today begins the madness

RAGE IS GOOD makes its first strike in alabama today...

last night, after amy goodman, s and i decided we couldn't sit still in the car as it rumbled home, lulling us back into complacency... "we need to DO something," s said.

we always say this. we make plans. many elaborate, scheming, havoc-raising plans. and then we go to the bar and listen to music and drink a few beers and go to blockbuster and rent a movie.

not always. there was the time we plastered the neighborhood with cardboard signs that we painted in s's front yard, demanding that the city not chop down all of the old-growth trees just because the electric company wanted easier access to the power lines. and the time we wrote "god loves gay people" on those little bible tracts you find in small-town motel lobbies and then left them in public restrooms all over central alabama. and the time we infiltrated "switchback," the religious support group for people who claim to be "ex-gays."

but mostly, we just sit around and complain a lot.

so this time, instead of empty ranting, we grabbed a notebook and a pen, and we went to quest, the gay bar in b'ham. it's bigger than the one in montgomery, but at 10 p.m., it looked and felt more like the kind of macho place i tend to stay away from (or at least only visit in large, protective groups). thick white guys were playing pool in the corner. garth brooks was singing from the juke box. when i ordered a sam adams, the bartender, a flamboyant black man who swiveled his hips when he walked, laughed and said, "this is the QUEST, honey."

so we sat at the bar and drank bud light out of plastic cups and made a plan. that's how all this started. well, no. all this started months ago, as ideas in our heads and collective conscience. last night just added extra fuel.

amy goodman rocks my world

i'll admit it. i'm an amy goodman groupie.

by some small act of god, amy goodman came to alabama this weekend. this makes four times that i've seen her speak; it's getting a little out of hand. but it means i've learned something about myself...

i think celebrity-worship is a brainless waste of time. i would never giggle, scream, faint or otherwise act hysterical in the presence of, say, oprah or tom cruise or that chick from law and order:svu. but i WILL get more than a little excited, in a beatle-mania sort of way, in the presence of someone like amy goodman (i very nervously asked naomi klein for her autograph once. she's kind of famous, sure, for a journalist/activist, but not in the way that would inspire teenage girls to rip off their bras and toss them onto the stage during one of her public speeches.) so, my spin on hero-worship is a little odd. or, perhaps, a bit out of the mainstream. go figure.

so anyway, amy goodman came to alabama this weekend. s and i drove up to birmingham to see her, in a small auditorium on the campus of UAB. we got there early and watched the other closet radicals trickle in: the doctoral student-couple wearing black, he with dark-rimmed glasses; the middle-aged women wearing birkenstocks; the older couple, in their 70s at least, holding onto each other's arms as they walked inside; the punk anarchist kids with their dreds and their grungy converse. inside, the mood was kind of manic. people spoke in hushed and excited voices. there was a feeling of 'finally!' hanging in the air, that finally here we were together, all hundred or so of us, pouring out of the silent margins of an otherwise conservative state, to listen and talk and get riled together. and oh, it felt so good.

and then we watched amy's documentary, and then she spoke, and she wandered and drifted a bit in her comments, and she seemed more tired than she had in the past, but the crowd didn't care. we are hungry here. hungry for more people like amy goodman, people who speak those truths we're too polite or frightened to speak in our regular lives, who say, 'it's okay to be angry. you should be angry!' people who validate our quiet worries that we're killing our planet and each other for no good reason.

like i said, amy goodman rocks my world.



My friend Sarah and I like to say rage is good. Part of this is self-serving -- it excuses our high-pitched ranting and makes us feel less guilty about all the angry flailing about we do. But I also think it's true. I'm suspicious of people who aren't angry about something. (You know, like the full-frontal assault on women's rights; the wacky, right-wing hatred of immigrants; the fact that they still serve spam in school cafeterias.)

But it's not enough to be angry, because then you just sit around and complain a lot. And become the kind of person who stops getting invited to parties. And (if you're me) develop premature eyebrow wrinkles.

Sarah and I decided to do something with all that rage -- otherwise we weren't sure we'd be able to survive living in Alabama (there's a lot to be angry about in Alabama). So we cause some trouble and encourage our friends to do the same -- so far, we've even managed to avoid getting arrested.

That's what this blog documents -- some of our rage-inspired shenanigans, some ranting ala me, and other things in between.