Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Origins of the Snake Dance

Snake Dance at Orabai 1921 (click to enlarge)

note: The view of rattlesnakes here is a very Southwest Native American viewpoint. This legend goes from the Southwest, all the way to the Great Lakes. When you look at it from the viewpoint of people whose very lives depend on the successful storage of corn and other staples, it's not hard to see why the snakes, who eat mice, rats, and other grain feeders are often revered as protectors. Our opinion of the rattlesnake is very close to the Egyptian opinion of the cat. They are allies in our struggle to survive in a harsh land. When the white folks wanted to have "Snake Roundups" in Arizona, we fought to get that practice discontinued. We defended our cousins successfully. Cousins do that for each other.

The Snake Brothers

A long time ago, so long ago that it is not even recorded on the walls of a canyon or a cave, so long ago that it is not recorded in the Winter Counts of our people, four brothers went out to hunt. They found a single buffalo and killed it with their arrows.

As soon as they had made that kill they heard the buffalo speak in a human voice that said "Take this meat to feed yourselves, but when you have eaten, take the skull, the skin, the sinews, the hooves and tail and put them all together again, each of them in the proper place."

The three older brothers did not want to heed the voice. They said "This is not a true vision. This is just our hunger talking. This skin will make a fine robe for winter, the sinews will wrap our bows and sew our clothing well."

The youngest brother finally had to gather all the parts that the voice had told them to gather and challenge his brothers to fight for them. The brothers were too busy feasting on the fresh meat to want to fight and they gave the youngest brother all the parts of the buffalo that were not meat.

Youngest Brother then took the skin, the skull, the sinew, hooves, and tail, and he put them together again just as the voice of the buffalo had commanded. Then he stepped back and began to sing a song of thanks to the mighty buffalo who had given his life and his flesh so that the people might live and flourish.

As soon as his song was finished the skin that had been sewn back together grew up into a fine big buffalo bull that snorted, stamped the ground and ran off into the hills. In the settling of the dust cloud the buffalo left behind Youngest Brother saw Monster Slayer standing there. Monster Slayer's face was hard and angry looking. His eyes softened a little when he saw Youngest Brother. He told Youngest Brother, "You did well to listen to the voice of the vision. Come with me now."

Youngest Brother followed Monster Slayer to where his elder brothers were sitting around the fire talking about how they were going to go to where the skin had been taken and gather it up to carry the meat home. The elder brothers never saw Monster Slayer standing there. They did not see when Monster Slayer took out his bow and drew a crooked lightning arrow from his quiver. They did not see when Monster Slayer shot an arrow of crooked lightning into their camp.

The first thing that they did notice was when one of the elder brothers tried to stand up. He cried out "I cannot stand. My legs have grown together!" Another brother said "When I try to move my feet there is a sound that is being made." The eldest brother said "My skin is all covered in scales, my arms have grown into my side!"

This is when the brothers finally saw Monster Slayer standing there. They still had heads like humans and they asked him "What has happened to us? Why are we turning into snakes?"

Monster Slayer told them "You refused to listen to the voice of vision. That buffalo was me, I was in the form of the buffalo to bring gifts to your people. I have just finished killing the Giant Snake Monster who was keeping your people out of the canyons. Now, you, young men of the people, are going to take the Snake's place. You were foolish not to listen to the voice of vision, which was my voice trying to give you a great gift, but you were also very generous and thinking of your people because you were planning to take all the meat but that one meal back to them, along with the skin and the other parts. For that, I have made a place for you, up there, in that cave. Go there now and wait for your brother to come back for you. First he will come alone, then he will bring all your people."

The brothers were new to being snakes. They were also the size of humans still, they had a very hard time moving themselves to where Monster Slayer had told them to go. Youngest Brother watched them struggle and he asked Monster Slayer if he might help his brothers. Monster Slayer nodded yes.

One by one Youngest Brother dragged the snakes up to where Monster Slayer had told them to go. Just before their heads turned into snake heads the eldest brother told Youngest Brother "It is the plan of things that we have become snakes. We will always be a part of our people. We will always look out for them and will do what we can to help. You were the wisest of us when you listened to the voice of the vision and we did not. Do as Monster Slayer commands. Come to us at the proper time. Ask for our help and we will give it to you." As soon as he was done speaking his human head changed into the head of a great snake. All the brothers went into the cave. Youngest Brother sat there for a long time. He sang a song of mourning for the thing that had happened to his brothers. This was his song:
My Brothers I sing for you
It was your fate to be turned into snakes
You are still my brothers
I will always love you
I will come again
At the appointed time
Remember me, brothers
I will remember you
When he was done singing, he cried for a while. When he was done crying he stood up. Before he left he raised his right arm to salute his brothers. Then he gathered up all the meat and all his brothers clothes and weapons. He went back to where the people were staying alone. He told the people "You can see that I have come home alone. My brothers are not dead. They have been turned into snakes. I know the place where they live and we will all go there together at the appointed time."

Four changes of the moon had passed. Youngest Brother was preparing to go on a war party. Some people had been raiding our cousins, the Tohono O'odamm, and they had asked for help from the Apache. While he was painting his face black and red for war Youngest Brother heard a voice inside his head that told him to go to where his brothers were.

He went there alone. He stood before the mouth of the cave and said "I have come here alone, just the way Monster Slayer has told me to do. I have come for your help my brothers. I am about to go on the War Path."

Inside the cave there was a great sound of snakes. Three huge snakes stuck their heads out of the cave. Youngest Brother knew that these were his three brothers. He was afraid, but he was also glad to see them alive. He sat down in front of them and he bowed his head. He put his arms out before him with the palms raised up and said "My brothers, it is good to see you again. Our people are all well. I am going to war to help our cousins of the valley. I have come to you for your help."

The biggest snake, the eldest brother, was given the power of human speech for just that one moment. He told Youngest Brother "We have been waiting for you. I have a gift ready. This is the gift of Snake Medicine. Come close to me when I am done speaking and I will kiss you like a brother. Do not be afraid, my kiss will hurt, but it will not kill. It will give you speed, and stealth, and patience, and wisdom. It will make you strong in battle and wise in council. It will give you vision to see beyond your eyes reach and understand what lies beneath the surface of things." Then, his human voice disappeared again and he was only able to hiss.

Youngest Brother then went up to the eldest brother snake. He picked him up and kissed him behind the head. The kiss of the snake was painful, but Youngest Brother began to dance with the snake. Just as his brother had said, he began to see beyond the reach of his eyes. He saw the vision that was intended for him. He got very tired and lay down to rest. While he lay there the visions kept coming to him. He knew that this was vision and not a dream because he was not asleep.

When he felt his strength had returned he saw that the snakes had left him a bow. This bow was unlike anything he had ever seen. It was made with two different kinds of wood, and had a piece of buffalo sinew glued into the middle between the two different woods. When he picked up the bow he saw that there was a quiver of arrows there too, along with a spear. Youngest Brother took them all back with him. He went to the other men who were ready for war and he told them "I have been given these new weapons and a new vision by my brothers. If I use these weapons, and follow this vision we will be the victors in the coming fight." The men all used Youngest Brother's bow to make bows like it for themselves. This is the famous Apache compound bow. It is small but very powerful.

It was exactly as promised. The fight went well and the people who had been raiding our cousins left the land. The Tohono O'odamm gave the Apache gifts of food, blue stones of turquoise, and beads from white shells and coral to take back with them.

When they returned to the people Youngest Brother told them all "We need to go back to my brothers and tell them what has happened. We need to give them thanks for their help."

This was done. Every one of the people went to where the snakes were living. They all were invited by the snakes to take them up and learn the dance. All the people who danced were given the vision of the snakes. They saw that the snakes would guard the corn, squash, and beans that the people had stored. They saw that each summer they should gather the snakes and bathe them with water and blue cornmeal and pollen. Then they should dance again. Then, the rains for the year would come with the southern winds.

This is the story of how our people came to live with the snakes. This is why we don't kill them. The snakes do their part, and we do ours. This is the way it is supposed to be. This is the way that things are.

Yexaaiidela, go deya, tc'iindii
(having been prepared, he walks, they say)
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Gustav Watch

from the site linked. click to enlarge.

Latest Reports available here.

This is looking grim. All in the region, please, stay safe, stay dry. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Vice Presidential BBQ

photos, tlg, Denver Convention 2008

A food note from Denver.

One of the places we grabbed a quick bite as Boney's BBQ Smokehouse. We were too late for the ribs since the delegates had eaten them practically out of house and home. But they had great pulled pork sandwiches and I had the spicy sausage link (above). It was hot. hot. hot.

Joe Biden ate here this week and the papers covered it-- so Boney's went from local shack to overnight convention hit. By Friday lunch they were even out of baked beans. They were having fun. And the real down home sweet tea was just what we needed after all that fire and spice.

Little local places like this fit into our GNB Real Deal Dialog.
What are the best local shacks in your neck -a- the woods?

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Unseen Bean and Disaboom at the Big Tent

One of the side projects I worked on at the Convention was a citizen journalism project by Reuters, called "Inside the Tent." For the DNC Convention and The GOP fest next week, Reuters lent flip cameras to delegates, and other attendees to get video coverage of behind the scenes views of people who are passionate about their politics and attending their party's convention.

I did about 30 small interviews and one of them was with Gerry of Unseen Bean.

What a great guy and what a great project. I was happy that Gerry and Disaboom were in the Blogger tent, and had such a prominent position in the room. Their coffee was GREAT and really did make it easier to keep on writing and working. THANKS!

and if you like good coffee, check out Unseen Bean's online store.

Take a look at the video and be sure to send some blog love with comments! I think if my videos get more views they will post more of the ones that I shot.

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Gustav Watch

click to enlarge

Gustav To Hit Cuba, Could Grow to Cat 4 Over Southern Gulf.

National Hurricane Center has the full report, along with explantions of the vagaries of prediction.

Never Fear! Blackwater is recruiting armed guards. Revolver only qualified need not apply.

Again, anyone in the likely path is encouraged to get the hell out of there. Now.
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A Green Note from the Convention

One of the fun decsions we made in Denver was to get bikes for the week. A few local places were renting. AND there was a great program called Freewheelin that operated all week long. Freewheelin is a typical bike share program (but it has improved on the process and the quality) that had set up daily bike stations all over down town. Pick up in the morning, drop off at night. It was well organized and successful. We actually rented instead of using this service because we wanted a bike for the whole week. I gave that feedback to the organizers and they said they are considering that kind of thing for longer events in the future.

Next to the Big Tent where the bloggers were, there was a Freewheelin station but there was also PEDROS the colorful van above. They were doing bike repairs for anyone in need for free! We had a flat fixed there in about 3 mins. It was great stuff.

I was impressed with the efforts to make the convention green; programs that ran from ride shares, bike shares, biodegradable take out food containers and the green carbon offsets promoted for delegates. This sets a standard that we must follow in the future for our democratic and progressive events. I hope that Netroots takes advantage of Pittsburgh convention centers very green record and programs. This is called walking the walk, not just talking the talk.

And as members of the grassroots and progressive blogosphere we need to support and promote green jobs and green business where ever and when ever we can.
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Massively Reckless McCain II

Lets listen in as radio talk show host calls cancer surviving Alaskan State Senator a "bitch" and Vice Presidential nominee, and Governor Sarah Palin laughs and laughs...

There is also word that McCain is sending investigators to Alaska tomorrow to look into the abuse of power in the troopergate scandal in Alaska.

John McCain didn't vett his VP pick.
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Saturday Open Thread

Street sign pointing left and right, with one-way signs pointing both directions under it.

Folks are traveling.

I'm over-nighted in Rock Springs, WY. (I think. It was late. I was tired.) Today, on through Utah and in to Idaho. Tomorrow through Oregon and home to Seattle and children.

I have many posts to write, but little energy.

HS, TLG, LM, Sara & Evan were magnificent, while Maggie and MB held down the fort. A WELL DONE to the whole GNB staff. We did this one well and we did it with style.

For example, the bomb scare at Union Station... so far as we know, we're the only blog who had a writer on scene, taking photos, getting the story. As it turns out, it was one of the two major security incidents of the entire convention, and we have it damn near exclusively thanks to Evan Robinson.

More reportage as we return to our homes and have some space to start letting you know what we saw and learned.

What Sarah Palin rumors and gossip are you trafficing in this morning?

I just read an Internet thread -- and it MUST be true if it's on the Internets, right? -- that says the DS baby isn't really hers, it is her 16 year old daughters and it's all a cover-up.

How's that for a good juicy rumor to start things off?

What have you got?

Plus, how are you doing?

Hurricane news?

And cooking. 'Cause we're cooking fiends at GNB.

*hugs* to all.

Now I have to hit the road and start driving 80 West. Beep-beep.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Massively Reckless McCain

image via

Oh give me a break. The republican talking point monkeys are out in force. They say that Palin
  • Has the most executive experience© of all the candidates.

  • Has a remarkable record.

  • Stands up to even her own party

  • Most popular Governor

Puhleez... A year and a half running a VERY sparsely populated state, honestly she is more like a Mayor with less than 2 years experience. I can't believe they are trying to push that she has more "executive" experience than even John McCain. Are they kidding with this shit?

She stands up to the GOP by saying no to the bridge to nowhere? Yes, true. Once the truth about this insane earmark came out and it was clear this was a huge embarrasment, and it was not going to happen, she came out against it. Quite a risk taker... feh.

Has a remarkable record? Come on, its not "remarkable". It's interesting but its nowhere near being long enough to be remarkable. Hell there are only 650,000 people in Alaska!

She is the most popular governor in the country? Uhm... What would Arnold say about that. Hell Sacramento alone has 3 times the population of Alaska. These people are bizarre. These talking points are ridiculous.

This was a MASSIVELY reckless choice John McCain has made. He as only met her once? Is he fucking nuts?
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Still Overwhelmed

photo tlg, DNC, August 28th 2008 (click photo for large size)

It was a sight to see.
I am proud to be able to say I was there.

We went early, waited in lines with thousands of happy democrats. Got our seats and waited and talked and relaxed in the sunshine. The speeches were ALL amazing. Go to Apple itunes; they are providing free downloads of many of the keynotes in the itunes music store keyword DNC08. Watch the speeches if you didn't see them. really.

It was a perfect night.
It was an inspired speech.
It was more than I ever imagined.

Me and 90,000 of my closest friends and democratic allies had one hell of a night. The feeling the day after was one of elation, exhaustion and a feeling of a job well done.

Another comment, though my complaints about the vip access issues in the Pepsi center are still valid -- the opposite seemed to be true at Invesco. They treated everyone from floor seats to nose-bleed seats with a great deal of fairness and gave great access and space to as many people as humanly possible. I spent time up in the way high seats. Had to get their early but my assigned section was on the 50 yard line and though the stage was far away I think I really benefited from the birds eye view. I wanted the big picture and I felt like I got it. 100%.

It is sad that "Sarah Quayle" Is taking some of our news cycle. I for one hope dems and progressives in the blogosphere treat the GOP VP pick as the political stunt it is, and focus on a few good days of post convention celebration, recap and wrap up. We need to keep our fantastic, diverse, dynamic and compelling convention in the eye of the public so that can see the extremely stark contrast between our big tent extravaganza and the Klu Klux Konvention that we will be graced with next week.

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Noun, Verb, POW

Image by Darkblack (Extra thanks to Darkblack for this inspiring image.)

Noun, Verb, POW

I have a friend named Jamila who years ago handed me a phrase to live by. Before I go on, let me affirm yes, Jamila is an Arabic name: She was raised white Catholic in Iowa but she has converted to Sufi and it has made her extremely happy. If you can't get past that, you're not the intended reader of this article.

So, what Jamila said was: "Any difficulty I have with your difficulty is still MY difficulty."

It's the ultimate statement of personal responsibility. It means it's my work, my life lesson, my nudge from g*d, however you want to phrase it, when I encounter emotional resistance to your obvious emotional resistance.

This does not mean you can reduce institutional and systemic forms of oppression to "emotional resistance" on the part of those employing it. You have to trace the source of power, and if it comes from societal, cultural, and governmental institutions, you are NOT reduced to seeking therapy for how oppression has fucked you up (although it doesn't hurt to get it), you have a right to demand CHANGE.

But in a great many of our personal interactions and reactions, "privilege" is not what's going down. What's going down is that someone we're listening to is showing damage, and how we interpret and respond to that is OUR responsibility, not something they "make" us feel or do.

Any difficulty you have with my difficulty is still YOUR difficulty.

There's been an obvious wish, if not displayed tendency, on the part of Democrats to play the age card with John McCain, i.e., "He's too old to be President." I won't go there, mostly because it's just wrong -- it's ageist. Competence is not measured by years, and the Constitutional measure for the office of the President is 35 years. I have known plenty of 25-year-olds who are far less sharp and able to track than John McCain.

Instead, I think we should be up front about the issue of competence itself, and how we define it. In this I would include mental stability. I think it's clear, at this point, that George W. Bush was (and remains) mentally unfit for the responsibility of leadership. He's immature, he's vindictive, he's incurious, he's immature (did I say that already?), and he lacks personal insight to such an extent that he's volatile. He is clearly damaged.

I personally believe that this damage was visible before he was elected and that, perversely, it's why a lot of people voted for him, especially white men. I think his damage is what "someone I'd like to have a beer with" is code for: He's just like me, and why can't I be good enough to run for President? If you're sick of being a failure, of being told by your boss and wife and family and even some of your friends that you're not handling what is expected of you, if you're called privileged but you feel like every other group gets special consideration and hell your parents raised you to be absolutely no more than what you've accomplished, then that anger will latch onto another wretch as a role model.

This is partly the result of hurling "privilege" accusations at folks instead of labeling systems of oppression, targets and non-targets for oppression: Personalizing the oppressor simply has not worked. Nobody "feels" like the "oppressor"; no kid is specifically raised to be the overlord, the bad guy, the eater of all extra (even when they are.) Every human being is targeted in at least one way for subhuman treatment, and every human being is trained in the ways of treating another group of humans with subhuman disrespect. This has to be sorted out on a one-on-one basis while still identifying the major flows of power -- race, gender, class, age, religion, geography, physical ability.

Because we were in the midst of the Right's framing of seeking personal insight as "feminine" behavior (pussy, faggy, liberal, hippie, atheist), we as a nation chose in 2000 to adopt a vigorously "masculine" approach: Just make a decision, dammit, someone else will clean up any mess. Look firm and strong-jawed, that's all that counts. Now we're in the position of housewives everywhere, looking at the living room where an eight-year Superbowl party of immature teenaged old boys have never once been told No. In some parts of the room, we'll have to rip down to bare studs and rebuild.

If you can face this job without utter despair, congratulations: You've acquired the human conditioning which is, in our Right-skewed culture, labeled "female" but which is in reality (and in other cultures) known as adult.

But, as any experienced housewife can also tell you, we have to learn our lessons from this indulgence. And one lesson we need to pick up, as a nation, is the ability to judge and value competence. We have to assess mental competence and signs of damage.

I'll be brave here: John McCain is showing obvious signs of damage. What is the main clue? He'll tell you right away. He was a POW.

Now, not all POW's remain damaged from their experience. Some PTSD survivors are able to completely eradicate any negative vestige of their experience from their behavior. (I speak from personal knowledge here.) Many others, perhaps most, can clean up enough so that the deep scars manifest only occasionally, with particular and rare triggers. You have to get past feeling shit on for having been traumatized in the first place, accept the work of recovery and pursue it resolutely until your life is your own again. Sucks, but that's the drill.

At age 13, in 1968, I became an anti-war pacifist. My parents were both at that time Republicans who voted for Nixon, so you can guess how well this went over. I never missed a chance to vocalize my beliefs, and consequently my adolescence was a sore trial for us all. I made straight A's, didn't use drugs, played sports and won state-wide academic contests, so my parents didn't feel like they could ground me for my political beliefs, although I'm sure they talked it over. I wore on my mother enough that by 1972, she didn't vote for Nixon a second time. (Hee hee hee.)

It therefore confused them, and some of my friends, when in 1972 I purchased a POW bracelet at the State Fair in Dallas and swore I would not take it off until that man was either freed or his remains identified. I saw no contradiction in my belief system: Being anti-war meant defending the rights of those caught up in the war machine against torture and imprisonment.

That year, my senior year, I was captain of my local basketball team, a starting forward. The second game of the season, during warm-up one of the referees went to my coach and told him league rules stipulated no jewelry could be worn during a game, and that included my silver POW bracelet. As we filed into the locker room for our final lecture, Coach told me the news: The bracelet had to come off for the game.

I explained to him what the bracelet symbolized and that I could not possibly justify removing it for a basketball game. He was, in addition to coaching and teaching (badly) algebra, the local Baptist deacon, and I'm certain both he and the ref had a snicker together about the thrill of forcing that symbol of hippiedom from my body. He was adamant. My choice was to either take off the bracelet or sit out that and every other game for the season. He shouted at me a minute, then stormed out of the room.

My teammates were devastated. They didn't all agree with me, but they knew I would not budge. One of them, a former best friend who had been born again and renounced me two years earlier in an unacknowledged lesbian panic, actually sat on the end of the bench and prayed to herself. It was her who came up with a solution: She retrieved the thick white tape we used to wrap sprained joints and wrapped it around my wrist, over the bracelet, until all traces of its outline were concealed. I went out with the rest of the team to start the game. Coach of course knew what was going on, but somebody told him whose idea it was -- the good Baptist girl -- and he let it slide. I went through the season with a wrapped wrist. And no, we didn't win that game or most of the others. I was a crappy player on a crappy team. This is not a Rudy story.

I was watching TV in 1973 when my POW walked off a plane onto U.S. soil again. Sobbing, I pulled the bracelet from my arm and traced the engraved name one last time: Lt. Commander John S. McCain.

When the vote came up before the U.S. Senate to redefine torture and reiterate our stand against it as a nation, I wrote John McCain personally, telling him the story I shared above and asking him, not as a constituent of his nor even a party member but as an American who loves her country -- beseeching him to stick to his principles and lead the way against torture. He never responded, even with a form letter, and we all know how he voted. I wasn't personally offended, but I did understand what it meant: He's not recovered in any meaningful way from his experience 30 years ago.

If you look at his personal history, he's shown no concrete evidence of recovery in other areas. He's betrayed personal loyalties, he's pursued wealth the easy way, he has serious anger control issues, he leaves hard work to others, and he cannot maintain his own proclaimed principles. These are not "senior moments", this is a classic PTSD profile. When he answers basic questions by first referencing his having been a POW, he's telling us that this is the defining moment of his personality, the box he's never managed to escape, what comes up inside him at every turn, out of his control.

I have compassion for him. I wish he belonged to a culture that believed in seeking thorough help and putting the experience behind him. But my compassion doesn't alter my rational opinion that he's not competent to assume leadership, especially not military leadership. It's an opinion I get to make as a voter, not based on the lies of oppression or bigotry, and I'm taking the opportunity to state it here because I suspect there are others who want the relief of hearing it. The damage you receive along the way (and kids, my childhood would curl your toes) is damage, not character, and it is important you do whatever you can to clean it up before you ask others to accommodate it. We do have a right to ask our sisters and brothers to accommodate our scars. I personally choose to live in forgiveness. But forgiveness does not mean handing a drunk the keys to my car.

No to McCain BECAUSE he approaches leadership from the mindset of a POW.

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Gustav Watch, View From My Porch, Friday Random Name That Tune

from U.S. Weather Service Mobile (8:40 a.m. Pacific) *click to enlarge*

Gustav Follows Katrina's Path

It's looking bad, not just for New Orleans, but also for Mobile and Biloxi. Please folks, keep yourselves safe.

View From My Porch - Black Headed Grosbeak (thanks to FDChief for the correction)

This is a much better picture of the bird we call a Mexican Oriole down here, but a wee bit of research in my bird book identified it as "Bullock's Oriole." Which has now been corrected to be "Black Headed Grosbeak."

*click to enlarge*

You can get a much better idea of the brilliant colors on these guys. Juveniles and Females are a dingy brown. The males are bright and bold. Although in the mesquite and brush the patterns and colors camoflage as effectively as a tiger. If they don't move, they're very easy to miss.

Now, for the Game!

Answer Key at Harp and Sword

1. murfmom gets "At Last" although she heard the Etta James version in her head, mine was the Joni Mitchell version, standards are like that

At last,
My love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song

2. "New Paint" Louden Wainwright III

At the station you can meet her, with that smile you couldn't cheat her
A woman that kind, is hard to find.
It's good to take a girl in the not so very good world
And walk in the park until it gets dark

3. "Living in the Future" John Prine

Jehosaphat the mongrel cat
Jumped off the roof today
Some would say he fell but I could tell
He did himself away

4. LiteralReddy is correct on the title "Sweet Thing." I was listening to Rufus do it though. Yes, it is a standard. I loves me some Rufus.

I will love you anyway
Even if you cannot stay
I think you are the one for me
Here is where you ought to be

5. "Dead Love" Little Milton

Lost my mind
Digging a hole
Bury a heart
Bury my soul

6. Gabe Nichols gets this one, "Summer Wages" by Ian Tyson

Never hit seventeen when you're playing against the dealer
For you know the odds don't ride with you
Never leave your woman alone with friends around to steal her
Years are gambled, and lost, like summer wages

7. "Feelin' The Same Way" Norah Jones

The sun just slipped its note below my door
And I can't hide beneath my sheets
I've read the words before so now I know
The time has come again for me

8. In a total blind guess murfmom also picks "There She Goes" by Sixpence None the Richer

There she goes again
Racing through my brain
And I just can't contain
This feeling that remains

9. Gabe Nichols got this one too. "Hard Times" Stephen Collins Foster. Although there was no chance of him calling up this version. It's a bootleg off the mixing board from Emmylou Harris, with me on bass vocals

Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears
While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears;
Oh Hard times come again no more.

10. "Lo Siento Mi Vida" written by Gilbert Ronstadt, with English lyrics by Linda and Kenny Edwards. live bootleg of Linda Ronstadt at a benefit concert for the Tucson Boy's Choir, with me on Celtic Harp. (a word of warning, I do not allow anyone to express anything but superlatives and positives about Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, you fuck with them you gotta fight with me, sorry, that's just how it is, I adore them both.)

Lo siento mi vida (My life is sadly)
Yo sé que ya terminó (already finished)
Corazones quebrados (heart broken)
Esperanza que se fué (hope that went away)
Cuando brille la luna (When the moon shines)
Yo sé que no dormirás (I know I will not sleep)
Ni tú (Nor you)
Ni yo (Nor I)
Ya ha llegado el triste pesar (the sad one has already arrived)
Debemos siempre separarnos (we must always be apart)

La noche que te fuiste (that night you were yourself)
Cambió mi pobre vida (changed my poor life)
Quedo mi alma triste (I am a sad soul)
Pensando en mi dolor (thinking about my pain)
Cuando brille la luna (when the moon shines)
Yo sé que no dormirás (I know I will not sleep)
Ni tú (Nor you)
Ni yo (Nor I)
Ya ha llegado el triste pesar (the sad one has already arrived)
Debemos siempre separarnos (we must always be apart)

I wait for the night to pass and turn to day
I can't make this feeling go away
'Cause I get so weak when the day is through
And I think of you
I'm gonna see it through

Lo siento mi vida
Yo sé que ya terminó
Corazones quebrados
Esperanza que se fué
Cuando brille la luna
Yo sé que no dormirás
Ni tú
Ni yo
Ya ha llegado el triste pesar
Debemos siempre separarnos
Siempre separar

A lot of these titles are included in the lyric, that's sometimes a function of random. Have fun with these. I know I did.
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Sarah "Quayle" Palin, McCain VP Pick

John McCain's choice.

Governor for a week and a half, tried to get the cops in Alaska fire her sisters estranged husband. I am looking forward to the VP debate.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Speech, Finale

LM is, for once, speechless.

"I...I never really thought this would happen in my lifetime.

"And now I'm going to have to rethink everything I believe about this country."

You and all the rest of us, beloved. You and all the rest of us.

Tonight's speech was exactly what it needed to be: a proclamation of a new political era, and the rebel yell of a newly-remade political party. The last 40 years have been hard and miserable for those of us who believed in such quaint ideals as compassion and the Constitution and the common good. But because enough of us are finally ready for them to be over, they will be. Because in a democracy, that's how its supposed to work -- even though we'd long ago given up hope that it could ever work that way again.

If we lose this one, boys and girls, it won't be because we had another incompetent candidate, or our so-called party leaders (whose careers also ended tonight) ran another imbecilic campaign, or because there was some transcendent failure of the vision thing.

As the man said: It's not about him. It's about us. It's ours to lose -- or theirs to steal. We've got another nine weeks, and then the future starts anew.

At last.

I expect all of us will have more analysis of tonight, and the whole Denver experience, going up tomorrow. But for tonight, we're just basking in the deep relief that somehow, after this long time lost, the far shore is finally within view, and we are going to stand on it very soon.

Say it in the benediction of your faith: So be it.

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If He Can Give That Speech to Every American, It's Over!

America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise - that American promise - and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.
I Believe!
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Jesse's here, too....

John Amato was supposed to be sitting up here in ADA Row with us, but couldn't make it. So we've got someone officially named "John Amato" sitting up here who looks strikingly like our own Jesse Wendel. Yes, Jesse is busily live-blogging this for Crooks and Liars.

Go over and check it out -- but hurry right on back, K?

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About that tax cut....

If you want to find out just how much that's going to save you, check this out.

And there it is: that declaration I promised you, that we'd be off foreign oil in a decade.

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The Speech, Part II

He's now declaring that the Republican era is OVER. "That old, discredited Republican philosophy." Those of us of a certain age have spent our entire adulthoods being sneered at by too-hip GOP babies who told us "yeah, we get where you old liberals are coming from -- we're just over it, and hipper than that."

That sneering stops tonight. Yeah, punks, we get where you're coming from -- and we are sooooo over it. And we are now, as we always were, just that much hipper than you, too.

He's about eight grafs from outlining an entirely new philosophy of government for a new era. Great stuff still coming...

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The Speech, Part I

Being in the press box has its downsides. There's AC and good light and ergonomic chairs and plenty of power and T1 lines -- all good things. But there's also a thick layer of glass between us and the rest of the stadium dampening the noise and energy of the crowd -- as though we're watching it all through water.

Right now, Obama has appeared -- and for the first time, the crowd is coming straight through the glass. I reach for LM's hand, and squeeze hard. (And pinch him, for all of you. It turns out he kinda likes that.) The stadium is full, and the Rocky Mountain Thunder of Mile-High Stadium rocks the walls around us. Below us, the bowl of the stadium glitters with flashes, and all of a sudden that colonnaded backdrop looks amazingly like the windows just outside the Oval Office.

A thousand thank yous. To the crowd, to Hillary and Biden and Michelle.

A reiteration of the point that the Democrats are the party of working people. Reclaiming this status, which was abandoned during the early 70s, is quite evidently one of the major themes of this week, and this coming campaign.

We are a better country than this.

I'm reading ahead now. There's plenty here that we need to hear, that we've all been waiting to hear for a very, very long time. I didn't dare imagine it was going to be THIS good.

"A 10% chance on change." Wait for it.

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At long last

It's been a long week. And now the moment's here.

They're handing out the full speech right now. The rest of you will be hearing it in just a moment.

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Dick Durbin

He got us into this. Now he's finishing what he started.

"We see it in the eyes of the young people -- who work night and day, eat cold pizza, and sleep on the floor, because they want to believe. We see it in the faces of gray-haired volunteers -- who just one more time in their lives want to believe again."

That's the cross-generational magic at work. So many of us who thought we'd never dare to hope again are, cautiously, trying just one more time.

Let the brothers and sisters say: Amen.

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Some Kind Of Thunder


During Bill Richardson's speech a few minutes ago—a very, very good speech I might add (The signature line said with utter disgust: “Are you going to miss Dick Cheney?”), the press box area was...shall we say, interrupted by a rumbling noise. To a New Yorker, the sound was akin to that of a couple of “A” Trains blasting past underneath the sidewalk—replete with shaking and an almost “thunderous” sound.

But there are no subways in Denver. And then, the sound came again. On Richardson's applause lines it seemed. Worried eyes flitted about the press box. Nobody said earthquake, but we were all thinking it.

And then a young man seated down from me laughed / gasped the words, “It's the audience. They're stomping. That's the crowd. They're shaking the place to pieces.”

They're shaking the place to pieces.”

My dear, sweet, screwed-to-all-holy-hell GOP...what in God's name are you going to do next week at your convention?

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Why Denver Matters

Back about a half a dozen years ago, I had a job that brought me to Denver once a month for two years. At that point, the city was falling on hard times. It had staked its future on a broadband revolution that had stalled. Jobs were being lost, and housing values were falling. 2002 was a crappy year for a lot of people, and a rock-bottom bad one for Denver.

So it's astonishing to be here in 2008, and notice the way the town has completely regrouped itself around the sustainability industry. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is right here in town, as are a number of wind and solar companies. The Clean Coal (which is to say Not-Quite-So-Deadly-Coal) people have spent tens of millions trying make a splash here, too, though somebody needs to tell their PR firm that putting Sharpies in the swag kit isn't a sharp idea. Troublemakers that we are, we immediately put them to use drawing circle/slash NO icons over the logos on everything else in the box.

And the city's new emphasis on sustainability has permeated everything. The Big Tent itself was a production of the Alliance for a Sustainable Colorado, which turned a 100-year-old brick warehouse into one of the most LEED-awarded buildings in the country. The tent was set up in their parking lot, and was umbilically connected to the building for its power and plumbing. In addition, there have been no fewer than 10 climate change presentations at The Big Tent and related venues. (Brian Angliss compiled a great synopsis of the major discussion points at Scholars & Rogues.) You couldn't go a block anywhere in Denver without tripping over fresh evidence of the city's commitment to becoming the center of the country's new green economy.

Anyone in town will tell you that this revitalization can be attibuted to a pair of Democrats -- Colorado governor Bill Ritter (who just spoke about an hour ago, for those of you who tuned in early), and Denver mayor John Hickenlooper -- both of whom have taken the lead (or LEED) in pointing the state in this new energy direction. Denver's turning itself into Exhibit A that a green economy works, that it means new jobs, and that it can produce tremendous economic security for the cities and states that embrace it.

Nobody who's spent this week in Denver could have failed to get the message. That's why you're hearing the promise of a green economy permeate every speech tonight -- and why (based on the advance remarks we're getting) it's going to become the evening's dominant theme.

I don't know how much of this was planned. But I do know that most of us who were here this week -- delegates and media alike -- are going home with a much more detailed picture of what our new post-carbon economy's going to look like. And from what we've seen, it's something we can't wait to get to.

And speaking of sustainability: here comes Al!

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At Invesco Now...

View From Outside Invesco Field 11:10 a.m.—Photo by LowerManhattanite

Jesse and I got here early to scope out the Bloggers “Mini-Lounge”...and alas, truer words were never spoken. 'Tis “mini” indeed, but the view is spectacular—looming high over the fifty-yard line in a pressbox-ette. Upon arriving, the first thing we saw was Stevie Wonder going through his pre-show sound-check, and then his Green Badness, Al Gore testing mics and lectern levels.

Stevie testing the mic and sound system—Photo by LowerManhattanite

It's a beautiful stadium and the folks here in Denver have been so nice that it almost hurts. And I cannot stress the “happening” aspect of today's goings on. Coming in today on the light rail RTD, you could see a veritable stream of folks moving along a lane of the roadway leading to the stadium, like little corpuscles toddling along through a bloodstream. Conning back for these posts, it was no longer a stream, but more of a river of humanity, with everyone in preternatural good cheer.

Will I. Am and John Legend (with the Agape choir backing them) just got through with the “unplugged” version of the “Yes We Can” song of now-viral internet legend. Scarlett Johanssen however was nowhere to be found though—much to the delight of Mrs. Obama and much to the heartbreak of the numerous admirers of hers of both sexes. This was followed up by a performance by Sheryl Crow—who I must say cleans up something fierce between soundcheck and “go” time.

Ran into Rep. Jim Clyburn in the elevator along with California's dapper-est mover and shaker since Bugsy Siegel, San Francisco's Willie Brown. Clyburn was amazingly nice and was so approachable that it was scary. And Mr. Brown was congenial as well, wearing a bad-ass midnight blue pinstriped number with suspenders. Sharp enough to cut glass, kids.

It's a nice bunch here as I'm sitting next to the regal and amazing Ms. Sara Robinson.

Senator-in-waiting Mark Udall has just come to the stage in jeans, bolo tie and looks the young, hip version of his legendary dad, Morris Udall.

And here we are, along with scores of thousands of people in the stadium and you at home, as Funkadelic sang...standing on the verge of getting it on.

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Obama to Promise Energy Independence in 10 Years

We just got ahold of some of the prepared remarks. Obama's going to pledge to have us off foreign oil in a decade.

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News from All Over

McCain says "Congratulations." Are we the only ones who heard the word "boy" at the end of the thing?

Nicole Belle at C&L has this to say about GOP whining about the presumptuousness of tonight's column-festooned set.

Pam Spaulding outlines pretty much what we went through to get here. We actually saw Terrence Heath up here a while back (he blogs with Pam at House Blend, and is also one of my co-bloggers at CAF); and went up in the elevator right after Willie Brown.

It was funny to see LM go into fanboy mode standing next to Willie, waiting. And gushing about the details of his clothes. (Hizzoner is well-known to be the best dressed man in the entire state of California, and nobody's been even in the running for 30 years.)

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Live Coverage of Obama's Speech Begins....NOW

LM and I are high above the field at Mile High Stadium, ensconced in luxury in the tiny corner of the press box they allocated for bloggers. We've got seats and dinner and an incredible view. We're sharing digs (at the moment) with Dave Wiener, a Silicon Valley icon who holds the distinction of being the World's Very First Blogger. An auspicious sign that the spirit of History In The Making is hovering closely by....

We've decided to divvy up the work this evening. We plan to post roughly every 30-60 minutes, probably taking turns. Those of you watching along at home can chime in on the comments.

We're in a bit of a lull now. The afternoon's festivities are over, and they're regrouping for the evening show. A musical interlude awaits. We look forward to spending this amazing evening in your company.

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Bomb Scare Near Denver's Union Station

Update 20080828 6:56pm : I have received official (off the record, but from a uniformed federal officer) word that there was indeed a "suspicious package" detonated by the Bomb Squad last night. It contained only paper. False alarm, efficiently and effectively handled by the local security services. Case closed.

Update 20080828 10:26am : in the clear light of Thursday morning we have little more information. Email reports from the Big Tent (as mentioned in comments) that there was a small explosion (reportedly mistaken for an M-80 or similar firework) and the scene was clear by 10:45 pm or so.

My interpretation is that there was some sort of "suspicious package" in the Union Station parking lot, and that it was detonated by the Bomb Squad as a precaution. Probably not actually an explosive device at all. Hopefully that means "nothing to see here" except the efficiency of the (rather overwhelming) response of the collected security forces here.

As we left The Big Tent this evening (Wednesday shortly after 9 pm) after Joe Biden spoke, there was an unusual roadblock across Wynkoop at 16th. We were directed around the block to our car parked at the far end of the Union Station parking lot (about a block and a half away).

At the corner of Wynkoop and 17th the Boulder County Bomb Squad was suiting up.
A number of calm but heavily armed men in tactical gear were keeping civilians away.

The bomb squad officer walked down into the darkness at the 16th street end of the Union Station parking lot, trailing wire behind him. Probably going to blow something up.
We went home.

Be safe out there.

All photos by Evan Robinson, Group News Blog

Updated 20080827 10:26pm : renamed picture filenames to standard, added picture of bomb squad officer in parking lot, processed pictures slightly.
Updated 20080828 10:27am : added two paragraphs at head, added parenthetical timing information.
Updated 20080828 6:56pm: added new first paragraph with official story.

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Denver Welcomes Democrats

What do you know? Someone in Denver, who doesn't like Democrats, can spell "sycophant". Do you suppose they can spell "democracy"?

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Gustav Watch

From National Geographic This Morning

It's not panic time in New Orleans. The best predictions list possible landfalls from Texas to Missippii.

It's not rest easy time either. The interplay of the systems, the temperature of the water it passes over (as high as 85° in some places) and all the vagaries of weather systems will be at play.

Accdording to Jeff Garmon, U.S. Weather Service meteorologist,

It's a foregone conclusion that the forecast will have an error in the track," Garmon said. "That's what makes forecasting the intensity so hard." "I'd like to stress that we don't start getting really confident [about landfall location] until it's two or three days out," he said. "That's when you see the whites of its eyes.

It's not time to panic just yet. But it's time to be aware of what's going on and have a plan in place.

Am I the only one who is wondering how all those "Pray for rain on Obama" assholes are feeling right now?

There are some sources that are saying President Bush is reconsidering his speaking appearance at the Republican Convention. He doesn't want to be up there talking about how wonderful life is under his administration while nature gives an object lesson in real power.

While all of this is going on, Tropical Storm Hannah is forming in the Atlantic.

South Florida doesn't look to get much chance of drying out.

To all of our readers in that region. Please, take what ever steps you need to take to keep yourselves and your families safe.
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DNCC Caves to Money and Arrogant Asses

photo tlg, DNC 08/27/08 (click pic to see big version with the white screw-you sign

I have been attending the convention events at night with what is called a special guest pass, which I am getting as a DNC member elect. The color coating of this badge is lt. purple which you would be able to see if that white piece of paper were not on the door sign to my previous seat sections.

Don't get me wrong, I am grateful to have been able to have seats. Coming to this was an honor. These seats are not the floor seats or skyboxes etc. They are seats high up in the stadium. The seats in these sections were designed to be First Come First Serve. These are also the types of passes given to bloggers and others.

The first night I went early with some GNB'ers, really early. Because we were willing to go in so early we got great center section seats that our passes were designated to get us into. You find your allowed sections by reading the painted door signs like this one above. So we got those seats by showing up early, listening to all the non-headliner speeches which I liked and generally had a great though long 6 hours in the Pepsi Center.

Apparently on the first night, big cash donor types who have "Honored Guest" badges that are dark purple came late, hoping to have dinner/party/ whatever first and then expected to roll in and see the show from the center seats. Since all the regular folk who got there early were already in those seats they had to sit to the much further right or left sections, not as good a view. They pitched a fit. And low and behold...

Instead of the DNCC telling them simply and strongly that it is first come and that on day 2 they needed to come earlier-- those same center seats for Tues. and wed. were suddenly no longer allowed for the light purple ticketed regular people but instead for the honored guests-- and above-- passes on the sign above.
On Tues. they held the main 3-4 sections right in the center for them, and I guess that STILL wasn't good enough because by wed. night's speech the area blocked off in the center was quite huge.

Why am I bitching?

Because this convention in 2008 was designed to provide "unprecedented access to more people, regular rank and file, bloggers and the like. They started out on the right foot. But as soon as the moneyed guests started to caterwaul the organizers ditched their plan and threw the more regular folks under the bus. I suspect tomorrow at invesco will be worse in some ways in terms of the division between big donors and officers, activists and delegates. And it makes me sad to say that.

Every member of our party should be valued equally-- I get that we need big donors AND grassroots activists but it is past time to stick with what they know is right. Giving everyone access to participate in a more equal way is a Democratic value and we need to make sure we stick to our guns as we bring in all these new people into the process.

Posted by Picasa
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Ah, Now I Remember What I Liked About Bill Clinton

photo, tlg, 8/27/08 click on photo for large size

Another crazy, busy, topsy, turvy day in Denver. But tonight It was a great joy and honor to hear Bill Clinton the way I remembered him. Human, funny, charismatic- Not the angry-bitter-bill of recent months. It was a joy to hear him speak.

I thought the speech was just about perfect.

He drew on his past to highlight why Obama is perfect in 2008. "We are on the right side of history."

When I heard about the line-up for this week I had some pretty big concerns but so far I think it has been pretty damn good. I think it has been a real human view of these larger than life politicos and I feel that they have done a good job trying to change the narrative.

Biggest thing for me though is my absolute anger and frustration at how different the convention is from the "News" about the convention. The corporate media just lie, and then lie some more.
I have so much more to say, will try to catch up on the pile of content I have to post.

It's been a whirl wind. Great to have LM here now.
Tomorrow is going to be historic.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Del Martin Has Died, Finally Legally Married (Updated)

Del Martin Has Died, Finally Legally Married

Del Martin, a lesbian-feminist activist whose life work for liberation on a number of fronts never stopped, died today at the age of 87. Her lifelong partner Phyllis Lyon, whom she married legally at last in California in June 16, 2008, was by her side. Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center of Lesbian Rights, announced Martin’s death today at a San Francisco hospital following complications from a broken arm which aggravated her previously existing health problems.

Del Martin placing ring on finger of Phyllis Lyon, 16 June 2008, San Francisco City Hall -- Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP
More than 50 years ago, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin fell in love with each other. At that time in history, to be a lesbian meant you could be arrested (not for any particular behavior, just for being who you were), fired from your job, evicted, and forced into electroshock treatment. It's astonishing enough they found each other at all. But when you read about their life together ---

Del had been married for four years and had a daughter. After she was divorced, she and Phyllis met in Seattle in 1950 when they began working for the same magazine. According to Wikipedia, "They became lovers in 1952 and entered into a formal partnership in 1953 when they moved to San Francisco together although unable to legally marry. Many years later, Lyon and Martin recalled how they learned to live together in 1953. 'We really only had problems our first year together. Del would leave her shoes in the middle of the room, and I'd throw them out the window,' said Lyon, to which Martin responded, 'You'd have an argument with me and try to storm out the door. I had to teach you to fight back.'"

Wedding cake from June 16, 2008, San Francisco City Hall, showing portrait of Phyllis and Del from the first year of their relationship -- Photo from Getty Images "On February 12, 2004, Martin and Lyon were issued a marriage license by the City and County of San Francisco after mayor Gavin Newsom ordered that marriage licenses be given to same-sex couples who requested them. The license, along with those of several thousand other same-sex couples were voided by the California Supreme Court on August 12 2004."

At that time, Phyllis wrote: "Del is 83 years old and I am 79. After being together for more than 50 years, it is a terrible blow to have the rights and protections of marriage taken away from us. At our age, we do not have the luxury of time."

"In 1955, Martin and Lyon and six other lesbian women formed the Daughters of Bilitis, the first major lesbian organization in the United States. Lyon was the first editor of DOB's newsletter, The Ladder, beginning in 1956. Martin took over editorship of the newsletter from 1960 to 1962, and was then replaced by other editors until the newsletter ended its connection with the Daughters of Bilitis in 1970.

Cover of The Ladder, publication of first lesbian periodical in the U.S. from the Daughters of Bilitis "Within five years of its origin, the Daughters of Bilitis had chapters around the country, including Chicago, New York, New Orleans, San Diego, Los Angeles, Detroit, Denver, Cleveland and Philadelphia. There were 500 subscribers to The Ladder, but far more readers, as copies were circulated among women who were reluctant to put their names to a subscription list.

"Lyon and Martin remained leaders of the DOB until the late 1960s, when they were replaced by women who were perceived as more radical and who had different goals for the organization. The Daughters of Bilitis disbanded not long after Martin and Lyon's leadership ended."

In 1967, Lyon and Martin became active in NOW. "Del Martin was the first openly lesbian woman elected to NOW. Lyon and Martin worked to combat the homophobia they perceived in NOW, and encouraged the National Board of Directors of NOW's 1971 resolution that lesbian issues were feminist issues."

In 1972, the two women helped cofound the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, whose purpose is "to support candidates, who are supportive of gay and lesbian rights, get elected to public office...In 1975 the club endorsed George Moscone for mayor over Dianne Feinstein."

Also in 1972, Lyon and Martin published Lesbian/Woman, a book about lesbian life in modern America, which became the definitive work on the subject for years. In 1973, they released Lesbian Love and Liberation, about lesbians and sexual liberty.

Cover of Battered Wives written by Del Martin In 1979, Martin wrote Battered Wives, which blamed American domestic violence on institutionalized misogyny. Also in 1979, "Lyon-Martin Health Services was founded by a group of medical providers and health activists as a clinic for lesbians who lacked access to nonjudgmental, affordable health care. Named after Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, the clinic soon became a model for culturally sensitive community-based health care. Since 1993, Lyon-Martin also has provided case management and primary healthcare in programs specifically designed for very low-income and uninsured women with HIV . In 2007, the organization added sliding-scale mental health services."

In 1989, Martin and Lyon joined Old Lesbians Organizing for Change. In 1995 Martin and Lyon were named delegates to the White House Conference on Aging by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi respectively.

In 2003 filmmaker Joan E. Biren (JEB) released a documentary film on the couple, No Secret Anymore: The Times of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, available from Frameline.

Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin at their home in San Francisco on 2 March 2008 -- Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP Del and Phyllis were everyone's choice as the first couple to be married in San Francisco yesterday after the historic court ruling on May 15 made California the second state to allow same-sex marriages. Mayor Gavin Newsom, who married the couple in 2004, personally presided over this second (hopefully forever legal) marriage.

Our love and grief go out to Phyllis Lyon and all those millions whose lives were given freedom and meaning by the trail-blazing courage and wisdom of Del Martin.

UPDATE: It find it heartening that Del's death is being covered by CNN and the scrawls at the bottoms of our local news broadcasts -- truly a testament to how far she brought us in her life.

At her specific request, she asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the No on 8 compaign to defect the California proposition to ban marriage rights for lesbians and gays. To make a gift, go here.

In related news, Hallmark recently announced that will begin selling congratulations cards specifically designed for same-sex marriages. As you can imagine, the Right is up in arms about this decent and respectful decision, and are flooding them with protests. If you would like to express your support of their stance, as a consumer and a caring American, you can call Hallmark directly and leave a message or contact your local Hallmark store and expression your approval.

To call Hallmark, dial 1- 800-425-5627, dial 4 and then 5 to reach an operator to leave your message.

Or go to Hallmark store locator to find one in your area and call them directly.

(Much of the above biography was first published by Maggie Jochild at her Meta Watershed post Old Dykes Getting Married, the day after their herstoric wedding on June 16, 2008. A full biography of Del Martin is available at her obituary from the National Center for Lesbian Rights.)

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Here in Denver At Last

View From Denver Intl. Airport's People Mover—August 27th, 1:40 PM—Photo by LowerManhattanite

This Was The First Thing I Saw Upon Getting Off The Plane In Denver

Arrived early this afternoon, after a bunch of personal stuff got taken care of, but dammit...I made it. A travel fiasco or two later, that is.

Heard a slew of folks at JFK as I waited for my plane practically atwitter with talk about heading to the convention and the flight was great—so great that I wound up in Denver thirty-five minutes early (something that has not happened to me on a flight in five years), and encountered my first surreal moment.

I headed down the jetway to the men's room where “mid-stream” I was suddenly interrupted by the cheery, but setting-inappropriate voice of Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper greeting me and everyone else in the crowded bathroom to his fair, sprawling city.

I couldn't help but think of what sort of “in bathroom” greeting awaits the GOP's visitors when they hit the airport men's rooms in Mary Tyler Moore-ville once their convention kicks off.

I leave that to your fertile imaginations.

Good God. Did I say “fertile”? Well...

I managed to see Mrs. Obama's speech and upon doing so, immediately pitied the hell out of Cindy McCain and the task before her and her utterly unfurrowable brow. Between Sen. Obama's and his wife's borderline unfair oratorical gifts, I could easily see John McCain being driven into a fetal ball in the far corner of his basement—which Goddamned one of his basements I don't know, but knowing what he and his super-deluxe “Real Doll” wife Cindy face in topping the Obama tag-team of “putting the message across—bangin'ly”, I do not envy them in any way. There is NO “Great Communicator” to fall back on for the GOP—despite the desperate attempts to invade the burial crypt to re-animate the permanently somnambulant Ronald Reagan to save their pasty, flabby asses. Their best hope is Mike Huckabee, the “Keane-eyed” Arkansas yarn-spinner who while holding a crowd rapt, cannot help but make you shudder about that worrisome flash behind those big, vortex-like eyes of his. You hear the syrupy words, you feel their gooey embrace and when he's done, you check for your fucking wallet because let's face it, folks...he's just Benny Hinn toting around a bass guitar and a notch-collar suit instead of a Nehru-collared one.

And then there was Senator Clinton's wondrous head-fake speech that utterly pissed of a muckraking press corps last night. She dynamited temporary PUMA dens all over the mountains of Colorado with her in-your-face support of Sen. Obama for President, and her “No Way, No How, No McCain!” tag-line probably drove poor Harriet Christian to quaff her hundredth Drano-smoothie, but this one fortified with extra glass and stale fish-tank gravel. Which leads us into today's events which I was fortunate enough to be in the Pepsi Center to see where the deal was cut where she interrupted the roll call during New York's count to push for the unanimous delegate vote for Sen. Obama as the nominee. The dam burst. Hands flushed red with clapping, and the word “classy” came down like summer rain around us as Nancy Pelosi took the stage and ended the process with the vote's going unanimous at long last. Negotiated unity. Loud cheers, and a massive, roof-raising sigh of relief. Shoulders relaxed at long last and a rush on the food court was on.

They ran out of ketchup at the condiments counter on the food run after the nomination was formalized.

Ran into Kwesi Mfume, former Phoenix Suns great Kevin Johnson here entering Pepsi, and I would be remiss in not noting the large African American presence here in the halls. This being my first convention, I'm no media neophyte. I know the deal with camerafolk being hipped to where the “chips in the cookie” are, as they're scattered far and wide in arenas like this. But where I was hangin' I couldn't look more than twenty feet and not see a richly “melanated” face looking back at me. I post this sitting across a table from two African American bloggers at Georgia Politics Unfiltered and It's a good day, and former President Clinton is on tap for tonight. We'll see if he can call down the old verbal thunder and empathy and as Rakim used to say back in the day, “Move The Crowd”.

All is preamble until tomorrow at Invesco Field...where this nation is on the verge on capping off the ceremonial aspects of nomination—and the final formal one—the acceptance of said nomination of an African American as the Democratic Party standard-bearer for President.

There will be a nice, healthy bruise on my body from someone pinching me hard when that happens.

Pinching me verrrrrrrry hard.

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