always be able to see downtown, a homeless person with his two grocery carts full of stuff.
Saturday, July 12th, 2003
Okay, I know I'm probably breaking some rule of blogging because although the pictures in this entry really were taken on the 12th, I'm not posting this until the 24th. But I want to put these pictures up and I have other stuff to post for the 24th and it's my blog. And I'm not alone in being tardy with blog updates. So pretend I posted this on the 12th.

This morning I went to the Dayton Black Cultural Festival. One of the DDRR groups I facilitated decided they wanted to Click for larger versiongo as a group (they decided to go to Mountain Days too in August), and I wanted to go too. Even though not everyone in the group could come, those of us who did go had fun. We met inside the front gate of the Fairground and got to see the parade come in. The Tuskegee Airmen were in Dayton as part of Inventing Flight and were honored both as part of the parade (they got to ride in an RTA tram) and in a ceremony in the Coliseum. Jamila got her picture taken with two airmen, and Kathy got a lot of them to autograph a picture she bought. Kathy and I also met an astronaut, Robert L. Curbeam, Jr.

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Click for larger version Click for larger versionClick for larger version Then in the afternoon I went to another TEFL party. This time Dr. Crusan and her husband Dr. Bank hosted. They live in a beautiful mission-style mansion in Springfield where Dr. Bank's practice, the Transformational Healing Center, is also based. The party was in honor of the Korean TEFL students from WooSong University as well as one of their professors, Dr. Sung, who came to teach in the TEFL program. Tim and Yuki played guitar again, with a little help from Eun-Young. Anthony wore his cool shoes.

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Wednesday, July 2nd, 2003
Official Inventing Flight site Click for larger versionClick for larger version I walked over to Fifth Third Field this evening to watch the dress rehearsal of the Inventing Flight opening ceremonies, and it was really a rough rehearsal. I'd heard from a friend of a friend of the crew that the rehearsal would start at 8pm and would take an hour if there were no hitches. I got there around 8 (as did a lot of other people wanting a preview), and there was a lot of nothing going on, although there were some interesting costumes backstage, as you can see.

Click for larger versionClick for larger version Before I'd made it to the ballpark, I walked along the new section of the pedestrian canal, and a woman from Miami Jacobs College asked me to take her picture and e-mail it to her. She was going to complain to the city about the water coming down the lightpoles, which concerned her because the poles have electrical outlets at the bottom.

Click for larger versionClick for larger version After I got to the ballpark and saw that things weren't starting any time soon, I decided to walk over to the new pedestrian bridge across the Mad River from downtown to Deeds Point. Click for larger versionClick for larger versionHere's an interest part of Dayton history you probably won't hear elsewhere -- before all the downtown renovation, and especially before they decided to have Inventing Flight stuff on Deeds Points and nearby, the Levee there by the river was a major cruising ground for closeted gay men (particularly married ones) to pick each other up! While I was over there I noticed that a guard was posted by the fireworks. Guess he's got to spend the night there.


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When I made it back to the ballpark a second time, things began to start. A woman named Nancy was coordinating things over the loudspeakers, often yelling "Stop the music!" or "No, that's the wrong tape!" or "Could my balloon people get out here?" Things were not running smoothly, but it was entertaining nevertheless. I didn't stay for the whole thing, which I could see was going to take closer to three hours than one, but I did enjoy the flying dancers and the kids with balloons and the Pegasus. I don't regret not buying $150 official tickets though. This was good enough.
 
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