Sunday, June 8, 2014

June 8: Tony Awards, Classic Saint Marty, New Cartoon

The 2014 Tony Awards are on tonight.  Even though I haven't seen any plays in New York for, oh, let me see, 13 years, I will watch the show.  I haven't been to a play in a couple of years.  I used to have season tickets to the university's theater season, but it became a little too expensive.  I think the last musical I saw was Shrek with my daughter.  It was a traveling Broadway production that stopped in Green Bay, and I took my daughter for her birthday.

I love theater.  I used to act and direct in local productions all the time.  Then, life happened.  Children.  Work.  Mental illness.  I had to prioritize, and theater ended up far down on my list of important activities.  It still is.  But, one night a year, I unleash my theater geek.  Tony night.

I love theater people, because they're a very accepting group.  It doesn't matter whether you're straight or gay, short or tall, fat or thin, red or yellow or black or white.  Theater people accept you for who you are or who you aren't.  Tolerance is their creed.

That's what today's episode of Saint Marty is about.  Tolerance.  It first aired three years ago.

June 8, 2011:  Hatred, New Poem, Tolerance

Today, I've been thinking a lot about hatred and intolerance.  It always amazes me to encounter blatant bigotry--racism or sexism or ageism.  Homophobia.  Since my wife was diagnosed with bipolar, I've encountered a great deal of misunderstanding about mental illness.  All biases are based on fear.  People are afraid of things they don't understand, that are out of their scope of experience. Mental illness, unless you suffer from it or know a person who suffers from it, generates a great deal of discomfort.  It's a category of illness that is still socially acceptable to mock, fear, or reject.

I have spent the last ten years battling the hatred and fear of mental illness.  It's easy to blame a person with mental illness for being different.  My wife once bought a pair of mountain bikes for five hundred dollars when she was manic.  She couldn't control herself.  It was her illness.  Most people in my family don't understand that.  People can't control skin color or gender, but most people can control their behaviors.  Unless brain chemistry gets in the way.

I'm teaching a Good Books class this fall.  I've decided to focus on novels and memoirs dealing with mental illness, because I want to promote understanding and acceptance.  People need to realize that mental illness isn't a personal choice.  An African American can't choose to be white.  A man or woman, for the most part, can't choose a gender.  And a person with a mental illness can't choose to be mentally sound.  That's what I want my students to get this fall.

I know people who hate.  For the most part, their hatred stems from personal insecurity.  They feel somehow inadequate in their own lives, so they look for people who are weaker to attack, to blame for their problems.  Rather than hate the haters, maybe I should pity them, try to understand them.  That's not an easy task.  But it's a task, as a Christian, I'm supposed to accept, even embrace.  Dammit.

My new poem is about a person who hates.  I use humor.  I mock.  I try to point out the absurdity of hatred.

Sing with Saint Marty:

We shall overcome, we shall overcome,
We shall overcome someday;
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,
We shall overcome someday.

Parable of Hate

There was once a proctologist
Who went on vacations
To meet new people to hate.
He traveled to Texas
So he could say the words
Spic and wetback, slap
Locals on their shoulders,
Drink tequila shots, eat
Rattlesnake cooked over
Fires filled with smoke, venom.
He flew to San Francisco,
Ogled fags and queens,
Watched them parade along
Streets, up and down hills
In heels and fishnets,
Wished he could breathe
His repulsion into their
Bloodstreams, got nostalgic
For the early days of AIDS.
His next stop, the Upper Peninsula
Of Michigan, where he hit
A doe with his rented Audi,
Told his traveling companions
The problem with the U. P.:
Too many deer and Indians.
He blamed the Blacks
Of New Orleans for being
Too stupid and poor
To flee the waters of Katrina.
His latest trip, scuba diving
In the seas of Guam,
A place peopled by fat,
Lazy Polynesians, heifers
So unhealthy he couldn’t
Eat the whole week,
Survived on straight shots
Of spite and scorn.  The proctologist
Always returned from his journeys
Sure of his place in the world.
Doctor.  Healer of assholes.
Physician, heal thyself.

Code dickhead, Code dickhead
Confessions of Saint Marty

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